I went to five schools when I was in the second grade. My dad was/is a pipeliner, my grandfather was a pipeliner, my step-dad was/is a pipeliner and now my brother is a pipeliner too. The life of a pipelining family is unsettling. My dad would work all day at the local sawmill then come home and sit by the phone on the wall, willing the call to come in for that next big job. He would spend hours on the phone on Sundays calling everyone he knew, trying to find out what jobs were coming up and did they need a dozer operator, a foreman, a laborer, anything at all. When the call finally came, it was load up the trailer, truck and car, and be in Wyoming in three days ready to work. No matter where my dad went, we went too. So, what that meant for me and my brother is leaving our home town school and starting over and over, year after year. Some jobs were only a couple of months and some were a year.
Second grade was a particularly hard year on me. At five towns spread out through Texas, the teacher would smile on Monday mornings and say “Class, please welcome our new student Angel. She is from Tennessee.” Kids were no different than they are today. The bullying wasn’t what it is now, but the cliques and social rankings were in place wherever I went from Kindergarten on. I don’t have a lot of memories of each of those schools that year, because I didn’t have very many friends. I kept to myself and had lunch with my older brother if he was at the same school that time. I do specifically remember one sweet girl from India who asked me to be her friend. Just like that…”would you like to be my friend?” Her dad ran an old motel outside of town and my mom would drop me off on Saturdays and we had a blast cleaning rooms with her mom. I have no idea to this day why I thought that was fun, but it was.
In another town, when I was about 12, I was invited to a pool party by a super duper cute and peppy cheerleader. I was in that really awkward, crooked teeth, hair parted down the middle with barrettes on each side, stone washed jeans too short, stage. Google dork or goober and you’ll get the picture. Anyways, I was beside myself with excitement. I BEGGED my mom to PLEASE take me and drop me off for the day. Because she didn’t know the parents and we were new in town, we settled on two hours. When I arrived, I was thrilled to see a sea of tan, long legged blondes in two piece bikinis sipping on Sunkist and Dr Pepper. I briefly second guessed my one piece, but that wasn’t going to ruin my big day. All the girls were introducing themselves and “Ooooh, welcome Angel,” blah, blah and “tell us ALL about Tennessee” and so on. About 20 mins into it, the girl who was hosting the party walks up to me and says, “You do realize that the only reason we invited you was to make fun of your accent.” Honestly, I laughed at first because I thought she was just joking, but then it dawned on me that they invited me just to make an ass out of me. These were the days of no cell phones. So here I sit and wait in the corner another hour and a half for my mom to come get me. I’m not trying to be pathetic here, but it was a long wait.
So, what is the point of all this? You could assume that I am making a point that kids are cruel to each other, or geez your parents were assholes to drag you kids all over the country, or why on earth does everyone in your entire family work in that god-awful business? The point though is, you are who you are in life and you end up as an adult, exactly where you were meant to be. I am exactly where I was meant to be in life because of the choices and experiences that have shaped me along the way. Good or bad, my personality and qualities have been shaped by living life on the run. A childhood built on meeting new people all over the country has resulted in my being very open and welcoming to new friends, eager to travel all over the world without fear of the unknown, and to NOT COMPLAIN about my life today. Trust me, I do not want to go back to living in a trailer. There are so many people I meet who I refer to as “Double Debbie Downers.” You know who these people are. They come in to work on Monday whining and crying about their weekend, their spouse, their kids, their gout. If you hear me whine and cry, at any time, please punch me in the face because I deserve it.
I have a friend and colleague who tells her employees and peers all the time to “put on your big girl panties.” She says this to both guys and girls actually. I know you have heard this phrase before, but I have literally heard her say this over and over for about 8 years. And, she is absolutely right. Put on your big girl panties. If you don’t like the cards you have been dealt, then change them.