It’s smack dab in the middle of Tuesday when my half-assed hobbit of a supervisor tells me “Oh by the way, your last day is this Thursday.” This position was temporary. I knew this. Then why does it feel like Frodo just bitch-slapped me across the face?
I try to write it off. Literally, right now I am trying to write this repetitive feeling of incompetence and feebleness off. People know. My temporary co-workers have been passing me in my temporary office, giving me that “is she going to cry” peer. My supervisor keeps sighing in deep and feigning distress. The seasoned Elvis, Tom, asks me the name of the bar I work for again and to send him an invite. I still have yet to figure out what Tom does. I smile as he watches me for signs of weakness and waits for his papers at the copier. I have three more hours of this to kill.
I managed to get away from the puked-stained pity at lunch when I walked completely around the building and slumped over in between two bushes wildly spilling out in front of the maintenance employee entryway. That’s right; I slopped over in a puddle of my own stinking disappointment while wolfing down the eighth peanut butter and jelly sandwich I have eaten over the past two weeks. Two weeks is the appropriate amount of time to give employers when you are leaving your position. It’s plain courtesy, folks.
Why they even presented me with an office is beyond me. Let’s just give the temporary hire a reason to be hated by and isolated from the rest of the group who have been aging and working in the same position, officeless for years.
Foolishly, I bought into the chance that the birthing woman I was covering for may decide to become a stay-at-home mom, and I could just snag a full-time position doing what I love at 23. I decided to prove myself, something I do best when I put my spastic mind to it. Maybe this is my chance at being a professional writer. I was gallivanting in a field of flowered accomplishment. I was about to stick to all of those who turned their smiles inside out whenever I told them I was going to a private, fancy pants school to major in English literature.
I brought in dollar store mahogany frames with the faces of my grandparents and I clutching each other and graduation day itineraries, grinning like chimps in front of a lit up Loyola. I brought in a picture of my boyfriend and I in love at a wedding that we were content with not being ours. I brought in a bamboo plant named Benjamin, confident even I couldn’t kill a birch of steel. These were my desk companions, little mantras of happiness. I covered up my intrusive tattoos, curled my hair and corrected my typing frame in order to avoid carpal tunnel and such. I came in on my Saturdays off.
I failed to pick up on the cues that were there from the beginning that pointed toward the demise of my short-lived attempt at a career life. On my first day, staring me blunt in the face was an AP style book from 1995. Christina, a co-worker who sat on a yoga ball and wore jewelry that made her jingle like an attention-seeking cat meticulously prancing around a room, did not even bother to look up from her computer when I entered the office in the morning. She was the first person I saw every morning.
When I found out for sure that this position would be indefinitely ending, I said fuck it, and started using my work computer to feverishly send out desperate cover letters that quaked through my outbox. The pathetic runts went a little like this:
To whom it may concern,
Once upon a time, I sprinkled speckles of pixie dust on paper and created pretty, Polly Pocket sized songs and poems, and thought I would one day be legit enough to sell countless copies of my writing. I went to college and thought I was special enough to land a job right away even though most people fresh out of the book stacks around me weren’t getting them either. I wanted to be a writer. Morbidly enough, I still do. Please let me show you why I have what it takes to be a part of your exciting mission.
I swear to you I like to work. I eat it for breakfast. I will work a beefy amount of hours for you. Think Portillo’s beef! That’s quality beef! Guys, I can write! Communication skills? I got those. Psh, I can even communicate telepathically. I am analytic and organized! You bet your ass I am a positive, flexible, reliable, honest, determined, people-pleasing, high-achieving, task-driven, problem-solving worker!
You could mold me into a bobble head of you. I promise I am the shining, lucky penny in your pocket. I am made of corporate material. When I prick my finger or my nose bleeds, out comes money. If I were to blow my brains out right in front of you out would flow and assembly line of blood, guts and hard-earned cash for you to put in your bank.
Experience? What’s that you say, three to five years of it? Hogwash! I’m experienced sexually, what do you think? Health insurance for a blowjob here and there? I can muster up a mean blowjob. Eh, how about it?
PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY, GIVE ME A FUCKING CHANCE.
(Takes a breath, wipes foaming mouth). Ahem, ahem.
I look forward to an opportunity of meeting with you and further discussing my qualifications and contributions to your team. Please give me a call at your earliest convenience.
Sincerest of the sincerely,
Sarah Cimarusti (Is the best candidate for the position, cough).
(No seriously, call me).
Goodbye for real this time,
So here’s the part where you pick up and begin playing the world’s smallest violin. I was hired to be a temporary writer, with some wink wink hintage at securing a higher, more long-term position. I have written over 20 articles and press releases and have conducted interviews via email, phone and in person left and right. I have attended dinners with the president and recorded every golden thing she has spewed out of her pampered mouth. I have been listening and writing about people and events like an eager fawn taking her first walk through an open meadow.
I have sacrificed the time I could be spending taking shots off a greasy table tops or the chiseled stomachs of tan men, or whatever it is the kids do these days. I have given a small chunk of my youth watching people meander around the office with nothing to do. Is this why people grow old so fast?
Like I said, I have been giving my employer some quality beef material. When my supervisor calls me last minute, I have been coming in faster than his neurotic, over-caffeinated ass pops Trident bubblegum and cradles then chugs his individual pot of coffee in his office. And blah, blah, blah, let’s get to the point… He has not read a single piece of my writing. Like they are paying me money and using my articles for baby Jesus knows what, and he has not even glimpsed over my work.
This should not be a surprise. I recall being sandwiched in the meeting room with him. He told me he feels that stories these days are too long, and if it were up to him information would be “less than 50 words long.” Probably because he has the attention span of a ferret. “If it were up to him,” our marketing materials would involve colorful pop-up picture books with cute doggies begging for table scraps of food or making doo doo outside the house for the first time. In order to convey any sort of thought, we would have to send out Princess Leia holograms to co-workers in other departments. This man is in charge of me.
The diminishing patience for good writing and other forms of art isn’t anything new, so again, why does it feel like Frodo just bitch-slapped me across the face? Schools cut art programs at an alarming rate and most people have the ADHD concentration for reading books and prefer minimally written, neon lit messages and shout-out advertisements through various hip media platforms. I am even afraid to show this to anyone because I feel that many people may not be able to stomach the amount of words. I have almost hit 2000 words!! Hold onto your asses, folks!
Marx had it down pat ages ago. Everyone wants to claim their work. The worker self-identifies himself with his work in the beginning, which isn’t necessarily wrong, but it can become problematic when there is a massive inequality between the worker and the cheese in charge and also between the world around the employer/worker that seems to market and instill values that move people away from concocting and presenting original thought and creations. But Marx also thought art is what can save this decay of ideas. It has and can clear the fog of indifference. Art has started revolutions.
Plenty of writers have written to save themselves or others. I recently read the brilliant “The Things They Carried,” by Tim O’Brien, which somehow escaped my grasp in college. The persona in O’Brien’s short stories uses fiction to feel his way around a hazy time in his life and history; that is the war in Vietnam. And what is the result of his fumbling around in the dark? Freaking art, man! And more importantly a chance to reconcile a profound sadness or sometimes numbness that would have swallowed him down a shithole had he not written it down. (Excuse my French, but seriously, there is an entire chapter about a man who is killed and sucked down a shithole).
So yeah, maybe I am fumbling around a little bit right now in my life. But that does not give me an excuse to curl up in a ball and whine about it. Here I am now, a 23-year-old, chipping away and digging that hole to China to get to my dream writing job. I am a writer by day and a wobbly, apologetic cocktail waitress by night. Writing has been the closest attempt I have had at understanding myself and everyone else. It’s a regurgitation of what moves me and makes me think. So excuse my English, but watch me continue to fall in love and thought. Any joiners?