Filling the registration form at our local dentist yesterday, I very nearly put down Blogger as my occupation. Just for a laugh you know. But then I wrote down Illustrator instead which can incidentally be just as funny to some people. ‘Illustrator?’ they ask. ‘Yes’ I reply. ‘But that’s not a job.’ They say, sounding very pleased with themselves, as if I have just tried tell them the biggest lie of all time and they’ve caught me out.
‘Well not all of us are lucky enough to have landed a glamorous job at a call centre for NTL.’ I think to myself, but I don’t say it out loud because one, I’m not one for rubbing people’s noses in it and two, she might not appreciate sarcasm and cut my phone line off and what will I do then? Guess what she looks like from her voice and draw her picture?!
The interesting thing is that I have had these occupational problems all my life. Well maybe not all my life but I’ve definitely had a few from when I started school anyway. Father’s occupation bit on my registration form had been left blank and this was really upsetting our head teacher. Every time she saw me in the corridors or the school yard, she would shout, ‘Saramad, Saramad (this is my old surname by the way and not that she had some sort of speech impediment or anything like that)’ until I either managed to pretend that I hadn’t heard her and ran and hid somewhere, or went to her and was told that she still needed to know what my father’s occupation was. Every time, I would tell her that my father didn’t work but that just made her mad. ‘Everyone works’ she would say irritably ‘you just don’t know what he does. Go and ask your mother and come and tell me tomorrow.’
The more she asked me this, the more worried I got about the whole thing. I kept thinking maybe not working was a crime in the Islamic Republic and my dad was going to be taken to prison or something (well a lot of weird things were happening in the country then). Later I realised that I needed not to have worried about that at all since the only reason that woman was so interested in my father’s occupation was that she wanted to know how much money she was able to scrounge off my family at the next teacher parent meeting.
Anyway I finally, as the head teacher had instructed, asked my mum what my dad did.
A few days later at school, we were in the middle of a lesson in our classroom when the head teacher suddenly barged in and after exchanging polite nods and smiles with our teacher, became serious once more saying, ‘Saramad, I’m really at the end of my tether with you. What is your father’s occupation?’ I could tell she meant business. It must have been coming up to a teacher parent meeting or something.
Whatever the reason, by coming to our classroom like that, she had scared the hell out of me. So in a sort of weird fright trance, I repeated what my mum had told me to say word for word, ‘Up until a few months ago my father had been reading a few things and now he is writing a few things of his own.’
‘Aah’ grunted the frustrated head teacher, ‘what does that mean?’ she said, raising her voice a little, ‘Look at this.’ She said pointing at my registration form that she had in her hand, ‘even if what you just said made any sense, how could I ever fit all that in this little space on here. Father’s occupations are usually just one word like Doctor, Dentist, Surgeon.’ (the poor woman had high hopes for my family as well) She paused to see what I had to say for myself. But I just kept staring ahead, not knowing what else to do. Finally she got bored and stormed out of our classroom.
Some years past. That head teacher left our school and another one took her place. This one was also curious about my father’s occupation since it was still left blank on the form. So she asked me about it. By then my father was officially a writer and his first book was either coming out or had already come out. And so very proudly I replied, ‘My Father is a writer Miss.’
‘Ok’ she said, sounding a bit annoyed, ‘But what does he do for a living?’
Now many years later, history repeats itself and I get asked this exact same question myself. And now I finally know what my answer to it should be, ‘To tell you the truth, I’m really a Blogger that moonlights as an illustrator.’ That should confuse them good and proper.