I had received a small stack of certificates as a result of Derek’s computer training classes. I added them to a file I kept for useless things I was afraid to throw out. Not that the classes were useless, they weren’t. They were great. But the certificates translated to me as roughly, “I was presented with an opportunity and was bright enough to take it. Yay, me.”
It’s like a certificate for making it through your 20s without contracting an STD. You’d like to just assume everyone made it, and don’t want to know if they didn’t. You sure as shit don’t want to be told one way or the other via a certificate.
But not everyone thinks the way I do. Caroline, for example, had a very different relationship with certificates. She had several displayed at her desk. One day she came over to my cube to borrow something. While I was digging through a drawer, I opened my file of certificates. Her eyes got all bulgy and dilated when she saw the small stack I had accumulated. She got very quiet for a minute.
When one of my cats was a kitten, he had this little bear toy he used to carry around. We’d put the little bear behind something and then lift it up to “peek” out at the cat. The cat’s ears would flatten and his eyes would go completely black, like he was channeling some distant ancestor preparing to take down a zebra. Then he would pounce on the little bear. It was actually a little scary, and you had to move your hand quickly or you’d end up with some nasty scratches.
Caroline looked at my certificate file the way my cat looked at his little bear, except it wasn’t nearly as fun or cute.