Using My Talents by
(361 Stories)

Prompted By Lemons to Lemonade

Loading Share Buttons...

/ Stories

Sarah Brown in “Guys and Dolls”, 1972

So-so actress; better stage manager.

Didn’t have the drive or thick enough skin to go to New York and try for Broadway; married at 21. Took a crummy job doing data entry. Sang while I key-punched.

While eavesdropping on the salesman in the office next door I had an epiphany – I could do this!

Took inventory of my skills: good with people, quick on my feet, not afraid to ask questions, well-organized, good presentation skills.

Convinced someone to hire me. Moved to Chicago to take my first sales job. Worked hard. Was successful!

Moved home.

Best in New England.

1978, in Detroit for my mother’s 65th birthday, but dressed for success.



#RetroFlash/100 words



Profile photo of Betsy Pfau Betsy Pfau
Retired from software sales long ago, two grown children. Theater major in college. Singer still, arts lover, involved in art museums locally (Greater Boston area). Originally from Detroit area.

Characterizations: funny, right on!, well written


  1. John Shutkin says:

    A terrific RetroFlash, Betsy! It really captures this prompt so well, and with a perfect economy of words. And I really loved your “I can do this” epiphany.

    As usual, you have also given us some great pictures from your seemingly bottomless archives.

    And I can personally resonate to your last sentence. Best indeed (even with the Sox losing last night).

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Thanks, John. When teaching English/Speech (theater) was blocked for me (that was what I trained to do, but alas, no job openings when I married and returned to the Boston area), I had to reinvent myself. I it was not at all clear how to do that until I realized that I had selling skills, if not the technical background for software. But I leveraged my teaching and presentation background. I am not at all sure that would work in today’s environment, which is a pity.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    Brava, Betsy. Your “I can do that” attitude carried you far in life. Using your skills brought you a lot of lemonade rather than lemons.

  3. Marian says:

    Great flash, Betsy, and we are fortunate that we started at a time when it was possible to leverage our skills and find creative ways to pivot. Like you, I was a good but not great actor (but I couldn’t sing at all) and knew I didn’t have what it would take for Broadway, but also knew I could ace anything to do with writing. A great basis for lemonade!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Yes, we were fortunate that we started when did, Mare. I don’t think those coming up today would have the same fortune, or benefit of the doubt. I never knew that we were both belonged to the acting sisterhood. Good basic skill set and loads of creativity.

  4. Suzy says:

    Betsy, like the others, I love your epiphany, “I could do this!” That led to a great career for you, whereas trying for Broadway might have led to years of frustration no matter how talented you were.

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      Trying to be a professional actress isn’t just about talent. The world is littered with talented people. It is so much more – being in the right place at the right time, having connections, the “right look”, and so on. I just wasn’t cut out for that. I honestly told the VP in Chicago that I could laugh and cry on cue! He liked that. One never knows that will click.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    The “I can do that” moment resonated (volunteering in a free clinic and seeing the doctors who came through–I can do that too). But not the sales ability (I have zero). Kudos for recognizing the opportunity and becoming the success you were meant to be.

  6. Brava Betsy for using your moxie to get from that lemon of a job to the perfect job for your talents!

    And yes, trying to make it on Bway is always a crap shoot!

  7. To sweeten the lemons of NY theater (not even Broadway), watch “Tootsie” again ;-)!

    • Betsy Pfau says:

      I just remember that Dustin Hoffman couldn’t get a job to save his life, so “became” Dorothy Michaels and got on a soap opera. And Bill Murray was his roommate, Jessica Lange as the love interest. It was a funny, though sobering look at the tough life of an actor, but also a FEMALE actor, who gets hit on frequently. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll take another look.

Leave a Reply