Soggy Sunday was followed by muggy Monday. The rain had halted for a bit, but the clouds remained, and Amber was sure it would rain again. She took her umbrella with her on her way to school. The class had been progressing through the career unit as Ms. McGuire had said they would. The first careers they explored were jobs in health care. Amber knew that there were doctors and nurses, but she never thought about all the different types of jobs there were in health care. The EMTs who ride in ambulances, people who operate x-ray machines, and those who test blood are all health care workers. Some of them sounded pretty interesting, but some seemed too gory, like those working in emergency rooms.
Many of the students in Amber’s class had already signed up for their career reports. Laura had quickly taken chef before someone else chose it. Melissa had decided to report on marine biology, thinking it meant swimming with dolphins. Logan chose architecture as his career interest, and Chris decided on construction. Chris said that Logan could design the buildings, and he would build them. Spike had signed up for astronaut. That seemed appropriate to the girls as they weren’t sure he was from this planet anyway. Amber was the only one still thinking about what to choose, and she was really feeling the pressure of not being able to make up her mind.
Amber was almost halfway home when the downpour started. The rain was coming down so hard that her umbrella proved useless. At first, she tried to run, but the wind was blowing against her so that all she could do was push forward. As she passed Betty Jenkins’s house, she heard a familiar voice calling to her.
“Amber,” Betty yelled, “get in here out of the rain.”
Without hesitating, Amber did as Betty said, and a few seconds later, she was dripping water on the tile entryway inside Betty’s house. Betty took a towel out of the closet in the hallway and put it around Amber’s shoulders. “Here, dry off,” she said. “I’ve got some cookies in the oven. I’ll be right back.”
By the time Betty returned, Amber had dried her hair as best as she could. Her clothes were still wet, and she was shivering.
“Come in the kitchen,” Betty suggested. “It’s warmer in there with the oven on.”
Amber could already smell the delicious chocolate chip cookies and hoped that Betty would offer her one. Betty told her to sit down at the table, and without even asking, she set a glass of milk and a plate with two cookies in front of Amber.
“So what exciting things happened at school today?” Betty wanted to know.
“We’re studying careers right now,” Amber told her. “Today Dr. Stevens, a veterinarian, came to talk to the class. She told us that she became a vet because she loves animals, especially dogs. She said most of what she does is routine, like giving shots and operating on dogs and cats so they can’t have babies. Chris asked her what the worst part of her job was. She said putting pets to sleep when they were old and suffering. The family is always crying and it is so sad, but it still has to be done.”
“She sounds like a very caring person,” Betty said.
“She’s the vet who gave Domino his shots. Next week she’s going to fix Domino so he won’t be able to make puppies.”
“That is a good thing to do,” Betty said. “You’re being a responsible pet owner.”
“It’s a good thing Domino doesn’t know what’s going to happen,” Amber said. “When I had my tonsils out, I had a week to worry about it. That was the longest week of my life. Why don’t you have any pets?”
“Paul and I had a dog,” Betty explained. “He was just a mutt we got at the animal shelter, maybe a collie and German shepherd mix. We called him Pepper because he was sort of black, white, and gray. Pepper got hip dysplasia like German shepherds do sometimes. Eventually, we had to put him to sleep.”
“I hope that doesn’t happen to Domino,” Amber said.
“He’s a young dog, so you won’t have to worry about that for years,” Betty assured her.
“There’s one part of the career unit that I’m not looking forward to.” Amber sighed a big sigh. “We have to choose a career we are interested in and give a report.”
“What career did you choose?” Betty asked.
“That’s the problem,” Amber said. “I don’t really know what I want to be when I grow up.”
“You have lots of time for that,” Betty said. “Your teacher is probably just trying to get you started thinking about what you might be interested in. What’s your favorite subject in school?”
“That’s easy,” Amber said with enthusiasm. “Art is my favorite subject.”
“There are lots of careers that involve art,” Betty said. “You could be an artist or sell art supplies. You could work in a museum or even be an art teacher.”
“You hear a lot about starving artists,” Amber said seriously. “What if I’m not good enough to make money being an artist?”
“I love art too,” Betty told her. “In fact, I have a little studio behind the house. That’s where I keep my paint supplies and my paintings.”
“Was that your career?” Amber asked.
“Not really,” Betty said. “Usually I just give my paintings away. Once in a while, someone pays me, mostly for the supplies. My real job was delivering mail when we lived in Kansas.”
“Did you like that job?” Amber asked.
“I liked it very much. I was out in the fresh air every day. Some days, it was cold and snowy. Once I was even chased by a tornado. But I got to visit with lots of people. I got to know their dogs too. It was a great job, and I miss it sometimes.”
“I’d love to see some of your paintings,” Amber said. “Would you show them to me sometime?”
“I sure will,” Betty said. “When it’s not so rainy outside.”
“Speaking of rain,” Amber said. “It looks like it stopped for a little while. I think I had better get home before my mom starts to worry.”
The Handy Helpers book series is available at Amazon