I found a flier in the mail this morning.
“Attention, Clackamas High School Alumni! We need your most current information for the new book we’re publishing.”
Skeptical, I looked it over. Scams come in all shapes and sizes. Some even come in the mail.
I scanned the card and found my maiden name and the year I graduated. Copacetic so far. The lower right hand corner contained an ID number. Curious, I called the number. I punched in my ID number as requested.
I could hear the background noise of what sounded like a cube farm filled with operators taking calls.
“Hello, may I have your ID number please?” a pleasant man on the other end asked.
I gave it to him. Why on earth do I have to give it twice?!
“Well, Susan, we just want to be sure we have your correct information in our book. Is your address still the same?”
I assured him it was. But our phone number had changed. Once he’d added my spouse and children’s names, on to small talk.
“Living in Shelton, do you make it down for the reunions often?”
“Yes, I do.” As far as I know, I’ve been to all 2 of them.
“And what is your profession?”
“I’m not working right now.”
I gasped a little inside. What did I do?! I realized I could have said a thousand things – mother, wife, administrator, homemaker, writer, artist, runner, world without end.
Years ago, it would have been important to me to have great accomplishments to brag about. Like…”I’m an astronaut, thanks.” Or “I run a Fortune 500 company in the Bay Area. Small hobby.” Even “I founded a new religion based on Velcro.” Anything to make me stand out from the crowd would work.
But it hardly seemed to matter now. I don’t need the validation anymore.
Then the call got serious.
“Susan, we sell these special books with graduate information from 1958 to 2014, for only 2 payments of $44.99. The hardback book, which people are ordering as an heirloom copy, prints in January. Would you like to secure yours today?”
I resurfaced to the present from memories of football games and ornery orange lockers. Now, it was a regular sales call. Why would I care about every graduating class in the history of CHS, anyway? And since when do phone books or address books (even specialized ones) count as heirloom properties? Don’t people move or change their phone numbers, or even their jobs, in their lifetimes? We sure do.
The operator offered a softcover edition listing the two years before me, my graduation year, and two years after me. So, a five-year window. That sounded more reasonable. Those were my friends, my Cavalier comrades. It sounded like a yearbook of sorts, only containing current information.
“Susan, did you know in the 3 weeks since we mailed those reply cards, we’ve gotten 5000 replies?”
I believe it. Belonging to something is important. I think about my boy, Zac. He’s putting in time in an online high school. He rolls out of bed and downstairs to log in, his version of daily attendance. He’ll never attend homecoming. He won’t sweat it out asking some girl to the winter formal. He has no concept of basketball state championships, biology lab partners or a designated outdoor smoking area. The thought of all he’s missing makes me sad.
But all these things live on in my memory, with no danger of becoming obsolete. The smiles they bring me come free of charge.