I thought I retired when I was fifty, but in the past ten years I’ve gone on hiatus and (gulp) worked. Excluding my illustrious E-Bay sales career and my invaluable contributions to Royal Flamingo Works, LLC, I actually had three jobs that produced paychecks.
The first was substitute high school teacher in the East Baton Rouge Parish school system. After a student threatened me (“I’ve got a bullet with your name on it, Mrs. E.”), I reconsidered going back to school. Somehow, in these days of zero tolerance, the high school in question didn’t feel it necessary to suspend or discipline the young man who also happened to be on the football team. Call me a fool, but I actually enjoyed working with juvenile delinquents.
The next job I accepted was worlds away from Hell High School. A friend asked me to work in her Mother’s Day Out program. Since I had (and still have) no inclination to change diapers or wipe runny noses, I declined. She then offered me the position of “chaplain,” in which I taught the little darlings songs and Bible stories, and actually aided their understanding of the alphabet. I was new to Louisiana culture, and these tots were an alien race as far as I could tell. When I was a child there were three categories of clothing: good (or party) clothes that were seldom worn, school clothes, and play clothes. Suburban kids spent most of their time in play clothes (and, no, we didn’t “dress” for dinner). My young charges in Baton Rouge wore good clothes to school. Little girls appeared daily in fancy party dresses with beautifully crafted bows in their perfect hair. We’re talking about six-month- to four-year-olds. I can’t even imagine how they would be dressed for weddings and special occasions. Suri Cruise, anyone?
While I was chaplain, I accepted another position, assistant to the church pastor. I actually volunteered for the job because the congregation needed someone with my skills set and couldn’t find anyone. I had no intention of taking any job, especially not full time, because the reason I got married was to spend time with my husband and his working hours were highly irregular. The pastor was so anxious to hire me that he admitted his middle name is “Flexible.” He and I were a good team, and as soon as he was transferred (a year after I was hired) I quit; after all, I had taken the job as a favor to him. I guess that proves what a schnook I am.