Today’s guest post comes from Clyde.
Every New Years Day, which it is when I am writing this, I remember our first trip to Savannah.
A school district southwest of Savannah hired me to come do a workshop from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the faculty of an elementary school on the Friday after News Years Day. Now think about that. A Friday morning after New Year’s Day. I was suspicious, but the principal, a charming woman with one of those endearing Georgia accents told me it would be fine. (Does any state have a wider range of accents than Georgia?)
If I flew to Atlanta and came back on Monday, it was cheaper for two tickets than one alone coming back Saturday. The district agreed to pay the two tickets and two nights stay.
My wife and I flew down on New Year’s Day, which wasn’t as hectic as I expected. It was a pleasant drive down from Atlanta. The next morning, I went looking for the school. It was difficult to find in those pre-Google days, when GPS was in its undependable infancy. I always allowed myself ample driving time on mornings like these, fortunately. I drove west on a state highway through Fort Stewart, which I had not noticed on the map. When I got to where, by the map, I planned to turn south, I was not allowed to do so because it would take me through military gates. It took awhile to find how to get around the fort proper. Then I asked for directions; no one could help me because no one who worked in gas stations or who came in as customers had lived there very long.
Now I was really suspicious. Why was a faculty coming in on this odd Friday where so many people lived temporarily? By stories told to me by former students, I expected most of the faculty were Army wives, who had been home for the holidays and now had to come back for this Friday instead of coming back on Sunday. I stumbled upon the school.
The principal told me, yes, most of her faculty were Army wives. She also told me that the school board had been angry with the faculty when they wrote the calendar the previous spring, which is how this day came to be. All three elementary school faculties would be in the group. The secondary teachers had their own workshop. Wow! Was I going to have a fun morning or what! If I were in the faculty, I would be angry and not a willing participant.
The workshop was very participant-active; about 65% of the time they would work on tasks instead of listening to me, which would make the day terrible if they did not comply. I began with some fun loosing-up activities, to which they fortunately responded. At coffee break they told me their grievances, but that they had decided not to hold it against me.
The five hours flew by. They laughed, did the work, posted their work on the walls, and gave me high reviews for the day, among the highest I ever received. Afterward the principal and teacher leaders took me out to lunch. The principal, with a bit less of that charming accent, told me she had lied on the phone, that she expected open rebellion. As one of the teacher leaders said “I guess we just turned the other cheek.”
That afternoon and for two days, my wife and I discovered Savannah. We walked the squares, rode the buses, toured old homes, strolled Tybee Island beaches, ate wonderful meals. We were blessed with two other trips to Savannah when the Savannah Schools hired me after hearing about that first day.
When have you seen someone turn the other cheek gracefully?