Tag Archives: childhood

Geek-Speak

I’ve been a geek all my life.

I’d like to clarify that I’m referring to the current definition of ‘geek’, as in “a socially awkward oddball who thinks too much”; not “a sideshow performer who bites the head off live chickens” (which was what the word meant when I was young).

I have never bitten, and with any luck will never bite, the head off a live animal of any sort.  Chocolate animals?  Oh hell yes!  Cooked animals?  Maybe… though I’d likely use a knife or cleaver or some other suitable implement instead of my teeth…

Oops.

There I go again.  Over-thinking.  Over-clarifying.

Even as a child, I couldn’t grasp why people didn’t simply say what they meant.  When the teacher asked, “Does anyone know the answer?”, I never understood why she apparently stopped being able to see my wildly-waving hand after I’d answered the first few questions correctly.

When the other girls assured me, “Of course we’re still friends!” and then never spoke to me again, I just… didn’t get it.  There’s something to be said for being completely oblivious to social cues.  I thought I had lots of friends, and it was sheer coincidence that I never got invited to anything.

The rest of the world doesn’t understand that geeks take words at face value.  A classic geek joke goes like this:  A software engineer was found dead of starvation in his shower.  Preliminary investigation suggests that he was following the instructions on the shampoo bottle:  “Lather, rinse, repeat.”

This joke is funny and sad on two levels:  1) You have to be a bit of geek to get it; and 2) If you are a bit of a geek, there’s probably some small part of you that’s thinking, “You know, that makes perfect sense…”

Another diabolical geek trap is the phrase casually bandied about by normal human beings:  “Suggestions are welcome”.

Hint for the geeks in the audience:  No.  No, they’re not.  One suggestion is welcome.  Maybe two, tops.  If it’s your personal responsibility to resolve the issues, you might be allowed three suggestions.  Presenting twenty pages of closely-spaced bullet points will only end in annoyance for you when you realize that your listeners’ eyes glazed over after the first two points and their minds are now fully occupied by desperate escape plans.

Another hint for geeks:  If your listener is gripping a letter opener with whitening knuckles, it’s time for you to leave.  Lingering to make sure they grasped the subtle nuances of item 20.1.5.3(b) will only result in bloodshed; and that gets awkward for everybody.  For one thing, stab wounds hurt.  For another, if your listener decides to commit hara-kiri instead of attacking you, it’s very difficult to explain to the police.  (Don’t ask how I know these things.)

Anyway, after 50-odd… okay; very odd years, I honestly thought I had this stuff all figured out.  (Note:  All geeks think this.  They’re always wrong.)

But then I went for physiotherapy a few years ago.  The physiotherapist said, “Keep your legs straight and touch your toes.”  So I did.  It hurt like a bitch.  But she hadn’t said, “… and tell me if it hurts”, so I didn’t mention it.  I threw away a lot of money on physiotherapy before I grasped that little detail.

But I’ve got it all figured out now.  Really, I do…

* * *

P.S. Book 13, “Once Burned, Twice Spy” is now available for pre-order at all retailers (click here for links)… except, for some unknown reason, the Amazon international sites.  Amazon.com is up, but none of the other countries are showing the listing.  Grrr!  I’ve submitted a trouble ticket to Amazon and hope to have the problem resolved shortly.  To everyone who received the pre-order announcement and can’t buy from the Amazon of their choice:  I’m sorry about this.  I’ll send an updated announcement as soon as the pre-orders are up in all countries.

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Mactac, Mullets, and Manure

Anybody remember the Mactac of the 60s and 70s?  Maybe you knew it by another name, but it was all the same thing:  adhesive-backed vinyl printed with colourful graphics.

I suspect that people with taste avoided Mactac like the plague it was; but out in the sticks where I grew up, the only taste we had was in our mouths.  Every questionable surface in our house got covered with either woodgrain print or sparkly gold paisley on white.

It actually looked okay for a while.  But then the adhesive deteriorated and the vinyl curled up, creating tattered edges that looked as though rodents had been gnawing them and leaving a sticky residue that defied any attempt to clean it off or reglue it.

My love affair with Mactac faded when I realized that it inevitably suffered a slow and ugly demise, and the last time I applied adhesive-backed vinyl to anything was in the late 70s.

Until this week.

We needed a cheap-and-cheerful solution for a kitchen backsplash until our construction budget recovers enough to upgrade our kitchen counters.  So the other day I was walking through the store when some pretty glass tiles caught my eye, for less than half the price I’d expected.

Yep, adhesive-backed vinyl had reared its deceptively attractive head.  It’s even embossed with grout lines like real glass tile, and it’s insanely sticky.

I succumbed.  I’m really hoping it doesn’t curl up and die like the old-school stuff.

Looks like glass… smells like vinyl.

That blast from the past made me think about other oldies that are new again… like the mullet haircut.  If you’re not familiar with the mullet, it was an 80s hairstyle trimmed short around the face and ears, with the rest of the hair left long in back.  The instant the 80s were over everyone restyled their hair and pretended they’d never worn a mullet.  Overnight, it went from a fashion statement to a joke.

I had a mullet haircut back in the 80s, and I even wore it for a while after everybody else started laughing about it.  I loved that haircut.  It was comfortable and practical:  I had the long hair I loved, but it wasn’t in my face.  I still don’t understand why it became so universally despised.

But apparently it’s in style again for young male hipsters and Millenials.  So  I wasn’t unfashionable; I was only a few decades early… and the wrong gender.  Details, pshaw.

On to our next M-word:  Manure.  We got a giant load for our garden so of course I had to share it with you, my beloved readers.

Why, you ask?  (I’m hoping that’s a ‘why?’ of guarded curiosity, not an anguished cry of ‘oh, sweet Lord, why?!?’)

Well, it seemed appropriate since I’m usually full of shit; but ultimately it’s because I couldn’t resist the punchline:

Mactac, mullets, and manure… you don’t want to get any of them on you.

18,000 pounds of horseshit. That’s more than I usually manage to pack into a post.

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Puddles!

We have puddles! *does happy dance*

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re undoubtedly studying that first sentence and trying to figure out where to find the double entendre.  That’s a valid and downright laudable reaction.  If you find one, I hope you’ll share it – I do love a good double entendre!  But that wasn’t actually my intention (for a change).

No; this post is in celebration of spring.  It’s my favourite time of year – crocuses and tulips and daffodils peek out, the grass turns green, the birds come home, it snows two feet… you know; the usual stuff.

Back in arid Calgary, spring puddles are fleeting – the snow seems to evaporate instead of melting.  But here on the coast we have good old-fashioned puddles that bring back delightful childhood memories.

I grew up on a prairie farm where the terrain was dead-flat for miles.  That and our heavy clay/gumbo soil made it prime puddle territory.  Venice had nothing on us.  I remember riding the school bus along our country road and looking out at water as far as the eye could see, neatly divided into a one-mile grid by the raised road allowances that were the highest point on the prairies (and only a foot or two higher than the water level).

Every kid had a pair of rubber boots:  the taller the boots, the better.  Puddle-wading was both art and science.  We learned about refraction early – the place you thought you were stepping wasn’t always where your foot ended up.  The penalty for that was a boot full of icy water, which didn’t dampen our enthusiasm at all.  It was a sport to see how far we could wade into a puddle before we filled our boots.

We also had a small inflatable dinghy that we could row across our puddles (we had serious puddles on the farm).  And there were always ditches full of water that required all sorts of digging in the mud to produce complex drainage trenches and dams.

Sometimes it turned cold enough to freeze the puddles hard.  That was prime ice-skating:  glassy-smooth, with grass and fallen leaves locked below the surface as if cast in crystal.  But it was always tricky to determine whether the ice was strong enough to bear our weight… which brings to mind another favourite sound:  a slow ominous creak followed by the buzzing crack of ice failing, usually accompanied by squeals and splashing.

I still love going out in the early morning when temperatures are below freezing.  Overnight some of the puddle-water seeps into the ground, leaving a white fragile ice shell floating over empty air.  There’s nothing like the sharp hollow sound it makes when stepped on – it’s almost as addictive as popping bubble wrap!

At 52 years old, you’d think I’d have developed enough dignity to leave the puddles alone; but nope.  Not even close.  I’m still incapable of walking by a shell of ice without breaking it, and last week I went out and bought myself a pair of tall rubber boots that’ll make me the envy of every kid in town.

I’m going out to play in the puddles now… how about you?

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) ;-)

P.S. Here on the coast I’ve discovered a ‘new-to-me’ type of spring ice: long silky filaments that form as water is pushed up out of sodden soil into freezing temperatures. How cool is that? (Literally.) 😉

 

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Baby, Duck!

This weekend I was treated to a blast from the past.  We invited friends over for dinner, and one couple arrived bearing a bottle of Baby Duck.

For those unfamiliar with Baby Duck, it’s a ‘wine’ that was introduced to Canada in the early 1970s:  fizzy grape juice with lots of sugar, some alcohol, and a generous dollop of successful marketing.  Oenophiles may recoil in horror, but the truth is Baby Duck was part of the formative drinking years of an entire generation.

The friend who brought it this weekend confessed that she drank Baby Duck for the first/last time at a party long ago where she singlehandedly polished off one and a half bottles… and has never drunk it again.

So many people had their first disastrous drinking experience with Baby Duck that the name became a bit of a joke.  As the victims fled for the bathroom, stomachs heaving, a sardonic cheer would go up from the rest of the revelers as they scattered to provide a clear path:  “Baby, duck!”

My very  first drinking experience was as a young teenager, maybe fourteen or fifteen.  One day our family departed the sticks and went to the Big City for a family visit, and my city cousin took me out for Chinese food.

Imagine the importance of this event in the life of a backward young hick!  I’d never had Chinese food.  And my almost-grown-up cousin (she had a driver’s license and a car…!) was taking me out, just the two of us, like adults.  And when we got to the restaurant, she casually ordered us each a Singapore Sling!  (Even though we were both too young to drink I guess we looked close enough – we didn’t get asked for ID.  Times were simpler then.)

My parents had both come from non-drinking households, but they figured the safest way to protect their kids from dangerous rebellion was to introduce the concept of responsible drinking.  So they had already explained the concepts of alcohol and intoxication, and every now and then they drank a glass of wine with dinner while we were growing up.  They didn’t make a big deal of it, but we understood that alcohol was an adult thing.

So I was wildly excited by the grown-up meal… and I was afraid I’d get drunk and embarrass myself.  I still recall how yummy the almond chicken was, and I still recall wondering if I was drunk yet because I didn’t feel any different after one cocktail that was probably mostly fruit juice.

Needless to say when I went off to university a few years later I discovered that you’re not actually drunk until you’ve consumed seven Zombies (three kinds of rum, apricot brandy, and fruit juice) a couple of Brown Cows (Kahlua and cream) and then topped it off with a couple of warm beers that nobody else dared to drink.  (Gee, I wonder why…?)

I’ve been blessed with a cast-iron stomach and a lightning-fast metabolism, so that night I staggered home laughing all the way and fell into the dreamless slumber of the just and the intoxicated.  My drinking buddy at the time wasn’t so lucky – she spent the entire night talking to Ralph on the great white telephone and silently cursing my oblivious snores.

I think she’s forgiven me after more than three decades, but she’ll never forget.

Anybody else remember their first drinking experience?  Or prefer to forget it?

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Not Dressed Up And No Place To Go

This week, I did the annual dusting of my dress-up clothes.

I may have mentioned in an earlier post that I hate dressing up.  Thanks to benevolent fortune and my own avoidance tactics, these days I work from home and employ other people to represent my computer training company much more professionally than I.  So I have a closet full of business clothes I never wear.  Dust gradually accumulates on them, and every now and then I go in and vacuum it off.

I like it that way.  It’s a good system.

I’ve always hated dressing up.  When I began Grade One, my mother thought it was proper for little girls to wear dresses to school.  She crammed me into cute little outfits and sent me off clutching my tartan-patterned tin lunchbox and my utter disregard for propriety.

The “dress” phase lasted until the teachers gently informed her that I spent most of recess hanging upside-down by my knees from the monkey-bars.

After that came the phase of “dress with matching bloomers underneath”, which rapidly morphed into “fine, slacks it is”.

But it was still slacks.  I didn’t get my first pair of jeans until Grade 5, by which time I had already been labelled hopelessly uncool.  That was probably due more to my personality than to my clothes, but I prefer to cling to my illusions.

I made it through my remaining school years in blissful slobbishness, but when I went to university to take my interior design degree, I decided it was time to grow up and make an effort.  I wore slacks and blazers and sometimes (gasp) skirts and pantyhose.

That lasted about six months, and then it was back to jeans and T-shirts.  Styles changed, and I got rid of the outdated clothes.

The same pattern repeated when I entered the workforce:  I bought sleek business clothes and high heels, which I wore for several months, followed by increasingly casual slacks and flat shoes.

At last I quit interior design (which was a relief to all concerned) and switched over to IT where my frumpy slacks and flats made me look like a fashionplate.  So I got rid of the dress clothes entirely and started wearing jeans and sneakers to work.

When I started my own business, it was back to the stores for more damn dress-up clothes.  Then came the inevitable decline, at which point I decided it was a much better idea to hire somebody else to represent my company.  At least my staff wouldn’t be mistaken for vagrants who’d wandered in off the street to cadge goodies from the networking events.

Which brings me to the present, slouched happily in my home office.  My only human contact occurs at a weekly staff meeting (I wear jeans), the gym, and Friday pub night with friends.  No need to dress up at all.

I’m happy.

But I’m afraid to get rid of the dress-up clothes.  As long as they’re gathering dust and quietly going out of style in my closet, I’m safe.  The instant I get rid of them, I just know the cycle will start all over again.

Anybody else keep out-of-style clothing as insurance?

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Making Up Is Hard To Blue

Ah, the festive season.  A time when most women look forward to getting dolled up with glamorous makeup and swanky little cocktail dresses.  (I said swanky, not skanky.  Don’t put words in my mouth.)

I, on the other hand, try to attend only events where I can wear jeans and swill beer in my usual bare-faced comfort.

Once upon a time, I wore makeup.  And by “once upon a time”, I don’t mean, literally, “once”.  I mean there was a time in my life, decades ago, when I actually wore it frequently.  There are many good reasons why I stopped wearing it.  Here’s one of them.

Blue eyeshadow was fashionable when I was in junior high school.  I was a geeky kid.  The eyeshadow package had instructions.  What could possibly go wrong?

My younger sister was involved in a school Christmas concert.  Mom had to be there early to help out, and Dad was to bring me along later, in time for the actual performance.

Feeling very grown-up, I decided to wear my new eyeshadow.  The package contained two shades of vivid blue.  I read the instructions carefully.  They said something like, “Apply darker shade on eyelid and blend lighter shade up to brow bone”.

This confused me.  I thought eyeshadow was supposed to go on the eyelids.  My brow bone seemed a helluva long way up there.

I spent a short time puzzling over the exact definition of “brow bone”, but I didn’t think there was a hidden meaning.  I seem to recall actually looking it up in the encyclopedia to make sure I’d gotten it right (I told you I was a geek).  No alternate definitions for “brow bone”.

Little did I know that researching “brow bone” was the wrong approach.  I should have researched the word “blend”.  Or maybe looked in a fashion magazine to see how the real makeup artists did it, though that’s an iffy proposition at best.

Cheerfully oblivious to better judgement, I smeared blue eyeshadow all the way up to my eyebrows.

Dad made no comment, and off we went.

We arrived in the already dimmed auditorium and found seats.  Just before the show began, my mother arrived to join us.  I distinctly remember the look of horror on her face, but I can’t remember exactly what she said.  The gist of her reaction was, “You let her go out looking like that?!?”

To which Dad replied with his usual honesty, “It all looks awful to me.  I couldn’t tell the difference.”

I’d like to say I learned my lesson that night and always applied my makeup tastefully from then on.  Sadly, however, photographic evidence suggests otherwise.  I respectfully submit that I may have been the main reason behind blue eyeshadow’s subsequent decline in popularity.  Don’t say I never did anything for you.

These days, I only wear makeup when I’m having pictures taken, which mercifully only happens once every few years.  I wear the makeup for exactly long enough to have the picture taken, and then I immediately go home and scrub it all off.

Earth tones only.  Never, ever blue eyeshadow.

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Barbie, Celebrity Affairs, and Altering Reality

Every now and then, my mind wanders.  All right, fine, my mind wanders quite a bit.  But sometimes it wanders farther afield than usual, into the realm of the truly ridiculous.

I’ve already mentioned I sometimes wonder whether electronic devices are actually sentient, but here’s another thought that intrigues me:  wouldn’t it be cool if you could alter reality with your mind?  There are lots of experts out there who say reality is subjective, and we create our own reality through our perceptions.  I like that idea.

I usually think of it around the time hail is pummelling my garden.  I send psychic waves up into the sky, imagining tents of steel mesh diverting the hailstones away from my slowly liquefying tomatoes and zucchini.  It never works, but it gives me something to do besides ripping my hair out.

And I can hardly wait until I figure out how to teleport.  Imagine how wonderful vacations would be.  You could go anywhere in the world in the blink of an eye, see whatever you want, and then pop home and sleep in your own bed.  You’d never have to worry about forgetting something.  You could teleport home and water the plants, put the cat out/in, grab your toothbrush, whatever.  I really, really want to be able to teleport.

When I was a kid, I wondered if my teddy bears and Barbie dolls came alive at night when I was sleeping.  I imagined the teddy bears getting up and walking around, doing teddy-bear things, though I wasn’t quite sure what those might be.  Come to think of it, I’m still not sure what those might be.  What would a teddy bear actually do if it was alive?

And I imagined the fights and explanations between Barbie, Ken, and Stacey:

“Ken!  What were you doing lying on top of Stacey?  How dare you?”

“Barbie, I swear, that little kid just crammed us together.  I couldn’t help it!”

“Well, you sure took your time getting off her, didn’t you?  And where are your pants!?!”

“Honey, you know I can’t move while the kid’s looking!  And the pants weren’t my fault…”

While I’m on that topic, I always wondered about poor Ken’s lack of, er, “features”.  Was it a tragic industrial accident?  A vengeful Barbie?  A manufacturing defect?

I also imagined that pictures of people could actually see.  It made getting undressed for bed an interesting, if somewhat self-conscious process, what with all those posters of movie-star men hanging on my wall.  To this day, I don’t keep a picture of my parents in my bedroom. 

Come to think of it, though, that might explain a lot about all the celebrity hook-ups and divorces.  When they spend all that time with their faces and bodies crammed against each other inside the pages of People magazine and the tabloids, you’ve got to expect nature to take its course at least some of the time.

What do you think?

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Ooooo, Scary!

Since Halloween was this week, “scary” has been on my mind.  It was definitely on my mind when I looked in the mirror this morning, but that’s another story.

“Scary” is such a versatile word.  Halloween costumes are good-scary.  Haunted houses and ghost stories are creepy-good-scary.  Politicians are scary in a stomach-churning, “eeeuw-I-don’t-want-to-think-about-it” way.

There’s exciting-scary, when you’re hurtling down a black-diamond ski run and you catch an edge and almost lose it but you don’t, and the adrenaline slams into your veins and you let out a whoop and haul ass to the bottom grinning like a maniac.

There’s the detached sort of scary you get when you’re airborne immediately after parting company with your dirt bike or slipping on the stairs.  It’s that short moment that takes approximately forever to experience, and your brain has exactly enough time to say in calm and reasonable tones, “Oh, shit, this is really going to hurt!”

And then there’s scary-scary.  The kind of scary that makes your heart pound and your hands sweat.  The kind of scary that makes you drop your shoulder like a defensive tackle and fling little old ladies in all directions as you bull your way through the lineup to get to the toilet before you shit your pants.

Well, maybe not really.  And anyway, that only happened once.  Don’t bug me.

My point is, even though “scary” is technically defined as a bad thing, we search it out in so many ways.  When I was a kid, I always wanted to be something scary for Halloween.  Some people would argue that I achieved “scary” on a regular basis, but they may be exaggerating.  Though I do have a vivid memory of my mother saying, “Try not to be so… ferocious.”  It wasn’t even Halloween.

But I never wanted to be a clown or a princess or a ballerina.  I wanted to be a pirate, a headless person, or some other horrifying apparition.  I wanted to make people shiver in abject terror.  Note the clenched fist and fearsome grimace.  I was seven at the time, and my sword was tinfoil-covered cardboard.  I wanted a bigger, scarier sword, but cardboard wasn’t to be wasted and tinfoil was expensive.

When I got old enough to understand real fear, “scary” lost some of its attraction.  But still, in fiction and movies, we have to have a dose of scary, or the storyline just seems flat.  It makes me wonder if cave men sat around telling scary stories, too, or whether they had enough “scary” in their lives without making any up.

What is it about that burst of adrenaline?  Maybe it’s the relief afterward.  Maybe it’s the bragging rights when you’re sitting in the pub telling the story with a cold one in your hand, and your friends shiver and exclaim and laugh in all the right places.

I don’t know.  All I know is, it’s my corporate yearend, and I have to wade through my financial records again.  That’s a whole different kind of scary.  And that story isn’t going to hold anybody enthralled at the pub, either.

P.S.  I’ll be with my step-mom for the next week or two while she starts her chemo treatments, so I may be slow in responding to comments, and I might not make it around to comment on my favourite blogs.  I’m still thinking of you, though.  Thanks for visiting!

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SpongeToffee GuiltyPants

I feel irrational guilt when dealing with authority figures.  I blame sponge toffee.

Back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth, the general stores used to carry slabs of it.  It was pure sugar whipped into foam and solidified to the brittle consistency of glass.  You could chew it into a hard, sticky pellet, or you could suck it and let its sharp edges lacerate your tongue.  To a child, it was pure, golden-brown heaven.

Unfortunately, that divine confection was responsible for the most traumatic discovery of my childhood:  the fact that it is possible to do something bad even when you’re not trying.

Don’t get me wrong, I was no stranger to doing naughty things in the full knowledge that I’d be in trouble for them later.  I was also a master of doing things that I was pretty sure would get me in trouble if I was caught, but they hadn’t been specifically itemized as “bad”, so they were a grey area.

But back to the sponge toffee.  I can’t remember how old I was.  I had been sent into the store to purchase something while my mother stayed in the car, probably tending to my baby sister.

I had “grown-up money” to buy “grown-up groceries”, and I was proud.  I selected whatever it was that I was supposed to buy and marched up to the counter, cash in hand.  And spotted the slabs of sponge toffee.  Five cents.  (Yeah, it really was that long ago.  Shut up.)

I bought the groceries, and I bought a piece of sponge toffee.

And I caught holy hell.

I couldn’t understand.  I’d bought it.  I hadn’t stolen it.  But apparently, using other people’s money to buy something for yourself was the same as stealing.  Who knew?  (So much for the concepts of mortgages and credit cards.)

I can’t remember for sure, but I doubt the consequences were particularly dire.  I probably had to pay back the nickel out of my ten-cent allowance, and I probably didn’t get to eat the toffee, but the lesson remained, written in letters of flame upon my soul.

Even when you think you’re not guilty, you are.

Which probably explains my reflexive “Oh, shit, what have I done?” reaction whenever I see a police car.

And don’t even get me started about the Canada Revenue Agency tax forms that require you to sign where it says “I certify that the information given on this return and in any documents attached is correct, complete, and fully discloses all my income.”  Just to really get my knickers in a twist, they add “It is a serious offence to make a false return”.

As if I wasn’t already suffused with anticipatory guilt.

What if I make a mistake without realizing it?  Or what if somebody else makes a mistake on a T-slip or one of the other “any documents attached”?  I’m guilty, guilty, guilty.

I don’t really enjoy sponge toffee anymore, either.

Anybody else with an overactive conscience?  Or am I just seriously messed up?  Or… is that not an “or” question?

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Scarred By Cabbages

Many thanks to Charles Gulotta over at Mostly Bright Ideas for giving me the inspiration for today’s post.  His “Painfully Employed” Part 1 and Part 2 made me think of my most memorable and psychologically devastating childhood job:  selling cabbages door to door.

It’s okay.  Go ahead and laugh.  I can laugh about it now, too, almost forty years later.

I grew up on a farm in Manitoba.  When my older brother was a pre-teen, he sold potatoes in town.  He did the digging and bagging, Mom drove him to town, and he got to keep the money.  I’m pretty sure this wasn’t his idea.  I’m guessing it was an attempt by my parents to nurture entrepreneurial spirit.  I suspect they succeeded in nurturing a lifelong hatred of all things potato-sales-related.

I was more than three years younger, an impressionable age.  I was staggered by the sheer abundance of wealth that poured into his pockets from this endeavour.  It was probably about five bucks in total, but my allowance was ten cents a week.  Woooeeeeee!

Being the pain-in-the-ass kid that I was, I badgered my mother for equal fiscal opportunity.  Little did I know.

It was a good year for growing cabbage that year.  Breathless with anticipation of untold riches, I trailed my long-suffering mother as she brought the cabbages in from the garden, weighed them, and marked prices on them.  I was too young to carry more than one cabbage at a time, and multiplication was beyond me, but I made up for these deficiencies with sheer enthusiasm.

Reality intruded on my dream once we arrived in town.  I had to actually walk up to a house, ring the doorbell, and talk to a stranger.  And try to sell them a cabbage.

Girl Scouts have it easy.  They’re selling cookies.  Who doesn’t like cookies?  And the cookies are all neatly packaged in attractive boxes.  Try selling somebody a wormy cabbage and see how fast you pay for those new uniforms.

But perhaps I’m bitter.

Amazingly, I did manage to sell a few cabbages.  Maybe my customers felt sorry for this little kid clutching a cabbage bigger than her head.  Or maybe they were just paying me to go away.  For the few cents that I was charging, it was probably a good investment.

I lost interest in cabbage sales with remarkable speed.  And I remain scarred for life by the memory of trying to convince people to buy something that they didn’t need, want, or even like.  I never worked in retail again.  To this day, the words “sales career” send a cold chill down my spine. 

But if some little kid tries to sell me something, I usually buy.

What’s your worst job ever?

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