- Go to happy hour with friends from other fields and co-workers willing to talk about topics other than work. (Nondrinkers should exercise, get coffee, smoothies, pedicures, or fly kites with those who have similar interests.)
- Attend happy hour on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday to receive the best happy hour specials on a meager salary. Also, weeknight drinking will remind you you are cool despite the lecture on late work you gave in second, third, fifth, and seventh periods. And during after-school tutoring. And to three parents on the phone. And besides, on Mondays you get your week together and Fridays you like to take advantage of the vacant copy room.
- Go to happy hour even if you are exhausted. No one should find him or herself smoking alone in a bubble bath out of sheer desperation.
- Cleverly disguise your awesome workplace stories by saying, “When I was in high school…,” e.g. “When I was in high school, my friend threw his used condom outside our Spanish teacher’s door during first period so that she found it and had to run and grab it with a tissue before one the of the developmental class students grabbed it barehanded during a bathroom break.” (The story must assume a disguise because you are trying not to talk about work.)
- Play trivia, darts, and enjoy pint night. Especially if they give you a free glass. You’re working on a set.
- Tell about the story about the time two moms fought in front of the school and had to be pepper sprayed by police officers, cuffed on the sidewalk, and hauled to jail, leaving their sixth grade sons to find their own rides home. Correct yourself: You shouldn’t be talking about work! (Speaking of work, you remember you need to call one of those moms about late work in the next week or so.)
- Remember that if your wingman or significant other is present and happens to be a trauma surgeon, law enforcement agent, nurse, or has ever been on an episode of Dirty Jobs, that your combined stories will intimidate, so politely take turns listening to tales of cubicle humor or find more exciting friends.
- If it’s spring or summer, look for cheap flights on someone’s smart phone. Dates are flexible.
- Tell the awesome story about when one of your students 7th grade friends from a long time ago “stole a car and drove from Texas to Kansas because she thought weed was legal in Canada.” (You’re not talking about work! You’re not talking about work! You can’t say how frustrated you were when your student didn’t even consider driving to Mexico despite its obvious proximity, or how thankful you were right then not to be a geography teacher. You’re the one who brought up the “no shop talk” rule at the start of happy hour. Live by it.)
- Know when to shut up and call a cab if necessary. Pint glasses can’t be sold to pay legal fees.
- Accept all compliments of “Wow, you teach public high school/middle school? Are you a saint?” by answering, “Yes, and yes.” And then, if you are single and the flatterer is attractive, wink.
- Love your job. Otherwise, check to see if they are hiring bartenders.
Jessica Eddings-Roeser is a writer with several years experience teaching under-privileged students in the Texas public school system. She’s taught English, Language Arts, ESOL, Creative Writing, College Reading, and Spanish levels 1-4AP at both the middle and high school levels. She founded and ran an adult ESOL program for her church, and contributes to the AVID program at her former high school. Currently she is at home with her baby and writing during naptime, but dreams of volunteering to teach creative writing in the Texas juvenile prison system. Maybe she’s crazy… she has an MFA in fiction.