On the last day of eighth grade, my teacher handed out small sheets of paper with all my classmates’ names on it. The assignment was to put an occupation underneath the name. One that you thought suited that person. Looking back, I’m pretty sure he just couldn’t think of anything else to fill that hour. (Heads-up Seven-up, Pictionary, Open up and dictionary and start writing down words and definitions until the bell rang. All of those things would’ve been better options.)
At the time I thought it sounded fun. I took my time and thought of something perfect for each person, something complimentary and inspiring. (Other than the stinky kid, I’m pretty sure Trash Man was spot on. He could stink it up as much as wanted. It wasn’t mean, he knew it was his calling. It’s all he talked about. How proud his parents must be, I thought.)
When I got my envelope with all the torn sheets, I ripped it open, eager to see what my classmates thought of me: Doctor? Lawyer? Author? Fashion designer? Advertising?
The first sheet I pulled out: Secretary. Oh. Ok. Well, maybe they’d think I might be a good typist? (I barely typed 30 WPM in our typing class). Disregard.
I pulled out another sheet: Secretary. Oh. Ok. Well, maybe they think I’d be really organized?
Third sheet: Administrative Assistant. WHAT THE F! (I didn’t think that at the time because I never said bad words. It was probably something like “Aw, man.”)
Fourth sheet: Secretary.
This was really disheartening because, although I didn’t say much, I was a really good student and had absolutely no aspirations of becoming a secretary (I’m not even that nice). Maybe it was that I didn’t say much. I don’t know why? But that hour is a really strong memory to me. Maybe because I was hurt. I thought, “These people don’t know me at all.”
And so began my chipped-shouldered journey away from becoming a secretary.