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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

No Magic

When I was a young woman, I held to the adage of, "If the job is worth doing, it is worth doing right." I worked full out to the best of my ability, like a race horse yearling wanting to win a race for a sugar cube, because that was the only way that I knew of to make something of myself and to contribute to the betterment of society. I thought in those terms back then, and I still do today. But there are those who do not, and sometimes people at work would slyly say to me words to the effect of, "Oh! You must be a witch to do such fast and perfect work." And having asserted their social superiority, having put me in my scorned place so to speak, and having frightened me because we all know what happens to witches (pilloried in the stocks, burned, drowned...) they would wander off to continue their usual lackluster performance. (This predates the Harry Potter so-called "white" magic cultural muddle which is a whole different kettle of fish.)

On a side note, I recall when I was a young typist for a very large and isolating pharmaceutical company, a young woman befriended me there. She was good-hearted and lonely for companionship in the cold, strange company for which we worked, but I could see that she was not very smart and that worried me. When I mentioned to her that I really wanted to get a better job with more opportunity and higher play, telling her, "Right now I'm so poor that I can't even afford a pair of scissors. When I mend my clothes, I bite off the thread with my teeth." It was true but I meant it to be humorous, maybe even motivating. The next day she slipped me a lovely pair of German-made forged-steel scissors that were just perfect for either sewing or cutting paper, whatever one needed. Any woman would want those scissors in her sewing basket. My silly friend snuck the scissors into my purse so I worried and asked her where she had gotten them. She confessed that she had stolen them from our employer's supply room. I told her that I could not accept her gift and she cried like a child and went back to her own work station, leaving the lovely stolen scissors in my purse. What to do?

A day or so later my former friend said, "Hey, I want to show you something." She led me to a cluttered room where a space had been cleared for a chair and a typewriter stand with typewriter. There was a huge cardboard box next to it, overflowing with envelopes. She said, "You work so fast and perfectly that they are going to have you just type hundreds of envelope addresses every day, that is all you get to do." Well, it is physically and mentally painful to do repetitive motions like typing on a single task all day long, so I privately resolved to quit that job. I was too young to know that there are many ways to resolve problems at work. I was scrupulously honest in those days and before I quit that job I snuck the purloined scissors back into the supply room.

There Is No Magic Wand.

by Annmarie Throckmorton 2021

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