Up until this point in your life (if you’re anything like me, that is), you have worked a lot of “jobs.” “Jobs” are things you do solely to make money. You might hate every second of your “job,” whether it means scrubbing puke stains off bathroom floors (yep, done it), scoping puke out of baby pools (done that too), or actually being puked on by little kids who swallow too much water during swim lessons (so I’ve had a lot of puke in my life thus far…), but you know, at the end of every day, you’ve made money.
I’ve held a variety of “jobs” in my life. Like every young girl out there, I started with babysitting. My first babysitting job was horrifying to say the least. Let’s just say by the time the parents got home, there were two pairs of underwear and a diaper hanging from the chandelier and three naked kids sleeping in their parents’ queen-sized bed. (It’s one of those situations you really can’t explain. Somehow, the parents called me again.)
When I was fifteen, I spent the summer working for my dad after his office manager resigned. This pretty much meant I spent the mornings cleaning out storage rooms and the afternoons sleeping behind my dad’s desk while he was in meetings. I ruined at least two pairs of pants falling asleep with red pens in my pocket. Don’t worry, I’ve learned my lesson: always keep your pens in your sweater pockets.
When I was sixteen, I got my first real “job” working as a lifeguard. I spent the next six summers of my life sitting in hard wooden chairs, cleaning dead frogs out of gutters, and dealing with a lot more puke than I ever needed. When you’re sixteen, lifeguarding seems like the coolest job. After all, how many other jobs can you get tan, hang out at the pool all day, and still get paid? Not many. By the time you’re twenty-one, however, and reminding the new guards who are only fifteen that they shouldn’t throw the rubber basketballs at little kids to get them to stop running, you realize that it’s about time to move on.
So, when my boss asked me in early February if I wanted to work at the pool again for the summer, I proudly told her, “No! I’m graduating college. I’m going to get a real job.” So optimistic, yet so naive. I had heard a lot about this “recession” business, and I even heard some murmurs about “a decline in the job market,” but I was too busy getting really excited about postmodernism and Marxism in Less Than Zero and Fight Club. (It’s okay to admit I had a really cool thesis topic.) Graduation came and, as I was handed my diploma, someone hung a giant word above my head that followed me everywhere I went after that: “UNEMPLOYED.”
See, what I wanted was a career. I was sick of all these “jobs,” sick of having to peel sunburn off my shoulders for the entire month of June, sick of little kids squirting me in the face while I tried to read Slaughterhouse Five on my breaks, sick of my co-workers being fifteen and sixteen year olds who complained about summer reading lists and their 10pm curfews. I wanted to use the skills I learned in college, I wanted to write for someone, and, most of all, I wanted to be creative.
But unfortunately, college degrees don’t come with complimentary careers. Therefore, while my career hunt carried on, I decided I would need to find myself another “job,” at least for the summer.
Here are some “jobs” I’ve applied to:
Cashier at Barnes & Noble: They explained, “We decided to go with someone with more retail experience.” To console me, my mom tried to tell me I was overqualified for the job, being that I was an English major. During my interview, when asked what book I was reading, I rattled off six or seven titles. If that doesn’t show a love of books, what does? I knew, though, deep down, the reason they didn’t hire me was because I had a kindle instead of a nook.
SAT tutor. They explained, “We can’t hire anyone who isn’t sure they’ll stay with us for at least three months.” Of course, they failed to mention this until after I sat through taking an entire 3-hour long SAT test. Who knew that graduating college meant sitting through 8 more sections of standardized testing? Needless to say, at least my math skills are all brushed up. Anyone need help finding the slope of that line?
Online writer. They explained, “We will feed you fifty dollars for you to write this.” Seriously, they did. I wasn’t so sure about this whole “feeding” thing, but the thing that really turned me off was that before they even allowed me to look at the writing assignments, they wanted me to take some test about their policies. Sure, I thought, easy. I mean, I had just taken the SAT. What was a few more questions? Except, their policy was dense and, as far as I could tell, not published anywhere on their website. Further, each time I tried retaking the test, the answers seemed to change arbitrarily. After once more failing to correctly answer how long was acceptable to wait before declining a writing offer (honestly, is there a difference between several days and 3 days?), I gave up. I figured they could feed some other writer their money.
And here I am. It seems that when I decided to quit “jobs” cold turkey, “jobs” heard me loud and clear and decided they didn’t want me either. I’m still holding out hope that some accidental click of my keypad will lead me to my dream career. After all, fate better intervene soon or I might end up back at the pool, cleaning puke off the water slide.