Saturday, January 22, 2011

Can't Say No

Last week, I taught the modal of ability.  Ok, I know you all aren't English majors.  Most of you wish to forget those long, boring grammar lessons anyway.  A modal was called a helping verb when I was in school.  Later, I think I learned they were called auxiliary verbs.  The grammar book we are using to teach English to international students call these helping, auxiliary verbs modals.  That works.  Teaching usage is more important than teaching terminology.  The concept that I taught was that when one wishes to use the correct word to express ability to do something, the person uses can, could, seems, or is able to along with the verb.  I can dance.  I could ride a bike when I was younger.  I can't say no.

Yes, it seems, I can't say no when it comes to accepting a job.  Guess what, neither can my husband.  Just days after I wrote in this blog how my husband said that he does not miss working, just days after he adamantly said he would say no if he were ever asked to work again, just days after I publicly stated how my husband said he felt, he was offered a job.  Guess what he said?  It wasn't no, nor was it hell no as he was fond of saying his answer would be.  His answer was, " I have to talk to Sally."

Sally came home from shopping not long after he got the call.  He was all smiles, very upbeat, and quite proud of himself.  He said he had to talk to me.  A lot had changed while I was gone.  He'd gotten a phone call.  He'd been asked to go back to work.  The smile would not leave his face.  I noticed a new bounce in his step.  He was thrilled and excited.  Yes, it seemed much had changed.  He wanted to go back to work.  He wanted a new challenge.  He wanted to be involved.  He wanted to see how a different district operated.  I saw the change in his demeanor.  I saw how energized the idea of working again made him appear.

My first question was, "Can you really do this again?"  (Note the use of the modal to express ability.)  He assured me he was.  His health was not a problem.  His blood pressure would be fine.  He would not over do.  He would not work too many hours.  He would eat right.  He would exercise.  He really did want to work again.  Forget what he had said before.

So, he said, yes to a return to work.  I supported it with just a bit of reservation.  He would have to drive, during the winter, to Fountain, Colorado which is about 30 minutes north of us.  He would be working as an assistant principal, a job he never had done before, so I knew that he would have the heavy load of being a principal.  I agreed that in many ways it would be good for him.

We talked about the possibility of me being asked to return to work.  I said, "I think I won't go back.  Since you are working, I need to stay home and keep things in order here.  I need to cook decent meals.  I need to be here to support you."

Then, I got the call.  "Will you come back to work?  We really need you.  Situations that have occurred here that have caused us to really need you.  We are shorthanded.  Will you consider helping us out?"  My answer, "I'll have to talk to Jim."  He asked what I wanted to do.  I didn't want to get up in the morning, I wanted to get projects done at home, I wanted to keep to an exercise plan, but I also really did want to go back to work.

We've both just finished our first week of work.  We were exhausted every night.  We fell asleep in our chairs in front of the warmly burning fireplace with an open book in our laps nearly every evening.  We woke up to an alarm.  I hired a house keeper.  Now, I really wish I could also hire a cook.

Last night, Friday night, we went out for Mexican food just like we always do.  Last night, at dinner, we debriefed.  Jim is meeting new people.  He is using his wisdom and expertise in new ways with new people.  He is learning new things.  I am energized and uplifted by the new students in my class.  I am using my knowledge and skills to help others learn English so that they can reach their lifetime goals.  I am surrounded by youth.  That keeps me young.  I have a reason to get up and pick out clothes to wear, fix my hair, and put on make-up.  I see my friends and colleagues at the University.  I am part of things at that wonderful institution again.

We are adjusting to working again.  We are happy with our decisions.  We have the ability to work.  We have the ability to say no.  We could have said no.  I shouldn't say, "We can't say no."  We could have.  We chose to say yes.  We are happy we did so.