Monday, August 23, 2010

Work: With my pink pen in my pocket

As the daughter of blue-collar parents who has spent her entire working life in public schools (save for a warehouse temp gig here and a maternity leave there), my perception of life in the corporate workforce is informed entirely by what  television has shown me.  And, oddly, the television show that has most influenced my vision is Melrose Place.

As such, when I fantasize about an office job, I see myself strutting into work in a perfectly tailored suit with a mid-thigh length skirt, three-inch heels, sexily tousled hair and a very important leather briefcase.  My desk would be a huge mahogany number, nearly bare except for a vase of fresh flowers.  I would eat lunch in a white-tablecloth restaurant and use the bathroom --whenever I wished!-- surrounded by pristine marble.  This is all pretty far from my reality.

Teaching  is a profession rife with sensible shoes, khaki pants and ponytails.  Grown ups (myself included) carry back packs.  Lunch is a 22-minute affair and the general aroma is less fresh cut lillies than teenage perspiration and Axe body spray.  It is not glamorous and paperwork abounds.  Every year, though I swear I won't, I spend a portion of my salary on supplies as basic as tissues and tape.  Oh, and it is fraught with power struggles from all angles, multiple highly charged interactions each day, and always looming budget cuts. 

And despite the grungy paper towel-less bathrooms, I am going back in a week.  My new pink pen is one reason why.

Along with gentle pats on the back, genuine concern and a sweetly personalized copy of the The Catcher in the Rye, the pen is one of the gifts I received from my students in response to a tough time I went through last year.  On the last day of school a student thrust a notebook paper card and a box containing a pink Cross pen onto my desk.  "I googled 'nice pens' and this is what I came up with," he said.  "I guess it's the best.  You better use it next year."

So I will return, to the less than glamorous surroundings, the uncertainty of my position, the trepidation that comes from leaving my own children to attend to others'.  But this year I will return with my pink pen in my pocket...even more important than a briefcase.

1 comment:

  1. This made me a little weepy. Indeed, so much more important than a briefcase...