WHAT I heard was that the Human Resources Department wanted to gather us at the library for an important meeting. I didn’t bother to ask what this important meeting was because any session called for by the HR was always important.

It could be as good news as a promotion and pay increase, or as bad news as sorry, Sir, what you’ve been teaching the kids is nothing but the old school Five Ws and One H type of news writing so you better look for another old school next semester and don’t come back until you cut your old school hair short.

The HR is the most feared department in any company; one of the requirements for the HR managerial position is that you must be the black-cloaked, scythe-wielding personification of death called Grim Reaper. You don’t want to risk your security of tenure whatever that means by displeasing the HR.

At the library the atmosphere was solemn -- solemn as in serious, grave, sober, somber, unsmiling, stern, dour and humorless. Was this how they hold meetings in this school?

It was my first time as a member of this faculty to attend a meeting arranged by the HR, so I was excited, honestly, because any salary increase that would take place during my first year of stay here would be super cool to me.

“Our Senior High School program is doing great despite the students’ hatred for K12. So as an added benefit for your contribution, Mr. Niñal, you will get a monthly supply of twenty cases of beer for one year.” I almost cried at the thought.

“Good afternoon,” the HR manager greeted us. Tall, lanky, hair above-shoulder in length, power cheekbones, and looking serious, grave, sober, somber, unsmiling, stern, dour and humorless, she looked intimidating.

“Do you know why you are here?” she asked. “Salary increase?” I whispered.

“No,” she snapped. “You’re here for this,” she said, and switched on her powerpoint presentation… and on the screen flashed the words: “Welcome to Our Basic Catechesis and Vincentian Formation Session for Teachers.”

Vincentian is St. Vincent de Paul, a French Roman Catholic priest who dedicated himself in the service of the poor and was canonized in 1737 for it. He is the school’s patron saint, along with St. Louise de Marillac, a patroness of Christian social workers. He was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity, Wikipedia said.

“St. Vincent was renowned for his compassion, humility and generosity,” the HR official repeated Wikipedia for her intro. She then proceeded to discussing how St. Vincent would be turning in his grave right now at the sight of teachers who lack his virtues of compassion, patience, sympathy, humility, meekness and understanding.

I looked at my fellow teachers, young ladies whose red lips, dyed and rebonded hair, and tight-fitting jeans would never qualify them as Vincentian models of modesty for students. And they looked back at me, my long hair, my tattoos and my tight jeans, and gave me the same look that said, “And you, what are you doing here?”

I went for the door, left the campus and grabbed me some beer in the company of sinners outside.