You Can’t Always Do What You Want

~ The Working Years, Part 1 ~

Well just because I got to marry Chris and become Mrs. Gore didn’t mean that I didn’t have a few jobs along the way. Which was torture. I barely hung on by a thread until the glorious day that Gideon was born and I could officially wipe my hands clean of the working world, hopefully, forever.

My very first job was as our church’s secretary, where I worked during my first year of college and then during summers until I married. I managed to keep that job the same way I managed to pass High School Calculus and Trigonometry…charm and a bit of vulnerability. Because I did most everything wrong; for instance, publicly calling myself the “First Baptist Church Sexytery”. Our pastor at the time was a real tender-heart and never could find it in his heart to scold me, but when I look back and remember the look in his eyes when he saw the “funny” things I printed in the church’s weekly bulletin, like “BOOMER SOONER” or “The church offices will be closed on December 24-28, so if you need anything, anything at all…don’t call,” I see a look of utter wariness and “gee, I hope this girl doesn’t get me in trouble” written all over his kind face. I was 10 to 30 minutes late every day, and when I wasn’t creating comical and catchy fliers for church events or composing fanciful letters to the choir – I even wrote a flowery note to my parents one day from the pastor, describing what a wonderful secretary I was and stamped it with his signature – I spent my time discovering the glorious world of online shopping while doing my best to avoid answering the phone. (In my defense, I AM a tad bit phonaphobic, not a great trait for a secretary to have). I will admit, though…everyone was crazy about the fliers, letters and bulletins. Except for that one anonymous letter I received…

If I had to have a job, this one was probably my favorite. I enjoyed helping the church and the pastor, and as I had been a member there my entire life, I felt so at home working there…so at home that I felt free to take my desk chair outside on a beautifully rainy day and answer the portable phone from under the awning, and so at home that when I was there alone, I would go to the sanctuary and run laps, blissfully breaking the cardinal rule of “no running in the church.” Which was just like you’d think it would be, awesome. I would shake my head at my naivety, but to be fair, I was only 18 years old…so really, the church was the dumb one for hiring me in the first place. This one is totally on them.

Mr. Gore and I actually met around this time as he was our church’s summer youth intern. His offices were across the street, but he managed to find plenty of errands to run in the main office. If I made the pastor nervous with my bulletin jokes, I sent him into panic mode with this church courtship…when he would walk in and see that Chris was in my office again, he would start stammering “Now you two are gonna get me in trouble if you’re always in here together.” But the boy had copies to make and the best machine was in my office. Sigh…

I shared this job with another woman in our church, one of our dear senior citizens, who was an older, and if you can believe it, more fashionable, fabulous and flamboyant version of myself. She came in twice a week and handled the finances, the business meeting minutes and the more official aspects of the job, leaving anything that had to do with the computer to me. Just to give you an idea of what Mrs. Charlotte was like, I ran into her at Wal-Mart one day, and this is what she was wearing: a white, off-the-shoulder pants suit with a big, floppy white sunhat,  giant Jackie O. sunglasses and hot pink lipstick. At Wal-mart. Oh how I adored her! I’ll never forget the day our pastor sat down with us for the first time to split up and go over our duties. When he told us we were expected to be there at 9 o’clock sharp, my eyes widened in disbelief at such an unseemly hour and Mrs. Charlotte began hem-hawing. “Now, Brother Tom,” she said, “there might be days when I just can’t be here at 9 o’clock…I’ve got to get Billy Paul his breakfast and then I’ve got to do my nails…” I nodded my approval and he looked back and forth at us with that same look, the “oh, gee, this could be bad” one, but it turned out, all of our eccentricities included, we three worked together beautifully. It was a…whimsical…time at our church, but was it ever fun! Still yet, my heart was at home, and I would have been happy as a lark to spend every waking minute there.

College graduation came along before I count count to ten, and that very same week, Mr. Gore asked me to be his, forever. I couldn’t very well have a full-time job and plan a wedding, so I decided to become a substitute teacher at my old high school. Which meant that I could say I had a job, but I could go in to work as little or as often as I pleased. Nicely done, yes?!

But I was also very bad at this job, as I was torn between wanting the kids to like me and trying to keep control of them, with their cell phones and their “pants on the ground” and their super-cool, modern lingo. How distinctly I remember the day I graced a classroom with my presence, truly and honestly shocked when some of the students asked what my name was. “Lesley Jackson” I confidently said, fully expecting looks of recognition to cross their faces. I was met with shockingly blank stares. “…I was a cheerleader?” I supplied. Nothing. I fought the urge to pull my 2000 yearbook out of my purse and show them just how important I had been to the workings of Beggs Public Schools (or beat them over their heads with it), but my ego had already taken a much-needed hit, one I am probably still recovering from.

It progressively got worse, this job; one day I was subbing in a home economics classroom where the students had received a free-day from the teacher. Thankfully, I had brought along a bag of cards and boardgames to keep them occupied, and as I had nothing better to do and considered myself the charitable type, I joined a table of “nerdy” kids in a game of rummy. We were actually having a blast when one of the students, a heavy-set boy with acne leaned in conspiritorily, drawing us all in to hear what he had to say: “Guys…don’t tell anyone, but…I’ve got medicine in my pocket.” I leaned back and looked around the room to see if the whole world had gone crazy. “Hellooo!” I furiously whispered, “I’m the teacher, remember?…” I had to make him go and turn his cherished Tylenol in to the school secretary, ruining our card game and any lasting friendships that might have been forged that day. Suffice it to say I was glad when school was out for the summer and I could say buh-bye to high school, for good this time.

Well, June 11, 2005 finally arrived, and by nightfall, I had a ring on my finger, a new last name, and the whole future ahead of me, bright, shiny, brand new and work-free. Chris and I enjoyed the summer of a lifetime, honeymooning in Maine and Prince Edward Island, and spending the months thereafter in my parent’s lovely little guest room, combing through all of our amazing wedding gifts and dreaming about our future together, the lovey-dovey aura of newlyweds following us wherever we went. I felt like a queen, I did…

And then that mean Mr. Gore threw me over his shoulder and carried me away to Kentucky where he made me get a REAL job. I’ll tell you alllllllll about it, tomorrow.

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