Setting Thesaurus Entry: Teacher's Lounge

Sight

Sturdy table and chairs, tray of goodies brought in by a parent or staff member, fake or real plant, coffee machine kitchenette area (stove, microwave fridge, dishwasher, sink, counter), cutlery, coffee fixings (cream, sugar, tea bags, etc), dish rag, tea towel, coffee mugs, water bottles, binders, tests laid out to mark, garbage can, teachers eating lunch, carpet, windows, curtains, couch, sign up/school event board, signs, inspirational posters, telephone, cupboards, boxes of stables ( granola bars, hot chocolate packets, ramen noodles, etc), newspapers piled up on a table

Sounds

Laughter, microwave beeping, popcorn popping, fridge opening and closing, rattle of cutlery in drawer, water being turned on and off, the perk of the coffee pot, chairs scraping the floor, low whispers, food lids being popped off, the crackle and crinkle of food wrappers and paper bags, sipping coffee/tea, the clink from a spoon stirring sugar or cream into a coffee, air hissing out a seat as someone sits, cabinets opening and closing, grumbling, gossipping, dishes clattering together, doors opening and closing

Smells

Coffee, food warmed for lunch, fast food brought in (hamburgers, pizza, subs, etc), popcorn, tea, baking, spices, hot dogs, cologne/perfume (if it isn't a scent-free environment), food gone bad in the fridge, burnt food

Tastes

An array of lunch food (soup, salads, sandwiches, pizza, hamburgers, chili, subs,) snacks (chips, cookies, brownies, popcorn, etc), hot drinks (coffee, tea, hot chocolate) cold drinks (water, pop, juice, milk), mints, gum, etc

Touch

Pulling on the handle of the fridge, lifting and pouring coffee from the carafe, the burn of spilling hot coffee on hand, sweeping a hand along the counter to collect crumbs, peeling back suran wrap of prying a lid off a container, stirring coffee mate into coffee, balling up wrappers and tossing them into the trash, pulling back a chair, scooting the chair in tight to a table, leaning toward the center of a table to select a treat from a tray, washing hands at the sink, pulling a door shut, rifling through a cupboard for something to eat or a clean cup, pulling open a steaming bag of popcorn, stirring lunch to distribute heat, taking a bite of a sandwich and then putting it down, dabbing face with a napkin, leaning away from an annoying coworker as you eat or socialize, sliding shoes off to give feet a brief rest as you sit for lunch, flipping through a newspaper or magazine, checking phone messages, texting, typing on a laptop, digging through a purse

Helpful hints:

--The words you choose can convey atmosphere and mood.

Example 1:

I opened the door to the lounge and cringed at the spicy, paint-peeling aroma wafting in my face. Great, Fatima Boyd was subbing for someone again. That woman and her homemade casseroles. Not only would her breath reek as she made the lunch rounds, chatting everyone up, so would the microwave. Last time she heated a batch of leftover spaghetti surprise, it tainted our meals for a week!

Example 2:

Kathy Specks, the school librarian, had one of those high nasal voices that just set your teeth on edge. Worse, not only was she a talker, she was a hand waver too. Wherever she sat on the long, cafeteria style tables, people made sure to sit a seat or two down. If you didn't you got the Bull-in-a-china-shop treatment, those hands of hers smacking into your drink, soup or bowl of salad and depositing it in your lap.

--Similes and metaphors create strong imagery when used sparingly.

Example 1: (Simile)

I stood behind Leonard as he rooted through the fridge, no doubt looking for someone's lunch to steal. His old man butt hung out past the door, wagging like a fat dog's hind end as he reached for the back shelf where I'd stashed my lunch. Every Monday I brought leftover pizza, and every Monday it mysteriously disappeared...but not today, not if I had anything to say about it.

Example 2: (Metaphor)

After two painful hours trying to teach algebra to the remedial math group, a hurricane-sized headache gnawed at my brain. I limped into the lounge and found a fresh pot of coffee on the burner and clean mugs on the counter. The aroma of premium dark roast was more soothing than a bottle of aspirin.

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10 comments:

K.Hinny said...

Thanks for this Angela!

I always try to incorporate all of the senses into my stories (not all in the same sentence of course!) and I've had some pleasant and not so pleasant results. :D

Happy writing
Hinny

Bish Denham said...

Another excellent entry!

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I love your metaphors. That's the part I really have to work on. Great post as usual!

Karen Lange said...

Good stuff! Thanks for posting this.
Happy weekend,
Karen

Tiffany Neal said...

You captured the teacher's lounge perfectly! I know, it is my escape! :)

Mary Witzl said...

What Tiffany said, but add Turkish coffee, half-eaten baklava on the table, and a few other exotic elements.

I'll be back to this one!

Angela said...

Ha I was wondering if a few teachers would post and tell me if I got it right!

Thanks all!

Tara McClendon said...

From what I remember of the teacher's lounge (I had access as a student), you got it right. Of course I'd have to add whiskey to tastes, as several of my teachers liked to add it to their coffee. Now a days I hear teachers have to use clear cups, but that could just be an urban legend. :]

Kelly said...

Excellent entry. I've spent many hours in the teacher's lounge (or faculty lounge).
At both schools I've taught at, there has been a water cooler as well (the one with big jugs of water upside down and you press a button for fresh water).
Also for sounds, exhausted sighs as the teacher sits down. And laughter too! :)

Annie Douglass Lima said...

I've never taught in a school that had a dishwasher in the teachers' lounge, but the rest of it is pretty accurate. I'd say the tray of goodies on the table is a rare but welcome treat (at least at my school)! Oh, and be sure to mention the teachers sharing stories of the weird or funny things their students did or said that day.

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