Paula Parkes is always phoning our school. I'll often hear over the P.A. system, "Paula Parkes, Line 1, for Mr. Woloszanski" or "Paula Parkes, Line 1, for Mrs. Hart". I wondered vaguely who this infamous Paula Parkes was. She phoned so often I became certain I OUGHT to know her. Perhaps she was a resource teacher or an early literacy teacher from the board who visited often and worked with a number of other teachers and was calling to consult with them.
Then one day, I heard over the P.A. System, "Paula Parkes, Line 1, for Mme. Peron..." I almost didn't answer it. After all, it must be a mistake. I don't know anyone named Paula Parkes. But then when I glanced at the call display, it read the name of a parent I was expecting a phone call from. I answered and it was indeed the parent on the line.
It dawned on me then, Paula Parkes was code for "Parent on the phone". In hospitals they have codes for emergencies. Like Mr. Brown to the 4th floor might mean that someone had escaped from the psych ward. Well, Paula Parkes was OUR Mr. Brown. I felt suddenly "in the know".
Today, some months after I'd made this discovery, I was in the staff room eating lunch when I heard, "Paula Parkes, Line 1 for Mme. Peron". I answered the call and it was a parent I'd asked to phone me during lunch. When I returned to the table to finish my lunch, I decided to divulge to my friends and colleagues about how no one had ever TOLD me about the code Paula Parkes and how it had taken me so long to figure it out. I mean, was this decided at the beginning of the year when I was on mat leave, I asked. They all looked at me questioningly. "Who is Paula Parkes?" one friend asked. "EXACTLY!" I exclaimed, "It's a code for parent on the line." "They've been using it all year...." they went on, "But they're not saying Paula..."
I furrowed my brow, unsure about what they were getting at.
"Call parked on line 1...."