1. Obviously, students should not enter the Teachers’ Lounge. To that end, do not send your students to the Teachers’ Lounge for any reason, including fire, flood, or a pressing need for a feminine hygiene product.
2. If you ignore the above rules, and send a student to ask Mrs. O’Malley if you can borrow her tape dispenser, know that no adult in the room, including Mrs. O’Malley, is responsible for any horrifying sight your student might glimpse in the Teachers’ Lounge.
3. This includes the way Mr. Nelson eats a ham sandwich.
4. If another teacher enters the room, visibly weeping, but makes themselves a cup of coffee without making eye contact with anyone else, all other teachers are obliged to pretend said teacher is not crying.
5. However, if the same teacher pours themselves a cup of coffee, then places it on the counter, and leans over the sink, sobbing, all teachers present are obligated to send at least one representative to hug that teacher around the shoulders and say, “Oh, honey.”
6. Every teacher has an assigned seat in the Teachers’ Lounge. If you’re new and you don’t know which seat to choose, be aware that it will be the one across from Mr. Nelson.
7. If there is a cake in the school, the remains will be sent to the Teachers’ Lounge. Teachers who take a slice and dislike the taste will agree to quietly toss it in the garbage can in their classrooms without making a fuss about it.
8. If an administrative figure enters the Teachers’ Lounge, everyone should visibly tense, but continue about their business as though everything is super-cool, no problemo.
9. No couch made after 1998 should be placed in the Teachers’ Lounge.
10. It is grave offense, possibly punishable by death but definitely by ostracization, to drink another teacher’s Diet Coke from the Lounge fridge. Diet Cokes do not need to be labeled. Everyone knows whose is whose.
11. If you are invited by a teacher who keeps a secret refrigerator in her classroom to use it for your own lunch or beverage, you are implicitly agreeing not to inform the rest of the Teachers’ Lounge of its existence. Similar restrictions apply to private chocolate candy stashes and low-key lint rollers.
12. No one in the Lounge cares that your student’s mother told you that your class was her favorite.
13. Everyone in the Lounge cares that your student’s mother told you that you’re a terrible person and a bad teacher.
14. Never throw away any piece of paper left out on a table in the Lounge, including Avon catalogs from the late ‘90s.
15. If you receive a teacher- or education-related joke, cartoon, or meme via email, you are morally obliged to print it out and tape it to one of the cupboards in the Lounge. If the joke involves puns, your obligation is doubled. These may never be removed.
16. Teachers may flee the Lounge without explanation or excuse when the following occur: The principal is rumored to be planning “to swing by” with her visiting son who’s at Hofstra; a former student whose name cannot be recalled pops in; Mrs. O’Malley has a new stack of photos of her grandchildren to share; Mr. Nelson brought in tuna instead of ham today.