My readers know that I am a Downton Abbey fan. In anticipation of tonight’s Season 3 finale, I give you this:
While I have enjoyed the ability to create synthesis, to cultivate intellectual collision, to learn new things as a vehicle for teaching new classes, to follow my passion for watching young minds open and grow, I have seen over the course of my career my chosen field turned from somewhat shabby gentility to a customer service profession.
I’ve moved, metaphorically speaking, from a small apartment in a remote wing of Downton Abbey reserved for an interesting if unfortunately less wealthy second cousin of the main Grantham line, to the downstairs apartment of, say, Mrs. Hughes – not exactly banned from upstairs, somewhat in charge, but ultimately a paid employee expected to keep scandal at bay and insure the proper care and feeding of the household.
At least when Mrs. Hughes had her cancer scare, Lady Grantham assured her that she would always be taken care of by the family (and probably not, lucky for her, by that snooty titled doctor who killed Sybil). Spoiler alert: who knows what will happen to Mrs. Hughes when Lord Grantham runs the place into bankruptcy – again! Drumroll: “socialized” medicine to the rescue, but not until 1948 when she will presumably be buried out back next to Carson.
I will leave teaching to cultivate full-time, with COBRA for my health insurance, which, after eighteen months will be replaced with Medicare. Naming time-limited healthcare continuation after a venomous snake is perfectly fitting given the paralyzing effect that acquiring individual healthcare has on one’s ability to work for one’s self!
Keeping ledgers, managing drama, cajoling callow under-performers and bowing to the sweet but out-of-touch and occasionally imperious Carson – Mrs. Hughes and I share a similar lot. It’s modern form is bowing to the vision of my superiors, constant grade transparency, endless meetings, documentation and communication of my and my students productivity at the expense of real time to think, protection of the “brand” of my school and “innovation” that is really just superficial wrapping on what good teachers have been doing all along. Think Daisy resenting the attention received by Cora’s mother’s American maid, or the new bright and shiny scullery maid Ivy (and I don’t mean League).
Through a plot twist, Daisy has been given the chance to become her own boss, moving a step up from the world of service to tenancy, thanks to her father-in-law, who has no heirs but this one-day bride of his fallen son. Will she take it?
I may be Mrs. Hughes — in age if not appearance– but the Daisy in me is turning in her notice, off to cultivate new fields of endeavor in a plot (twist) of her own. I may not be moving upstairs, but I am definitely moving out. Stay tuned for the next season.