“They let you dream just to watch ’em shatter.” — Dolly Parton, “9 to 5”
From a very early age, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up.
I wanted to be the lady who has been at the same job for 40 years, who knows everyone and everything that touches her position, and on whom everyone can depend for everything from a bandaid to emotional support to turning out projects on time every time.
It did not matter one bit to me what the actual job title might be. All I wanted was a particular social role. What’s more, I really didn’t think that this was overly ambitious. Plain old hard work, friendliness, and a good skill set should be enough to attain that glorious position.
Moreover, I already had a role model. My grandmother, Louise, ran the elementary school from the secretary’s chair from the time she was a young mother until long past retirement–often coming in to work “part time” on special projects or during current staff vacations. Whether a child needed a change of clothes or a parent needed information from a child’s teacher, she handled it all. Best of all to my little-kid brain, between her and the janitor–a wonderful lady named Darlene–they had all the keys to every door in the school. Not even the principal had that, and I decided that secretaries and janitors ruled the world, since only they have keys to everything. I lived in the next town over, and so did not attend her school, but her school fed into the larger middle school along with my school, providing me with a ready-made introduction as her grandchild. Even now, almost a decade since she passed away, people still introduce themselves to me with, “I knew your grandmother.”
So I knew such a thing could exist, and I really thought I could attain that same status.
I did all the things that all the adults in my world told me would get me there. I took the highest level classes and got good grades all through high school. I went to college and got my BA. “It doesn’t matter what your degree is in,” everyone said, “Employers just want to see that you can complete advanced studies–that you’re trainable.” On graduation day, recruiters would appear and whisk me away to the wonderful land of unbridled success, money, and social acceptance.
Well, that didn’t happen.
In subsequent posts I will present a slightly abridged version of the long, sad tale of my many failures in the world of work. Knowing me, though, I will probably include posts on wildly varying subjects too, just because no one likes to listen to a Johnny-One-Note.
My intent is two-fold. First, I want for people who have stumbled to understand that they are not alone (and it’s not always *your* fault). Second, I have a faint hope that someone will shed some actual light on some of the events that, although I lived through them, I still don’t understand myself.