The BC Teachers Federation is taking action. They’re out there by City Hall, making noise and cheering as every other car honks support. I leave my office and join them to snap a few shots. There’s a surprisingly positive mood here – people are dancing, there’s music and cheers and turns at the mic and a kind of talent show emerges. And it starts to snow, tiny flakes coming down and landing on cheeks and eyelashes.
I guess these people love what they do. That’s the most important thing. I admit to my ignorance about the details of the issues for this action, but I’m generally inclined to take the teachers’ word for it. Now they’re singing a song, based on a Bob Marley tune, with lyrics about the situation. They’ve handed out lyrics and the class is singing along as best they can. They seem to know what they’re doing.
Actually I have a bad memory I associate with singing and unions. Here goes: I’m like 9 or something and my family’s trucked off to Vancouver Island for a union meeting (my father was part of that one for some years in his job). While the adults do adult things we kids are rationed Wonderbread sandwiches (peanut butter, egg salad, ham and cheese), packed into buses and trucked off for daytime activities – I recall it was pretty intense, a little surreal… like the time when we’re busing up island and one of the adults their is trying to get us to sing some union song (!). Something about solidarity, I’m not entirely sure, but I do recall the creeping feeling of being force-fed propaganda, that much I knew even back then. Well it was a hot sticky day and I guess the other kids weren’t into solidarity either, a sentiment they enthusiastically demonstrated by hurling sandwiches at one another.
Peanut butter, ham, cheese. Egg salad. It was nauseating (I think that’s about the time I stopped eating lunches altogether, a habit that lasted with me until I graduated high school…). But in the bus there I managed to hold it in, hunkered down and prayed for the trip to end, and with it the forced singing, the union retreat, childhood in general. There was no power in the union on that day. Nope, chaos reigned.
So 33 years later and the trauma is behind me. Whew… In fact, I’m all for these teachers who love their jobs and want to get a decent deal for them and are singing about it with a Bob Marley tune as the snow comes down.
A walk around the block and I return to work, and now the speakers are playing the 1984 Van Halen hit, ‘Hot for Teacher’. I’ll leave it to you to do a youtube search on that one.