What Is My Occupation?

The UK Border Agency, Landing Card, under the Immigration Act of 1971 told me to fill out the Immigration form in English and in BLOCK CAPITOLS.  The Border Agency showed me what to do by typing block capitols in BLOCK CAPITOLS. I know that when I write a story it is better to show someone angry. He threw his shoe through the window.  Showing a characters anger is better than just telling the reader.  He is angry. 

The first question on the form asked for my Family Name. I did not have to think about the question, I wrote in HODGES. The second question was my First Name(s). I knew the answer. I wrote in PAMELA. They did not ask for my middle name, so I didn’t tell them. Then they wanted to know my sex. I filled in the box next to female. I didn’t hesitate. I knew the answer. The Border Agency was kind and had little boxes to fill in written with, DD, MM, and YYYY in lighter type so I would know what order to write my birthdate in: day, then month and then year. I knew where I was born. I knew my nationality. CANADIAN.

The next question on the form was Occupation. And underneath occupation they had written Profession, and profession with the little ‘ over the letter o.

I researched the definition of occupation on google.


Noun: 1. A job or profession
A way of spending time.
Hmmm, so occupation can mean a job or profession or a way of spending time. It appeared that the Border Agency wanted the answer to definition 1. A job or profession. If the UK Border Agency wanted to know how I spend my time, I could have filled in the space on the from easily with the following list; rearranging the furniture, weeding the flower beds, picking up dog poop, mowing the lawn, teaching my children, pan-searing chicken breasts, ironing cotton shirts, brushing my hair, and washing the dishes, writing about frogs and painting hugs, kisses and cats.

The Immigration form was a test. I wanted to pass the test. Whatever I wrote on the Occupation line would become me. I needed more time to fill out the form. The plane would be landing in London in 1 hour and 16 minutes. Estimated time of arrival was 22:32.

I skipped the Occupation question and filled in the rest of the form. My passport number, where the passport was issued, how long I would be staying in the United Kingdom and finally my signature.

My husband asked to borrow my pen to fill out his form. In a few minutes he handed me back my pen, as he had already filled in his UK Border Agency, Landing Card.

“Nick, please let me see your form.”  I felt like I was cheating on a test. He had written Software Manager under the Occupation question. He did not hesitate or question what he does. Why do I not know the answer to the question of what my profession is?  Do I write in Mother? I am a stay at home mom. Do I write in teacher? I home school my children and am their primary teacher. Do I write in painter because I paint. Do I  write in writer, because I write?

I don’t have a job that I have to drive to. I don’t earn a regular paycheck. Does a profession only count if you get paid for it? The last time I got a check in the mail addressed to me was two days ago when I got a check in the mail for $2.99 for a rebate on light bulbs from Ace Hardware. Getting rebate checks is not an occupation.

I do not want to leave the Occupation question blank.  If I did not answer that question I would feel like I did not have a face, or a name. I would feel like a peanut with no nuts inside of it. A shell.

I realized that there was no right answer. I could have said my occupation was Dog Imitator. The border agents did not care if I was a Hairdresser or a Balloon Maker. The question mattered to me. My occupation was something I had been thinking about for the past month, when I wrote everyday in March for a blog competition. The Slice Of Life Spring Challenge hosted by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com

The airplane had just passed the tip of Ireland. My altitude was 11276 metres.  My hair is brown and gray with red highlights. My eyes are light brown. I am five feet, six and 3/4 inches tall. I like to eat popcorn. I like to pull weeds. But. What will I write on the ______________ under Occupation?

My husband is asleep and he still has my pen. 41 minutes until the plane lands.

Altitude 1120 metres. The plane was descending. I heard the wheels coming out of the belly of the airplane. 183 mph ground speed. 785 metres altitude. The plane had landed. 0 altitude. My husband woke up and handed me back my pen. I filled in the form.

I made a decision.


8 responses to “What Is My Occupation?

  1. Cliffhanger! Oh, what did she fill in?! It’s going to bug me all day! 🙂

  2. HELP!! I can’t stand the suspense, you are my daughter, but that is not an occupation…………I can’t even guess!

  3. It’s the little things that overwhelm us, isn’t it. I am with everyone else – awaiting the reveal.

  4. Tamara Burchell

    Pamela, I have the same sense of angst when I have to write my occupation, especially when it is in a list, like a petition, and all the women have written things like, CEO, SuchACompany, etc. I think it is hard to encapsulate all that a homeschooling and multitalented mom (such as yourself) does in a single title. I’m with ‘ya.

  5. What a perfect description! I always leave that question last on forms. I’m glad you wrote a writer!

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