From there, I tried my luck at another university job,starting as a Senior Clerk Typist Clerk, advancing to a Principal Clerk, and eventually working my way up to a management position. In all my years there, I never could figure out what a Principle Clerk was...as opposed to a unprincipled clerk?
I spent twenty-three years there and have lot of happy memories and one not so great, but I might have to write a book about how I was driver from my job by a fellow disgruntled employee with an unfounded grudge. Anyhow, we kept a running "funny file" to document the wacky things that happened everyday. When you work with diverse groups of people trying to adjust to new cultures, you're bound to experience some amusing situations. Now, I'm not lying. These are real names and in their home countries I'm sure they don't even register a chuckle, but the first time Semmah Dong came to see me, I had a difficult time keeping a straight face. However, that was a mild day compared to when I first met Fok Yu at a student orientation. Oh my God, how would you like to have that name?
I'm sure there were lots of amusing things that happened while I was there, but unfortunately, my long term memory has joined my short and gone on hiatus. That's just another plus of getting old.
For some strange reason, I always felt like I belonged in the medical field. Each time I visited a doctor, and believe me, after chalking up the cast incident, there were more than a few to count. I always had an eerie sensation that I'd been a nurse or doctor in a previous life. If I could stand the sight of blood or vomit, I might have tried the profession in this one, but I'm afraid I'd have horrible beside manner. Joining your patient while. they throw up in a little kidney-shaped tray in the hospital probably would be frowned upon...but that's just a hunch. I decided to stick with jobs I knew I could handle. Of course I have this uncanny knowledge of medical info, and for some reason, know more about car engines than I should. My husband is convinced that in my previous life, I worked my way through medical school while working as a mechanic.
I retired at an early age because of the aforementioned incident, and made a leap of faith, leaving California for the southern charm of Tennessee. Unfortunately, we researched everything but employment and wages. The town we elected to call home was filled with empty buildings of failed businesses or ones moving to Mexico, so I found myself having to find a job while my hubby searched for something lucrative. Considering his previous $25.00 an hour wage, the twenty-six cents per mile truck-driving job he acquired after paying $5000 to go to driving school should have been a harbinger of things to come.
I visited an employment agency and filed out a generic form. Imagine my surprise when they sent me to the local Sheriff's Office for an interview. I assumed it was a clerical job, but I was questioned about my ability to serve as a Correctional Officer. I was sure they were kidding. I was almost sixty, had no training in dealing with inmates, and have a bad knee. I assumed I was wasting time, but out of curiosity, I sat through the interview. Heck, in California, you have to attend an academy to even apply so I was stunned when the called back and hired me. Of course with I realized I'd just agreed to work for $7.55 per hour among the incarcerated, I questioned my sanity. The jail housed state inmates as well as the locals...everything from larceny to homicide so I couldn't understand why they found me qualified. I figured it out. I was breathing, I could walk, talk, and agreed to work for peanuts.
Every other position in life had no equipment requirements except maybe having a good writing pen, but now I found myself wearing a uniform, utility belt, handcuffs, and an empty holster. No guns allowed in the jail, which was a great idea, but I did have pepper spray, a flashlight and a glove case...all of which I was required to purchase myself. In order to be a C.O. you must have a gun, so I used my ex-husbands service revolver. I'd never even shot a weapon, so finding out I had to be certified was a shock. I remember how nervous I was, then stunned when I shot 83/100 on my very first attempt. I was so sore the next day, I could hardly hold up my arm, but I proudly displayed my target silhouette riddled with accurate bullet holes. I never imagined hanging something like that on my home office wall, but I was pretty stoked about doing so well.
In order to use the pepper spray, I had to attend a special class. What they failed to mention was that I also had to "experience" pepper spray firsthand. After the textbook instruction part of the class, we all assembled in the Sallie port, stood in line and had out choice of being sprayed or swabbed. I elected the swab thinking, "how much can they put on a q-tip."
I'd never seen a swap that huge. It resembled a mini-mop, which I guess is the reward for being a wimp. If they instructor wanted me to see what fire really felt like,he achieved his goal. My eyes immediately teared up and my cheeks flamed. I was forced to remain standing before I could "decon" the situation, but I soon discovered there really isn't anything you can do to make the pain go away. Following instructions, I splashed cold water on my face, but forgot that rubbing it exacerbates the effect. After about forty-five minutes, the agony dissipated. I thought that concluded the class. Wrong!
The instructor pulled the three ladies aside and gave us "personal instructions" pertinent only to our gender. He warned us about any hand to nether-region contact without thoroughly washing ones hands first. I found myself a tad embarrassed having a total stranger instruct me about yeast infections and the like, but when I glanced at my still-red cheeks and eyes in the mirror at home, I seriously considered sending him a thank you card for his hygiene lesson. All. the way home, I sat in front of the air-conditioning vent aimed at my face, and later thought how ridiculous I might look trying to cool the part of my body we had discussed in semi-privacy. That'd be a site no one should see.
So, I survived the pepper spray experience, certified with my weapon and had been handcuffed to learn the use of them. When they showed me the taser and asked if I wanted to be certified to carry one, I passed on the offer as soon as I learned I had to be tased to achieve the status. The phrase, "help I've fallen and can't get up" kept racing through my mind. I was just thankful I didn't have to be shot in order to carry a firearm.
Just a note: I've updated this a tad, and since have written a book called First Degree Innocence, a fictional accounting of the claims of innocence I heard on a daily basis. Made me wonder if some might be true. The books I shared in the jail library made me feel popular, but then I think books with sex are a hot topic there, even if most of mine were sweet romance.
As is the norm...I have to end with a joke:
Ethel and Mabel, two senior widows, sat on a park bench, watching folks pass by.
"You know, Mabel," Ethel said, "I've been reading this "sex and marriage" book and all they talk about is mutual orgasm. Mutual orgasm here, mutual orgasm there--that's all they talk about." She turned serious eyes to her friend. "Tell me. When your husband was alive, did you two ever have mutual orgasm?"
Mabel though for a long while before finally shaking her head. "No, I''m pretty sure we had State Farm."