Career Tracks: Episode I

Anyone who has ever played The SIMS knows that each Sim can follow various career paths with interesting twists and turns. An actor starts out as a waitress. A superhero has to put in some time as a security guard and a cop first. Some rungs in the various ladders are logical; others less so. And yet life imitates art.

I always LIKED drawing; I just never felt I was very good at it. As I child I would try to impress the girl next door and the other kids in the neighborhood by feigning scientific genius culled from all the cartoons I had watched. There was the time I had them mash leaves in water-filled beach buckets calling it “protoplasm” and explaining that we were in fact creating life. Or the time we tried to build a time machine using an extension cord, a magnifying glass, a Hot Wheels® car, a battery pack, a no parking sign and ants. I don't think they really believed that the ants who “disappeared” had in fact traveled through time, any more that we could do the same if I could only solve the roadblock of shrinking ourselves small enough to fit in the Hot Wheels car. I had a vivid imagination, but science wasn't the ladder I would eventually climb.

I had always doodled, but in third grade I had a few friends who were amazing artists. I tend to be a little competitive sometimes, so I would try to draw a better Voltron or Optimus Prime than they could. I would lose every time I competed, but I kept working on it long after all my friends had outgrown that sort of thing. I even started making my own comic characters, undeterred when classmates made fun of some of my lamer creations, like Speed Stick, a running stick figure with a lot of speed lines trailing behind it. One of those aforementioned gifted artist friends, whose specialty was drawing Bumblebee, lampooned my creation by drawing his own variation, adding breasts, and calling it “Lady Speedstick.”

I suppose my first “job” was working for my mom selling plants. I also did yardwork for an elderly woman who lived around the block for me, and mowed the lawn for my music teacher. Senior year in high school was when I had my first “official” job as part of the student janitorial staff. Every Friday from 3PM to 10PM a group of us would assist the janitors, with a break from 7-7:30 during which we got pizza from a place called Mama Theresa's. The worst duty to pull was definitely scraping gum from lockers which I thankfully only pulled once. Somehow I managed to always get the task of cleaning windows, which I found the easiest out of the other possible choices, mopping and vacuuming. Armed with a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle of Windex, I would start from the third floor and work my way through the whole school, cleaning every glass surface in the school. I only ran into the rest of the staff occasionally outside of our dinner break, and had some of my best times of peaceful contemplation and serious thinking without distraction.

My High School was an all-boys Catholic school run by Marianist brothers, basically no-nonsense monks in black suits who in hindsight looked suspiciously like something out of The Matrix. I had spent most of my high school career staying out of trouble, and had never received a demerit, been out sick, or had detention. I didn't usually have to worry about running into a Brother while I worked either, as they usually remained in their residence on the other side of campus unless an event was going on, like hosting a dance with one of our sister schools.

One evening, one such dance was being held. I had snuck a peek in the gymnasium at some of the cute visiting girls when I cleaned those windows, and had noted the presence of brothers as chaperones. So when I ran into some of the other members of my crew playing a makeshift game of hockey with brooms and a rolled up ball of masking tape in a section on the other end of school, I thought it safe to take a break from my duties, hop up on the nearest row of six-foot tall lockers, and watch the game.

We all froze when the brother appeared, and my heart caught in my throat as I feared both my academic and money-making career had come to an end...

To Be Continued....



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