I got my class schedule for next fall, and I have three classes — two face to face and one online. Teaching is my least profitable work activity, but I was still glad of it. I was talking last night to a teacher friend about how I’d internalized the concept of billable hours and given up being scornful of clock watchers. I could tell that she didn’t get it. I understand, too. I had a hard time adjusting to hourly work myself.

This came up because I’m meeting her this morning at the church to set up our table for the Ministry Fair.

“I think we should get all the tables set up and make sure –“

I interrupted her.

Our table. The rest of them are Not Our Problem.”

She looked at me with that familiar teacherly gaze that means “If we don’t do it, it might not get done, so we have to do it.”

I explained about billable hours and scope creep. We just do our part that we’re responsible for, and the rest is up to some other member of the team.

I can tell that she didn’t get it, but I’m getting it.

I got up this morning to a flurry of emails from other team members on this reservation management software site I’m working with. My colleagues are in India. They claim to have common American names. I’m not sure that I believe them.

When I taught ESL, students often took up American names when they came to the U.S., especially those from Hong Kong. Often, they chose names like Ethel and Agnes. I always wondered how they made that decision. Was it a joke the students perpetuated themselves? They’d say to the new people, “Oh, call yourself Elmo. Elmo means ‘Love Tiger’ in English.” That made up for their having chosen “Dwayne.”

My Indian team members claim to have names like people on American sit coms, a more sophisticated way to choose an alias if you want one specially for working with Americans. But it makes me feel a bit separated from them.

Still, if we continue working together as a team over the length of the project, I might begin to feel as though I have coworkers. Janalisa and I had a nice long walk yesterday, and at one point she was sharing some concerns abotu her coworkers. I remarked that stories like that made me feel better about not having coworkers.

Even when teaching, I have no coworkers. This is because I just go to class and leave again. The facility where I currently hold class has a uniformed guard at the door, whom I smile at when I arrive, but that’s the closest thing to a colleague. Maybe I should introduce myself.

I’ll be teaching at a different location next fall anyway. I have no idea where it is, but I have a while to find out.