Best Impressions

I’ve never had a clear career plan. As I graduated with a degree in Humanities, my life was still vague and spiraling. No sudden burst of inspiration sent me running to a booth at a career fair. I could tell you what I enjoyed–reading, writing, organizing my closet–but nothing jumped out proclaiming itself “Do me and make money!”

One day I hit upon it. After spending hours a day driving to my day job as an administrative assistant, it came roaring at me.


I guess I had never spent much time thinking about being one of those ladies at the library pushing carts around and replacing books. I hadn’t practiced looking over top of my glasses or putting my hair up in a bun. My exposure to Milton, Chaucer, and Dostoevsky was minimal at best.  Still, the more I thought about it, the more the idea grew. I supposed it was worth..investigating.

My day of detective work arrived. Putting on a professional, but not too professional, shirt, I ventured over to our local library about half an hour before closing time. I knew I was playing it tight, but I didn’t have many free hours.

Wandering through the stacks, I waited for a particular librarian to finish talking to a patron. As the minutes ticked closer to closing time, I began to get anxious. My pile of books grew, but the conversation across the room seemed to grow as well.

Finally, with fifteen minutes to spare, my path was clear. I hurried to the desk, taking a deep breath and sorting through my questions. Though this wasn’t an interview, I still wanted to make a good impression.

“Excuse me,” I began strolling up to the desk. “I was thinking about being a children’s librarian and wondered if you tell me about your experience.”  The lady launched into her career journey and what requirements libraries looked for. I tried to listen attentively. I made eye contact. I nodded appropriately and made murmurs of acknowledgment.

But my head started to hurt.

The librarian prattled on about how she began working at a library when she was four. She had studied something else in college, but ended up back at the library again.

My headache moved from the back of my head to the front. I began to see red splotches. I knew I should sit down, but there was no break in the conversation. I didn’t want to be rude and interrupt. I blinked hard, and my sight started to clear up. I remembered I should have eaten breakfast.

The conversation had shifted to what education a librarian needed. What entry level jobs there were. What jobs this library might have opening. How to get started.

The red splotches had come back. They were slowly darkening. I knew I should sit down, but that would create a scene….

Suddenly, blackness.

My vision disappeared like a black curtain. I felt myself falling. Heard my books hit the floor. Felt my head smash into the concrete. Heard a squeak of a chair and someone rushing toward me. Felt a hand on my shoulder shaking me. Heard my name.

“Let me sleep,” my body whispered. “Yes, your head hurts, but rest awhile. Relax.”

As my body whispered, my brain kicked in. “Angela,” it whispered. “If you don’t get up, people are going to be worried.” 

With effort, I opened my eyes and sat up. The light was back. The red patches were gone. My headache had vanished. (It had been replace with a growing goose egg on the side of my forehead.) Someone rushed me a bottle of water, and I tried to stand, assuring everyone I was perfectly fine.

Then the paramedics showed up.

As the last patrons left and the library lights shut off, I got to chat with two paramedics. I got to tell them all about my health history, have my vitals taken, and assure them I didn’t need to be rushed to the ER. As they left, I was babysat by a couple of librarians who had to stay late with me until another family member could pick me up. And it didn’t help that I had started to sniffle.

After that day, my ambitions for librarianhood seemed to vanish. While I still love a good library, they don’t have the allure they used to as a place of employment. Perhaps this experience was God’s way of making it clear that libraries were not the place for me. Every time I think back to that adventure, I cringe at the lovely impression I must have made.

What about you? What was the best (or worst) impression you ever made on someone?


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