Last week’s blog on the ubiquity of customer satisfaction surveys elicited a discussion with a good friend who was all for them, feeling that
a) employers need them to know how effective their employees are, and
b) employees will keep on their toes, knowing customers will be quizzed.
It kind of reminded me of the role of student monitors back in my elementary school days. Although we knew how we were supposed to behave , but if it were not for the monitor and the fear of “being told on” who’s to say how many kids would walk quietly to class or behave if the teacher left the room. But just as surveys can get out of control so can the monitor, and I should know.
It was fourth grade and our teacher was Sister Christina, a fresh-faced young nun. So young that even “us kids” who thought everyone was old, and could only see what showed through the face window of her Franciscan habit, recognized her youth. For some reason, one day she made me secret monitor, probably because she hoped it would keep me quiet for the whole day. My job – to write down the initials of anyone observed talking in class. And at the end of the day, they’d be kept after school
Well, yesiree Bob, I took this seriously. So seriously that I decided to catch everyone talking. Now this happened nearly sixty years ago, so I couldn’t swear to it, and I’d like to think I didn’t, but I may have talked to some of the”good kids” and when they answered, ……oops, another one bit the dust. But, hey remember – I’m not sure!
The outcome – Sister Christina took one look at the long list of initials jotted down on the page I’d ripped out of my assignment pad, and sneaked me out the back door of the class room a few minutes early, on the pretense of a doctor’s appointment, or some likely excuse After all how secret could a secret monitor be if her name was the only one missing from the list?
As for the rest of the class – I found out the next day, she’d dismissed them on time. My covert operation was over but I kept it secret, telling no one but my family. However four years later, a new position opened up.
The Hallway Monitor
A coveted position for eight graders,was to be appointed the weekly hallway monitor. This roughly compares to today’s Student of the Week. But whereas these kids earn a lousy bumper sticker, we got to man our hallway and stairwell posts for a whole week, making sure ‘the younger grades” behaved themselves as they trooped in and out in the morning, to and from lunch recess, and at dismissal.
Finally my turn came. Let me say beforehand that by eighth grade , I had outgrown my fourth grade zeal, and stood my post with dignity and bearing, breaking my pose only to smile and mouth “hi” to my brother in second grade each time his class passed. He’d respond by looking down at the ground, keeping his arms rigidly at his side, save for the fingers of one hand he wiggled my way. Figuring this was just my little brother being weird, as he could be from time to time, I didn’t give a lot of thought to it. However my curiosity got the best of me that weekend and I asked him,
“Jimmy, how come you’d never say hi to me in the hall last week.”
His answer, “I was afraid you’d write my name down.”