Not In Kansas Anymore...

Click your heels, and see if home is where you hang your hat, or somewhere else inside yourself as this simple, postmodern girl takes on L.A.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

File Under: For Chrissakes, Let UP, Willl YOU?????

I got written up at work today-- yes, I got in trouble again!-- because of three complaints in a row in the last two weeks that I was rude to a customer. I was never rude to a customer. I just wasn't capitulating when :

  1. Customer A didn't have a Father's Day gift for his dad at 10:57 ( we close at 11) on the day before and wanted me to look something up. I pointedly looked at my watch, he begged, I said, POLITELY, "Sir, I really can't" and then a manager saw it, and apparently was upset I had boundaries. (She advised me to go above and beyond in the future and left it at that. I later found out that she disparaged me greatly in the managers daily communications log and was very pissed. Because of that, it was counted as a verbal warning. Never mind that she was sweet as pie about it on the spot and never said a thing to me about it being so offensive to her that I was in trouble! Farking beyotch!!)

  2. Customer B decided to grill/lecture me about why we didn't carry a particular version of the Bible regularly ( even though we carry many many versions, she only found 1 of her preference), since she "bought it for others often". I offered to order it for her whenever she needed one, since I wasn't able to assure her we would always have THAT one on hand, and when she said she "never knew in advance if she needed one, it just happened" (::eye roll::), I pointed out that we had several bibles that were quite servicable should we not have THAT one ( me, the Religious Studies major being quite sure of it). That wasn't good enough, and she was a offended for some reason by my suggestions. THEN she asked me the number to Borders. When I didn't know the number of our competitor (and didn't bend over backwards to give it her), she complained ( Verbal warning #2- at least Mal was clear about it).

  3. Customer C came in and asked for books on her summer reading list ( ALL HAIL the Summer Reading List! Kids from K-12 in there looking for all manner of stuff, some of which we managed to order early in anticipation; others, because the teachers didn't bother to submit a list to our Community Relations Dept., we are unprepared for. Good times!) After giving her one of the books, I told her without looking for the second that her classmate had been in before her shortly to purchase our last copy ( which I understood to be true. I'd helped him the day before!). She went and found someone else, and they managed to dig up the last remaing copy on the frickin' earth for her ( swear to GOD I don't know where he found it!), and her mom called and complained. Because god knows her baby might have been cheated out of the last copy of The Screwtape Letters. Please. I don't think her kid is going to make it through Animal Farm, (the other choice--all 150 pages of it!), by the looks of it. (Whatever. Don't get me started on Kids Today and how stupid and ignorant they are, and how Their Parents are worse. I had a 16 year old today ask me for a book of essays-- on HIS reading list-- by "Steffan King??" Me: No, *Stephen* King. Him: Are you sure? Me: YES. ::thinking to self: have you been living under a rock, or are you just functionally retarded?:: *Sigh* I know, I know--) I'm a bitch and I must be punished! And god help us if she might have had to go to another store ( And this was the straw that pushed them over the edge to write me up.)!!

I make $600 a month at this job ( about HALF of what I need to survive), no attempts of mine to get a second job have taken off, either. And now both of my knees are giving out; I felt a painful pull in my right one just like the one in the left when I bent down today ( I just finished with a visit from the podatrist for my "weak arches" and now I get to go to the orthopedist!! WOO HOO!) and I have just about had it with the bullshit for that much. I don't suffer fools or stupidity gladly, so I am definitely in the wrong place now, since I can't cashier anymore, AT ALL and am confined to the customer service desk all damned day.

Recently, I found this ad on craigslist:

And while money is tight, is it this tight? I gotta tell ya, it's tempting. Yeah, $30 an hour is looking pretty good at this point. I'm just afraid the customer would hear my cat in the background since he's quite demanding when I get on the phone, and I'm fairly sure that would ruin any groove the client had going. That and my cracking up totally would probably ruin the whole experience.

So along with being pissed off royally, and not knowing what to do, except pasting a smile on my face all day long and dealing with being watched almost unfairly closely by my supevisors, I am seriously frustrated. I have sent out numerous resumes and suchlike, to jobs I am actually qualified to do, and do well, and WANT to do. I was recently in a discussion where I was asked to focus on what kind of job I would like other than acting, to pay the bills. I thought for a long time, and while many options were available ( Jack thought I should be a CDAC- a Certified Drug and Alcohol Counselor, or some such similar; there was the option of a desk job, going back to the spas, trying to get a job closed captioning -- another Jack idea--, etc. etc.). I wanted to pick a job, I said, in response, that would help me feel like my life was moving forward on a secondary track , at least, towards SOMETHING I valued and desired. If it isn't moving forward in ONE way, I want to at least spend the time I'm trying to support that dream and myself moving towards other goals, too. It seems practical and logical, and SMART.

I ended up picking the place I would most like to end up if this whole Hollywood deal tanks: I want to work in museums, in art education. ( Eventually, I want to get my Ph.D and teach, but that's a whole life switch unto itself and there's no way to pursue that now and focus on acting too. It's too intensive and will require a major move across country, etc.) I was trained to DO it, I spent so many HOURS and HOURS and YEARS at the Saint Louis Art Museum. SIX years!! And two at another, smaller museum, consecutively, WHILE getting my degree. I have great references and excellent qualifaications, I KNOW what I'm doing!!!

And I can't get hired. :( Every time someone posts for a teaching position, I apply. I call. I follow up, and I sell it. And NOTHING. Why did I spend all that fucking time doing it and learning about every major art movement since prehistoric times and some minor ones? Why did I spend every available Friday night at boring openings and shows? Why did I look and care? Why was I there?

Some times I think it was all worth nothing. Really, I do feel like that. I have the best education in the world, I really worked and I really cared and I invested and I was passionate, and I not only had excellent teachers, classes and opportunities, I taught MYSELF more than was neccessary because I wanted to know. I wanted to strive. ( Ex: one of my most beloved teachers- I'll call him Kiwi, as he's from New Zealand--throws out references to authors and thinkers when he lectures like we, the undergrads at sophomore level would know. It's not because he tries to be superior, it's because he's on a roll in his head and he's tossing out stuff that applies to the topic, and bringing in all kinds of diverse ideas, and if we catch on, fine; if we don't and prefer to stay at the "gist of things" level, that's fine too. Well, I took it upon myself to look up every. Damned. Reference he made. Barthes. Ricoeur. Derrida. Just so I could see the whole picture. And I'm glad I did, even if it made for some seriously long reading lists, self-imposed.)

And I realize that it's value is in HOW it changed who I was/am so fundamentally and profundly, and I appreciate that, I do. But I'm talking about something else, here. The secondary function of education is to advance your career, or so I've heard. There's that sheepskin. There's that brilliant mind! (There's those student loans, oh yeah.). There's that experience! Tons of references! Thousands of work hours and endless all-nighters and working through sickness and ending up in the ER a week before graduation out of exhaustion and dehydration! There it IS!!!

Where has it gotten me? Who cares? I'm sitting here in my perfect apartment ( it's wicked cheap and huge and location, location,location) in Burbank, with a job for minimum wage I could have gotten IN college. ( I know, because people I went to school with worked at Big Bookseller STL while in school!). I could out-dance, out-research, out-write, out-teach those people who ARE in those positions I want, I guarantee it. I have people in major museums all across the country who would put THEIR reputation on the line to guarantee it. They would all say, "Jessica? She's a force of nature." "She really brings things down to the level that people need to understand art." "She has a unique and dedicated approach." It's all been said, and it's all true. In this I will not bother to be modest.

And here I sit. It was 104 today, and even in the air conditioned store, the heat was palpable. I worked my ass off helping people find books, answering questions, and 90% of them went away happy. The 10% that didn't? It puts my $8 an hour job in peril. I like my $8 an hour job, but it's not worth the stress. How is it worth that nonsense? It's only worth it because I NEED it so desperately to survive. THIS is my LIFE??

What ELSE do I do, Universe, to change it? I seriously want to know. DO I move out of LA and chuck it ( like it's gonna be easier somewhere else?) ? Do I suck it up and deal with the inevitable frustrations and hope that something better comes along? I'll tell you something, God, Goddess, Universe, WHOMEVER: my hope is worn out. Suzanne Vega once wrote her heart was "worn out at the knees/Hearing muffled/Seeing blind/Soon it will hit the deep freeze". That's my biggest fear: the jaded bitterness, the cynicism, the awful despair and detachment from actively dreaming and hoping and CARING-- about others, yourself, your destiny, your journey-- that THAT will set in. And I'm SICK of holding on and trying to change stuff, to make it all work.

I don't know what you want me to do. I'm about busted, so throw me a bone. Let up, okay? Just LET UP!!