One of the things I have always voiced as a fear is running into a play friend when I am at work. When I have played out possible scenarios of this happening I have always imagined the man being either a potential employer or recognising him at a parent teacher interview scenario. As is always the way nothing ever plays out the way you imagine it.
As I was minding my own business one Friday night I received the following message
“Hi remember me?”
I looked at my phone. There was a number with no contact assigned. So I had absolutely no idea. My response,
“?? A name perhaps”
H proceeded to be very coy and not forthcoming with information but dropped hints while I tried to get my head around the situation. I worked out that I had never actually met this guy that we had chatted for a while planned to meet and for some reason never followed through. He had recognised me at a school function that day, gone home and thought it would be fun to mess with my head a little.
It really threw me. His complete refusal to fully identify himself although he knew where I worked, who my work colleagues and my boss were and my name but he refused to give any clues to his identity. I told him that I hadn’t saved his number, or more likely deleted it when things fell through. Eventually he gave me the name of the profile he used on the dating apps we met through and then proceeded to tell me his account had been deactivated. A quick search confirmed there was no profile with this name. He didn’t seem to understand why this situation was grossly unfair. He told me he didn’t want to reveal too much to protect his kid. Even when I pointed out he knew a lot about me.
The whole time I was having the conversation I was struggling to keep up with emotions and thoughts that were popping in to my head. I was aware that this could go very badly for me and saying the wrong thing could have major repercussions but I was also dealing with being quite irritated at his smugness. On top of this confusion about what exactly he wanted out of this conversation. He didn’t want to meet as far as I could work out. He had a partner of sorts and he didn’t tell her about this. He didn’t make any threats about outing me to my boss he just seemed to get pleasure out of messing with my head.
In the end I just stopped responding to him or giving him any openings in the conversation. I wished him well and made sure he understood that while I wouldn’t be teaching his kid next year I would likely see him around from time to time. What I didn’t tell him, mainly because I didn’t really think about it much, was that there are ways I could work out who he was. The class his kid belongs to was one that I taught this year. It isn’t that big and of course teachers have access to the contact details of parents. How else could we contact them when we need to? It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to open their class list and poke around a little.
Before I even went down that road I sat quietly and ran through the parents I had conversed with that day. I realised who it was. While I don’t have a clear mental picture of the parent I have a clear understanding of the kid. And so here I am. Now what? Nothing really. At the end of the day he would have to out himself to make a complaint or a fuss. I have done nothing wrong or unprofessional. I think I wasn’t even working at this school when we were talking. I know I wasn’t teaching his kid. And even if I was our meeting was in a separate place, on a separate pathway. I am nothing if not professional and proper with my Young People.
And so, now that my irritation at his childish behaviour has dissipated I am taking it on the chin. Or doing my best. Lessons have been learned and appreciation for the bullet I dodged in not actually meeting this person is growing.