This is a little story I edited out of my book.

My first job was retail—standing all day in a fashionable box at the mall. I’m not a retail gal and I stopped liking malls after I was ten. Then I worked in FedCo in the jewelry department. That was just as difficult for me because I don’t care about jewelry and standing all day is hell, but that was in high school and my boyfriend worked in another department, so that made it fun.

After my first year at Berkeley, my dad said I could work in his insurance brokerage that summer. The sales reps were up front and we women who did all the paperwork were in back. Every morning that summer started with us in the back deciding what bag of candy we were going to dig into till quitting time. Sometimes it was those long thick strands of red and black licorice. Other times it was Tootsie Rolls. My favorites were the Rollo days.  The work itself, shuffling paper, learning how to file it alphabetically, and having stacks of it to do every day wasn’t exactly an enticing way to spend my day when all my friends were a couple of miles away at the bay.

There was a funny young salesman who eventually became part owner in the business, whose office was kitty corner to the receptionist. These two were my chums. They were hysterical, and chatting with them was the highlight of my day. This soon developed into flirting with him. By the end of that summer when it was time to go back to college I had it firmly entrenched in my mind that work was about candy and flirting. If there were people there to indulge and enjoy my bad habits and someone else I could flirt with, then the nine-to-five could be endured.

I never thought much about a career, only the little red Benz convertible the lady judge who lived around the corner from me when I was growing up rode around in.

I was president without pay for many years; learning how to delegate, how to inspire those working for me, how to interact with all different levels of management from the students, to the work staff, to the teachers, parents, principals, and members of the Board of Education. I had to interact effectively with the different presidents from other schools in the district. All this work was unpaid. It looked good on my transcript but didn’t put dollars in my pocket, as such positions of leadership didn’t even garner minimum wage. When my friends went off to law school, I didn’t join them because my selective listening wouldn’t get past the first few sentences of any legal brief without completely shutting down.

Other jobs, like the café across from Boalt Hall or Mother’s Market in Huntington Beach didn’t bring much reward or remuneration. Neither did typing resumes or selling corporate fitness programs before they were popular. I got an early morning gig at a television news station but was so turned off by the “if it bleeds it leads concept” and the ugly authority figure who kept reminding me how much quicker I could be promoted if I would just sleep with him, that I quit after a few months. None of these used many of my skill sets or stimulated my mind. Always I looked for where I could snag a sweet and with whom I could flirt to get through the day. I never quite got the hang about focusing on a career, because my mind was always hearing sentences in my head and scrambling to write them down just as fast as I possibly could.

In my head I was going to be the first woman President of the United States. Then I thought I’d become a political psychologist. Instead, early on, I just sought out sweets to suck on and boys to flirt with while somehow paying for my existence. I kept procrastinating on making a decision about what I’d be when I grew up and how I’d live my life when it was completely mine to choose.

Now I know that sugar is poison and there is so much more to flirting than I ever dreamed possible at my dad’s office. We humans naturally create nectar that heals us and is anything but superficially silly.