I was invited to participate in the career day at my son’s middle school last Wednesday. However when I arrived I quickly discovered that they had forgotten to put me on the list of presenters. Each of the adults who came had been given a room, and all the kids had a guide book that told them who was in each room and what their job was. I am never one to make a fuss and so when they told me they would find a room for me I just smiled and waited patiently. As it turns out they had a veterinarian not show up and her room was free. As a teacher was guiding me to the room it dawned on me that all the kids I was about to talk to were waiting to hear from a vet. I was assured that this would not matter very much but I did not find that to be the case.
I had prepared a slideshow on my iPad but the substitute teacher in the room I was in didn’t know how to use the projection equipment. So I just stood there in front of a room full of mostly girls who wanted to become veterinarians and told them about Penny Arcade. As you might imagine, they were not interested. I was so nervous and without my slides to guide me I ran through what was supposed to be a twenty minute presentation in about eight minutes. I asked hopefully if there were any questions and not a single hand went up. Thankfully the substitute started asking me questions and she and I had a nice chat until the bell rang.
I was scheduled to do six of these twenty minute presentations and as this class left it dawned on me that all the girls running towards my room were not coming to hear about cartooning. I stood in the doorway saying over and over “I’m not a vet!” while waving my arms. I could see the looks of confusion and then disappointment on their faces as it registered. They only had a few minutes between presentations and many had run here to try and get a seat. Now they were turning and running away from me towards their second and third choices. People literally running away from you in disgust is a special feeling. Some of them, perhaps realizing that they did not have time to find another room shuffled into the classroom and took seats. A young lady with horses on her binder asked derisively “If you’re not a vet, what are you?” and I have never been more disappointed in myself than in that moment.
I did six of these non veterinary presentations. I answered a few questions about my favorite animals and what sorts of pets I have. I unfortunately did not know the breeds of my cats which many in the room found hard to believe. I kept hoping to hear an announcement over the intercom, something like “Our veterinarian could not make it today but students interested can find a cartoonist in room 238.” but that never happened. Instead I just kept on disappointing room after room of hopeful young animal doctors.
My son Gabe told me after school that it could have been worse. After his first two options were full for a particular session he found himself with only two other kids in a massage therapist’s presentation. “At least your room was full all day Dad.” he told me. Even if the kids were not there for me, I suppose he’s right. I was like the opening act for a band that never showed up.
With all that said, I want to make it clear I had a great time. I hated going to school as a kid but I really like going back now. I may not be a vet but I was still able to give these kids some good advice. I also can’t help but laugh when this sort of thing happens knowing that it’s all such great material for the comic strip. Besides, I think everybody needs a good humiliation every now and then just to calibrate the old system. It’s good for the soul.