Every Monday, I’m picking from the List of Things to Do, Places to Go, Possible Acts that Help, and Possible Fun to Have. It’s a list I made before The Project started, and I’m still adding to it. If you have suggestions, please feel free to throw them my way. I’m calling the list myMonday Dares, as I get overwhelmed just looking at the words “challenge” or “goal.”
This week: Learn some shit.
One good thing came out of working a series of low-paying and shitty jobs as a single mom. Well, actually, two good things came out of it. First, we didn’t go hungry. Two, I got my picture in the paper.
After pimping out lotions and sprays at Victoria’s Secret Beauty and before wrapping expensive European toys in a cold downtown warehouse, I worked at an SAT tutoring center.
Since I never attended a SAT course while I was in high school, and I only barely managed to get myself up the morning of The Big Test after spending a night playing quarters and making origami cranes, this was not the most likely job choice for me. But the pay was decent, and the job description was easy. I had to administer practice tests and read off answers. No biggie.
Occasionally, one of the students would ask for an explanation to a math problem or a vocabulary word. Since I still struggle with single-digit addition, and I only know a handful of words longer than 4 letters, panic would set it. I played it off by rolling my eyes and sighing, “I really can’t believe you just asked me that. That’s such a simple word/problem/question. You need to have a take charge kind of attitude if you’re going to score 1500+. Go home and think about it.”
To gear up for summer, the SAT tutoring center took out an ad in a Korean newspaper. They asked each tutor for a picture to put in the paper. I agreed without giving it much thought.
The next week, I started getting phone calls from friends.
Friends: Hey, I didn’t know you went to Harvard.
Me: Harvard? What?! No! I mean, I did eat an ice cream sandwich on the steps of the Harvard library once, but hell no, I didn’t go to Harvard.
Friends: But we just saw it in the paper. It says you graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard. With a concentration in Applied Mathematics.
Me: Haven’t you seen me pull out my laminated wallet guide to figure out the 15% gratuity in restaurants? Do I look like I have a degree in math?
Turns out, the tutoring center had beefed up my credentials to match the other tutors, most of whom really were Ivy League graduates.
This wasn’t going to be pretty. I couldn’t quit, but I wasn’t going to spend one more day making up the definition for pulchritude for a bunch of kids doing their best to get into Ivy League schools so they could eventually work at an SAT center over the summer alongside a tutor like me who cheated her way through high school. The Circle of Life, I like to call it.
After feigning outrage, (really though, it was kind of fucking awesome. I had never seen my name and Harvard in the same sentence) I asked to be switched. I spent the summer teaching first graders how to spell monkey (no, honey, it only has one “k”) and demystifying 2+3.
I’ve always thought about going back to school. Certainly not Harvard and not even on a full-time basis at first, but maybe a few classes through a continuing education program to start. Who knows? I might even be a college graduate before my daughter. It’s not likely, but whatevs, it’s free to dream.
What did you study? Is your job today reflective of your major? If you could go back to school, would you study something else?
The Gangster Easter Egg inspired me. Over the weekend, I made a few Faces of Addiction Eggs. I’ll be posting them on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page this week. “Like” the page to see the pictures in your feed.
image via iobad.com