It’s the summer before you head back to college and you decide you need a job. You feel a combination of shame (from lacking life and work experience), and horror (from imagining the rest of summer filled with days of sitting on your bed alone, watching failed television shows on Netflix). Breaking you from your pity party is your mother telling you to take out the trash. You consider asking her for a job taking out the trash, but then realize that she wouldn’t pay you anyway.
On the way to the trash room, behold, next to a picture of your 93 year old neighbor’s birthday party, you see a sign on the building community cork board. At first you are unsure and vulnerable; you don’t want to get hurt again by the illusion of a Help Wanted sign. You look closer, and there it is: “Personal Assistant Needed”. You frantically save the number in your phone and decide with renewed joy to call.
It rings once. Twice. Three times. You start to panic when a nasally, unwelcoming woman’s voice answers, asking briskly who this is and why you just called. You realize that voice on the other end sounds horrifically familiar, and you suddenly remember that the mysterious and seemingly “magical” sign in your building did not have a name on it. But you already know her name. Your eyes widen and you don’t know whether to laugh to keep from crying or to just cry because of the extreme misfortune of calling and asking your ‘crazy cat lady’ neighbour for a job. Acknowledging your dire need for employment you ask about the position. She then tells you to meet in the lobby at ten that night with your resume. You think that sounds sketchy, but you are blinded by the prospect of a job, so you agree.
Four minutes into the interview you realize that this woman is insane. She makes strange references to animals and asks if you’re allergic to cats. You are. You answer no. Thirty minutes later, she tells you to start tomorrow morning at 7:30 am after deliberating aloud for five minutes. You nod your head and politely say goodbye, only to get sucked into another ten-minute conversation about something you’re not listening to. Attempting to dislodge yourself from her clutches, you inch your way slowly towards your apartment – silently thanking everything you know for having a first floor apartment. Finally, there is a pause in her rant and you shout a goodbye over your shoulder, and you can still hear her talking as you close your door behind you.
Over the next few months you become accustomed to your boss ordering you around/ trying to be a second mother to you/ talking about her husband that lives in New Jersey (understandably) while she is in her too-thin-to-wear-around-a-stranger-especially-right-after-a-shower bathrobe.
She gives you menial tasks such as: de-furring red cat hair from her white couches, sharpening pencils in her bathroom, washing her cat’s costumes, and finding twine that perfectly matches her cat’s scratching post. You find her requests bizarre and demeaning, but continue cleaning mildew covered light fixtures she’ll never use.
One day, she thought she was being generous by telling you to bring a rather large box of her clothes to the Salvation Army: a twenty minute walk away in ninety-five degree heat. This is not the longest walk you have taken carrying bulky objects, but when you get to her apartment six floors above yours, on top of the box she told you to take is a pile of underwear. At the top of the mound is a Pink Panther thong with a note attached. All too aware of the odd stunt your crazy boss is capable of pulling, you read it. The note informs you that the pile of underwear is for you to have—and not to worry, they are clean. You stand there in disgusted horror as you contemplate the atrocity of her “thoughtful gift,” at which time you throw up in your mouth a little bit.
You quit the next day.