Chapter 4 – Back Pew Brigade

So as a back pew seater in school masses I have stated that we are in the back pew during these masses.  We are obviously put there for two, no three main reasons.  I have already told you about the main jobs that were assigned to me but lets look at my job and its my assignment that takes place in that hour that mass takes place.

The main two reasons that us seven teachers are in that back pew are for security reasons and for being puke catchers.  Security because we live in a world that is at unrest and even a church is not entirely secure from weird occurances.  Being located in an inner city, St. Rose of Lima in Houston, Texas is not immune from attracting wanderers to the church.  We have had our times when people looking for shelter and or a place to relieve themselves have shown up.  Like the man who decided to pee pee in front of the church when the kids were being picked up from the end of the school day.  Of course I saw him doing this and sent someone to tell him that maybe that was not the best area in which to water the roses.

Seven teachers who do not have homerooms sit in those back pews during the school mass and remember that I am not a back pew sitter.  I have been groomed to sit in the middle section.  So my positioning in St. Rose of Lima is in the left side back pew in front of the room of all rooms.  Yes!  I sit in the back row directly in front of the Cry Room!  BINGO!  Believe me, when a Catholic yells Bingo, its for the big win!!!

The second reason for the back row positioning is to take care of any student that may get ill during mass. How many students may have to go to the bathroom at 8am in the morning you may ask?  Let me tell you, a lot!  We just all had a good breakfast so bathroom travelers are chaperoned by us back row sitters.  At one mass I actually logged 3,000 steps during one mass.  This is still a record breaking mass walking log.

We also take care of any kids that may get sick.  It makes perfect sense in Houston, Texas for boys and girls in middles school to have to wear a wool vest over their usual shirt or blouse on mass days.  The average temperature especially in August is at least 90 degrees and I will tell you that the average middle schooler does not eat the breakfast that most think that they would or should eat.  There have been times where half way through mass a middle school student has become overheated from the wool vest that is trapping all their body heat to their middle torso section and the fainting has occurred during the strenuous kneeling regiment of the Catholic mass.  I am five foot two and I have girls and boys that tower over me.  We revive them and walk them to the school nurse and I am sure we look like we are dragging the dead out of that church at times.  Once again I make sure that they are able to walk and of course I ask if they are feeling like they may throw up because once again I will end up throwing up right with them.

The third reason that I believe that us homeroomless teachers were put into the back pews is to put a funk into the daily back row mass sitters church going experience especially if they are over the age of 65.  I’ve said this before, we all have our church sitting spots.  We have sat in that same row for 40 years or more.  Do you think that these sitters are going to move on weekly mass days?  Well yes, you will have to move a row up on Thursday mornings or you can join in apprehending the intruder with us or you can choose to clean up the throw up from the third grader who had Fruity Pebbles for breakfast or you can help with the passer outer who either cannot stand that wool vest or who has decided to wear a coat into a church that does not turn on the air conditioning until it is filled to capacity in 90 degree, 60% humidity weather.  Guess what?  They choose to give up that back pew when I give them these options.  They may not smile but they sure do move quick for their age.

In my empowering back row positioning for the weekly school masses I have developed a tic.  I no longer can just sit and listen to a mass.  I am now on patrol.

There are three doors that a person can enter St. Rose of Lima Church.  One main doorway at the middles aisle and two doors to either side of the back pews.  One of these doors leads to the left side parking lot and the right side door leads to the church hall.  As I sit in my back patrol pew, I have developed a neck turning tic whenever I hear or see one of these three doors open.  Left tic, older person left side sitter, back tic completely over my right shoulder, family that home schools, right side 45 degree tic, 5 minutes after mass has started, older lady and her husband who also serves communion.  My tic turns are exact and I know everyone who enters and where they will position themselves.  Oh help me Lord, I have turned into a church going nutcase.

Where does this neck turning tic lead to?  It leads to my best ever Cry Room Story.  This story is called The Everything Else but the Cry Room Saga.

As I have stated, during school masses I am positioned in the Back Pew right in front of the Cry Room.  We will now use these abbreviations for these positions, LOL.  *BP = Back Pew and *CR = Cry Room.

During school weekday masses, other people join us.  Older retired people, daily mass goers, visitors, and parents of the students.  On a crisp cool Thursday in February, my right neck tic turn kept picking up a fidgety family of four.  A mom and her three kids ranging form 2-8 years old were seated to my right.  Hmmmm, visitors on vacation?  No, I have seen them before.  Why aren’t the older kids in school themselves?  My teacher senses pick up the vibe of a homeschooling situation.  Homeschooling is fine.  Its not for me and my kids and it doesn’t pay my salary but still its ok.  Its not ok when the kids cannot sit and the mom decides to move the kids.  Does she take them to the CR behind me?  Of course she doesn’t, she takes them into the room behind the right section back pew teacher sitters into the Chapel.  This room is used for smaller prayer groups for reciting the rosary or for personal mass times.  It contains the nice cushioned chairs but these chairs do not face the main altar because this room is NOT the CR.  My right neck tic turn continues as the Homeschooled family is having a hay day in the Chapel.  The mom is facing the altar while the older boy is laying across the seats, the little girl is circling the mini altar at the back, and the two year old is hanging and pulling on a wall fixture.

My neck tic gets me out of my BP positioning and makes me walk for a better viewing of what is going on in that Chapel.  Because I am a CR Believer, I suggest to the mom that maybe it would be better for her and her active kids to go into the CR over in my left pew territory.  She responds to me that she is allergic to flowers so she cannot possibly go into the CR.  What I ask myself does that have to do with going into the correct room with moving kids?  I take her word that she has heard my suggestion and I walk back to my now cooled off back pew seat.  My neck tic picks up motion and I turn to see the mom and her kids moving towards the isolation room, the CR!  Yes, I have persuaded someone to finally use that room for its full potential. That occupancy lasts for about a total of 5 minutes.  The mom comes out and lets me know that she cannot stand the flowers and that she will be reporting me to the principal.  Wait , report me?  For what?  I then glance back into the now lit CR and it is chalk full of flowers of every carnation funeral color.  There are flowers and greenery everywhere.  There is not a place to sit.  I had no idea that the flowers for a funeral scheduled for after the school mass were being staged in the CR behind me.  I do not check the CR every Thursday.  I’m too busy looking for intruders and pukers!

The mom takes my name off of my nameplate and I am pretty sure that this will be the lunchroom story of the day.  Better yet I was correct.  This mom was a homeschooler, oh and her dad is on of the deacons at St. Rose.  Oops!  Shouldn’t she know in which room to go into even if it is highly decorated?

After this event, myself and my back pew teacher sitters who sit in my section have decided to turn on the light in the CR so that parents can see that it is available to enter instead of walking into the Chapel that is always lit.  We are really proud of our proactive decision making until about three weeks later, I had sat down late to mass, no activity was taking place and all was well until after communion I whispered to my teaching back pew friend that we had forgot to turn on the light in the CR that week.  She whispered back that the reason that she did not turn it on was because there was a deceased body in a casket in the CR.  What?  I turned around and lo and behold there was a beautiful cherry casket that was in my beloved CR.  They have really thought of good uses for the CR that hardly anyone takes advantage of!  I guess the Cry Room voidness has been put to good use for funerals.






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