When people retire, they have many activities with which to fill their newly empty calendars—golf, painting, traveling, selling ribbons to children on playgrounds. But sometimes, they’re too invested in their previous careers to make the adjustment. Sometimes, it all just becomes too much for them—life without the work they loved becomes life without meaning, and insanity ensues. Such begins the tragic tale of Doug Eadie, post-retirement.
We were walking around Times Square yesterday, looking for a gluten-free hot dog stand, when suddenly we saw a short, bearded, bespectacled and very familiar man striding purposefully from building to building, taping pink slips on the doors of businesses and apartment complexes alike. Upon closer inspection, the slips read: “Report to UDH: teacher absent.” Fueled by curiosity, we asked the local business owners what the deal was with the strange, wandering man, full of busy efficiency but entirely lost.
“He does this a lot,” one vendor said pityingly. “He’s always lifting an imaginary walkie-talkie to his mouth and calling for some Royster bloke. I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s in the middle of Times Square.” We knew then what had happened. We stopped Eadie and told him who we were. “Well, what are you doing in the halls at this hour, then?” he asked. “Do I have to give you boys a cut?”
Shocked, we followed him back to his “office,” which was tucked in a corner of his small but cozy apartment and was encircled by a self-made collection of various paintings and sculptures of principal Michael Zapicchi. After asking if we wanted to see his new juggling routine, Eadie said, “I’ve picked up some hobbies to pass the time.” We looked to the other side of his office and noticed his television was running the loop of the absent teacher board, to which he quickly responded, “I like to keep an eye on things.”
His wife came downstairs, and offered us some coffee in the “lobby.” Eadie kept calling her Mrs. Putnam, and she looked pretty distraught. Around the corner, in the “cafeteria,” we drank Green Valley roast from styrofoam cups as Mrs. Eadie explained her situation to us in hushed tones.
“He’s been like this for a few weeks now,” she said, tearing up. “It started with minor lapses: standing in the foyer with his arms crossed and nodding randomly to unseen students for minutes at a time, or desperately calling for backup from Al and Royster when he ran out of toilet paper.” She began to choke up and grabbed a box of tissues with the word “BOYCE” written on the side to clear her nose. “But when he called the lockdown drill the first time, I knew it was serious. What could I do? It’s all just been too much for him—he was too good at being a vice principal.” We went back into the “office” to find that Eadie had disappeared. He left a note taped to one of the busts of Mr. Z: “Out of Office, Sorry! Even Vice Principals need to eat!!”
“He does this sometimes,” Mrs. Eadie sniffled. “He’ll be back. Don’t worry.”
We stayed the night and found him the next day on 42nd street, hunched over a random tenant’s HVAC unit with a toolbox, muttering “damn Aramark.” It was an interesting sight—but it also scared us. Is this what happens once you escape the clutches of WW-P? Looking at Eadie, hunched over that groaning HVAC, sweating through his rusty beard, we could see ourselves—or what we might become. So we brought him Green Valley coffee in a styrofoam cup and asked him a few questions about PARCC testing. He looked happy enough. Guess that’s all that really matters.