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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Veritable Well of Untapped Potential


You wouldn’t know it to look at me now, but I was a straight-A student.

No, really! Spelling? No problem. Math? Yep. Science, philosophy, music? You bet.

And now -- well, so what? Spellcheck has relieved us of the need to spell it correctly in the first place. Calculators are on everything from phones to, well, calculators. Science comes in handy during Trivial Pursuit and while watching Cash Cab, philosophy makes me a thoughtful and open-minded drunk, and my music knowledge – well, again with the Trivial Pursuit.

I made a mistake in not going directly from high school to college.

And I made a mistake in learning to type.

This is probably going to blow your mind, so you may want to brace yourself against a large bit of furniture, but I type like the ever-lovin' wind.

Cool, huh?

No. Not really. Because once it’s been discovered that you’re good at something, suddenly, no matter where you are, if there's a need for a typist, no one else in the room can do it.

“Could you just do the typing? I type with two fingers. It’ll go so much faster if you do it.”

A number of years ago we had a college student, an intern, at work. Nice guy, probably 22 or so. He was young and unblemished and wore earnest business casual sweaters with khaki pants. We called him “Intern Boy” in our discussions of him over the lunch hour.

I wouldn’t say he and I were friends. But we were colleagues; and at work, that’s enough, don’t you think?

He stops by my desk one day.

“Hey,” he says.

I look up from the report I am furiously typing. Can I get a 25-page report typed and proofread in an hour? My boss seems to think so.

He places a pile of papers on my desk. “I’m going to need these faxed by the end of the day.”

I frown slightly. “You are, huh?”

His face takes on a cautious appearance.  “Um.”  Am I one of those saucy, quirky secretaries he's seen on prime time TV?   He isn’t sure.

I cock my head slightly and continue to look at him.

“I don’t know how to fax,” he says.

“It’s easy,” I say. “You see that machine over there? You put the papers, face-down, in the feed. Then you punch the fax number in on the keypad and press the big green button.”

He doesn't move.

Perhaps he hasn’t noticed that the fax machine tutorial is over.

"So voila,” I conclude. “Fish and chips.”

He smiles flirtatiously. “Oh, come on. I’ll just mess it up if I do it,” he says coyly. “I’m sure you do it better than I ever could.”

I think about the As, the gold stars. I think about the Pythagorean Theorem, my interest in Russian literature, about how great I had been on those Word Find puzzles in elementary school.

Whatever he had been studying the last four years, there had not been time spent on office equipment – or office etiquette.

I sigh.  “I support four of the people on this floor,” I say. “I’m sorry, but you’re not one of them. You’re going to have to learn to operate the fax machine for yourself.”

And I go back to typing.

Poor Intern Boy. He walks over to the fax machine, and I lose track of what he is doing. I hope he had taken that as simply and as directly as I had phrased it.



There is a large frosted cookie on my desk the next morning.

“Thanks for the Advice,” it says.

Good ol’ Intern Boy.

21 comments:

joeh said...

I once spent months doing someone else's job because he just couldn't get the hang of it. I finally figured out he knew exactly what he was doing. Dumb as a fox...the little prick.

jenny_o said...

Some people never get the hang of anything ... and some, like Intern Boy, will learn if given a nudge. Good on ya, to tell it like it is. Was. Whatever.

vanilla said...

Good for the both of you: you the teacher, he the appreciative learner.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Again you echo my past... I never quite got the knack of saying "no" effectively enough during corporate service however. Instead I nearly skinned the fingers and certainly burned all the candles. I lacked a sassy role model like our Pearl... YAM xx

Delores said...

Sugar is the best way to show appreciation and offer an unspoken apology.

Indigo Roth said...

Cheeky lad! And wonderfully slapped down. He probably enjoyed it, the momma's boy...

Rosemary Nickerson said...

Well done, Pearl. You helped the young lad grow up some.

Gigi said...

Nine times out of ten, I'm more likely to sigh and just tell them to let me do it. Why? Because I have one boss in the office who continually asks me to show him how to scan so he won't bother me with his personal stuff. I have shown him how to do this about 15 times now. Just give me the damn piece of paper already.

maurcheen said...

:-)
You always makes me smile Pearl.

XXX

maurcheen said...

:-)
You always makes me smile Pearl.

XXX

ThreeOldKeys said...

I wonder where Intern Boy is now ...

Should Fish More said...

well-told, Ms. Pearl

I too, type fairly well now, and around 50-60 wpm way back....took a typing class for a forgotten reason in soph year of hs, and quickly got the knack.
It served me well in grad and medical school, the latter I had a early apple computer....my papers were easy to do compared to my peers.

Sioux said...

Pearl--Good for you for saying "No." It was time for Intern Boy to learn how to find his butt with both hands.

Rose L said...

Some bosses seem so unable to fend for themselves!

River said...

He brought you a frosted cookie! That's so sweet. I bet wherever he goes to work now, he will always think of you when he has to fax anything.
I wasn't an A student, but I can still remember Pythagoras' theorem.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

That sounds like a scene from Mad Men.

Linda O'Connell said...

Comes a time when you don't allow anyone to push your buttons.

savannah said...

"Thanks for the Advice."

can't think of a better compliment from anyone, sweetpea. xoxoxox

Watson said...

You and IB both did well! Cookies all around.

Diane Tolley said...

I think I got those faxes. The first two were a little hard to decipher, but the rest cleared up after a while. He's a fast learner . . .

Daisy said...

Sounds like a lesson was learned. :)