My study group had a social time last week where we shared stories of what we wanted to be when we grew up. In 8th grade, I decided I wanted to be an English teacher like Mrs. Saunders. I blissfully advanced toward my goal until my student teaching experience in my senior year of college. Nope! Standing in front of a high school class was not for me! I needed to scramble for a new profession and apply to the right graduate school for the coming year!
Serendipitously, I had spent the summer between my junior and senior years as a Library Cadet at Brockport Public Library. I was in charge of the children’s programming for the summer, plus helped with various library duties such as call the next person on the list for reserved books, help patrons, check books in and out, shelve library materials, create book displays, and decorate bulletin boards. Weekly, I held a Preschool Storytime and planned themed programs of camp-style songs using records for accompaniment, a 16mm movie, and perhaps a poem or simple art/craft project for over fifty school-age children.
I loved my summer work! So it was fairly easy to switch gears from teaching to considering Syracuse University’s School of Library and Information Science Masters program. Simultaneously, I applied for a scholarship from Rochester Public Library. It was the staff of RPL who had recruited and trained me as a Library Cadet.
Looking back on those experiences now, it was not serendipity. It was God. He had a plan for my life. I wasn’t seeing it and tried to pursue what I thought I wanted to do. He had to jangle my reality which caused me to find the perfect path already prepared for me.
As we went around the room telling our stories, I remembered a childhood game I played with my cousin who wanted to be a secretary when she grew up. She lived two doors away from me, and her house had three porches: a front porch which was my office, a back porch which was her office, and a side porch which served as our post office. We each set up our porch office with toy typewriters and toy cash registers stuffed with Monopoly money. We made up a name for the company we worked for. Then we buckled down to work in our office, writing letters to the other company.
The game began with each of us sending the other company an order for pencils or reams of paper, etc., and placed the order letter on the side porch. Once we received an order, we drew up an invoice and mailed it at our post office. Then we had to pay our invoice with Monopoly money. Obviously, we did not ship our imaginary goods. The game continued until one of us had no money left or dinnertime came. She was four years older than I and wiser. She always won.
But I won too! She taught me a great deal in that game. With the difference of four years, she knew about formatting a business letter and an invoice, and educated me. The game also trained me to evaluate the cost of goods, pricing, budgeting, and keeping up with your bills. Skills to last a lifetime.