From F to 100%

When my kids were just learning their abc’s and 1, 2, 3s, I thought I’d go back to school to get a third degree. I was burnt out at my then current part-time job. For almost two years, I had my fill of filing, printing out flyers, and inserting brochures in folders. So many forms, folios, ad nauseam. I actually thought the company I worked for owned acres of forests.

I had an epiphany one slow Wednesday afternoon. While the clock ticked and the rain drummed outside, I had jerked myself awake just before my face thudded down my desk. I had to reorient myself and saw the stack of folders I had yet to fill. Suddenly a vision appeared before me: I was entering my home, calling out, “Honey, I have work to do tonight. Will you be okay with pot roast and baked potatoes instead of the lamb de flambé and scalloped little potatoes and crème de brulee? I have to fill 200 folders by tomorrow.”

It was then that I knew it was time to do something else, and else I did. I scoured the Want Ads and found the same type of jobs. No good. I searched the Web, using key words like “high paying part-time jobs.” A short list came up. Dental hygienist caught my eye. Harps played in my head, or were they trumpets? Didn’t matter which, all I knew was I heard my calling loud and clear.

I envisioned myself scraping off calcium from incisors, canines, and molars. My destiny was to help fight cavities. How meaningful was that? I immediately researched what it took to realize my new vocation. I found a good program at our “nearby” community college. It was only a skip, a jump, a long jump, a hurdle, and another hurdle. So, it was 13 miles, give or take an hour or two of my leisure time. What, me play tennis?

The first year of the program required basic courses that I had taken years ago, but had to take again. So I balked, not to mention almost hurled the whole day’s worth of my nutritional needs. Thankfully, I had the option to test out on two 101 courses—Freshman English and Algebra. I dashed to the local library to load up on the latest SAT test preps for their Algebra section; I also got the Morons’ Guide to Algebra and How to be an Algebra Aficionado. I was going to live and breathe Algebra for however long it took.

On the dining table, I spread all the tomes that would make me great. I took one diagnosis test after another. Three tests and three F’s later, I concluded I would bomb at our local casino’s Black Jack table. I couldn’t even count my toes. After emptying out a Kleenex box and looking through slit-swollen eyes, I sharpened six pencils and took out a blank page and started my road to greatness.

Four score and seven years later, or so it felt, I finally got on the A list with Princeton Review and Kaplan. With confidence, I drove early in the morning to register at our dubitably local community college. I was given a packet about the school. When I held the folder, I had a momentary vision like a psychic. I saw how I would be in 10 years, bent over and still filling folders if I didn’t take steps to change my course. With renewed determination to improve my lot in life, I stepped into the test room.

By the time I finished, I was told to let myself out the back door because the janitor had gone home for the day. I didn’t mind it because I got a perfect score–100%. And a year and a half more to go, but that’s another story.

©2015 Karina Pinella

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