There are tough jobs out there.  A gastroenterologist is a technician who inhales human halitosis and flatulence in order to rate their noxious levels.  (Please tell me this guy works in a non-smoking area!)

There are difficult jobs.  In agricultural areas like Wainfleet, poultry farmers hire young guys who are quick of hand and foot as chicken catchers.

And there are demanding jobs out there like a janitor at a nuclear reactor plant.  “If the dust is glowing, use the long broom!”

So all these jobs are challenging enough on their own without a job-related handicap.  What if a gastroenterologist comes down with a sinus problem or the chicken chaser suffers a pulled groin or worse, develops an allergy to feathers?

Now I would consider a teacher in today’s schools to be holding down a position that is all of the above … tough, difficult and demanding.  So when a teacher has a sinus problem, a muscle pull or an allergy to that job – which requires speaking, standing and not sneezing all over the students – that job just got a whole lot harder.

But when a teacher suffers from an allergy to students, that is the grand daddy of all career enders right there!  I mean that’s like a seasoned politician who suddenly starts experiencing nausea and skin rashes at the faint odour of BS.  Sorry but if you’re an elected official who can no longer trade in the currency of verbal crap, you need to resign and find work that is honest.

Like airborne angst, it seems we’re allergic to just about everything today.

Allergies used to be related to cats and dogs, ragweed and pollen.  Today people are finding themselves allergic to dust mites and cockroaches, birch trees and sesame seeds.  Some people are allergic to the vibration of cars and lawnmowers.  Aquagenic urticaria is an allergy to water.  People today are complaining of welts and rashes and dripping noses due to sex, sweat, sunlight and shoes.

There’s even an allergy called anaphylaxis which is not actually an allergy per se but a fear of having allergic reactions when you don’t have the allergy at all.  There is no cure because … there is no allergy.  This is not related to the allergy to peanuts … this is just plain nuts.

But a teacher allergic to her students!?!  Get used to the latest word in allergies – pedophobia – because I have a feeling this one’s going to become contagious and spread fast like wild fire in the world of education.

Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61 years of age from Cincinnati, Ohio claims to suffer from pedophobia.  She is suing the school where she used to work because she claims to be a victim of discrimination.  This former teacher who does not have children of her own claims that because of the position the school district forced her to assume – that is, a teacher of young children – she developed an allergy to them.

I’m not saying Ms. Waltherr-Willard is being disingenuous here, but if airline pilots start developing allergies to passengers, we’re all in serious trouble.

Ms. Waltherr-Willard claims she was quite content teaching French and Spanish to teenagers in the Mariemont School District for 35 years but in 2009, she was transferred to another school with much younger children.  That’s when the stress, chest pains and vomiting began.  That’s when she began to fear her seven and eighth graders.

I can relate to that last part because although I’ve had no children of my own, whenever I held babies belonging to family and friends, they always puked on me.  I’m serious.  It was so bad I once thought of marketing my own line of aftershave called “Eau de Sour Milk.”  I met one such regurgitater recently, now thirty years old and with a child of her own and the first thing she did was remove my raincoat.  She said it was now unnecessary.  So yes, apparently you can grow out of allergies.

Whenever she came into the same vicinity of children, Ms. Waltherr-Willard claims her blood pressure shot up so high she was eventually forced to retired after two years in her new job.  I’m guessing that at her retirement party, the students presented Maria with a box of peanut-encrusted chocolates and a bundle of ragweed incense sticks.

Given the history of the American jury system where a coffee to the crotch can get you $2.86 million, do not rule out a class action lawsuit by thirty Mariemont School District students who have developed an allergy to a teacher who is allergic to them.  It’s called the tit-for-tat countersue allergy.

Not having been what you would call an exemplary student myself, I’m not sure this woman is allergic to the kids themselves.  Perhaps she’s actually allergic to the tissue that is in the spit balls of which she took way too many in the head.  Or it could be the glue on the seat of her chair that required four firemen and the jaws of life that allowed her to stand up.  Or maybe she has an allergy to animals triggered by the pony she found in the backseat of her car in the parking lot.  (For the record, if Mrs. Leach is still alive, I admit it was my idea but Malcolm Ferri actually managed to get Trigger in there despite the fact it was a two-door sedan.)

Just the thought of being ordered down to Mr. Hodgkins office makes me itchy and scratchy all over.  Unfortunately the statue of limitations on any sort of student discrimination suit I might launch lapsed a long time ago.  Plus if I lost, I’d probably get the strap again.

For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of  Wainfleet, go to

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