Monday, July 10, 2017

Easy as Falling In a Hole

You've likely heard the sayings "easy as pie" and "easy as falling off a log". Whoever coined the phrase "easy as pie" never made a pie. It's not very easy to make a pie, especially if you make your own crust, which I do. Falling off a log is fairly easy, though not always pleasant. A few days ago, I heard the phrase "easy as falling in a hole". Maybe this was a misquote, but I like it, and found relevance in the thought.

Most of my working life has been spent in customer service. I started working at the tender age of eight years old as a babysitter for my own sister and for neighbors. My qualifications? I was a child myself, and thus able to relate to children. File this under "what were the adults thinking?". With the benefit of hindsight, I judge that I was too young to be employed in the childcare industry. I continued my highly unregulated childcare business up through my teens on top of school, speech & debate, theatre and other part-time jobs simultaneously.

At age fifteen I landed my first legitimate job at Arby's for a summer. My mom thought that I could walk the 1.5 miles from my house in the Texas summer heat to this job at Arby's. A neighbor's mom was horrified at the thought of me walking, and secretly gave me rides to and from my job when my own parents couldn't/wouldn't. Thank you, Mrs. Blackwood. I owe you.

For my next legitimate job I toiled as a home fashions department salesperson at Mervyn's located in an unfashionable strip mall on the edge of town. My mom maxed out my Mervyn's credit card, and I got called on the carpet to explain that to my manager. Otherwise I maintained good employment standing for about a year.

At age seventeen I decided my destiny awaited in bigger and seemingly better employment at the glamorous shopping mall in the middle of town. I worked at Margo's ladies' fashion store for over five years, on and off. The district manager trusted me to train many of the store managers and new employees, because technically I had the most seniority. I enjoyed working at Margo's during winter holiday breaks and summer breaks from college.

As a college freshman I got a job at the University of Texas Alumni Fundraising Call Center.  I didn't stick to the script for fundraising calls, because it sounded stilted and unnatural. I got reprimanded for not sticking to the script, but then I was THE top performer raising over $25,000 in alumni donations. I got to meet the University President who personally thanked me for being such a bad-ass fundraiser. (My term, not his.)

While back in Plano the summer after my freshman year of college I worked at Camp TV in downtown Dallas as a video editor and office underling. I felt very grown up working full-time downtown, until I was in a hit and run car accident on the way to work one morning. (To clarify, another car broadsided my car and kept going.) My dad was so mad about the wreck, he threatened to not allow me to return to college in the fall. A whole terrible ordeal ensued. I paid nearly every penny I made that summer to get that stupid car repaired. My dad refused to claim the wreck on our insurance for the repairs, convinced that I was at fault.

Mercifully, I secured a job as a Resident Assistant for my sophomore and junior years at University of Texas at Austin. This enabled me to (somewhat) rationally explain to my dad that with or without his permission, I found a way to pay for my room and board at school. I also scraped together just enough money for tuition to return to school. Being a Resident Assistant was the toughest job I ever loved. Residence hall life provided an amazing sense of community. In retrospect, I wish I'd stayed in the dorms as a senior in college, but I thought I wanted to live off campus in an apartment my senior year. Live and learn.

I worked as a cashier at Breed & Co. during the fall semester my senior year of college. I worked as a salesperson at Toy Joy during the spring semester my senior year of college. I also worked as a Residence Hall Receptionist at University of Texas both semesters my senior year of college. Yes, simultaneously while working at Breed & Co. and Toy Joy, interning at a radio station and finishing my senior year of course work. When did I sleep? Seriously.

Right out of college I got a six-month temporary job with way low pay doing fundraising for a non-profit collective. I was quite the shiny, happy do-gooder.

Through an acquaintance at the non-profit, I found my next job as an Assistant Manager at a high-end store that shall not be named. My eighteen month tenure there came to an abrupt end when I uttered the phrase, "I resign effective immediately", rather than stay at a hostile work environment one moment longer. One of the owners felt bad about the situation, and found every minute of unused vacation time, sick time and overtime that they could to pay me a big parting check. The other owner lied and told my next employer that they fired me. Classy.

For like ten seconds I worked as an SEC-licensed Service Representative at a mutual fund company. Worst job fit ever for me. I'm so bored by other people's theoretical money and by investment income tax laws.

Fresh off that disaster, I landed a job as a Junior Graphic Designer and Copywriter at an insurance company in the marketing & advertising department. Also a bad cultural fit for me, I slogged away here for two years before resigning. The final moment that sent me running was when a claims adjuster proudly announced, "We won that brain-damaged baby case! They didn't get a dime." Disgusting. Bye, Jerks.

What did I do next? I decided I needed an easy job where I felt comfortable. I fell into that old familiar employment space of retail doing sales & visual displays at Old Navy for one holiday season. There was so much fleece. So. Much. Fleece.

Still a young go-getter, I nailed a job interview for the supporting role of Marketing Assistant at Zachary Scott Theatre. The wages were dramatically low. I eventually figured out that I wanted to be on the stage, not writing the press releases and assembling the press packets. I lasted one frustrating year.

I rose to Assistant Manager at J.Crew while also working at Dougherty Arts School in various roles. I didn't sleep much or socialize much during those two years.

Right about the time I started doing paid acting work on a regular basis, I also started working at Furry Godmothers as an insured and bonded, mobile veterinary technician and petsitter. Pros: petting cute animals for money, walking dogs all over Austin including some very chic neighborhoods, writing humorous and informative pet care journals during each visit, a somewhat flexible schedule that allowed time for also doing theatre. Cons: poop, insulin shots, subcutaneous fluids, tube feedings, working EVERY holiday, sometimes starting my day at 6:00 AM and not ending until 10:00 PM. I quit after two and a half years, because I needed time to grieve my dad's sudden death. This also coincided with way too much time spent in New York City for Chad's work and a job offer to move there.

I spent several years as a serious actress with a talent agent and everything. Résumé available upon request. I wrote a separate blog for this at sometimeactress.blogspot.com

While still going on auditions and occasionally getting acting work, I started as a volunteer at a pet rescue non-profit. After a year of volunteering, I scored a (barely) paid job as an Adoption Center Co-manager. I cared too much. I got too stressed. I burned out in a white-hot flame of significant weight-loss, hives and hemorrhoids. Cute, huh?

As soon as my stress-induced hives and hemorrhoids healed, I fell back into retail as a Home Stylist and Visuals Associate at a hip furniture store for two and a half years. My (mostly) delightful coworkers kept me there longer than I could have endured without them.

With only two days off between jobs I began my next post as a Supervisor and Visuals Coordinator at a decidedly not hip men's clothing store. I made a bad decision in taking that job, but I had bills to help pay. When an unexpected financial windfall happened, I happily resigned that job.

I have thoroughly enjoyed being unemployed for the past two years. I've been busy with some acting gigs, maintaining my trophy-wife status and being the neighborhood crazy-cat-lady. But... I'm getting kind of bored and restless. I want to work again, to feel relevant, to have some kind of social connection with humans.

With my work history, it's no surprise all of the inquiries I get on linkedin.com are for retail and customer service jobs. It's as easy as falling in a hole for me to land a customer service job. But then I'm stuck in that hole. I no longer enjoy being in that hole. It's dark down there. There are some unpleasant creepy-crawlies down there. It's difficult to climb out of there. The schedule is unpredictable down there. The pay is cruddy down there. Customers/clients are not always nice down there. When I begin to look for my next work or volunteer project, I will be very wary of holes in my pathway.

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