I’m notoriously erratic about checking my voice mail, since  I leave it on vibrate  and in my desk during work hours.*

Yesterday afternoon, I had four messages, all from the same number.  The length of time between calls was inversely proportionate to the impatience of the caller:

“This is Sunny’s Pre-K room mother.  I was hoping you could help out with the book sale this Friday between two and four.   Please give me a call as soon as you can!”

“Ms. Wesson, this is Sunny’s room mother.  I’m calling about the book sale at the school.  Please call me.”

“Ms. Wesson, this is Sunny’s room mother.  I hope your voice mail is working—I need to know if you can help out with the book sale Friday.  Please call as soon as you get this.” 

“This is Sunny’s room mother.  It would be great if you would return my call.”

Dealing with a roomful of toddlers and a call list of reluctant parents wouldn’t  bliss me out either, so I gave her the benefit of the doubt, checked Friday’s schedule, groaned, and called her. 

 “This is Sarah, Sunny’s mom,” I said. “I’m afraid I can’t volunteer on Friday, but if there’s any other day this wee–” 

“Not even for an hour?  We really need someone to fill in.”

“I’m sorry, I’m working.”

“You couldn’t reschedule?  It’s our biggest fundraiser this semester.”

“Um, I would if I could, but there’s really no way.”

“You can’t spare an hour from your day?  For the kids?”

Good mercy, lady.  “I’m sorry, but I’m at the downtown library on Friday and we’re already down two people.  There’s no one to cover for me.”

“Oh, you’re a library volunteer?  Because I’m sure they’d understand–”

“No, I’m a librarian.  And if someone could trade, I’d be glad to—” 

“Oh!  Oh, I’m so sorry.  I didn’t know you worked.  Someone told me you were a writer.”


I’m not often at a loss for words, but that did it.

Anyone have any I could borrow for the next time?  Keeping in mind that my precious child spends a lot of time with this woman?


*Lecturing  patrons about turning off their ringtones, please, isn’t quite as effective when accompanied by a chorus of bleeps from the staff area.


12 thoughts on “Writing≠Work?

  1. Oh. My. God. I’m all burned up about this and it didn’t even happen to me. I can’t believe she said that.

    Hmm. Some comebacks:

    “Yes, I’m a writer. I find that works better at keeping my mind sharp than singing ‘Fruit salad! Yummy, Yummy!’ all day long.”

    “Yes, I’m a writer. And you’re correct: that’s code for ‘I eat bon bons all day.’ Hey, I’m sure that’s what Stephen King does, right?”

    “Yes, I’m a writer. But of course I can take an hour off. I’m in the middle of writing a scene about a misinformed pre-K room mother who I’m trying to kill off, so Ill just consider it research.”

    Okay, those might be too harsh. And I have nothing against pre-K teachers. They’re saints. But this one IS a misinformed saint.


    • Maybe a bit harsh, but I appreciate them anyway.

      A lot of people assume that the self-employed have optional schedules . . . because eating is absolutely optional.

  2. oooh, i like this game. so the trick is to put her in her place without causing her to project any outward aggression toward your little one:

    i’d say your best bet is to confuse her. the conversation could go as follows:

    “Oh! Oh, I’m so sorry. I didn’t know you worked. Someone told me you were a writer.”

    “don’t apologize, i am.”

    “you are a writer?”


    “and you can’t come in to help?”



    “because i’ll be writing.”

    “but can’t you write another time?”

    “no. can you schedule the fundraiser for another date?”

    “um, no.”



    “you got five minutes to get rid of that word,” and then promptly hang up.

  3. Oh Sarah, what a (room) mother…..

    I’m great with zingy comebacks, but only if I have a few days to think about it…then, when it’s too late. WHAM. I think of something.

  4. Sarah, you handled it well. I work a fairly aggressive-type job, but have a rule about keeping it at bay when dealing with anyone connected to my kids. I channel my mother, and the southern “Bless her heart”, works for me. Of course, I say it like George Costanza said “Serenity now!”, but hey it’s the best I can do.

  5. Betcha would’ve done it, if you hadn’t needed to be at the library, right?

    Yup! Thought so!

    The best thing is to play dead.

  6. I have gotten this for years. “Oh, I thought you worked at home …”

    Yeah, I WORK at home. I’m not eating bonbons! Amy’s got this one nailed, but I’m gnashing my teeth right along with you.

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