The loaded tray was heavy and unwieldy, not quite safe, but I was managing.
Miss O, my new boss, approached. I stood politely in my waitress uniform,
wearing my white sports shoes. These were comfy, attractive, and nearly new.
Miss O glared. “Your shoes must have a hard sole. Those are not acceptable.”
I’m quite sure she wanted attractive flats or nice pumps.
However, I had almost no money, and certainly none for new shoes;
that’s why this job was part of my college financial package.
I quietly fumed. In addition to my money concerns, I was born to question stupid rules.
This job had no need for hard-soled shoes, so there was no real need to reject my shoes.
Fortunately, I knew where to find the perfect cheap shoes: an Army Surplus store within walking distance of campus. For my next shift I wore used, bulky, jet black, lace-up army boots with my dress. Army boots are quite heavy and not quite comfortable, but sacrifices must be made. These boots contrasted nicely with my pin-striped uniform dress, and the effect was absolutely breath-taking.
Miss O grew pale beneath her perfect makeup. “Army boots!?!”
I smiled and turned to daintily show off the worn, hard-soled bottom of each shoe.
“They have the best hard soles.”
I knew she couldn’t fire me if I followed the letter of her many rules.
Happily, loopholes can often be found when rebellious frustration
is paired with imagination. I wore my army boots for each work shift,
along with a satisfied smile.
Two months later, a gala event was planned. Miss O approached me warily.
“Could you please wear your white tennis shoes this weekend?”
“Why, Miss O! That would be against the rules.”
She gave a stiff smile. “I’ll make an exception for this event.”
I politely agreed to her request. I wished for her sake that she was not such a rigid person, which would have been better for everyone. Still, I disliked rules that made life more dangerous, difficult, cheerless, or, worse, rules designed to make us workers feel servile. I’ve never accepted that for myself or others.
We, the recipients of financial aid, were expected to work in complete silence. This was another rule I quietly questioned. So I taught myself the alphabet of the deaf, plus a few signs. When we were off duty, I taught this skill to the other workers.
Our hands wove beautiful words. We soon conversed quite happily, in complete silence. This was a lovely loophole that Miss O never expected. Years later I wrote “The Dragon Dreamer” with Scree, a character who speaks in silence. Not too surprisingly, she also has no use for senseless rules.
I was politely rebellious for two years. My third year I was offered a job in the Science Department, and I leapt for this opportunity. I’m sure Miss O was equally pleased. That year I had a dream job: I was in charge of the greenhouse. I was in heaven!
The following year the Math Department offered me a job as a tutor. I loved the “aha” moment when my fellow students understood the problems. Chemistry students visited too, since most of their difficulties involved the math of balancing chemical equations. Later, for fun, I wrote books that teach beginning math and chemistry using crystals and cartoons.
There are still people who mock, minimize, and mistreat others.
I’ve noticed this too often in the service industry.
One last thought. A degree can be a door to a certain type of job. I loved taking classes, and I needed degrees to “land” a job at sea, as a marine scientist. This was my desire-of-the-heart.
Earning a degree can be useful. But a person’s worth is not tied to a degree, which neither confers nor confirms intelligence. What is learned in four years of college means less with each passing year. What I know now matters more, as I read articles and hone new skills. Also, if you can read, you can teach yourself almost anything. Better still, you can read or write Indie books!