Today has to rank pretty highly on the list of Highly Annoying Things That Distract My Classroom, although not as high as the time a very cute and photogenic puppy wandered into view and plomped himself down on the grass outside the classroom window and distracted even the most cynical of my students with his gleeful cavorting. But it was Highly Annoying nonetheless.
Evidently a water main broke sometime right between my first and my second class. This meant that the water fountains on every floor ---- and all the bathroom plumbing, I later found out ---- started making interesting and horrible noises. At first, it consisted of various knockings and banging and pops, with varied tempos and accents that had me poking my head in next door to ask if they were playing music or practicing a drum circle. They protested their innocence and pointed to the rattling, shaking water fountain that appeared to be having a seizure right outside our doorways. Someone ran the water for a second and said, "maybe if we relieve the pressure," and a lot of the noise subsided. Of course, we did not know that the pipe had burst and not yet been located or the water turned off, so no, the problem was not solved.
Instead the banging and rattling subsided down to a steady, rhythmic squeak, about ten minutes into the class. It sounded for all the world like someone having vigorous sex in a very squeaky bed, and I mentioned that to my class. What can I say? The whole thing was distracting me too. From the looks of flat disapproval on most of my students' faces, they did not want me to talk of Such Things. I forgot that I am basically a high school teacher here and it is not ok to acknowledge that they know anything about sex. It probably wasn't helped by me adding, "Jeeez, could they change it up a little? I'd get pretty damn bored of the lack of variety even if it's squeaky-bed sex, much less pipes breaking." Someone made a weak joke about staying power and I retorted that's way less impressive from the perspective of the other person involved.
"So, ok class (cree-Eek), when we look at this (cree-Eek) line of the poem, what's (cree-Eek) going on here? (cree-Eek ... cree-Eek ... cree-Eek) What are the two things being compared in (cree-Eek) the metaphor here in this line? (cree-Eek) Anyone able to tell me (cree-Eek) arrrgh god make it stop! Nooooooooooo!"
Except I didn't actually start screaming and cursing out loud. I don't think. I guess it wasn't too bad --- I already have to pace and repeat my sentences around all the coughing and throat-clearing going on in that class. This was just fighting distraction outside of the room instead of within it.
The only problem is that the rhythm has now been burned on my brain. I was joking with a couple postdocs afterwards that if I knew how to beatbox, I could rap along with it. It is about twenty times louder on the floor where my office is, and ended up driving me away instead of me staying in the office to get my class prep done. And even now, I still have it echoing in my ears as if I were still hearing it. I sure hope they fix that damn pipe before (cree-Eek) tomorrow.