Debra McQueen, 9/15/2014

Current Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Former Occupation:  Legal Secretary
Contact Information: Debra McQueen teaches young children with learning disabilities and autism, and travels adventurously in her free time. Her articles on sailing a sloop 10,000 miles appeared in Sail and Cruising World. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in The Art of Medicine in Metaphors, The Legendary, and she has 3 poems forthcoming in Neon. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, she currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina and is working on a chapbook called Born to Die.

 

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April 17, 1985

 

Quentin H. Smith, Esq.

64 W. Santa Clara Ave., Suite 200

San Jose, CA 95113

 

Re:       Letter of Resignation

 

Dear Mr. Smith:

 

            This letter is to inform you that I don’t want to be your secretary anymore. As I write, I know just what you will say. “Whaddya mean, are you quitting? How can you quit?” Permit me to explain.

 

            I quit because you leave for lunch every day at 11:30, and even though you sometimes come back at 1:00, sometimes you don’t come back at all, and you never tell me which one to expect.

 

            I quit because, on the days you do come back from lunch, you smell like Scotch and Kent 100s, and only then do you dictate legal documents. These complaints of yours, these interrogatories, these voir dire to the jury, full of run-on sentences and non sequiturs, inevitably need to be filed today to meet the statute of limitations. You are never finished revising until approximately 2:46, and the Court closes at 3:00 p.m. and is a 15-minute walk from our office. And you expect me to wear skirts and heels to work. And we don’t have a courier.

 

            I quit because you asked me to send a letter certified mail once, and I did not intuit that meant “return receipt requested.” How was I to know the letter’s recipient was just as conniving and deceitful as you? That he would claim not to have received the letter before the statute of limitations ran out? May I remind you that I’m 19? That this is my first office job? I am learning everything, everything, and not just all the different ways one can send mail. (I quit because you’re a yeller.)

 

            I quit because your shiftless son Raymond won’t stop hanging around the office directing sexual innuendo at me and when I ask you to make him stop, you say, “Whaddya expect? You’re a pretty girl.”

 

            I quit because all the things you expect me to be as your employee – on time, reliable, cheerful, and sober – you, Mr. Smith, are not.

 

            Lastly, I quit because I recently learned that all the things I do for you I can do for someone else in a nicer location for twice as much money. I am only 19, so I believe this step up means my future employer will be on time, reliable, cheerful, and sober. (I will turn out to be wrong about that, but for now, I’ll allow myself this happy delusion.)

 

            Thank you for everything I learned in your office. I promise you this: I will never forget it.

 

                                                                                                Very sincerely yours,

 

 

                                                                                                Your Former Secretary

10 comments on “Debra McQueen, 9/15/2014
  1. Jan Priddy says:

    We were all 19 once (or 16) and most of us put up with too much.

  2. marc swan says:

    Nicely written… and unfortunately too true

  3. Judy Holton says:

    How wrong could I have been? As your mother, I assumed you were off to your first job that would be rewarding and wonderful. After all these years, you never told us about this despicable man! Great letter!

  4. Sally Smith-Weymouth says:

    Great letter Debra! Been there and done that! You summed it up quite nicely.

  5. Patrick Saucier says:

    I would respectfully point out to your mom that not all excellent experiences are rewarding and wonderful. How boring would your art be if it was all hearts and flowers. And, I would add, where did you get the brains, imagination, and will to escape that job? I don’t know, but I want to say good job mom.

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