Why didn’t I go for a normal job? My friends, Lara and Jason, worked at Pearl Paint and got discounted supplies—a great job for art students. But I didn’t want “normal.”
Too shy for sales jobs, too fidgety for desk jobs, and too obsessed with food for restaurant jobs, I stared at the job board that hung many unappealing choices for an aspiring fashion designer.
Aah…then I spotted the perfect job. “Experienced toy pattern maker wanted.” Okay, I was studying fashion design not toy design, creating clothes not toys, and had zero experience; but a pattern is a pattern. Right?
I mustered up that assured look Christie Brinkley wore in Glamour Magazine. “Hi, I’m Jenny.”
Mr. Zanti shook my hand with doubtful eyes. “Are you here for the toy pattern maker position? You know the Gap is hiring on the first floor.”
“Yes, I am.” Gulp. “I’m a student at the Fashion Institute of Technology, studying pattern making.”
He raised his eyebrows and cocked his head. Maybe I had a chance, I thought as he led me through a maze of stuffed animals to his office.
“So—do you think you can create a pattern from a sketch?” Mr. Zanti rested his square jaw on a neatly manicured hand and waited for my response.
“Sure. I make patterns from sketches every day in class.”
“Not exactly—but if I can design coats, I’m sure I could figure out a toy pattern.”
“Here’s an example.” Mr. Zanti pulled out some rough sketches of a smiling stuffed clown.
“I’m sure I can.”
Mr. Zanti stood and smirked at me. “Okay, I’ll give you a chance. Take these sketches home and call me when you finish the pattern.”
“Really, I’m hired?”
“If the pattern works and I like it, you have the job.”
I shook Mr. Zanti’s hand with gusto and turned to walk smack into the door, forehead first. “Oops.”
“Are you okay?”
“Mmm hmm. I forgot to ask how much time I have.” That was smooth; did Christie Brinkley ever say “Oops?”
He held the door open. “Two weeks should be more than enough time.”
I weaved around the slow walkers and ran ten blocks home, too excited to stand still on a subway. Let the pattern making begin.
After surprising Lara with my news, I called Jason to warn him that I would be busy making a clown for two weeks.
“That’s great—but two weeks? Isn’t that a long time to work on one stuffed animal?” asked Jason.
“It’s a clown, and I don’t know. I’ll probably finish it this week.”
The sketch stared at me waiting to be formed. I decided to start with the body. I drafted the first pattern to test out how close my calculations were to the sketch. I sewed the parts and stuffed it with fluff. The clown looked like a lumpy potato.
By the time Lara got home from Pearl Paint, clown bodies covered the floor of our tiny apartment; she had to push them aside to find the couch.
“You’ve been busy.” She picked up a body and laughed. “Why do these clowns look like eggplants?”
I cried into a pile of cotton. “I better do my homework and try again tomorrow.”
Night after night, Jason called with the same questions: “Are you done yet? Can I come over?”
Night after night I answered: “No, no, I’m still working on Bobo.” The clown’s smile looked evil to me now, laughing at me as I sat in a paper ball bubble bath. Lara was quiet about the mess, probably afraid of my impending meltdown.
After another week of drawing, sewing, ripping, and crying, Jason called. “Are you sure about this job? Is it worth the headache? For two weeks you’ve clowned around with this project, too busy for friends or church—is that God’s plan or yours?”
Oops. I was so busy proving I could succeed, I forgot to pray first.
The next day, I returned the sketches… “Mr. Zanti, I don’t think I—
“That’s okay. I figured you gave up.”
Jason walked in as Lara helped me clean up the paper balls and body parts. “Hey, I missed you.” He almost hugged the humiliation out of me. “Can I see the clown you made? Promise not to laugh.”
“Oh, alright.” I showed them my product of two weeks of determination—one stuffed foot.
We all burst out laughing.
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