"What’s an expert? I read somewhere, that the more a man knows, the more he knows he doesn’t know. So I suppose one definition of an expert would be someone who doesn’t admit out loud that he knows enough about a subject to know he doesn’t really know how much." Malcom S Forbes
Jack of all trades, master of none. I seriously considered putting that on an application this week. Instead, I wrote in, “the lady that puts pickle bottle labels on pickle bottle jars.” Will they be impressed, do you think? The saying comes from my Nanna. It was her greatest training tool. “Learn your times tables or you will end up putting pickle bottle labels on pickle bottle jars!!!” I wonder if she could see me now, would she reconsider her motivational skills.
Many times, I have thought, “Hell, I am just going to become a doctor, so that at the next cocktail party, when Hans Von Smellybottomholesinhisunderpants asks me “what do YOU do?” I will be ready for him. “Oh me?” Here I will just try to brush it off like it is nothing, toss my long, golden locks, take a sip of my wine… “I am a doctor, I save people’s lives everyday.” Hmm maybe that last bit was laying it on a bit thick. He will be so impressed that he will immediately leave me in peace to finish demolishing the hosts supply of white wine and potato latkes.
Germany brings all my insecurities to the surface. Last year, during an interview with ‘the authorities’, the beamter (public servant) was trying to enter my employment history into her computer. It went something like this:
“I have tried to enter in ALL the different qualifications and positions you have held in the past 25 years, but unfortunately, they don’t fit our strict parameters. Unless I am able to tick at least one box, I will not be able to process your application.” Then she just sat there, stabbing at her computer and making a tisk-tisk sound. Until finally, she looked up at me and said:
“Well… I could put you down as a cleaner, because that does not have the German requirement of at least a 4 year university degree, followed up by a 2 year unpaid apprenticeship, and finished off by another 1 year probation period, where you will be required to wear a giant P on your back during working hours.”
And she was deadly serious.
Dear Mr Husband was squeezing my arm VERY TIGHTLY, as if he instinctively knew that I was about to jump across the woman’s desk and start pounding her head into her exasperating keyboard. Tears sprang into my eyes, and a deep, red blush rose up from underneath my collar and filled my face. I tried to concentrate on the tacky pictures of angels she had pinned on the walls of her windowless cubical, so as not to allow the tears to start rolling down my face.
“I see you have a picture of Machu Picchu behind your desk?.” This was Mr Dear Husband, ever the diplomat, and probably trying to save my tormentor from spending the next 3 years in the company of her plastic surgeon. “Have you been there?” He can be so polite.
“OH NO!” Gasp, horror showing on her face. I love to look at the picture, but I would never go there… it is a terrible thing that all those dreadful tourists do to such wonderful sites.”
We left the office. It was very quiet as we walked down the stairs.
“What a fruitcake!”
He knew just what to say… and I felt a little better.