Thursday, December 12, 2013

Early Career Paths

My ambition for public office had a short run. After an appointment as wardrobe monitor in Kindergarten I thought I was destined to be a leader among men. I had a penchant for ordering galoshes together with Mackinaws.

By first grade I moved to milk monitor, a position just a few steps away from Federal Reserve Chairman or Jamie Dimon’s seat at Morgan-Chase. Two cents got you a container of milk and a graham cracker. Even then the 1% could afford chocolate milk and chocolate grahams. It never occurred to me to abscond with the weekly loot or invest it into sub-prime mortgages. This was a tip-off that I didn’t love money enough to get ahead in this world.

By second grade I was nosed out by one vote for class president when I cast my ballot for my opponent. It seemed the gentlemanly thing to do. Runner-up was awarded vice-president but I hadn’t read Shakespeare yet and hatched no plot to overthrow Dorothy Sherashevsy.

I was glad not to carry the burden of pencil monitor the next term, much as I liked inhaling the wood shavings.  Now Peggy has me sharpen her number one’s in our electric sharpener and I can see the finesse it takes not to under or over-do the fragile point.

Clearly I had peaked early and was already in steep decline. I think there was also an ink-well monitor but that was far above my pay-grade. The thought of spillage would have stained me for life. By this time I was receding into anonymity yet to come, wearing shirts that blended in with the chair, or so I thought.

Eraser monitor was, I recall, another office, less coveted. In fact, wasn’t that the chore for undiagnosed ADD kids, staying after school with dunce caps on their heads while breathing in chalk dust?
By 7th grade they didn’t know what to do with me. I was designated as the one to accept a gift on behalf of the school traditionally left to P.S. 99 by the graduating class. The following year I was on the other side of the podium presenting a lamp or some such token of gratitude. With a little vision I could have pursued a career in the diplomatic corps, ambassador perhaps, in Equatorial Africa wearing a white suit and pith helmet while swatting mosquitoes.     

By my final year I had distinguished myself as outstandingly deficient in Music (branded a Listener), Shop (a Deconstructionist) and Art (difficulty making even stick figures). I showed some aptitude for spelling as one of the last ones standing in spelling bees but visualizing words on paper could only lead to a life of destitution while doing crossword puzzles.

How I eventually found my chosen profession could only be accounted for by failing at penmanship. An inability to make capitol D’s or S’s was a minor disgrace but awakened in me a collateral strength. Terrible hand-writing would have ensured me a place in medical school but my forte was an uncanny knack to decipher other people’s scribbles which led ultimately to my career as a pharmacist.  



  1. Thanks for the laughs. Being a fellow milk monitor, and then spelling bee champ, I guffawed! (And there was my downfall over "zephyr.")

  2. How those moments of failure get etched in our bones!