Backup Plan

Leave a place cleaner than you found it – that’s the Boy Scout motto.* However, since I was never a boy scout, I never adopted their motto as my own. Instead, as a diligent girl scout, I embraced their motto instead: Be Prepared.

When I was a girl scout, I carried a medical kit with me everywhere. I still do.

When I started college, I carried writing supplies with me everywhere. I still do.

When I started working, I came up with a backup plan in case my career fell apart. Rather, Special Correspondent Ellen came with a plan for the two of us: we could work at Trader Joe’s and wear the Hawaiian shirt uniform. The job would keep us in health insurance, food, and cheery clothing. Moreover, we’d live longer thanks to the constant core  workout of lifting heavy boxes. Unfortunately, Trader Joe’s switched out their hawaiian shirts for crew-team tshirts a few years ago. Ever since, I’ve been searching for a new backup career.

Last week my search ended in an unexpected way. My professor, for a class in which I’ve done little work, and spoken even less, declared I had a future his field: speech-writing. Actually, it took some time and my badge to convince him that I wasn’t already a speech-writer. Apparently, this line from my essay was the tip-off,

…From the ivy leagues of the east coast, to the state colleges of the prairies, from those delving into tax to those fascinated by bankruptcy…

I took the teacher’s compliment with good grace and thanks. I did not point out that the eloquence of my essay had more to do with realizing I needed to produce 500 words 35 minutes before it was a due – an occurrence which encourages repeated phrases, lyrical descriptions, and – for me at least – cribbing the writings of civil and labor activists from the last 100 years. Because when you’re going for wordy bombast, the best people are those who have nothing other than words between them and despair.

So, words at the ready, I typed out 489 words in 30 minutes. My teacher was pleased enough to suggest an alternative career for me. Unfortunately, while he liked my prose, he took issue with my lack of detail. The grade: B. Though, as he pointed out, many of my classmates didn’t deserve any grade. I don’t mind the grade. What I do mind is that he undermined my message. He cut my last line,

Yours in unity and fortitude,

I’d like to think that that line would have made the girl scouts proud. Now, I guess we’ll never know. But as a consolation prize, an alternative career isn’t half bad.



*According to Dad. Not independently verified.



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