My name is Angela…and I was a homeschooler.
I will freely and enthusiastically praise this educational choice. It has equipped me to handle million dollar accounts in the business world, complete an extensive list of undergraduate and graduate school courses, and tutor people from all over the world. I view myself as a fairly well-adjusted individual, and if others think I am slightly peculiar, I generally take it as a compliment.
In my newest job at a university, I have come to realize that homeschooling has left me ill-equipped in one very important area. One skill exists that no matter how many C.S. Lewis books I read, how many levels of Age of Empires I conquered, or how many chickens I raised in my kitchen, I was not prepared for. That task?
Opening a locker.
Part of my job consists of setting up for special events in another building on campus. This is an obstacle course which requires great cunning and dexterity: load up the cart with all necessary supplies from the office, locate the right elevator which will lead to the automatic door, push said cart across cobblestone thoroughfare picking up the hand sanitizer, papers, and saucers that rattle off in transit, chase the fifty napkins that the wind whips across campus, carry the thirty pound table up a couple flights of stairs, frantically search for the Jason Deli’s caterer who was suppose to arrive ten minutes before, and try to regain some sort of professional composure before the special speaker and students begin to arrive.
At each stage of the process, a fearful voice keeps repeating: Please let me not need to open the locker.
The locker is a three number combination locker. It houses the extra supplies that we keep stashed in the other building in case of emergencies. It is also the most complicated contraption ever created.
Turn right three times to reset. Turn left to the first number. Turn right all the way past the first number to the second number. Turn left to the third number and apply pressure. The lock will release.
How many times, wild-haired and winded, did I try following those directions? How many times did I suction-cup my ear to the locker door trying to hear the tumblers clicking like the safe-crackers in Old Westerns? How many times did I slam my hand against the stubborn door and then look around hoping no one had seen me while also desperately wishing someone would appear to help? As thirsty students waited for cups, I had to decide whether to race across campus in heels and hosiery or beg my manager to open the locker for me.
“It’s just like any high school locker,” a student assistant told me one day.
How I wanted to grab fistfuls of my hair and scream in frustration:
“YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND! HOMESCHOOLERS DON’T HAVE LOCKERS!”
Instead, I took a deep breath, nodded vaguely, and pasted on my sweet “Of-course-I-know-what-you-are-talking-about” smile which has served me so well in infiltrating the world of public-schoolers. I promptly went back to my office and scheduled a time on my calendar to practice locker-opening.
Today, I am pleased to announce that I can now successfully open my locker about half of the time. My panic is subsiding and is better channeled into strategizing how to stack items on the cart so they won’t blow away, carry the water dispenser so I don’t slosh water down the front of my business suit, and exude confidence that I don’t always feel. I can now add locker opening as a skill on my resume.
So my advice is this: if you homeschool or have been homeschooled, consider this very important life skill. You never know when it will come in handy.