This isn’t really related to writing, but this is important. Don’t read this if you don’t want to hear someone complain. This is my therapy, not your chance to read something you don’t have to and tell me that I’m being stupid, because I already know that I am. One day, maybe months or maybe years from now, I’m going to look back and wonder what my first official day of work was like. This is my documentation – without any names dropped, businesses mentioned, or cities listed – of the shittiest first day of work that made me cry in my car while I drove home.
Let my start at the beginning. My first job was tutoring on my college campus and it was too good to be true. I had the greatest co-workers, the best boss, and wonderful students to work with in a safe and relaxed environment. We only had one cockroach in there once and my friend/co-worker killed it for me and I killed spiders for her. (This is important because the thing that I’m terrified of most in this world is a cockroach. It can be a baby, dead in a corner, and I still freak out.) It was fucking perfect. The catch was that you’re only able to tutor there when you are enrolled full-time as a student, so after I graduated, I started looking for another job. It’s just for my semester off and summer. That’s what it started as. Then the semester started passing, and I stopped looking. I was content with the money I’d saved and I could write and read and visit my fiance whenever I wanted to. It was my ideal few months to myself before returning to school.
I got the call, passed the interview and drug screening, and started computer training. The training made me so excited! I was really nervous, but the excited nervous, you know? It’s the type that gives you butterflies because you don’t know how you’ll do but your butterflies aren’t vomiting from fear so it’s not too bad.
Today was my first day on the floor after training with two other women. They’re both in their thirties, married with kids. So we were working in one department together, even though out of the three of us, I’ll be the only one assigned to that specific department. It was mainly training for me, but they had to learn, too, if that makes sense. So it was going well. I was super hyped up about how much fun it was. I was helping customers and staying active. (Apparently we can’t stop moving or we’ll get called out over headset.) Break came and went, and I still felt good. Started getting tired, but that’s what jobs are for, right? Then they told us that we’d have to come in 3 hours early tomorrow and work 9 hours instead of 6. Okay, that’s fine. I get that it gets busy around the holidays (Easter). Then lunch came. There had been a cockroach on the call during the computer training a couple days ago, but I’d thought it was just one, so whatever. No. It’s never just one. Those fuckers multiple faster than rabbits in heat. There was a cockroach in my co-workers locker when we were getting our stuff for lunch. Then another on the ground. The place is filthy. Have I mentioned that? Not like “dust on the counters,” but like “bugs fucking everywhere spreading their diseases to the children.” But okay. I even held it in then.
For lunch, the three of us went to a fast food restaurant across the parking lot because neither of them have cars. (I thought that was odd, but some people in their thirties can’t afford them, so whatever.) Then we sat for lunch and started talking, and I found out that these were the only jobs that they could get. They were happy. We’d heard that there were so many openings because everyone had pretty much been laid off. They were both terrified of losing the part-time jobs that they’d just gotten. I couldn’t fucking care less because I still have college in August and I need to give my notice before then. For me, it’s experience. For them, this is freedom. I’m not exaggerating either. They had to make sure their husbands gave them lunch money before they left. That probably shouldn’t have been the first time I had a red flag pop up tonight, but it was. I stayed quiet as they talked about how these jobs, even though all of us audibly hated them, were their fucking saving grace. What could I say? I’m just here for experience before I quit and start up at my new college I’m transferring to and make them feel like shit? No. I stayed quiet, which was for the best. But I immediately became depressed. We walked back to work.
And then we worked until closing. Which was all good! Lots of running and putting things back where they needed to be, which, again, was fine. I get it. Then 10 minutes came and went. Then 15. After 20, all of our department was put away, but we couldn’t leave until everyone in the store had everything put away. So what did the department head want us to do? Take all the shoes out of their boxes, even though they all fit just fine, and put them back in a certain way that looked best. I didn’t. Instead, I went to the main person in charge, told him that I had someone waited for me and that my co-worker had someone waiting for her. It wasn’t really a lie. I saved her ass and mine with the same excuse, even though it was only true for her. Well, partially. Someone was expecting a call from me at 10 and it was already well after. So we left.
Now, let me explain something: I don’t mind that my back feels like someone whacked it with a hammer or that I have blisters between each of my toes and my heels hurt like hell (because I’d worn they shoes they suggested instead of the practical pair that I should’ve bought ahead of time); what bothers me the most is how those other two women are still excited about having these jobs even though they both hate them. After I left the lot half an hour late, I didn’t cry because of my bad first day at work: I cried because I imagined myself 10 years from now, married with a kid or two, excited about working a job I hate just because it’s the only type of independence I can have. I cried remembering their voices, all hope that it was going to be fine completely shattered but stitched together with the reminders that this was what they needed and wanted. I cried because if something happens somewhere down the line and I don’t publish my book or get a job working in publishing or anything related to writing or reading or teaching, that’s going to be me.
It’s this impending doom of a nightmare that just became too fucking real for me tonight.
If I can’t succeed in what I want to do, I’m going to have to do whatever I can. I won’t have the luxury of quitting in a little over 3 months to go back to school. I’ll have to stick with a job that I fucking hate. I’ll have to put up with people dropping shit on the floor in front of me to pick up, knowing that I can’t quit. If I can’t do what I want to, I’ll be miserable. Older people, the more adulty-adults, tell all of us younger ones that we can do anything that we want to, but it isn’t true. You know that, right? You know that not everything we want can happen? If what those women wanted had happened for them, they wouldn’t be stuck in those jobs. No one would be, unless for some fucking reason, they get a kick out of it. I’ve been at the stage where I’m questioning if I’m going to be able to make something out of myself, but tonight just fucking broke me. Fuck the stages of becoming a writer. The doubt is too much. There’s too much riding on it after seeing those two women. If I don’t become a writer or make something of myself in the field that I want to, I’ll be back in the same sort of shitty job that I have now just for beginning experience. The stage just became an enlarged football field full of land-mines with walls too high to see the top of, and all the way across, after all of those little invisible land-mines, is the door that says “Published.” No. Fuck “Published.” It says “Any sort of happiness in a job.” I don’t see how anyone could be happy having to see other people all the time. I want to live in my room, in a box of purple walls that keep me safe from the sun and people who ask me questions that I don’t know the answers to.
Is this what being an adult is? Is it about finding out that we either make it big, fail miserably, or land somewhere in the middle to always run forward without ever moving there? If this is what it’s about, I’m really sorry to all of the adults who I thought were crazy when I said they were happy in menial jobs. If that’s your thing, good for you. It can’t work for me. Or I guess I can’t work for it. I’m too selfish. I believe that I’m meant to do bigger things, though I guess everyone thinks that. Fuck. How depressing is this? How terrifying is it to know that I have to go to work in 12 hours at a job that I hate and that I have to watch cockroaches and listen to people and be friendly? I want money and I want experience. That’s it. I didn’t want the life lesson that if I don’t do what I believe I’m meant to do, I’m going to be working there, or somewhere similar, the rest of my life. I didn’t want to see perfect examples of my worst nightmare. I don’t want to go back. I’m too scared. These irrational tears keep coming and I want to ignore them and act like I’m strong enough not to act so weak about one day of work when hundreds of millions of people have it worse than that, but at the same time, I want to just cry to remind myself that I’m not like those women yet. I do have the potential still to do more. So do they, but they seem to accept that this is all for them. I don’t want to become like that. I’m meant to be a writer. I write to feel. That’s why I’m writing this. I’m writing this shitty post that’s probably going to make everyone realize that I’m just a girl in her twenties who can’t handle work, but I’m not writing it for whoever is going to read this. I’m writing this because I can’t not. I feel like I have to. It’s therapeutic. This is what I do: I write. And one day, I’ll read this and either laugh because I’m fine or cry again because I’m stuck in a miserable cycle of shitty jobs to have some independence from my husband. How fucked up is that?
Just take a moment. How fucked up is it that I don’t want to have to depend on anyone? I want it to be 50/50 with my husband one day. I don’t want to have to ask for lunch money. I don’t want to have a crappy job just to try to keep up with him. I want to be happy doing what I want, not miserable doing what I need. Does that make sense?
Of course it does. Then again, of course it doesn’t. I’m being selfish by saying that I deserve better than those two women do. I’m being selfish by saying that their lives are miserable just because I view them that way. They may be happy, but for me, that would be hell.