I am 27 years old and I have held nearly 27 jobs in my lifetime. I started working around 14, so you do the math. I have done in home care-giving for the elderly and cleaned poopy sheets. I have scrubbed floors and I have scrubbed urinals. I have waitressed and I have bartended. I have been a receptionist, and a bank teller, a barista, and a cashier. I have answered phones for an insurance company, and poured wine at a vineyard. I have been a babysitter and I have been a teacher. I have rolled out dough for breadsticks, made sub sandwiches at a breakneck pace and scooped out pasta salads. I have sold liquor and cigarettes at a party store. I have wiped bums, given baths to the old and to the young, shaved beards, clipped toenails, made breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, done laundry and given the heimlich. I have walked in on a guy in a bathroom just finishing up a line of cocaine. I have done it all. And yet I haven’t done enough.
I haven’t worked on a dude ranch or for the National Park Service. I haven’t been employed by National Geographic or Martha Stewart Living. I haven’t been an on-going extra on the set of Girls or been an assistant to a well-to-do executive who likes it when I accompany him to France. I haven’t been a railroad conductor or a farmer. I haven’t opened a bakery or a bookstore. I haven’t been a white-water rafting instructor or a circus performer. I haven’t worked on a lobster boat or saved the whales, though I did briefly try out to be in the Navy—I got cold feet over the lengthy commitment. Also why I bailed on the Peace Corps.
Of all the jobs I’ve held, I have fantasized about walking out of every single one of them. Jobs I’ve quit after 1-6 months—many. Jobs I’ve made it past a year anniversary—few. Am I lazy? Nope. Does every single boss I’ve ever had adore me? Yep. (Except this crazy Romanian at one, but honestly, it was her, not me. I’m a delight).
I wish I could say the problem was all the jobs, but no of course the problem is me. I know it’s me. I get so excited in the beginning. I think I have found the job that will finally bring me not only joy and contentment but a paycheck. I even pray and ask God if he’s not too busy to give me just this one job, this job that will beat all others, that will change the way I view work, please, pretty please God, let me have this job.
He gives it to me.
I jump for joy. I call everyone I know. Can you believe what luck? I wanted this job for so long! I always wanted to be a receptionist/waitress/barista! Think of the fun I will have when I am making coffee drinks! Think of the excitement I will have when I am answering and directing calls like those Mad Men secretaries. Think of the tips I will make when I show the world my friendly smile.
Fast forward. I hate it. It is loathsome. I am trapped and I need to find an exit strategy.
It’s not that I am simply too much of a gypsy, too much of an artsy soul, too much of a tree-hugger to be cooped indoors doing menial labor; it’s not that it’s beneath me and I can’t wash a dish or serve a beverage or make polite small talk; it’s not even that I can’t embrace the new change and try and excel at my new job; it’s that I truly despise working for The Man.
There have been a few times in life when I have not worked for The Man and I will tell you those have been my favorite jobs and my most beloved bosses (thanks for letting me blog at work, sleep in your coffee shop when my family got on my nerves, and take whole pots of flavored coffee to that guy I liked. And paying me to take your children to Henry Ford Museum, jump on the trampoline and dress like a Russian Fur Trapper all in the name of education. And wear my tall leather boots, tights and ratty cross t-shirt to work, not make me roll silverware at the end of the night and let me drink on the job. To those bosses, I salute you! Thank you for letting me be me).
It’s not even that I am ungrateful. I am very grateful for all the experiences and people I have met along the way, even the wretches because later when I am sharing horror stories with my friends, I win. The problem is that I am just not cut out to work for The Man. Truly I am not. It’s why I would probably do really well at one of those internet start-ups where they ride scooters, shoot nerf guns and have ice-cream machines in their employee lounge. They get it. They’re anti-the-man too. Except I probably wouldn’t be super good with all the techy stuff and I would eventually just want to be outside taking pictures of horses and bodies of water, so I’d end up quitting there too. It’s just who I am!
There’s a reason I’ve almost had more jobs than I have had years being alive. It’s because jobs are the pits and art in all its magnificent forms, including horses and God, is why I breathe. The reason why one of my favorite jobs included my getting to dress up like a Russian Fur Trapper was because I got to dress up like a Russian Fur Trapper! I mean honestly like I need to explain any more than that.
Tomorrow is Halloween and I am not allowed to dress up at my current job. This is bad. This is very bad. And does not bode well for said current job. I don’t know if you get it, but I really suspect Lena Dunham gets it.
I wonder if I can pretend cat ears are a headband? Also it should be noted that I did actually spend time today looking up train conductor jobs. Why? Because why fucking not?