Foreplay: Alright, this is sort of a cheating, masturbatory post but I'm just so infinitely giddy right now -- a complete 180 from where I began. I was pretty damn depressed after college when I found myself jobless and living at home.
I was an overachiever all throughout my academic years. I started working when I was 16 -- landing an amazing paid internship with one of the biggest record companies in America. From there on I continued to intern and work with renowned companies -- a huge film studio, a respected newspaper, a prestigious film academy. However, it never really got me anywhere that I wanted to be.
After college, I floundered for a few months before moving out of my parents' house and going to work for what I thought was a company that aided indie filmmakers. In fact, it turned out to be an elaborate marketing scam. My boss skipping town and paying me in cash prompted me to quit within 3 months with no real Plan B.
While applying for at least 50 jobs a week, I ended up slaving away as a seasonal in retail -- the seventh circle of Hell that I never thought I'd return to after college.
The Down and Dirty: Back in November, I was chaperoning my 16 year old cousin to a JRock concert on the Sunset Strip. I just came from retail work, my feet were killing me, and all I wanted was a stiff drink but I had the whole role model thing going against me. After battling it out in the pit for 3 ear-bleeding songs, I headed up to the balcony for a less sweaty view.
While there, a tall stranger struck up a conversation with me. I mentioned an intense interest in film and made a reference to Skinny Puppy. He worked at a film company and loved industrial music -- the rest is history. Pfft, I wish.
He invited me to come in and work as a PA for his company. I slaved away for 2 days -- I mean real nose-to-the-grind-until-it's-bloody-cartilage. I worked 14 hours straight one day without a meal or break and had to cancel plans with a dear friend who was leaving town. But thereafter, they offered me a part time office bitch position that I jumped for.
I've been in that office bitch position since January and am pretty content. I go out of my way to be nice and take everything in stride. I smile even when I don't feel like it and so much as to say good morning to the festering pile of flesh also known as the IT guy (think Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons, and then stick half a dozen sandpaper enemas up his rectum; he's a real ray of sunshine). I offer my assistance anywhere it's needed and always with graciousness.
But last week the V.P. asked me to step into her office. She's small in stature but enormous in clout. She asked what I wanted to do in my life and after my short story, she offered me a promotion -- and with it a full-time position at the company -- that would move me into a more creative arena. I am no longer going to be the office bitch but in fact will be the artist area bitch! Hells yeah!
The Afterglow: Lessons to take away from this experience:
- Unless he has a rape van off to the side and a roofie poised and ready to poison, it's perfectly fine to talk to strangers. Use common sense and street smarts. Don't follow him even if that trail of bite size Snickers looks mighty tempting.
- Your 20s are for paying dues. I feel like most people in my generation feel self-entitled to a 9-5 but in this economy, simply being employed is a privilege. Work hard, work often, don't whine (unless they're asking for your first born or something).
- Be kind. You have the rest of your career to be a jaded prick. Take this opportunity to stand out amongst your apathetic peers and do the job with a smile. And always ask for more work. Employers freakin' love taking advantage of naive indentured servants!
No matter how much I hated it, my stint in retail definitely motivated me to work hard because, hey, it could be worse. Sometimes you've got to go through Hell to appreciate what you have.