On Work and Then More Work, Industriously

You’re probably wondering why the once-a-weekday posts have slammed to a painful halt.

First, I’ve been trying to avoid getting political. Not that I’m one to bite my tongue (ever), but I’ve been particularly careful this election season. I’ve got a lot to say, and usually this would result in long-winded rants, but I’ve managed to keep a lot of it under wraps. Hopefully as we get closer to the election, I’ll find a modicum of courage to let the rants out and you’ll get some serious content.

Second, I started another job. I use the word “started” rather loosely, as I have returned to the location where I was first gainfully employed at the tender age of 16. Nights and weekends have become such a joyous time for me (not), as I schlep bits of my dignity along with every ounce of ice cream I come in contact with.

(Not that this is an undignified job, don’t get me wrong. It’s just that I thought I’d graduate from college and do one job and go from there. Instead, I’m entirely financially independent and employed, but simultaneously whining and stressed and it’s become a huge clusterfuck of professional responsibility and maturity and balancing. And Mr. Romney, if you’re curious, I do pay federal income tax, but since I’m in such a low tax bracket, I’m happily Rothing the shit out of my 401(k) – sort of. I contribute that maximum percentage of my wages that will be matched by my company in some form or another – in the hopes that some day I’ll be in a much higher tax bracket [I have some serious post-retirement goals that need funding. Custom claw-footed bathtubs don’t come cheap] and I’ll get to reap the benefits of the years I spent working my ass off to make ends meet. No handouts here. Not much sleep, either.)

I find that even though I care less, I’m working harder. I used to be intimidated by customers and their nasty attitudes toward service industry employees. Now, I’m sassier and not into taking any shit.  I’m polite, charming, and wonderful, but cross me and I swear…

When I was in college, I once got asked if I was literate. (You may find it surprising, but I am.) I frequently got called, “Sir.” Now, I’d laugh it off, but as an already self-conscious teenager, being mistaken for a member of the opposite sex was humiliating.

One of my favorite (favorite is too generous. most memorable, perhaps?) incidents occurred at the Highlands Ranch store. (For those of you not from Colorado, Highlands Ranch is exactly what it sounds like: an unnecessarily pretentious suburb full of money but lacking substance and character.) I had gotten over-zealous with the chocolate pump and chocolate syrup was splattered all over my shirt. A man approached the counter and said, “You look like a Jackson Pollock painting.” I glared. (I’m known for my glares. 90% of the time, they’re unintentional, but 100% of the time, they’re deadly.) “He’s an artist. You should look him up some time,” he drawled in that I’m-speaking-slower-than-normal-so-you’ll-understand-what-I’m-saying voice. He hung onto the word artist for a ridiculously long time. I glared more. To this day, I hate Jackson Pollock, chocolate syrup, and men. (Just kidding about the men part. Mostly.)

I hate the khaki pants, the visors, the ice cream freckles stuck to my arms, and the back aches. Whenever I’m leaning over, stretching my lower back and thinking about reaching for the ibuprofen, I’m always reminded of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimedin which she works in jobs much like this one.

I’m enjoying the ease of recognition, the way that my muscles remember how to make things, the way that my cones come out perfectly. I’m enjoying my co-workers – several of them are holdovers much like me from high school. We’re all out of college and working one or two or more jobs. Dairy Queen seems to be a comfortable reminder of where we came from and the hours are spent happily conversing and teasing. I’m also enjoying the unlimited access to chocolate ice cream Reese’s and banana Blizzards.

Now that I’m the most single I’ve been in three or more years (by choice), I was joking that between the car whose bumper is held together with duct tape and the Dairy Queen uniform, including the topping stains and my Dr. Scholl’s shoes, I am prime dating material. “God, I’ve missed working with you,” said one of my co-workers after I’d made the declaration of premium date-ability, followed with an exaggerated wink, which made me happy.

It’s funny, because I’ll find myself thinking about software databases while I’m blending Blizzards. Hopefully I don’t start having work dreams. I can only imagine how the nightmares will go. Ice cream monsters and SQL errors. Missed deadlines and expired milk.

I’m going to keep going as long as my body and mind can hold out. Here’s to finding inner strength, superior calendaring and task-juggling abilities, and the sass/positivity to get through each day without losing my mind. But mostly, here’s to the pursuit of that elusive, possibly non-existent American dream. Here’s to baby steps and forward progress. Here’s to looking back on these tumultuous years and patting myself on the back for dedication and determination. Here’s to finding the path and building a solid future. Here’s to hope, learning, and personal and professional growth.

If you’re in the mood for what I’m in the mood for today, click here. (That was not meant nearly as dirty as it sounded. The answer is Credence. It will make you feel good, I promise.)

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