“What do you do?”
I get to know fascinating people on an intimate level. I live with them until I know their very souls. Then I torture and sometimes kill them.
I could have said that to the nice passport control officer at Glasgow Airport. But some people tend to take that the wrong way, so I just said, “I’m a writer. I make up lies for a living. It’s kind of like being a Russian troll except they earn more, but at least nobody blames me for Trump.” We agreed that neither of us knew George R. R. Martin, one of us liked his books, one of us liked Game of Thrones, and I went on my way.
But I was thinking about my resume, especially because I’ve started getting (completely unsolicited!) daily emails with subject line Jobs: Writer. Apparently there’s a pharmaceutical-dependency issue in the recruitment industry because the sender thinks I’d be a perfect candidate for some of the following opportunities:
- Retail Strategy and Change: Since my retail strategy consists of spending everything I’ve got including any small change I can dig out of the couch cushions, I’d have to say I’m qualified.
- Administration and Communications Officer: I raised four kids without getting a criminal record, even when Child #2 was learning to drive. Nailed.
- Traceability Coordinator**: Since the maternal uterus is obviously a tracking device that ensures I’m the only one in the house who knows where anything is, I’m also a shoe-in for this one.
- Helpline Advisors: With four kids, I’m an expert, whether by phone, email, Google, Messenger, Telegram, etc.) [NOTE: if this job requires Snapchat, though, I’m not a fit. My kids say mamas aren’t allowed to Snap.]
- Business Intelligence: After about a bazillion years (give-or-take) as a corporate executive, I can honestly say that term is an oxymoron. So I’m guessing this one also involves Russian trolls.
- Dutch-speaking Inside Sales Rep, and French-speaking, plus Italian-speaking Customer Service Advisor: Echt niet. En aucune façon. Non c’è modo. No way.
**[The Traceability Coordinator job description also listed its Main Job Requirement as “speaking, writing and understanding good spoken and written English language.” There’s a test.]
It would have been great if someone had given me a test 30+ years ago when I started my big job as The Mom. There are aspects of parenting that weren’t covered in my job description when I promised to ‘love and honor’ and were never mentioned by our natural childbirth teacher either.
Although the latter went into alarming detail about the Miracle of Birth, she never even touched on the technical difficulties to come. Take, for example, explaining toileting procedures to a barely verbal little person with a completely different set of internal plumbing.
After my son had successfully sent many Cheerios to a watery grave (I threw handfuls of Cheerios into the toilet with the instructions that he should ‘sink the ships’), he naturally wanted to demonstrate his newfound prowess at every opportunity. So we embarked on a theme tour—a plumbing comparison of public restrooms in every grocery and shop in the greater Central Illinois area. I soon discovered that while my son’s personal equipment was very handy for a hike in the woods, most public toilets were so high that someone three-foot-tall couldn’t hope to stand and deliver. I’ve been known to balance him on the top of my feet—not an ideal arrangement when it involved the split-second attention span of the average three-year-old male.
“You sure he can’t wait?” our guides would typically inquire as they conducted us personally through wilderness grocery canyons of disposable diapers and sugar-intensive cereals, a mysterious territory few outsiders have ever penetrated. The guide would produce a key and wave us into the room labeled “Employees Must Wash Hands” where we would inhale the heady fumes of the 47 packets of cigarettes consumed during the last shift alone.
To protect us from the germs and disease spread by paper litter, signs also informed us, these restrooms were thoughtfully provided with electric hand-dryers installed by the Marquis de Sade. My son’s horror of hand-dryers will someday provide gainful employment for his therapists, but at the time it usually resulted in our entire wet-handed party giving chase as he fled screaming in terror from the bathroom. I can only give thanks that employees of Child Protective Services rarely found their way into the depths of grocery storage.
The plumbing comparison did prove educational for his two older sisters. Because both were now literate, they spent their time studying the messages inscribed on the restroom walls, asking if we could call any of the phone numbers to see what kind of good time the referenced persons provided, and speculating on possible uses for the machine-vended items in designer pastel colors.
In my euphoria at venturing out in public for the first time since the year 1 BC (Before Children)without a diaper bag containing the minimal diapering supplies necessary to survive a minor world war, I became convinced our family was ready to combine the plumbing tour with a cross-country vacation.
Okay, so I’ve been wrong before.
In point of fact, we have a remarkable record as vacation companions. To date, everybody we had ever vacationed with had gotten a divorce within the following year. This time we decided to play it safe and go with friends who’ve been together for almost twenty years.
The first day at the beach, I could see that one of my friends was troubled. So I asked her to reassure me that she was simply suffering from a minor form of terminal cancer which wouldn’t interfere with our vacation. No such luck. That week provided the novel experience of sharing a small house with a large group including two adults who treated each other like snail phlegm.
Somehow we tore ourselves away and headed for a few days of camping in the Smokies. We could only stay for a short time, however, because as we arrived we were informed that it is a federal crime to bathe there. We assumed the Feds were counting on the eau d’campers to provide bear-repellant, but the ranger explained that the soap residue fro the approximately 500 campers/day would send the fish straight from their erstwhile [I’ve always wanted to use erstwhile in a post!] pristine streams to that big pond in the sky.
While he couldn’t personally document the arrest of any ripe campers sneaking a scrub, we decided not to take any chances. We stayed until our clothes began to walk around by themselves and then made a bolt for home.
As we drove toward the flat lands of Central Illinois, we reflected that word would probably get out about vacationing with us. But just in case, I have a position opening for next July.