The summer of my discontent (part 2)

For this interview, on July 9th, I wore my professional clothes once again, but it no longer felt like a disguise, as I allowed my hair to remain in it’s wild wavy state. I was fairly certain my interviewer would be dressed this way as well. Confident I had a reasonably accurate picture of what to expect, my nerves were only marginally spiking.

I drove inland for fifteen minutes, where mountains, dry and sparsely green, bubbled upward and the temperature escalated dramatically. It had been ninety degrees when I left my apartment, but now my car read one hundred and two. My gps instructed me to an open air school, uncovered hallways and buildings with sports fields sprawling outward paralleled the beautiful school in the dark movie, Thirteen. Once again I checked my email for the address, as this did not appear to be residential treatment, but, once again, I was in the instructed location.

I parked my car and found a map behind thick plexiglass mounted onto a wall near what I assumed was an entrance, as there was a break in the chain link fence. Apparently there were many offices here as well as the school. I followed a yellow line painted on the ground to a door marked 136 LLYC and entered.

“Hi, I’m here for an interview at 10,”

It was 9:30. I am habitually early in my efforts to not be late.

“Alright, do you know who with?”

“Hmm, it’s for the Mental Health Counselor position in residential, …” I really couldn’t remember the name of the person who had called, his accent had made our conversation feel like a Jenga puzzle, where I carefully interpreted what I thought he was saying and slowly shifted blocks around in response until he emailed me this address.

“I gotchu, you’re with William, I’ll let him know you’re here.” She handed me a clipboard of paperwork.

I sat in a small knook of four wooden armchairs and squinted at the small print. There were seven pages to fill out,

“Hi, sorry to bother you, I filled out this information online too… Do I need to do this paper copy in addition, or…”

“Yes. They would like the paper copy.”

“Ok, just checking. Thank you!”

I sat back down.

A Hispanic family entered, a young boy flanked by his young mother and grandmother. They nestled around me, talking to each other in Spanish. It seemed the mother was nervous, her knees jolting up and down. The grandmother appeared to be more nervous, wringing her hands. The boy was silent, sullen, uninterested. He kicked my chair as he leaned back, jolting my pen across the page.

“Alejandro, stop!” His mother said, and smiled nervously at me.

Alejandro crossed his arms in front of him.

“It’s fine, really.”

Alejandro swung his legs precariously close to my chair for the next ten minutes, his mother staring so hard at his scuffed sneakers, waiting for him to kick me again, that I thought they might ignite.

I didn’t want to participate in this stalemate.

A woman with a silver gray bob appeared from down the hallway and leaned down, her sweater flowing open, revealing overflowing and freckled cleavage, “Hi, is this Alejandro?”, she gazed at the woman surrounding him.

Alejandro stared at her, and said nothing.

“Yes, hi, I’m his mother, Maria, and this is Alejandro.” She gestured toward her son and then her mother, “This is his grandmother, Carmen.”

The woman looked at me expectantly, “I’m just here for an interview,” I smiled.

“Alright, well I think if it’s ok I’ll just talk to Alejandro for a little bit on our own. How does that sound Alejandro?”

He stared back at her, unblinking.

“Alejandro! Go!” The mother swung her arm around his back and leveraged him upward. He slowly walked beside the woman down the hallway and the mother and grandmother resumed speaking in Spanish.

I turned my clipboard in, “I’m finished, here ya go, thanks.”

“Perfect, thank you. William is ready to see you, so if you go outside and walk three doors down, on the left, just knock and someone will come let you in.”

“Awesome, thank you.”

I continued down the sidewalk, knocked, and waited. Another woman opened the door to reveal an identical set up as the previous office. I was escorted down the hallway.

“Hi, I am William, so nice to meet you!” William extended his hand. His skin was dark and shiny, like he was a wooden man crafted from Burma Blackwood and vigorously polished each morning.

“Natasha Foster, nice to meet yoh!” We sat at a small circular table across from his desk, in navy plastic chairs, which matched the carpet, “I know that my accent make it difficult for people to understand what I say, so please, if I say anything you don’t understand just stop and I will repeat myself, Ok?”

I nodded, “Sure, I’m really sorry about our phone conversation, but I think it’ll be fine in person,” I smiled.

He opened a manilla folder and placed my resumé and cover letter beside each other. He lowered his head into a separate folder, “So I see yoh have worked in residential treatment befoh and also with trohma. That is very good foh us. Tell me, how does Lyle Lincoln Youth Center fit into yohr career path?”

“Well, from the information that I’ve been able to read online it seems like a good fit, consistent with the other non-profit organizations I’ve been able to work with in mental health. Ultimately I’m interested in going into psychiatric nursing so I’d like to stay in direct care in the meantime, until I’m able to make that transition.”

“Nursing, yas, that is great, great. Yoh could even stay, we have a medical coordinator position for nurse!” William looked down again, at his stapled packet. He was reading from a list, “Tell me about a time in yohr work or educational experiance where you were faced with a challenging situation, and how yoh responded,” He looked up and smiled.

“So when I worked in residential, my second week, another new staff and I took a group of boys outside to a little playground and two of them broke into a fight. We tried to walkie for more staff to come, but no one came. We got them to separate and then the larger male, who was over six feet, ran around the side of the building so I followed because I knew I had to keep him sight. He was extremely escalated and ripped a wrought iron fence out of the ground,”

“Oh, wow,” William smiled, he was entertained. People who work in mental health always have these sort of stories. Whenever I am asked, What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen?, by curious parties I can’t  even choose, and I’ve barely started my career.

“Right, it was quite a scene. So he’s pulling the fence up and there’s dirt flying everywhere and then he turns around runs past me, and starts kicking out the glass doors and windows to the main building. I start repeating his name, because I think I’m going to be able to get his attention and, snap him out of it, I don’t know. But when he hears me, he turns and punches the wall beside my face and yells ‘SHUT UP’,” I hold my palm in front of my face to communicate how close he was,  “At this point another of the residents, who was also very large statured, comes around the corner and basically takes him down into the grass. Then staff finally came because they had heard the glass breaking from inside.”

“So another resident restrained the one acting out?”

“Yep. He had lived there like three years and whenever things got out of control he acted as if he were staff, which was an entirely separate issue, obviously.”

William laughed, “What an introduction, yeah? So what did yoh learn from this crisis?”

“To check that my walkie works as soon as I get it… Never to be alone with a resident, and to take a lot more space when someone is escalated. Not to send two new staff out with a group of adolescent males.”

“Yas, Natasha, these are all important lessons to learn!”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

“So, given that this work is very difficult, uh, very emotionally challenging, how do yoh practice self care?”

“Well at my job in Pittsburgh I worked a huge amount of overtime, there were always extra shifts available so I doubled several times a week. I don’t do that anymore. It was way too much for that setting. I have found that I have to have a certain amount of sleep to be at my best and making sure I have time for friends and my boyfriend and my dog, things like that, really rejuvenate me to be present and focused at work.”

“Yas, yas, that is great!” At this point William switched from asking me questions and writing down my responses to just handing me the packet of questions and telling me to fill it out. At the end he began introducing me to everyone in the office, which felt like a sure sign I had the job, despite that the people I was being introduced to seemed decidedly bored by the disruption.

I followed William through the school, into the classrooms, and onto a sports field where the “participants” were dribbling basketballs.

“Hello everyone, this is Natasha, she is interviewing for the MHC position.”

They turned and nodded, “Hi,” one of the girls eyed me suspiciously.

William lowered his voice, “So our residents often have cognitive delays or developmental delays. Sometimes from, neglect you know, sometimes autism spectrum. Right now everyone is pretty high functioning, but yoh’ll notice in the school program that many are doing work at an elementary level. The girl with the dark hair and pink shorts, you’ll here people call her Apple, she has a very strange voice,” he gestured to his throat in an up and down motion, “but she’s actually very smart. She’s obsessed with pets though. Talks about them all the time. She’ll probably ask yoh about yohr pets.”

“So, is she allowed to talk to me about my pets, or?”

“Yes, as long as it’s appropriate, yoh know, she likes to talk about, uh, where they poop, yoh know. Just don’t talk about their poop.”

I smiled, “Noted.”

William then had me follow him to the actual residences, which were a mile away. A steep driveway, landscaped for privacy, led us to an archipelago of buildings amid an abundunce of palm trees and overgrown bushes. A tall black gate enclosed the outdoor space between the buildings. It reminded me of my story, and I wondered how deeply rooted into the ground it was.

“So these are the cottages, where our participants live. All of the evening shifts will be at this location, where as some of the morning shifts begin here but are mostly at the school,” He jangled a ring of keys between his hands as we walked, “These are the vans where yoh will drive the participants to school, yoh will not have to use yohr own car for that,” he opened the gate and walked into a beautiful courtyard, “Hi, this is Natasha, this is Jasper our AM assistant supervisor.”

RT3

Jasper was rail thin and tall, leaning dramatically backward in his seat. From behind his mirrored sunglasses he said, “Not too much going on today, Juan is having a hard time, taking some space.”

Juan was twenty paces away at a picnic table, he glared dramatically over his shoulder in our direction at the mention of his name.

We entered one of the cottages, the sudden darkness in comparison to the outdoors was disorienting. When my eyes had adjusted I scanned the room for signs of violence. The furniture was unbroken, heavy wooden chairs and sofas, with plastic maroon cushions, appeared worn, but– Ah, they had been screwed into the floor. The television was bolted to the wall, behind plexiglass. A massive chart of levels and rewards displayed a list of about a hundred actions which constituted aggression, which was an automatic demotion to copper level.

I needed more information.

William introduced me to Melinda, who was sitting in a tall captains chair inside the office. The office was smaller than my closet. The open door masked the shelves of binders and toiletries behind it, while the other side had a raised counter with a singular computer and shelves above it. This is where Melinda sat, kicking her feet against the chair. Behind her was another door which led to the staff bathroom. There was not enough room for both doors to be open at the same time.

“Hi Natasha! I’m Melinda! I’ve been working here on-call for about four years now. I love it. It’s a fun job. I know it’s really quiet right now but that’s not really typical.” Her blonde hair was so light it looked almost transparent.

“Oh, I’m sure,” I nodded, “Can’t trust it.”

“Exactly,” She brightened, “Have you worked in mental health before?”

“Yep,” I smiled.

William spoke, “How many kids stayed back from school today?”

“Just the two.”, she pointed her pen to the door across the living room, “This one is on freeze because she won’t take a shower, and that one is sick as a dog. The nurse is supposed to be here any minute.” She looked at her watch.

“How long has it been since she showered?” William asked.

“Two and a half days. I really don’t want to go down this road with her again.” Melinda shrugged, “But you know it’s up to her.”

“Yas, yas. Alright,” William tilted his head toward the kitchen, “This way,”

“Nice to meet you Natasha!” Melinda said as we exited the cottage and entered another building.

“This is building numbar tree. This is where we have all of tha staff mailboxes and walkies and where yoh clock in and out. This is the schedule. So the position we have open for full time is from two to ten pm with Wednesday and Thursday off. And then we have on-call open too. Would that work for yoh?”

I imagined a florescent sign flashing, ISOLATION, above the schedule.

“So I would work every weekend? It doesn’t change?”

“Yas, all of our full time positions work weekends, but their schedules do not change. You know exactly when yoh will work, always,” He jangled his keys in his hands and smiled, trying to make this positive.

In Pittsburgh the schedule had rotated so that if you had Thursday/Friday off the next week you had the following two days off and so on. Which meant you eventually had Saturday-Tuesday off every six weeks or so. Always rotating. In Baltimore, I had thought working every other weekend was awful. Ha! Ha! Ha!

I shifted gears, “How many shifts do on-calls generally work?”

“It depends, of course, but most work four, maybe five shifts a week. Morning shifts are hard to get. A lot of our staff are on call, but they do not get benefits and their schedules are always changing.”

Before the move to California Josh and I agreed that neither one of us could be regularly absent for work. We would be too far away from anyone else to leave the other on their own. This conversation arose when he warned me that he might be MIA quite a bit, and I had recoiled from the whole moving idea. So he promised that if his hours got really late during the week (as hours are wont to do when working at a start up) he wouldn’t work on his side projects that weekend, and I, in turn, had promised that I wouldn’t work exclusively evenings and weekends. We had to protect our together time, out here on our own.

And here I was, having been always available a hundred percent of the time since the move, but still– “I think on-call might be a better fit.”

“Really? Why is that?” William tilted his head and jangled his keys. He was clearly struggling finding someone to accept this schedule.

“Well, I can’t do most of that self care stuff we discussed earlier if I work this schedule.”  The issue seemed really obvious, to me, at least.

“Alright, on-call Natasha,” He put his keys back in his pocket, “Please let yohr references know I will be calling them.”

“Wonderful, thank you!”

We shook hands and I cheerfully bounded to my car, feeling a resurgence of confidence rush through my veins. I will be gainfully employed in no time! I can put all of this morose depressive bullshit behind me and if I’m on-call I can definitely swing school! Look at me now, func-tion-i-ing!

Boston Traffic 6 am

As I merged onto the freeway a faded red Ford Explorer blew out a tire in the far left lane. The vehicle tilted forward, and flew across six lanes of traffic, desperately trying to make it to the shoulder, and narrowly cut me off. They hit the large hill which bordered the freeway and rolled upward. The impact into the drought deadened dirt exploded an orange-brown cloud across traffic.

I couldn’t see anything but the murky red of brake lights ahead. I slowed to the right, onto the shoulder.

Horns were erupting loudly.

And within just a minute, the dust had settled. Another car had stopped ahead and the battered SUV had landed right side up, facing oncoming traffic, but mostly in the relative safety of the shoulder.

I dialed 911, and exited my car. Another driver stopped on the shoulder leaned out of her window, “Oh good, you’re calling 911 right? Ok, I’m gonna go, but I saw the whole thing. Their tire blew out and they were going way too fast.” With that, she clicked on her blinker and merged back into traffic.

I approached the car cautiously, as I gave the dispatcher our location. A stout Latin woman placed her child in the grass, speaking Spanish rapidly. An equally petite man was walking in circles around the vehicle. All of the windows had shattered and there was glass everywhere.

The dispatcher asked, “Was anyone thrown from the vehicle?”

“I really don’t know. They’re walking around, but they’re all bleeding. The glass shattered in from the windows.” I approached, “Did you all get thrown out of the car?” The woman stared at me for a moment and moved to shuffle things around inside the car. I turned my attention to the little girl sitting in the grass, her eyes were as big as saucers. She looked to be around five.

“Is anyone bleeding from the head?”

“Yes, but not profusely.” I scanned scene, “They’ve all got cuts on their head, and kind of all over…”

“Ok, we need them to sit down. We don’t want them walking around and–”

The woman approached me, her long dark hair was knotted. A thick strip of her upper leg was hanging away from her body, blood pouring down toward her foot, “Agua?”

“She wants water,” The girl said.

The woman pointed to her feet,

“She wants to wash her foot,” the girl said, staring ahead blankly.

The woman seemed completely unaware of the portion of her leg that was dropping away from her, gravity pulling the piece downward, “Water? Sure, ok.” My eyes lingered on her injury, it didn’t even look real. Like we were on a movie set and were meant to believe Freddy Krouger had reached for her as she ran past him in the boiler room. From my phone I head the dispatcher say,

“Don’t let them drink anything, it’ll make them nauseas and they could throw up.”

I reasoned if I gave her the water to wash her feet she would continue washing her leg and readily discover the injury on her thigh. That seemed traumatic. Plus, I couldn’t guarantee she wouldn’t drink it.

“Sorry, I don’t think I actually have any water. Lo siento, no aqua, lo siento,” I said. Then squatted down beside the girl, “Hi, my name is Natasha.”

This broke her trance like gaze, and she turned toward me.

“Do your parents speak any English?” she shook her head, “But you do,” She nodded.

“Awesome,” I squatted down beside her, “So I know this all seems really scary right now, right?”

She nodded.

“Car accidents are really scary, I know, but everything is going to be ok. I’m on the phone right now with someone who is sending doctors who are going to help us, ok? You’ve been to the doctor, right?”

She nodded.

“So it’s just like that, except they’re going to come in a big vehicle that has lots of lights and sirens. It can be pretty loud. And they might all be wearing the same uniform, which looks different than what a doctor wears, but they are here to help. They’re going to clean us up and make sure we’re all ok so we won’t get sick, ok?” I wondered why I always talk in plural to children. They’re not going to be cleaning me up, but it seemed more reassuring if I included myself.

“Ok,”

“Everything is going to be alright, we’re completely safe” I reiterated.

The mother began speaking to the girl in Spanish, assumably wanting to know what we were talking about. Her voice grew louder and she reached for my phone, “NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO!”,

I stepped backward and held my phone away from her,

The girl spoke, “She doesn’t want the police to come!” Tears welled up in her eyes,

“Stop. Stop.I’m sorry, they have to come,” I extended my right arm completely forward, holding her at bay and tucked the phone into my left arm, it hung up. “When you’re in a car accident you have to see a doctor, to be safe. They’re already coming,”

The girl spoke to her mother, again, in Spanish. The mom abruptly turned and started rearranging duffle bags that were inside the vehicle. The father threw up his hands, and continued to walk around the shoulder as cars whizzed by, picking up random debris that had been thrown from their car.

I really wished he would sit down.

I walked past the girl to try and tell him to get away from the road, as I passed I realized that the back of the girls shirt was saturated in blood. Her shoulder opposite me had been bleeding freely while we talked.

Shit.

A weird vocalization escaped me, “Aeroohhh, Hey, honey, can you do this?” I crossed my right hand onto my left shoulder. The girl mirrored me. “Great! Awesome! Just hold your hand there really tightly ok?”

She nodded. Surely her own germs, through the t-shirt, was better than no pressure at all? I really had no idea if this intervention was remotely helpful. You put pressure on things that are bleeding… you raise injuries above your heart to slow the bleeding, right? I knew only so much. I had no idea what to do for the mother, for instance. Surely pressing the skin back in place would just pack in the germs and visible dirt? I only had a Murphy blanket in my backseat. I smiled to myself, I can’t imagine how irritated the paramedics would be if they arrived to discover a dirty dog blanket wrapped around a wound. If we were in the woods or something though it would have had to do.

Plus, I was certain her ignorance of the injury was probably best at this point. With no medical background whatsoever I decided she wasn’t in danger of bleeding out in this short time before professionals arrived, and kept my distance from her erratic behavior.

Luckily my best guess response wasn’t being relied upon, and finally, the ambulance and policeman arrived, almost simultaneously.

“Here they are! It’s a lot of people, but they’re all just here to help! They’re safe.” I said to her before backing away. I was really hoping a kernel of what I was saying would make this whole ordeal less frightening, if she at least understood what was going on. The men descended, kneeling around her, others speaking to the parents in Spanish, getting them to stop meandering around the scene. The girl let out a loud cry, and finally, tears arrived.

The policeman grilled me about what I saw, drawing a diagram of the six lanes of traffic. I was asked many pointed questions about what speed I estimated they were going when this occurred.

“I really don’t know. I was entering on that ramp so I was going only like 40-ish, so they were going probably twice that and they didn’t appear to slow down at all before they hit the hill,” I gestured to the hill behind us. The vehicle beyond was bent severely inward and the roof was now concave, “So they rolled up and then back down.”

In truth I believed they were going faster than that, but who was I to assign a number?

He took my information and I drove home. As soon as I was parked I called my Joshua and relayed the story, “And of all the ridiculous things that make me anxious, I felt totally calm! What sense does that make?”

“I really don’t know. I would have passed out. That’s so crazy. You’re a hero, Zoots!”

I laughed, “Hardly, I had no idea how to help, I just called 911. It actually really frustrated me that I didn’t know what to do, but I’m glad the carnage didn’t freak me out like I always thought it would. Maybe I could stomach nursing.”

“Yeah, absolutely. You could definitely do it. How was your interview, by the way?”

“I’m pretty sure I’ve got it. It pays marginally more than my last job, but my hours aren’t for sure. It could be kind of violent. We’ll have to see. I’ll tell you about it when you get home.”

“Yeah, we’ll have to talk about that,” he said, “Love you.” and hung up.

treewalk

So, with that, my interest in going back to school rekindled. It would be much cheaper to go to a community college for the pre-requisites at least and I applied for the one I was geographically closest to. Within the week I had been accepted and ironed out my federal financial aid. I was told that I would be last to register because I already have a degree, and because it was already July and classes started in late August. That seemed fair. I might not have an ideal schedule, but since my schedule was wide open I could make it work.

The week William called,  “Hello, Natasha, this is William. I have only heard from one of yohr references. I need to speak with all of them before we can proceed,”

I was confident everyone I had listed had glowing remarks and I had left them messages. They had all agreed to be a reference when I started job hunting, but that was approaching five months ago. I emailed him additional references, and apologized, offering that perhaps the time zone difference was a contributing factor.

In mid July, he called to offer me the job. Or rather, the following e-mail read “conditional offer of employment” and “Please let me know if you do not receive the pre-employment conditions in your email by the end of the week”. It was Monday.

The idle misery that had reigned over the summer was getting kicked to the curb, and a wave of relief swept over me. I counted the months on my hand, April, May, June, July. Had I really disintegrated that rapidly in just four months? The timeline alarmed me. The barricade against my depression that I had secretly, and fervently, congratulated myself on achieving was much more fragile than I’d thought. At least it had only been the slow circling at the top of the well, right? I hadn’t gotten really bad, after all, I reassured myself. No matter, I was going to be in school and working and all this would fade away. I could return to the obnoxious, funny version of myself that I liked best.

On July 24th I opened an email from Eugena McNulty, the directer of HR over at LLYC. There were thirteen attachments, and a highlighted warning that I had one month to complete the pre-employment conditions.

A month? I intended to complete them tomorrow morning.

“Hey Josh, I need to go to Kinkos, can I use your card? I also need to get a new clasp for my swimsuit at Michaels so it doesn’t fall open,” We had figured out early on it was much easier if he just left a credit card with me than to have him depositing money into my account all the time, during this period of dependence. It felt decidedly parasitic every time I used it. I reminded myself that, indirectly, this was his doing. I didn’t have a job because I left the one I had to follow him out here, after all. He knew he would have to support me when he conjured up this plan, but still, I hated using his card and always felt the need to justify what I needed to buy, no matter how small.

And while I had this internal debate about using his money Josh stated simply,

“Of course,”

By the time I had printed everything off it was twenty dollars, and I needed to fax back most of the paperwork, after signing or initialiing it, in addition to my college transcripts. Geez.

joannstore

I stopped into JoAnn’s fabrics, just across the street, to replace the swimsuit clasp and pick up some hair ties. It was six dollars, I swiped Joshua’s card at the reader in front of me. The machine blinked, and didn’t respond.

“Here I can do it back here,” the cashier stated, taking the card. And then, “Can I see your ID?”

Well, this was unexpected. The card did not say See ID. I presented my ID, “Sure,” Her teenage eyebrows furrowed, “But this is my boyfriend’s card. He knows I’m using it.”

“This isn’t your card?” She asked loudly, with thinly veiled excitement seeping through her suspicion.

“No, it’s my boyfriends card. I can use this one instead,” I extended my bright orange debit card across the counter.

She picked up the phone, and over the store intercom she said, “Can I have a manager to register one, a manager to register one, please,”.

“Um, I have my card right here you can use.”

The young woman was holding my ID and Joshua’s card hostage. She hadn’t taken my debit card off the counter. Her eyes were narrowed to slits.

“Yeah, I get that but you can’t just use someone elses card. Plus I have to void it out and start over. A manager has to do that,”

“Alright.” I rolled my eyes. If I was going to go on a spree with a stolen card I would not be stopping into Joann’s Fabrics for six dollars worth of plastic clasps and glittery hair ties.

The manager appeared, pleasantly plump and bespectacled, “What’s going on?”

“This woman is trying to use someone else’s credit card to buy her stuff,” the cashier stated in a stage whisper, handing the woman my ID and Joshua’s credit card.

“Oh my, where is she?” The woman pushed her glasses upward, into her hair, and held the cards close to her face.

“I’m right here,” My blood pressure was bubbling upward, I gestured like Vanna White to the counter, “My card is right here, ready to pay the six dollars.”

“Oh, I see,” she said. They exchanged a look, “I’m not sure what to do here,” she picked up the phone, “Mary can you come to the front please, Mary can you come to the front.”

I took a deep breath. A line of customers had formed behind me, “I’m pretty sure the best course of action is to let me pay with my card, the one right here in my hand, so I can leave.”

Who I could only presume to be Mary appeared, with silver hair in a bun and a bright red apron. The three huddled together, and the original cashier laid out the facts as she saw them, This disheveled woman is trying to commit fraud! She has a stolen credit card and is making off with our quality merch on someone else’s dime! Now that I’ve caught her she’s trying to just use a different card to get off easy! Who knows what her real name is! That’s probably not even a real ID!

“Here I’ll ring you up on this register down here,” Mary said judiciously, eyeing me up and down before handing both my ID and Joshua’s card back to me. We both stepped three feet downward and she dumped the small plastic bag out on the counter and began the process anew.

There were five people behind me in line.

“I still can’t void this off,” the original cashier said, jamming buttons dramatically with her index finger, blatantly disappointed the police weren’t being called.

As soon as I made it to my dented car and shut the door, I screamed at the top of my lungs.

july-2014-calendar-image

On July 28th I faxed my paperwork back to Eugena, and emailed her, wanting to confirm that she had received my paperwork and informing her that my fingerprinting appointment was for the following morning, so that would be taken care of soon.

My fingerprinting was booked at what turned out to be an immense office park. I approached the large building skeptically. When I had been fingerprinted before it was done at a Post Office Plus, where you could also get your picture taken for your passport, or in-house. I was forced to enter this monstrous building in my standard yoga pants and t-shirt uniform, carrying an iced coffee from Burger King, walking in beside men in formal suits.

My instructions of “Suite110-A” had led me to picture more of a strip mall set of offices, but Suite 110 turned out to be a doctors office? I surveyed the empty waiting room and glass encased counter. There were posters of children running after each other, the text read, An Active Child is Having Fun. A door beside the glass encased counter read “110-A” and had a paper clock taped to the front. Will return, the clock indicated nine o’clock.

It was 8:50.

I played Hello Kitty Café on my phone until 9:05 when a man hurriedly entered the waiting room, “You here for fingerprints?”

“Yep,” I stood.

“Awesome, just wait one minute.” He opened the door narrowly, and squeezed in, taking the paper clock with him. A loud humming noise emitted from the room and I heard a woman’s voice greet him.

“Alright then,” I sat back down.

At 9:15 the man opened the door. He gestured for me to sit in a folding chair immediately to my left, and he shut the door. My knees were touching the end of a table where a woman sat, shuffling papers. To the right was the giant humming machine which would scan my fingers. There was scarcely enough space for the three of us to occupy this room.

“Do you have your employer’s paperwork?” The woman extended her hand, impatient.

I produced the single sheet from my purse.

She stood, “We have seventeen appointments today you know, we can’t afford to get backed up,” she said to the man, who was entering information into a second computer, which rested on a raised desk beside the machine.

“Yes, I am aware,” he retorted, typing quickly.

The woman’s dress was completely open in the back. She was braless at work. The hi-low hem was alarmingly short in front.

How bold, I thought.

“Great, good,” She copied my paper, and handed one to him and the other back to me.

“For billing did it end up being—”

She cut him off, “The memo in your email already explained that. I’m not repeating myself today, Sonny. Not today,” she leaned back in her chair, and her head bumped into his backside.

He pressed himself into the desk, “Yeah ok, excuse me,” as she recoiled forward into her desk.

What a work environment, I thought, trying not to giggle.

Sonny then took my fingerprints, a bright green light scanning them repeatedly as I twisted each digit against the glass, following instructions to “roll them all around” one at a time.

The woman handed me my sheet.

“Do I need to fax this to my employer or do they get a copy from you?”

“We do it, that’s just for your records,” She said, picking crud from underneath her acryllic nails with a paper clip.

“Alright, thank you!” I exited carefully, since the door opened inward we all had to reposition ourselves cooperatively to release me.

Geez.

I emailed Eugena, on July 29th, having still not heard from her,

Eugena,

Good afternoon! I faxed my documents yesterday and did the fingerprinting this morning. Just writing to confirm that you received them. Would you like me to fax the sheet from finger printing to you in addition to the copy that they are sending? How do we go about arranging the medical clearance appointment?
Thank you!
Natasha Foster
On August 1st I received a reply,

Hi Natasha,

 The original email I sent you had the instructions I’ve attached to this email.  Please review this document.  It has information on how to complete the conditions of employment…

 You asked: Do I need to fax the sheet from finger printing to you as well?

Initial Steps: Live Scan Fingerprinting

 ….After you have completed your fingerprinting, the person conducting the fingerprinting will give you a completed “Request for Live Scan Service” form. You must retain this form and submit it to the HR Department.

 Where to Submit Documents

You must submit several documents to the HR Department to meet the conditions of employment. You may send them via fax.

 You asked: How do we go about arranging the medical clearance appointment?

 Next Steps: Health Screen & TB Test

An HR team member will contact you to make arrangements for your Health Screen/TB Test (and Drug Screen if applicable) after you have complete all other non-medical related conditions of employment.

Have a great weekend.”

 
 Josh returned from work, carrying his spring green laptop briefcase and a plastic bag of tupperware I would inevitably later discover in the sink, covered in corroded salad dressing and soggy sandwich crumbs. He surveyed the living room in a single glance. I had spent the entire day playing a delightfully weird text based game on my phone, A Dark Room, and alternatively reading every single article anyone I was friends with posted to Facebook. I had absorbed a varied and strange array of information.
“How was today?”
“Oh you know….” What had I actually done again?,  “I finally heard from Eugenics the HR lady a week after I originally emailed her. She still has not answered if she actually received my faxes that cost a fortune to send and was super passive aggressive. I asked her how to set up the medical clearance and she basically sent me a screen shot of her first email which has an attachment that says that I would be contacted by HR about it. Well, I haven’t been contacted, Eugenics, that’s why I’m still emailing you about it. C’mon,” I turned my computer toward him, the affronting email on display.
Josh smiled, “So now we’re calling her Eugenics?”
“Absolutely. Rude. So rude.”
He pulled my lap top onto his lap and read the chain, “Ok, so you could have figured out to send the fingerprinting sheet, but she also legitimately emailed you fifty pages and we’ve already spent a decent amount faxing her things.”
“Hitler liked Eugenics,”
“Yeah, I get that. Well, just send her the stuff I guess and see what she says,”
“I just want her to answer my questions! It takes a lot more time to construct these rude screen shot emails than to just say you received the faxes, still need the other thing faxed, and whatever info on the medical appointment!”
We drove to Kinkos and faxed her the sheet. I emailed her back promptly,

Eugena,

I have faxed the fingerprinting information. Did you receive it? Hoping the medical clearance can be scheduled soon!

Thanks,
Natasha Foster
 images-9
This was August, our fifth month in California. Not a sentimental passage of time, but a benchmark nonetheless. While I had things lined up, I still didn’t have the traction I’d hoped for five months in and the long-winded process of actually beginning my job was draining my relief at having gotten it. My mother left voicemails, “Natasha Marie, stop saying you’re doing nothing and nothing is happening. You’re working on that app with Josh, and YOU’RE WRITING AGAIN, that’s huge! That’s what you were put here to do. I’m sure Murphy is the happiest he’s ever been. The summer isn’t a wash at all! And I can’t wait to see you! Just a few more weeks!”
At five on the dot Josh appeared at the top of the stairs, dropping his things onto the counter, “You know you drag me out here, make me leave everything behind, and I’m supposed to just cater to your every need? Make your lunch like you’re a little boy? It’s ridiculous.”
I brightened, this was my favorite game. I dropped my voice an octave, “You know I go to work every day for eight, ten, twelve hours while you do who knows what here at home. The least you could do is have the house proper when I get home. Make a dinner with the groceries I buy you. What do you have to be so melancholy about?”
“What do I have to be so melancholy about? You drag me out here away from everyone I know to follow some haphazard dream to make it big and we’re eating manager’s special meat and rice all time time. We can’t even go to the movies. Some provider you turned out to be!” Josh kicked off his shoes, “Can’t even buy me new sandals…chump,”
I slammed my fist into my knee, “I’M DOING THE BEST I CAN, WOMAN! You don’t know how good you have it! I wish I could nap and laze about at my leisure. You’ve got it made! How much Netflix have you watched today while I coded til my fingers bled?”
Josh, tilted his head backward and rolled his eyes, “Oh yes, here I am in the lap of luxury sitting on my used sofa I had to strong arm you to buy. Can’t even go on that Vegas trip you promised. So much to write home about!”
“Woman, I said ENOUGH!” I giggled, and threw a pillow at him. Our hyperbole role reversal fights proved to be remarkably fun and cathartic for our changing relationship dynamic. I broke character, “You know I really don’t care that we didn’t go back to Vegas, right? I hardly need a vacation from having nothing but time and sunshine. I just want to hang out with youuuuuuu,” I rolled onto my back and flailed my limbs, “SO I’M NOT ALONE ALL THE TIME LIKE A HERMIT CRAB! Eckeckeckeckeck!”
This behavior was why I could not be left alone all the time.
“Yes, I know. But I do have an idea for a weekend trip to LA that I think would be fun. Warpaint is playing,” He shimmied his eyebrows at me, “Anything else you wanna see in LA?”
(to be continued, again.)

The summer of my discontent (part 1).

When I left my job in Baltimore to move to San Diego it never occurred to me I would be unemployed for long. I pride myself on being both more resourceful and more adaptable than your average bear, by my own assessment. I fully anticipated a month-ish of unencumbered freedom in a brand new city before jumping into a new job. When I moved from Pittsburgh to Baltimore it took a month to solidify my bartending/nanny income. After my nanny contract expired for the following summer I was nestled into my new job, again, within a months time. Things always worked out. I presumed this would be the approximate time frame for starting over in San Diego.

I was wrong.

April came and went without much action on the job hunting front. I was flush with savings and obsessively organizing and purchasing things as thriftily as possible for our new little home. It was a surprisingly time consuming hobby to cruise thrift stores and check Craig’s List daily. It became kind of a game and I enjoyed myself. Aside from the trauma of the demon sofa I was fairly successful within the parameters I set for myself. The sun was so refreshingly warm after the brutal East Coast winter, and I now live ten minutes from the beach. So, to be honest, I wasn’t trying very hard in April. I applied to only a handful of jobs. I went to Coachella. I went to the state fair. My head wasn’t in the game.

May arrived.

I had decided back East that I wanted to be a psychiatric nurse. I had been in grad school to be a therapist, but decided that I did not want to hear the nitty gritty of trauma stories for the next thirty years. I couldn’t commit.  As a psych nurse, I reasoned, I would still be working in mental health, which I enjoy, but would get paid significantly more and have a lot more versatility should I want to change settings. Given my work history, it’s pretty apparent that I like to change settings. My Joshua, ever supportive, assured me he would help float me while I went to school. I researched all the programs available in San Diego throughout May. There was a common theme: many years of school and many more loans. In short, despite all these promising reasons to go back to school, I got cold feet. In fact, my feet were freezing.

I arrived at the proposition of a “normal job”. Out of all my peers I know who make significantly more money than I do I have observed two things: they work in an office environment and they don’t appear to do very much. I listen to their job descriptions with incredulous attention, So that takes you eight hours a day, all year, just to do that? Really? You do that for forty hours a week, fifty-two weeks a year? Invariably, it turns out, that they don’t. Instead, they spend many hours, per work day, trolling the internet or dicking around, and they are out by five and have weekends off, only to complain of boredom. It’s sickening.

So I added my perception of “normal jobs” into the net I was throwing out. Since college I have worked in customer service, residential mental health, nannying, inpatient mental health, bartending, etc. and thus scultped a variety of resumés. I applied to somewhere around a dozen jobs a day. I also applied to temp agencies, counting on an immersion into the sea of arbitrary boredom to test the waters. I applied to be a bank teller, a “pet care specialist”, a cashier at a book store, a teacher at a child care facility, a hospital attendant, an administrative assistant, a secretary, a personal assistant, marketing whatever, make-up guru at Sephora, or Ulta, ABA therapist with CARD, this and that in mental health, blah blah blah. I could do anything!

KdL9Svx

June began.

My phone finally rang.

It was a temp agency, arranging an interview. Truth be told, I thought this was ideal. I could trolley around the new city and try out all sorts of new jobs in Boring land and learn how to operate fax machines and whatnot without worrying about making a lasting impression of myself as an imbecile. Perfect!

I arrived at the office in my business wear costume, with my hair straightened and a freshly printed resume in a brown Kinkos paper bag, and this tucked in my giant leather Ralph Lauren handbag.

The lettering on the outside windows read, “CONSTRUCTION LANDSCAPING CATERING”. I double checked my email to confirm the address… yet this was the intended building.

I walked inside and found a long hallway, the paint peeling, which deposited me in a mustard yellow waiting room, filled with half bathed male laborers. I got in line.

“You a tall glass of water. Look how tall she is,” this man elbowed another man beside him, “Mmm, what’s your name?”

“Nope.” I smiled, feeling my blood pressure bubble upward. I find the phrase tall glass of water particularly triggering ever since a homeless man leaned in to call me that while I was volunteering at a shelter, with my church youth group, in middle school.

“What’s you problem, girl?”

I excused myself to the front of the line, “Excuse me, sorry, I have an appointment at 9:30 with Michelle.”

“That’s in the office work building across the courtyard, building three” The receptionist gestured over my shoulder.

I pushed through the door to find a drought deadened courtyard with several cottage-like structures in a semi-circle. It continuously amazes me how many buildings in California are set up as several small structures with outdoor hallways.

I sat in an empty waiting room, empty aside from a middle aged woman in a very revealing skirt suit and silver iridescent heels. She smiled at me, and continued idly looking out the window.

Michelle appeared. Her blonde hair was unwashed, in a pony tail, and she was wearing two different shades of black.

“Hi! Welcome, let’s take a look at your resumé!”

We simultaneously shook hands and seated ourselves in an adjacent room that had two folding chairs on opposite sides of a faux wood table.

“So, I’ve done a lot of different things. I’m interested in trying office work sort of positions, temporary things I could easily transition in and out of, or transition into permenant positions if they’re a good fit.”

“Did you answer phones at any of these jobs?” She scanned my resumé.

“Answer phones? Yes.” Of course I can answer phones. Jesus Christ, I have a college degree.

“Like, multi-line telephones.”

“Yes.” I smiled. Are these real questions?

“Ok, you should put that on your resumé,” she put the paper down and stared at me.

“Alright, I can do that.” I envisioned a sales pitch from Billy Mays, Not only can she lead forty-five minute groups for a room full of acute patients, on a variety of subjects!, independently!, but she can answer telephones!

“Where do you live?”

“Old Town. I’d like to work downtown since I live right on the trolley line,” I had fantasies of meeting up with Joshua for happy hours in my business wear costume, reporting all my trivial complaints about emails and phone calls and faxes while I downed five dollar Jack and Cokes on special until six.

“But you do have your own vehicle, which is reliable?” She tilted her head.

“Yes, it would just be nice to not have to commute considering I’m right there.”

“Right, it would be nice… Do you know Microsoft Office, Outlook,…” she trailed off.

I had listed all those programs under the special skills section. In truth I had taken one intro level computer class in college, which I got a C in. I got a C because my pseudo-brother roommate intervened when I confided I couldn’t figure out any of my assignments and was dangerously close to failing a gimme course. He completed my entire course load the day before the bulk of my assignments were due. Such a gent, that one.

“Yes, and I type quite quickly,” I pointed to my special skills section across the table. When I had been through this process in Pittsburgh the recruiter had been nothing short of ecstatic that I typed 75 words per minute during their test, and demanded I bold it on the top of my resumé, which I never did.

“Yes, that is good too. Which do you prefer, full time or part time?”

“Either will work out.”

“Are you looking for something permenant or temporary?”

“Either is fine, if it’s a good fit I’d like to stick around. Ideally I’d like to work somewhere that has a team environment and a shared mission, like at a non-profit, or something similar,”

Michelle looked at me as if I had four eyes and six heads, “Right, of course,”

I back peddled,”But anywhere is fine, I guess,”

She circled my phone number and stood up, “So we will be in touch. If you don’t hear from us just call and check in to make sure we still know you’re looking.”

“Of course, thank you. Do you have any suggestions for changes to my resumé?”

“We don’t really do that.”

“Oh, ok. Thank you.”

I crossed the court yard and bolted through the waiting room and into my car which had now reached molten lava temperatures. I chided myself for putting so much effort into what already struck me as a fruitless endeavor. My smooth, straightened hair immediately warped in the intense heat.

Of course, I didn’t hear from them. I called a few days later and inquired about possible oppourtunities,

“We do have something that just came up, it’s from eleven to four AM downtown and pays fifteen dollars an hour.”

“Eleven to four… in the afternoon?”

“Nope, it’s eleven to four in the morning.”

“What would I be doing?”

“Well it’s an event job so you’d do whatever they needed, really. Sort of similar to an usher.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Ok, well that’s all I have today.”

“Umm… ok.”

She hung up.

All of my following calls resulted in zero offers, even strange ones were absent. These people had nothing. I called the jobs I had already applied to, only to repeatedly be met with crushing statements that it had already been filled, or worse, that the person on the other end had no idea what I was talking about. I left my name and number with countless individuals who never returned my calls.

Knowing that structure is important for me, or more directly, my mental health, I had been following a loose routine since my arrival in California. I woke up early, I got ready for the day, I took Murphy to the park or a walk, we worked on his puppy training, I read, I wrote, I obsessively cleaned. I prepared meals and bagged lunches. In the evenings Josh and I would go to the gym, on the weekends we went to the beach or on a hike or some other random excursion to explore our new city.

By mid June this structure deteriorated. In a shamefully rapid deviation from my plan, I began sleeping in until whenever, wearing the same yoga pants and t shirt ensemble from the day before into the night into the day… I stopped wearing make-up. I stopped preparing meals, I stopped cleaning, I stopped answering phone calls because few people seemed to understand any discontent I alluded to. I was met with, Well, at least you’re at the beach! or You’re lucky you’ve got Josh to support you! Stay at home girlfriend, haha, and It’s not so bad, you’ll find something soon, and in the meantime you’re in California!! Benign questions like, “So what have you been up to out there?” came across as aggressive, condescending.

I was broke, extremely isolated, and increasingly frightened of my precarious mental state. Having been a headline rider at the Clinical Depression Rodeo before I knew I was slowly circling the top of a very deep well.

down the rabbit hole

down the rabbit hole

Josh was very practical, and direct, “What’s going on?”

“I’m on strike,” I said cooly.

“Why’s that?” he scooped me into a hug.

“Because you smell like Murphy,” I joked and then added, “and I’m sad,”

“Yeah, well, I’m concerned, and I know that you know better than anyone what needs to be done to help you.”

I rebuked, “I need a job. I used to have a job that mattered to me. You remember. K. Thanks.” I held up my fingers as a peace sign. Despite the snark, I was listening. I didn’t have insurance, naturally, so I attempted to treat myself…. Which is what I do anyway, while I can. I like to try to intellectualize my way out of things.

My mother started keeping close tabs on me, calling frequently. Her spidey-mom-senses were tingling, “Tasha you’re worrying me. I know this is really hard. The first year is going to be really hard. You need to get out and join things, start volunteering! One of my friends has a friend that just moved back from San Diego, they said the job market was terrible, a total nightmare. It’s not you, honey.”

I texted my friends back East. I continued to do my Instagram challenge of #100happydays which forced me to focus on the positives of each day, which was typically my pets nine times out of ten, or my proximity to the ocean, or my Joshua. Things weren’t so bad, right? PULL IT THE FUCK TOGETHER, I’d glower at myself in the mirror.

In the midst of this I accessed the environmental non-profits that call San Diego home. I applied to CalPrig by responding to an ad on Craig’s List that claimed they needed advocates, and these advocates would be paid fifteen dollars an hour, on average.

The phone interview was easy, as when asked why I cared about the environment I launched into a sincere rant about the environmental atrocities I had seen transpire in one of my home states, West Virginia. The most recent of which being the polluted drinking water, an issue I had followed very closely in the news.

I was scheduled for an interview.

The office was about five minutes from my home, but I arrived thirty minutes early, again assembled in my “young professional” disguise. I climbed the threadbare staircase and turned into a largely empty room. There were five folding chairs in a row in the center, a filing cabinet shoved in the corner, and large collapsable tables lining the far wall. I stared at the posters which papered the wall, environmentalist slogans were paired with sea turtles caught in trash or starving polar bears.

“Oh, hi! I’m Laurie! Nice to meet you! Sorry I was just in the back!” she extended her hand,

“Hi, I’m Natasha!”

“Great, wonderful! So just take a seat, we have some paperwork for you to fill out here.” She handed me a clipboard. The first sheet was printed with groups of four lines, in three columns, “So on the first sheet what we’d like you to do is to share some referrals. I always say that awesome people tend to know other awesome people, so anyone you know who is also passionate about the environment, or looking for work, just let us know and we’ll reach out!”

I nodded, but made no motion to fill out this page.

Laurie stared, smiling.

“Yeah, I just moved here I don’t really know anyone who would be interested.”

“That’s fine we have affiliates all over the country!” she walked across the room to a map of the US that had brightly colored thumbtacks stuck in most of the major cities, “We have offices in D.C., Atlanta, all over really!”

I really didn’t feel comfortable giving away people’s information to this sun damaged woman, but also felt intense pressure under her gaze, so I wrote down my mother’s phone number.

Laurie, peered over my shoulder, “Chris, is that your husband?”

“No, that’s my mom. She lives in Pittsburgh.”

“That’s perfect! We’re doing a lot there with Marcellus Shale and fracking. We can go on to the next page, just try to think of some more people. I really encourage people to come up with at least three.”

I filled out the rest of the paperwork, which included several petitions to sign. Other people began to filter in, and Laurie bounded across the room with clip boards and pens to greet them. A petite man with curly hair seated himself directly beside me, despite the extra chairs available,

“Hi, I’m Matt!”

“Hello, I’m Natasha!” I nodded. I had filled out all of my paperwork and was increasingly confused by the operations at hand.

Matt was wearing filthy skinny jeans, combat boots, and a neon yellow tank top. He dug around his satchel for wrinkled papers to assist him in filling out his paperwork.

“Laurie? Hi! I’m Matt. Do you guys really need to have my address today? It’s just that I moved awhile ago, and I don’t know my address yet. You know how it is,” he shrugged, “Also, I thought I had my resumé in here, but it doesn’t look like I do, so can I just email it in again?”

“Well we use your address for a commute stipend, if necessary, and also it helps us decide what areas to put you in… but just get it in as soon as you can.” She nodded blankly.

Another man entered the room, middle aged and wearing cut off shorts and a tank top with ragged flip flops. He looked nothing short of bemused at my professional attire in this run down room. Even Laurie, the woman interviewing us, was in jeans and a t-shirt. I had missed a memo somewhere.

Finally, Laurie stated that we would be interviewed individually outside. I was relieved there was a reprieve from what was clearly turning out to be a cattle call. I followed her onto an alarmingly narrow balcony outside the room. The afternoon sun was streaming in heavily and we were forced to face the row of windows from the room we had just exited.

“Sorry, it’s awkward to be staring in at them for this. I’m going to go close the blinds,” she squeezed past me.

I sat down at the small bistro table, forced to face the wall rather than the opposite chair due to lack of square footage to accommodate my legs. Laurie returned,

“Alright, so tell me why you are interested in us!”

I rotated my torso inhumanly to face her, “Well I have worked for non-profits since college in mental health, and since the contaminated water issue in West Virginia I have been following environmental issues more closely and would like to become involved.”

“Yeah, yeah absolutely, that was an awful situation. Our focus changes, so right now we are focused on the Greater Pacific Garbage Patch. Are you familiar?”

I shook my head.

“The GPGP, which is this soupy plastic mess off our coast, right here, is toxic and dangerous and literally growing every day. Recently we were also petitioning to challenge the fees that Capital One had accessed Californians falsely, and we won. We put over a million dollars back into the pockets of Californians. I like that because it’s like when you work for an environmental non-profit do you stop caring about everything else? Of course not. Our longest running initiative has been to remove plastic bags from grocery stores. That’s a huge component of what’s in the GPGP. And it’s just awful, those bags never go away, they’re strangling our marine wildlife right off this coast right here, just for five minutes of convenience. Simple convenience! I’m so passionate about it, I think it’s just out of control. I mean the reusable bags are RIGHT THERE! You can keep them in your car. That is also convenient and doesn’t permenantly jeapordize our environment,” She took a deep breath and passed me a petition to sign about banning plastic bags in my new state of California, “So does this work still sound like something you’d be interested in?”

“Sure. Although, I would like to know more about the nuts and bolts of the work as well. What does a typical day look like?” This question was featured on an article I had read on Things To Say To Appear Engaged At An Interview, or something like that.

“Awesome! Great question! So, starting off as a canvasser we would need you here at about noon, daily, and we practice our script as a team, review goals and new materials, then distribute maps of the areas each of us is expected to canvas for that day, canvas, and then return to the office at nine to wrap up. A lot of times we’ll go out together afterward, since walking for that many hours builds up quite an appetite,” she laughed, “But, yeah. That’s generally the nuts and bolts of it. We pay based on commission, so you make forty percent of whatever donations you bring in. That averages out to around fifteen dollars an hour. If you don’t get any donations that day you always make at least minimum wage, which is really nice. Everyone always gets paid. It is important that there aren’t many days like that though, on your first day it’s necessary to show you can get a yes.”

My interest was rapidly waning, she leaned forward conspiritorily, “I’ve got to say though you’re a lot more serious than a lot of the canidates that I interview and I’d love to put you directly on the career track. You strike me as a leader. I was on the career track when I started too,”

I grinned. I struck myself as a leader too, “What does that entail?”

“Well, you canvass, and after proving that that is something you excel at, that you’re passionate and dedicated to the bare bones, so to speak, you start to manage. You do what I’m doing now. You have an office, you interview applicants, you run the morning meanings, you track our fundraising, you run a portion of the operation.”

“How long does that transition generally take?”

“A few months, maybe longer. It varies for everyone, but it took me only four. After that you switch to salary, and the fundraising is a bonus.”

“So you’re still canvassing?”

“Yes all managers canvass three days a week. Saturday is our office day, where we meet to catch up on paperwork and we’re off on Sunday. Tuesdays we do interviews, like today, and the rest of the days we are canvassing too. It’s six days a week, but the Saturdays are really easy, we’re usually done in the early afternoon.”

“So when you canvas, are you in pairs, or…?”

“Well your first day you would be with me, and then after that we’re on our own!” She smiled as if this was exciting.

I grimaced.

“Until nine at night?” My resistance was swelling.

“Yep!”

“I don’t know if I’m entirely comfortable with that. I just moved here and walking around unfamiliar places after dark… it’s just,”

She cut me off, “Oh don’t worry, we have maps for everyone that show exactly what doors to knock on and where to go. They’re very detailed. One girl even puts the addresses in her gps app on her phone,” she giggled, trying to include me in the amusement at the absurdity of this, “but really, it would be very hard to get lost.”

“Hmm, it’s more the walking around after dark piece of it,” I started.

“Oh some of my best contributions I’ve gotten at 8:45 pm! Last month I rang a bell at 8:50pm and twenty minutes later had a check for five hundred dollars, forty-percent of which I got to keep. It was a very good day.”

“No, I’m sure it’s very productive, but walking around alone at night with an entire days worth of contributions seems pretty unsafe… it’s actually kind of insane to me, to be honest.”

Our eyes locked for a moment. We were at an impasse. I shrugged, and opened my hands. I may have done many reckless things in my life, but traipsing around unknown neighborhoods collecting money, after dark, wearing a shirt advertising that you are collecting money, telling everyone you meet that you’re carrying money… It seemed nothing short of, a phrase I detest, but thought nonetheless, asking for it. The “it” being to be mugged, maybe violently, maybe not. Either way, not an experience I was interested in.

My interviewer found words, “Well, I can tell you that nothing has ever happened to me and I’ve been doing this quite awhile. I understand your concerns having lived in DC for a portion of grad school, and I know you’re from back East. It’s not like that here. It’s really safe. I’ve never even felt marginally threatened doing this work.”

I didn’t believe her. Even if she was telling the truth, there’s a first time for everything. Sure, canvassers being brutally robbed might not be a regular calamity but it’s certainly happened, and it will certainly happen again.

“Yeah, having just lived in Baltimore it’s hard to imagine this. I would never do this there.”

“Right! It’s different! It’s so different out there. Being from here and moving East I was, like, totally shocked at how brutal things could be. It’s just not like that in San Diego, really.”

“It is a different land,” I conceded.

She skipped ahead three spaces, “Are you available tomorrow?”

“Yes.” At this point my desperation for work and ready made friends was teetering against my safety concerns on a seesaw internally.

“Great! Wednesdays are always canvasser appreciation day so we get pizza after we wrap up! I’m going to email you a link to the career track! It’s just a test and instructions for how to continue on that path,” She handed me a piece of paper, “This is the script! So try to memorize that as best you can by tomorrow. We’ll meet here at noon and then canvass together!”

“Alright, Sounds good! I hope I can learn all of this in time,” There were several conversations printed on the page.

“It’s really easy, I promise,” We stood, and she squeezed around the bistro table to hug me, “I’m so excited Natasha! I’ll see you tomorrow!”

I explained the job to my Joshua, and my parents. I sincerely hoped someone would convince me this was an exciting prospect with the career track, and all, but I was met with a resounding , “No“. I emailed Laurie the next morning, explaining that I could not ignore my safety concerns. She never responded.

The doldrums returned with a renewed veracity. I wallowed. I watched an entire season of Abby Lee’s Ultimate Dance Competition in one day, my Apple TV queuing up the episodes seamlessly. I had been completely absorbed into my sofa and a distorted dream sequence of shouting and crying adolescents before I forced myself into the car with Murphy and took him to the dog park. While he ran wildly, I stared directly into the sun.

My daily schedule shortened to one goal: shower before Josh returns from work, appear to function, go to the beach with Josh and pretend to be a normal human being.

And then, Greenpeace called! Before applying I had checked to make sure that they only canvassed in public places, and as they did, I applied. Expecting it would be a similar to CalPrig I figured landing the job would be a given.

I repeated my emotionally charged rant about the environmental concerns in West Virginia. I was scheduled for what I now knew would be a cattle call interview.This time I wore a maxi skirt and sandals.

Curiously, the Greenpeace office was only two blocks from the Calprig office. I arrived early, as I tended to do, but this time only by fifteen minutes. There was another contestant already waiting, in a formal suit, with blazer. He was sweating profusely.

The stocky man who answered the door sported an unkept beard and tangled curly hair. His worn Greenpeace t-shirt had a hole near the bottom, and he wore tattered cargo shorts. This was the interviewer. Expected.

Our next contestant was a middle aged man who appeared clean, and more professional, until he asked our interviewer if he could “dip out” for some “snacks and coffee” while the rest of us finished our paper work.

Our interviewer, Adam, looked taken aback, “Uh, yeah man, just be sure to be here at 2:30,”

Adam disappeared into a back office and I took this time to liberally show myself around the broad room. There was a bulletin board of the top canvassers, which I noted were exclusively male. There were more radical environmental posters of animals and trash, like the last office, but some of them had been altered to include mustaches and bombs. It was casually unclean, crumbs left on desks and chairs that weren’t quite unbroken. A sliding glass door had drawn on depictions of cash money symbols and stick figures depositing it at the bank. There were trophies. It appeared to be a frat house for the environment.

The man returned at 2:35 with a Starbucks lunch and a large coffee. He noisily unwrapped his sandwich as Adam began,

“I assume if you’re in this room you want to work with Greenpeace. I’m here to figure out if Greenpeace wants to work with you,”

Having been an active member of a sorority in college I internally noted that this was not a recruitment angle we would have ran with.

“So, let’s talk about Greenpeace and what it means to work here.” He asked open ended questions, in efforts to solicit answers from his audience of three.

Middle aged man and collegiate in suit actively participated. I contributed that Greenpeace was founded in 1972 and returned to inspecting the room from my seat while Adam rattled off facts. I had read all of this information online this morning.

“So does anyone know why Greenpeace doesn’t accept corporate contributions? Why we don’t accept government funding? Why we never will? BECAUSE IF WE HAVE THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS IN OUR BACK POCKET HOW WILL WE GET ANYTHING FUCKING DONE?,” I snapped to attention. Adam was bobbing his head and sending his tangled curls into a fury,” WE HAVE SOME GODDAMN INTEGRITY. So, NO, WE DO NOT AND WE WILL NOT ACCEPT THEIR DIRTY MONEY!”

I tried really hard not to laugh, and stifled a smile as I turned my head into my shoulder. Duuuuuuuuude. He toned it down,

“We are independent, and you know what, we’re winning! We are winning every day, every year, and if that’s what you’re about then, welcome.”

Case closed, this was a fraternity.

I immediately thought of my email address, natasha.winning@gmail, and considered making a joke about the correlation. Much like Charlie Sheen, and Greenpeace, apparently, I am about winning!

At this point a troop of young men in baggy athletic shorts and flat brimmed hats entered the room and high fived Adam as they headed into the back office. A lone girl trotted in behind them and skirted onto the balcony to smoke a cigarette.

He explained the stipulation that we had to make a certain amount of money within three days to stay, and that after that we could only miss the goal one week, a “warning week”, and on the second occasion we would be let go. During the first three days you were paid ten dollars an hour, and after that it fluxuated based on commission. Finally he said,

“I need everyone to take turns signing up on the computer, it’s real quick. The page is already loaded. We just need your contact information in the system for W2s and whatnot. Then I’ll call you back individually.”

A girl entered the room, frazzled, “Hi, sorry I’m a little late. Is this Greenpeace,” she pointed, “Adam?”

Adam turned emphatically to the clock behind him, “We started forty-five minutes ago.”

The girl smiled, “Yeah my ride took forever,” she dumped an armful of folders and bent papers onto the table, “So sorry,” a cloud of patchouli aroma swept toward me.

Adam stared at her quizzically, then handed her the paperwork and took collegiate-in-suit guy into the back room.

In about ten minutes it was my turn. I sat in the computer chair and rolled forward,

“Why Greenpeace?”

I talked about West Virginia, again. Despite having no experience advocating for the environment, I had a personal connection, I cared now more than ever, yadda yadda.

He asked me to convince him to donate money to my cause.

I said something along the lines of, “Most people cannot relate to West Virginia. Most people don’t even realize it is it’s own state. Yet what is happening to West Virginians is still important for everyone. Loose regulations allow corporate interests to ravage the environment and jeopardize the people over and over again. Americans have drinking water that smells like black licorice, is filled with MCHM, and no one knows what the consequences could be. The company responsible easily changes hands and their name and goes back to business as usual…It’s like nothing has changed since Erin Brockovitch, and how long ago was that? We need legislation… and we need money to do so. Today. Because this will happen again and it could happen here.”

He nodded,”I’d give you money,” he said, “but I’m an easy sell,” he asked if I could handle the sales pressure? I assured him I could.

I wanted to point out the fratty culture. I was an angel for a fraternity in college. Do you guys do chants? I’m really good at chants. I wanted to boast that I can drink a handle, once had a really good night of competitive flip cup, and make lots of jokes. I’m generally good for morale, just put me in, Coach.

But I didn’t say any of this. That would have been ridiculous.

As I went to exit my chair followed me, my skirt had rolled into the wheel and stuck. I yanked the turquoise fabric violently, hoping to jar it loose, but the chair nearly overturned. Adam knelt down and unspun my skirt from the wheel, then shook my hand good-naturedly, “We’ll let everyone know this week! Thanks, Natasha!”

“Thank you!”

 

 

I didn’t hear anything.

I was bitter. And I’ll probably never donate to Greenpeace because I’m poor, and because I hold grudges, and I really needed an out and the screaming hobbit man said no.

That weekend I was brooding, and Josh took me to the beach. We swam for hours and had a picnic dinner overlooking the water. We bought cheap wine and got drunk at the house and made up stories about our pets and watched ridiculous eighties movies. We listened to Warpaint and made up interpretive trance dances. I laughed all weekend, but on Monday I was alone again.

I hated Mondays more now that I ever had while I worked full time.

I continued to apply for jobs. I applied to everything. Literally. I trolled job boards and Craig’s List and newspapers. I took long winded and confusing assessments for big corporations and emailed my resumé to vague personal assistant postings. I cried hot and hateful tears while repeating through clenched teeth,  I have a fucking degree goddammit, which became a bitter mantra of sorts.

An organization called “Save the Children” called to schedule an interview. I honestly don’t remember applying for this, as it sounds like a satire of a charitable organization, like George Costanza’s The Human Fund, and initially I didn’t believe they were real. The hot California sun was streaming in through our metallic silver blinds, illuminating the dust and pet hair throughout our ultra modern apartment. Was any of this real? “Save the Children” obviously had to be an ironic play on my career thus far, and yet I was having this conversation,

“Hi! My name is Julie and I was just reviewing your resumé and thought you might be a good fit for Save the Children! We are holding open interviewing tomorrow and would like to invite you to come on down. The dress is casual and comfortable, as we’ll be playing games, kind of watching how you interact and respond. It should be a really fun time.”

The address was in the same neighborhood as CalPrig and Greenpeace. They paid twelve dollars an hour, and you could make your own schedule. They worked in pairs in public places. I was assured that there was a lot of upward mobility, that everyone started out canvassing malls.

“Sure, sounds good, I’ll see you there!”

I related the information to Joshua, “The part that I can’t accept is the playing games together at the interview and that she specifically said they would be watching how I respond and interact. It’s like a weird psych experiment. Are we playing scattergories? Are we playing kickball? I can’t go through this weird cattle call sideshow experience again. If I go and parade around like a textbook extrovert and still don’t get the job I’ll hurt myself, I really will. Save the Children doesn’t even sound like a real thing. It’s ridiculous.”

“It’s completely up to you, but you’re not allowed to hurt yourself,” Josh looked at me sternly, and held his hands up in the peace sign.

The next day I got dressed, wearing jeans and a t-shirt and tried to pump myself up to a confident, extroverted head space for my interview performance, but ultimately couldn’t go through with it. I didn’t even show up.

A few days later we ran into two women wearing bright red SAVE THE CHILDREN t-shirts at the mall. I watched in abject horror as one of them cornered Joshua outside of Game Stop. She showed him a map of the world and instructed him to pick a country. He chose the USA, and she launched into a rally cry to end childhood diabetes, explaining his money would go to after-school programs that promoted an active lifestyle and nutritional education and, randomly, children’s books. Once we talked the woman out of her pitch she explained that she used to work for a tow truck company and this job made her feel like she was paying off that bad karma, but she usually couldn’t get people to donate and was worried about being unemployed soon.

We continued on to the movies and I felt ok about my choices. Bumrushing people in public was not a good fit.

 

MidJuly I got a call for a Mental Health Counselor position at a nonprofit. An appropriate job had responded! The man on the other end of the phone had a heavy African accent, and initially, I was quite impatient,

“What? Who is this?” I repeated, thinking this was a collection agent trying to trick me into paying for my student loans or my miscellaneous Urgent Care copays of yesteryear,

“This is ____ _______ Youth Centa, is this Natasha Fostar? We want to interview yuh for tha mental health counselar position” he repeated.

Finally, we worked out an interview time. I felt confident, knowing that this was something my past work experience was at least appropriate for, and I had a clear notion of what to expect. Unfortunately, from the information I gathered this job sounded more similar to the violent residential treatment center I had worked at in Pittsburgh rather than the fascinating inpatient setting I had worked at in Baltimore. Still, this was relevant work. Surely, the storm was over now.

(to be continued)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.U.I.C.E. part 2

Once inside the store we had to leave our purses on the table in the break room. We weren’t allowed to use the lockers. Seems safe, right? Hester wasn’t concerned. Probably because she had a hideous and cheap tote, but I had brought my Lucky brand bag that cost a pretty penny. Hester also wore chain mail jewelry, so practicality was clearly important to her. There was metal wrapped around her wrists and through her ears. She revealed that it was because she used to me a welder’s wench at a Renaissance fair. Therefore, she wore chain mail with her pants suit. Sure, why not?

Hester stayed with me for the first few people I approached, things went well, so she made some encouraging remarks and set me loose with a few guidelines. “Don’t approach anyone exiting or entering the store, on a cell phone, or near cabinets.” Hmm? Yes, if you’re selling cabinets you cannot be in the cabinet department. Makes sense. “Oh and, talk to as many people as you can! More is more! JUICE!”

Let the games begin!

I set out. Initially I just bum rushed people, I found that if you walk up to someone with a big smile on your face and keep everything conversational they respond well. Well as in they’ll talk to you, not that they’ll necessarily pick up what you’re throwing down. Women were much more prone to cut me off mid-sentence. After about thirty minutes Hester appeared beside me, “Hi, how’s it going?”

“Fine.”

“Just fine?”

“Yep,” was I supposed to have sold this stuff already?

“Say, ‘Great’. A positive attitude is important.”

“Ok. I’m great.”

She high-fived me.

I noticed her watching me from the end of aisles. The rattle of her chain mail clinking as the darted in and out of my vision. About every thirty minutes she’d ask how I was doing, repeat the Juice mantra, and force a high five. If I answered with anything less than “Fantastic” I was scolded. This behavior upped the stakes as my new game plan was to talk to as many people as possible and run away from Hester. The home improvement store had a fairly straight-forward layout, so in efforts to lose Hester I had to adopt a very erratic flight pattern. I was also about a foot taller than her so my longer stride aided as well.

At 3 o’clock she caught me and said it was time for lunch. I had originally intended to hide in my car for lunch, but since driving my own vehicle like a grown-up was a privilege denied me I had to eat lunch with Hester. That consisted of a granola bar. I checked the contents of my purse, everything was still there. Sweet relief! I checked my phone, I had several text messages from friends which made me laugh.

“What’s so funny?”

“Just something on my phone.”

“Well, I can see that.”

So… I’m not allowed to drive my car, look at my phone, or have unsupervised lunch breaks? I put my phone back in my purse. This wasn’t going to work out for me, I was already losing patience with my supervisor.

Hester pulled out some more materials and lectured me while I finished my granola bar. It was the yummy crumbly kind that came with two, so it took about fifteen minutes. As soon as I threw away the wrapper she announced it was time to get back to work. Leads generally come in the most at the end of our day! JUICE!

I immediately resumed my game of cat and mouse with Hester. I could not handle having to tell her I was “Great” instead of “fine” or “ok” one more time. I talked to some interesting people, sometimes more than once. I had to keep track of my numbers, and I talked to two-hundred people that day. After that long I admit I couldn’t decipher based on face alone if I had already had a conversation with them. I started keeping track of people based on their shoes.

On the forty minute car ride back to the office Hester prepared me for evening atmosphere. Unlike morning atmosphere, I was to expect one on one time with Ogre Boss Man. The whole evening meeting wouldn’t take more than thirty minutes. She reminded me to turn everything into a positive. I hadn’t gotten any leads today, but I had gotten five people to the phones to schedule their lead, etc. Hester’s theory was that I was too nice and needed to work on a sense of urgency, to really make them believe this was a limited time offer. The thing is though, most people I spoke with recognized the pitch and said they get approached by a different person every time they come in the store. Sometimes Hester had already approached them moments before. If anyone had told me I’d have to share a store with other people peddling the same stuff I would have never even attempted this gig.

By the time I walked out of the building it was 8:15 and I still had a forty-five minute drive home. I still had to get up at 5am the next morning to return for morning atmosphere. I maintain that, in theory, I still think I could be successful in sales. I looked forward to being able to travel, but not when I’d be bunking with a small woman in chain-mail barking “JOIN US IN CREATING EXCITEMENT” every few minutes.  Needless to say, it was no time at all before I found myself back on the interviewing circuit.

I will never high five anyone again.

So profesh, days 2 & 3

Not having a job is EXHAUSTING! Yesterday I had my second round interview for the marketing gig. Then I had an interview at a staffing agency downtown for administrative assistant sort of work. We had a practice interview. She gave me a typing test. She concluded I had “great personality”, which was interesting because I thought she needed help in that department. At one point she started talking about how she wanted big dogs because the way she likes to play she would break a small dog… Awkward. What in the hell are you doing? I’m tempted to flag her with the human society. Anyway, animal molester said I needed to put that I can type 70+wpm on my resume because that is “such an asset”! The woman then critiqued my resume and gave me tips on how to make it as promising as I was in person, which I found amusing because I generally think I’m much better on paper than in person. Yadda yadda she has EXCITING prospects for me, which translates to she has access to interviews for clerical office work I would find dull, mind-numbing, and generally soul-sucking but anything for a paycheck! I promised to be in touch.

As I was leaving the building I got to walk through our very own knock-off OCCUPY WALLSTREET tent city. It was so bitterly cold I couldn’t help but wonder if there was anything on earth I cared about enough to inspire me to sleep outside during a yankee winter by choice for an extended period of time. I discovered, nothing would motivate me to make such a commitment. I am a shallow person. It was a disappointing realization.

When I finally reached the parking lot where I had safely stowed my vehicle I was so cold I was uncontrollably shivering. I was also required to pay $25.00 for an hour of parking even though the sign I was lured in by said $8.00. That was just for the twenty minutes, apparently. As if the robbery wasn’t enough, the ancient machine available to pay with a credit card (because seriously, who carries that much cash around!) was set up like a rubix cube. Once I coaxed the contraption into a receipt I hopped into my car and headed toward the exit. The attendant’s window was closed, and he was chatting on his phone with great animation. I inched closer to the gate, no response from man or pole. The window remained closed. I inched backward and glared, he finally opened the window. Turns out I don’t need a receipt to leave, I need the ticket still in the machine, and no, he wouldn’t just open the gate based on my receipt. I had to repark, expose my vulnerable frozen self to the whipping winds all over again, and come back. The gate still didn’t open. I still had to wait for him to open his window and choose to open the gate after he looked at my ticket. He found my frustration delightful, and was smirking the entire time. I wanted to shank the gleefulness right out of him. I wanted to scream YOU SIT ON A THRONE OF CORRUPTION AND ARBITRARY GAMES, PARKING MAN, but I just drove away.

Then, much to my surprise, I was called for a third round over-the-phone interview from the marketing place with the mean-girl receptionists! I dazzled them yet again with my sparkling trickery and have actually schemed my way into employment once again! Horray! EMPLOYED!

Now, despite this joyous news I still intended to go to the interview I had set up for this morning to babysit old people. We all know I really like the oldies, so I wanted to explore this option still. I slept in til 8:00 am. Unemployment is so much fun! Fully reassembled in my disguise I headed to starbucks for my coffee fix when my phone rang at 10:05,

“Hello?”

“Natasha? This is ‘Mark’, from _____ _______ Care.”

“Hi Mark!” I had no idea why he was calling. our interview was scheduled for 11am.

“Hi. Are you on your way?”

“Mmm, I understood our interview was at 11am at Panera.” Since the business was based entirely in people’s homes, he had earlier explained that he had a home office and preferred to meet people at Panera. Fair enough. I glanced at my notes from the phone call to double-check myself. I had been taking detailed accounts of everyone I spoke with, precisely to avoid this situation.

“I had 10 o’clock. Perhaps it was my mistake. I’m here now.” Although, his tone indicated he clearly didn’t think this was his mistake.

“I could be there by 10:30 if that’s alright?” I still needed to make copies of my information, per his request, and get to the neighboring town where he had instructed we meet.

“Fine. See you soon.” Click.

How odd, I thought to myself, as I rushed through my tasks and arrived at Panera at 10:25am; giving myself a pat on the back for being so swift. I glanced around and didn’t see anyone who struck me as the disorganized head of a senior care organization. I called him back,

“Hi Mark! It’s Natasha, I just walked in to Panera. I’m wearing a green shirt, if you can see me!”

“I’m wearing a white shirt and I’m sitting by the door. I don’t see you.”

“Well, I’m also wearing black pants and… are you in a booth?”

“No, I’m not. Which Panera are you at?”

This is where our conversation rapidly deteriorated.

“The one off of Route ## by Wal-Mart in ‘neighboring town‘.”

“NO! I am at the Panera in ‘Timbuktu‘!”

“I’m not familiar with that location…” I had absolutely no idea where he was, furthermore, I was pretty put off by the fact he had just shouted at me when it was becoming glaringly clear who had recorded details of our prior conversation and who had not. He began to bark directions to me, indicating what roads I needed to take, and sealed the deal with,

“You have twenty minutes to correct this. You’ll need to be here by 10:45.”

Now, dear friends, our arrangement was to meet at 11:00 at the Panera where I was currently standing. I had confirmed the address with him during our first conversation, which I remember doing vividly because I am not from this area and was concerned because there are about a thousand Paneras in the greater metropolitan area. Now, this man was being rude and giving me a time constraint which was 15 minutes earlier than the time we had originally agreed upon? No thank you!

“Actually, I don’t think I’ll be able to make it.” I started, all interest in meeting this man and signing up to be employed by him rapidly draining away.

“WHAT? And WHY is that? You know I can’t imagine why you people do this. You don’t have jobs and I set up these meetings and then you don’t show up and YOU WASTE MY TIME! You’re not the first one, and I want to know WHY?!” Before he had been shouting, now he was bellowing.

“Well,I found it very unprofessional that we agreed to meet here at 11:00 and you started calling me at 10:00 from somewhere else,” I began, having completely lost my patience. I put up with enough crazy shit from crazy people in my personal life, there is no room for bafoonery from my potential boss.

“DON’T MAKE EXCUSES! I TOLD YOU THIS PLACE, IT’S EVEN CLOSER TO ______ ,WHERE YOU LIVE!”

“Actually, that’s not where I told you I lived,” nor was it listed as my residence on my resume, “Secondly, I am not unemployed,” technically, I am still being paid from my job I was laid off from for a short time on top of my new offer, “I have employment offers.”

“THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE CANCELLED THIS INTERVIEW.”

“I did not cancel this interview because I was still interested in this position and was actually really hoping to become involved with your company. However, after the level of unprofessionalism and disorganization I have been introduced to thus far I am no longer interested AT ALL.”

“YOU LISTEN TO ME,”

“LASTLY,” I continued, “I will not be spoken to this way. Good luck finding people who will.” and I hung up. Immediately, I realized this complete disaster of a telephone conversation had transpired in the entryway of a very crowded Panera.

Awkward.

I normally don’t look even remotely like this. WITCHCRAFT!

Furious and indignant I sped to the marketing company to fill out my new hire paperwork and field congratulatory remarks about how many other candidates I triumphed over! This is the kind of job that will be temporary and only marginally lucrative if I suck at it, but really awesome, profitable and long-term if I can pull it off. Let’s hope I can keep my cranky court jester personality under wraps and resist the urge to share humiliating antecdotes about my life! I’m really hoping I can keep the ruse going for some time! :)

So profesh, day one.

Yesterday I was told it would be my last day at work. I knew it would be sometime in January, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so immediate. Oh well. Caio!

Today I had an interview with a marketing company! It would be about a 45minute commute which would suck, but whatevs. I’m in no position to be choosy. I dressed up in my “young professional” disguise and drove on over. The reception desk was surrounded by women who would best be described as “mean girls”. Very pretty, “put-together”, but with that snotty scowl that indicates they are mean. Commonly referred to as “bitch face syndrome”. Just to prove my assumptions they began criticizing someone’s facebook picture and their new boyfriend. I did not let them phase me. I was in my disguise.

I filled out my paper work and watched, I kid you not, as several Coach bags were delivered to the cluster of mean girls and they opened them gleefully, smelling the new leather, stroking the finely crafted workmanship. I would love a Coach purse too, but it was becoming apparent these were not my people.

Anywho, with my costume and altered personality I landed a second interview for tomorrow morning! Holla! I also have an interview in the afternoon downtown and another set up for Friday. The one on Friday is for a job that pays the least, but I would babysit old people. That’s the one I really want. I kind of picture it as somewhere between “Driving Ms. Daisy” and “Tuesdays with Moorie”. Day one of unemployment is definitely a step in the right direction. I didn’t wear a bathrobe and watch Maury AT ALL! though I was very tempted.

Wish me luck internet friends!