After what was a busy and intense (but good)  end of the week/ weekend writing midterms, writing pre-interview question responses, and going on interviews,  I’m 100% out of deep, introspective writing! However, I thought I’d share a funny tale about a trend I’ve noticed lately- my lack of filter.

Some Background…

When I first began teaching at the all-boys high school I used to teach at, I quickly learned I had MUCH to learn- teaching boys WAS very different from teaching girls. There were certainly benefits: I could be a bit freer with choice words, they don’t hold grudges, they are a bit more playful, and they give better teacher presents. There were downsides/ new things to adjust to as well: they DO fart in the classroom, they generally tend to be smelly, they are very disorganized/ forgetful, they are a bit more playful (notice that’s + and -), and many of them HAVE NO FILTER.

I was happy to meet my new students and since many of them were at lunch just prior to our class together, many would come “hang out” in my office and the choir room before class. It’s one of the things I really miss- just hanging out with “my guys” and hearing about whatever they were talking about- the weekend, sports, the adventures of that day, what teacher “hated them, for real”, etc… But by about week 2, I realized I had to put some parameters on “hang time” and what should/ shouldn’t be said (to a teacher, or perhaps even just out loud in general).

One of my favorite students would come in all the time, and start a story something like this, “OMG! Ms. Hinds I can’t wait to tell you! The craziest thing happened! This weekend, I was out with some people at a party and we had had like 5 drin….”

I would immediately interrupt, “ WAIT A SECOND!!! This sounds like we might getting into something I shouldn’t know about; because I am your teacher… Are you sure this is a good story to share?”

Student: “Oooh… (thinking carefully)…. Um, yeah… Haha… Maybe I’ll tell you this story after I graduate.”

Me: “Excellent idea! I can’t wait to hear it in 2 years! Sometimes it’s just best to kind of run the story in your mind through a filter before sharing it- as like a safety check, ya know?”

This student and I continued in this way for a few years, and eventually this dialogue didn’t happen anymore… we had it down to a code word…. FILTER. Before the student even hit my office door, they were talking to me already, “Ms. Hinds, Omg…” I would interrupt, simply shouting back from my desk, “FILTER!” …And the story would either cease, 3 words in, followed by a giggle, OR I’d hear back something like, “Duh, Ms. Hinds, I know… I already filtered… this one’s good to go.” … and the story would continue as the student made their way into my office.

This became the stuff of legends in my choral classroom- and my last year or two there, if ANY student started saying something and I got nervous about the appropriate nature of the tale, I’d say “FILTER!” and it was a great cue for a self-check… I even heard students call “FILTER!” on one another… Great, great method.

I like to think I am pretty darn “filtered”… perhaps too much so, at times. However, noting a few incidents in the past few weeks, I’m thinking that somewhere on the road between New Orleans and Chicago, I lost mine. Maybe I’m just adopting that “northern way” my southern mother always feared and talked about… just sayin’ whatever pops into my head… It’s a GREAT way to look like a weirdo…

Example 1: Banking.

I finally switched by bank accounts- my bank in New Orleans does not have offices or ATM’s in Chicago, so I finally opened a new account at Chase Bank, as they are in both cities. The big day arrived, and after a quick stop by my school, I entered a large, downtown branch. Did I mention that I was in workout clothes and everyone else around is in suits/ business attire?

Well, plastered ALL OVER this bank are signs that say, “CHASE PRIVATE CLIENT”…. I rarely enter a bank anyway, so I’m already a fish out of water. There’s a sea of cubicles before me, and these huge signs hanging down from the ceiling… All I can think is, “Great, I finally pick a bank to go into and of course I select some bourge-y, VIP bank for millionaires.” So, I’m standing there, kind of circling around, in workout clothes, with some crazy perplexed look on my face, when a guy in a suit comes up to me and says, “Can I help you m’am?”  I don’t even know what to say… I mean, seriously, I’m about to get escorted out of the VIP bank, right? So, finally, this is what comes to me:

“Is this the normal people bank? I’m looking for the normal people bank.”

The second it escapes my lips, I realize how completely hilarious and ridiculous this sounds… and I have no idea how to “fix” it or how to explain that I’m not actually a complete weirdo…  The guy, while smiling, looks kind of confused…. So, I continue:

“I just moved here and all I wanted to do was to open a Chase bank account, but I see this place is all about the ‘Private Clients’ (gestures to signs) which is surely not me, so I was just wondering if a normal people branch was nearby…”

The guy cracks up laughing, I crack up laughing…. It was kind of amazing, actually. He explains it’s just some new program- they are in fact a “normal people bank” too… and he can set up a checking account for me… and hour and many laughs later, I had my new bank cards and bank account, and a super-cool mobile banking app on my phone… He’s JT, my AMAZING banker… Love him!

So, take it from me… Chase Bank = for normal people. Fear not, normal friends.

Example 2: The Gym

I joined a gym a few weeks ago (shocking, I know). I don’t “do” gyms. I don’t like gyms. However, realizing that it’s already cold to me here, and it will be REALLY cold in a few weeks/months and that it will STAY that way for a while, if I want to continue wearing the smaller size (which I like very much), I needed to figure out a solution… Because I was not gonna be jogging outside for much longer. …And Pilates lessons don’t fit so well in an unemployed person’s budget.

So, I called the gym down the street from me- it’s actually really nice, and they have some great student rates. They were super nice on the phone, so I set up a time to meet with a membership advisor and take a tour.  Naturally, now that I’m at a gym and NOT a bank, I’m in normal clothes, not gym clothes when I go to this meeting.

An attractive and friendly guy (with arm muscles about as big as my head) comes up and introduces himself… So far, so good… and his first question is something like, “So, before we start, what do you like in a gym? What are you into? What are you looking for?”

(Cue no-filter verbal explosion #2)

Me: “Ok… Well, before we get started, I should probably clarify something… I hate gyms. I’m kind of a gym-o-phobic. I really don’t like them. It’s all overwhelming and I don’t know what to do with any of the stuff and there’s just a bunch of people that look better than me and I just don’t like it. I like Pilates. I like jogging outside. Pilates is no longer in the budget, and I’m from New Orleans… I’m not gonna wanna be outside soon- that’s why I’m here.”


Response: “Ooh.. Ok, I see.. Well, um, let’s start the tour.”

Ugh… Seriously, Tara… This was literally the DAY after the bank… Who am I and what are these crazy things escaping from my mouth?!?

I’m happy to report the gym tour got much better from there, and I’ve made a rule that I have to go there 4x’s a week… and I’ve done pretty well so far. I’ve tried a bunch of classes…..most of which I’ve enjoyed (only 1 made me want to cry and run away …it was only 30 min, and I was mouthing curse words… I was very much filtering and using restraint!).  I had my first meeting with a personal trainer this week, and it wasn’t scary or awful- she was super nice and I’m learning about weights/ strength training stuff… Kinda cool. …And I’m considering training for a ½ marathon in the Spring…. I’m turning 30… It seems like doing something major is called for, right?

…I have managed to not say anything super-weird at the gym since day 1… although my first e-mail to my trainer may have had a similar awkward flavor. 🙂


I urge you, my friends… take the wisdom of “Ms. Hinds”… Filter often, if you can.

However, if you don’t, you’re sure to provide copious amounts of entertainment to those around you… Despite my embarrassment post-unfiltered comments, I’m pretty sure I provided the dinner table entertainment for both my banker and gym advisor on those days.

Hope your week is off to a great start!

Quote of the Week: “If you always do what you know to be right and true, even if scary or new, you will always be ok.” –Oprah

(Those shows about her school in S. Africa totally melted me last night!)



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