My parents gave me an 18th birthday ultimatum: work at their cabinetry business, or get a job. All throughout middle and high school I went to their showroom after school, making paper clip braces, or climbing from counter to counter. My mother always had trouble leaving the office. There was always some quote that needed finishing, an incomplete drawing, a picky client. I would end up staying at their office long after dark. When she was finally ready to go home, she told me to lock up shop. I would brush my hand softly on the bumpy old painted walls, eyes closed, and flick each light off.
Being grounded meant going to the office in the summer and pretending to file paperwork. Instead I ended up hole punching every colorful piece of paper I found, at the end of the day opening up the flexible black bottom of the hole-punch and dumping out a pile of perfectly round flakes. Some pieces still held fragments of work, from a cut off dollar amount to a piece of a printed black drawing of a refrigerator, the lines too straight for reality. I would pour them into white envelopes and give them to my mother. I always hoped they would burst out dramatically when opened, but my mother’s precise hands only revealed a small pile of circular paper.
Generally it wasn’t that bad, but being young, I got restless trying to find entertainment in a silent showroom.