These late summer days always hold a feeling of hope for me. There’s nothing like going back to school, seeing my former students, catching up on the latest news, and creating a learning environment. The energy created by starting over with a clean slate and clean notebooks is addicting.
For a couple years after I received my education degree, I had virtually nothing to do with education. I subbed for a season and enjoyed it, but my life took a dramatic turn when I stumbled across the opportunity of a lifetime. My father needed a secretary for his law practice, and I stepped up for the challenge.
Now, why in the world would I pursue the secretarial field when I had a fresh degree in my hands? Mainly because I knew that once I went into education, I probably wasn’t going to get out. Here was my chance to do something I had been pretending to do since I was a little tyke: be a secretary and play with office toys.
It made sound weird, but I developed a fetish for office supplies at a fairly young age. When other kids would spend their allowance money on candy or tapes, I would spend my money at the office supply store at the mall. I bought everything that caught my eye, and then some: business card holders, pens of every color, legal pads, open/closed signs, perpetual calendars, etc.
Open/closed signs?! What exactly was I open/closed for, you may ask? Ah … never doubt the imagination of a 10-year old. When stuck out on the farm with no friends nearby, and no one wants to call you because it’s long distance, one must invent entertainment. In this light, Solve-It Detective Agency was born. (I could go on and on explaining all the fantastic cases that I solved at the agency. My name was Christina Springsteen, and anyone alive in 1985 can figure out where the name came from. Bruce was going to marry me … I was sure of it.)
Nothing was off limits at the office supply store. One of my stranger purchases involved a roll of about a jillion tickets:
Why I thought it would be cool to have my own roll of tickets, I have no idea. The roll still exists, buried somewhere in my parents’ storage cabinets.
Anyway … when my father needed a secretary, I was all over the chance. I would not only be able to play with office supplies, I’d be able to order them too! I’m pretty sure that, ten years later, my father still has left-over (and rather useless) office supplies in his cabinets from when I did the ordering. I’m sure at the time ordering fifty boxes of paperclips seemed necessary.
I was a horrible secretary. I had no experience, I wasn’t very organized, and I realized (too late) that there’s a saying that rang all too true: never work with relatives. We got along fine, most days, but we knew each other too well. I took it personally when I copied something incorrectly or made a sloppy mistake and he gave me the “disappointed father look.” I was 23 years old and not as professional as I should have been, having many other things on my mind at the time. In retrospect, he should have fired me, but it was probably way too convenient to have me around. Forgot something at the office? Call me up; I’d run and get it and deliver it. In that sense, I was useful.
I distinctly remember when school would start, and I’d sit at my desk at the law office, feeling a gnawing drive to go buy school supplies. I suppose you could chalk it up that weird fetish again, but it was something more. School was beginning again, and I wasn’t part of it. Something was missing.
Now I am part of it once again. There’s something oddly comforting about getting into a dew-covered car while it’s still dark outside, coffee thermos by my side. Routine. I’m all about it. Where I’m going, adventure awaits … and office supplies abound!