Sunday, May 24, 2015

Reflection #36/40

Most of the teachers I know started teaching right out of college. I am unusual, in that I didn’t get my teaching license until I was in my thirties. I have less experience than most teachers my age, and I am farther away from retirement.

What was I doing in my twenties? Working in retail, mainly at Barnes & Noble.

In Reflection #34 I wrote about the thrill of sharing comics I had drawn with Mrs. Watkins’ fifth grade class. I had a similar experience when I worked at Barnes & Noble. My friend and manager
 Matt Kish asked me to collaborate on a comic strip that would run in the weekly bookseller news. We brainstormed ideas and came up with a comic called Don’t Quit Yer Day Job.

DQYDJ started out as a short humor strip about our co-workers, but installments started to get longer and longer, and an overarching story developed, and eventually it became the epic tale of our hero H-Bomb Ferguson’s battle against the Living Corporation.

Up to the end we continued to attach the comic to the bookseller news, so each week, when employees got their paychecks, they also got some action-packed anti-corporate propaganda. And we used store money to make the photocopies. How did we get away with that?

People got excited about the comic, and some of them became devoted fans.
 Sally, who was also H-Bomb Ferguson’s love interest in the comic, was our #1 fan, but we also got plenty of support from Xan, who got to be the evil sorceress Udanax. Casey got to get beaten up by H-Bomb.

We brought our epic to a close, sort of, and Matt left B&N in, what, 2002? But I soldiered on and kept working there through May 2005, when I moved to Cincinnati. It seemed like almost everyone who worked there came to my 30th birthday party, which was held just a few days before we left town.

After I had worked at B&N for a few years I used to complain about it, particularly with Casey and
 Sarah. We worried that we didn’t want to spend the rest of our lives in retail, that we had greater dreams, that we were wasting our lives. It’s true; at the time, I felt trapped. But I did get out of retail and become a professional, with a salary and paid time off and no requirements to work the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve.

Now that I’m wildly successful I can look back on those times from a different perspective. I think about DQYDJ, and going to Mexico, and the parties at Casey’s house, and I don’t feel like it was a waste, and I don't regret how I spent my twenties at all.

I have to admit, those were good times, man . . . good times.

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