Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Seven Things

So a ways back, my dear friend Reva tagged me to post seven things about myself that most folks don't know.

This is a difficult task for an extravert, since we tend to share intimate details of our lives with strangers in line at the supermarket, but I'll do my best.

1. I was born three weeks before my actual due-date, on a Saturday evening in December. My parents were attending a Philadelphia Orchestra concert, and my mom's obstetrician was away for the holiday, unable to make it back for my arrival. So I was delivered by an intern who, in what I can only assume was sheer panic, somehow managed to drop me as I emerged into this life, and I landed on my head in the 'after-birth' bucket. I've often wondered if that event explained a bit about my bizarre mental process, but I'll never know. My uncle, who was our family physician, stopped by our house every afternoon on his way home from house calls (remember house calls?) 'just to see your beautiful little baby'. He was, of course, checking to see if I was okay, and didn't tell my parents what had happened until I was over a year old. Times have changed, huh?

2. Back then, I was a friendly, adventurous kid. One afternoon, when I was five or six years old, I convinced one of my little girlfriends to 'explore' with me. So we took off to visit someone who lived several blocks away, something that little kids simply didn't do back then, causing huge panic when our parents realized we were nowhere to be found. I'm not sure how we got back home, but I do know that was my last solo exploration attempt for a very long time, at least one that took me 'off the block'.

3. But I was still an extremely social little kid, so one afternoon I wandered down to visit the one family on our block who had a television set. When I got home, I told my parents I'd been 'televisiting' (apparently, this is a true story). My dad was so charmed by my cleverness that he sent the quote into Readers' Digest where it was printed in the 'Kids Say The Darndest Things' column. He won $5 for the quote.

4. One summer, my roommate made extra money driving a Good Humor ice cream truck. She wasn't able to make her rounds on a couple of nights, so I did it for her (which was pretty interesting, since I had absolutely no idea how to drive a standard transmission back then). I'm pretty sure I took my profits, meager as they were, in ice cream.

5. When I moved to Boston in 1977, it was almost impossible to find work in my field (Human Resources), so I registered with a temp agency, and ended up working at Harvard. I worked as a temp at the Law School, and then spent several months working in the Provosts' Office at Harvard College, where I typed and re-typed and re-typed dozens of drafts of what became the Core Curriculum. I ended up being hired as assistant registrar at Harvard Law School, where I got to meet all kinds of luminaries, from Archibald Cox to Lawrence Tribe. One of my responsibilities was producing the 1L seating charts, made famous in the movie "The Paper Chase", and I still remember seeing student workers sitting on the floor outside my office, cutting photos out of the freshman 'face book' and pasting them onto huge pieces of poster board.

6. Many, many years after this, one of my managers suggested that I attend the Dale Carnegie course. I went - reluctantly - and was all set to hate the experience when, to my surprise, I loved it. I just rediscovered the "Outstanding Performance" pen I won during the course, and i still have all of the books I purchased for the course, including the workbook with signatures from all of my fellow attendees. A year or so later, I went back as a 'graduate assistant', and the instructor with whom I worked convinced me to sign up for instructor training, about half-way through my first stint as a graduate assistant. I did it, was certified as an instructor, did one session as a student teacher, and was assigned my first solo class a few weeks after that. It was rare for anyone to attend instructor training after only one experience as a GA, and unheard of for someone to be assigned their first solo class after only one student teaching gig, but somehow I managed to do that. There's no doubt that the course changed my life.

7. In 1990, I was scheduled to fly to Shanghai with my manager, to work with the Plant Manager and his newly hired team in a chemical plant being built by the company I worked for at the time. At the last minute, my manager had to bail on the trip, and I was faced with going to China alone (I didn't even have my travel visa at that point!). I was terrified and furious, but I found the courage to get on the plane and make the trip. It ended up being one of the most memorable experiences in my professional career, even though I arrived in Shanghai with nothing more than my scented markers and a few rolls of masking tape. I spent the week facilitating a series of meetings with the plant managers, a group of young Chinese workers whose employment with this joint venture showed both courage and vision. At the end of that week, we had crafted a series of seven core values for managing the plant and the people who worked there; as far as I know, they are still being used! I still have a little bowl that the managers gave me as a thank-you gift the day before I left.


Revalani said...

Thanks for playing along, Lib! I didn't know about those childhood adventures -- or about driving the Good Humor truck, for that matter.

Char said...

Very interesting!! I STILL cannot drive a standard shift, so cannot imagine driving the ice cream truck. You have had some "once in a lifetime" experiences...thanks for sharing them!

Libbi said...

The Good Humor truck episode was only one of the strange and bizarre things I did that particular summer!