Here is a short story that I wrote in 1993 at the start of my new job as assistant principal at East Meadow High School, months after leaving my 19-year position as English teacher at Westbury High School. I thought it would bring a smile to our classmates’ faces…..Dr. Susan Fishbein, Westbury High School Class of 1968.
When I took the job of AP, little did I think that the job description included the care of animals. Well, in fact, it didn’t. But one day in early fall, in my first year at EMHS, I found myself coming to the aid of a dog.
I was new on the job, and handling a Walkie-Talkie was still novel to me. Suddenly, a report of a dog romping at the front of the building caught my attention. Maybe the other AP’s, Mr. Tarpey and Mr. Hettenbach, heard it and wisely ignored it, or they may have been preoccupied with other important AP duties. I ran out front and saw the dog, a lively, golden, mid-sized mutt. Students who were getting off the buses knew nothing about the dog that had suddenly appeared on the front lawn. Some reported he had been playing with other students. All I could think was that he could have gotten run over by the school buses. Soon all the buses had pulled away, and the bulk of the students had gone inside to their homerooms.
Now it was the dog and I. New to this kind of problem, I hadn’t a clue as to what to do. Only months ago, I was just an English teacher in a neighboring school. I couldn’t exactly call the Assistant Principal – I was the Assistant Principal. Finally, a girl appeared and seemed to relate to the bouncing dog.
“Yeah, he’s my dog…I guess he followed me to school.” I was incredulous. How could she be so careless? The dog might have had to traverse a heavily trafficked, 6-lane turnpike to get to our school. I could only think of Mary and her little lamb.
“Where do you live?” I asked like a policeman questioning a lost kid.
“Right across Hempstead Turnpike.” My suspicion about the dog’s path was confirmed.
“Well, all right, then, let’s get him home.” I was doing my best to sound confident and in control.
“Well, Ms. Fishbein, OK, but there’s no leash,” the girl confessed the obvious.
“You’re right. How about if I get the Tarpeymobile?” I knew that the 6-passenger mini-school-bus was a better choice than my own car, a small Toyota, and I also didn’t really relish the idea of getting my new car dirty, even in the line of duty.
“OK. But you’ll have to be patient. He may not want to jump in right away.”
Again, remember that I was a new Assistant Principal. I had never driven the Tarpeymobile. But my adrenaline was flowing. I ran to get the keys from the other AP’s office to start ‘er up. I didn’t stop to explain what I needed the bus for. I had told the student that I would meet her at the south Carman Avenue entrance. I barely made it into the driver’s seat of the bus, struggling in my tailored business suit and juggling the Walkie-Talkie.
Getting the dog to comply was not easy; she was right. I’d say it took 10 to 12 atttempts. It also wasn’t easy to run around in stockings, heels, and skirt on the side lawn to invisibly lasso and coax the dog for a ride.
At last, we were all aboard. I held on tight to the big, thin steering wheel, and could hear the jumping and panting, smell the furry doggy smell, and feel the pounding of the dog against the sides of the van.
When we got to Third Street near Franklin Avenue, I felt relieved. I pulled the mini bus over to the curb like a pro. The student and her dog tumbled out, and my first home delivery was complete.