Second graders hard to impress

Published 3:48 pm Wednesday, February 4, 2009

“Do you get to carry a television camera around?” the young child asked.

“No,” I replied. “I just use an ordinary camera. I work for a newspaper.”

“Do you ever get to be on the television?” another child asked.

“No,” I answered. “I work for a newspaper writing stories. My job doesn’t have anything to do with being on television.”

They looked at me with obvious disappointment.

“Do you even get to go to the Alabama football games?” a boy asked, not trying to mask the disappointment in his voice.

“Well, I do go sometimes,” I said. “Like when I buy a ticket.”

There’s nothing like school career day. It doesn’t matter where the school is, how large or small, or even what age students it serves, the questions are always the same.

It’s hard for the students to comprehend a job where you write for a living. For many of them, that’s about the worst thing in the world, second only to maybe getting paid to do long division.

I’ve spoken at lots of career days in my time, including one where I had to follow an astronaut. I don’t care how exciting you can make your job sound, it’s hard to follow someone who’s been in outer space.

At each and every career day, I find myself trying to make things sound as interesting as possible.

“I get to talk to all sorts of people, and that’s pretty fun,” I told a young group recently.

“Do you get to carry a gun?”


“Are you famous?”


“Have you met anybody famous?”


“Do you get paid a million dollars a year?”


“Have you ever interviewed the president?”


There’s nothing worse than being seen as a career failure by a group of second graders. It’s about this time I pull out all the stops.

I bring out my camera and start taking pictures and offer the one thing they do think is pretty cool. “Let me take your picture, and we can put it in the newspaper,” I offer.

They act interested, and I snap a few shots. I wrap up my presentation and head out the door, encountering another career day speaker.

“What do you do?” they asked.

“I’m on television,” I reply.

Ha. Let them follow that.