Tag Archives: job

Misguided Ambition

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photo cred rebloggy.com

My dad drove us to San Antonio a couple days ago and we talked about…life. That’s kind of how me and my dad are—we either talk about ridiculous, trivial things like, I don’t know, “Decent Honey Mustard and Where To Buy It” OR super deep topics that stick with me forever like, “The Time A Man Died In My Arms.” We don’t have much of an in-between. Fart jokes or how mistakes can shape your future. The importance of washing your vehicle or the importance of family, friendship, and love.

So when careers and ambition came up, it started off as Dad casually listing every job he’s ever had (before, during, and after his 31 years in the Coast Guard). It was like a game—because the things he’s done are absurd. They sound like pure fiction. Movie-stuff.

Mowed lawns|Ranch laborer|Roofer|Tugboat oiler|Rode rodeo|Convenient store night manager|Seaman|Wrestler…yes, wrestler. I’ve seen the photos. Don’t tell him I wrote this, it’s supposed to be a family secret hahaha|EMT|Boat coxswain|Aviation structural mechanic|Search and rescue air crewman|Special agent|Chief warrant officer|Bailiff

Yeah, now you get it. Like, I’m sorry, what? How have you been all of those things? How have I never heard the word “coxswain” before? And how many people out there have had this many titles in one lifetime?

What I really started realizing though was—wow…Dad has done SO much in his life, traveled to SO many places, saved lives, earned awards—but his true happiness came from marrying my mom. Kind of crazy, right? To think that all those sappy cards, cheesy movies, and romance novels are *gasp* RIGHT about LOVE being the true purpose of life?! Ahhhhhh my life is a lie!

Except, oh yeah, that’s right, I’ve been a hopeless, disgusting romantic since maybe…second grade? I’ve always wanted the meet-cute, the traveling the world hand-in-hand, the poppin’ out babies…you know, that whole gross thing. When asked my CAREER AMBITIONS and LIFE GOALS I say things like, “I want to publish another novel and travel to a new country every year. Maybe get my PhD. Maybe teach college one day instead of high school.” And then in my head, I add, “Meet a lovely man and have a giant family and a really noisy house.”

My ambition has been a little misguided over the years. I think it’s a generational thing. Our parents had no problem stating their goals of settling down. They are content with “average lives” because that means love, family, friends—bliss. They have no qualms with “ordinary” or “mediocre.” This means happiness. Whereas my generation sees a conventional life as a failure—you’re not rich, you’re not famous, history books won’t talk about you, you’re not a household name, you didn’t shake the world? Oh, well then you’re a disappointment.

Everyone my age wants to be EVERYONE’s everything, instead of “settling” for being someone’s everything. It’s kind of sad. And it’s weird because we admit it, freely. I would LOVE for my novel to take off one day, landing me a publishing deal that I could skate on for a lifetime, sipping coffee by the beach and typing a few pages a day.

But do we really believe THAT’S what will lead to fulfillment? I think it’s far too easy to get caught up in that line of thinking—solely focusing on how to make your life more meaningful, exciting, memoir-worthy—constantly comparing yourself to “the average Joe.”

Having ambition is amazing—it shows confidence, it proves work-ethic, it displays creativity—it’s sexy. But if you let career ambition define you…and nothing else…what will you have when you’re wrinkly, sick…dying?

If all I ever have “to show for my life” (ugh, even that expression is a terrible tactic used to make people feel bad about…what exactly?) is a few students who thank me or a guy who digs my quirks and flaws or a kid who calls me Grandma and likes to read my old poetry notebooks, I’ll be pretty damn happy. That kid might be the last person to ever even remember my existence, but that’s OK, as long as I’ll be able to say that I did what I loved (I wrote, I taught, I traveled) and I loved who I wanted to love and they loved me back.

Teacher Rant

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It’d be so damn cool if teachers got the respect they deserve. Or the pay. Or the acknowledgement.

I have this dream that I’ll see all those wishes of mine granted in my lifetime. I know that people who make touchdowns and music videos and movies will still be earning over triple the amount of income and recognition, but I have faith that one day after I’m gone, that will change too.

I’ve tried to pinpoint in my three short years of teaching, what exactly it is that makes our job seem so easy and worthless. Most likely, it is the fact that we get summers “off”. I guess most people don’t realize that we are never really “off”…we are constantly planning, collecting, brainstorming- bettering our teaching and our classroom. Our kids follow us everywhere like nagging/loving little hairs flying across our face at all times. They are our motivation. And let me tell you, we are forced to be the most passionate and motivated profession out there- because we’re in the business of “failure is not an option” and “no child left behind” and “give me only your best”.

We are warriors of Potential and Effort and Rigor and Pride. We are champions of Respect and gladiators of Equality. We are artists because we “mold the minds of tomorrow”. We are absolutely, bona-fide crazy- but in a “you WILL find a book that you will enjoy” kind of way. Glorified babysitters? Sure, if a glorified babysitter can stomp the flames of bullying and teach a kid what onomatopoeia means all in half an hour.

I realize we don’t carry briefcases (if we did, they’d be filled with stickers and pencils- you’d be surprised how much a kid will write for a sticker/pencil prize). We don’t wear suits. We spend our entire day with mini adults. But if we had business cards, every millimeter would be filled with tiny text, listing our hundreds of roles and responsibilities. Or they’d just say Professional Badass.

If you think juggling 100 middle schoolers, all with their individual needs, is easy, I welcome you to come trade shoes for a while. Please don’t forget to modify for the language learners and special education kids, scaffold for the different levels, add in each type of learning style, give the kids choice but structured choice, stay on top of behavior management, make sure you utilize technology, keep cultural significance in mind, let them have individual, partner, and group time, and of course, they should be engaged, participating, and having FUN!
P.S. Plus, you have a department meeting, a professional development, a team meeting, a faculty meeting, a parent meeting, tutoring sessions, UIL practice, monitoring duty, a REED, an ARD, an SST, and an observation all in the next couple days.
P.P.S. You have 100 essays to grade.

Yeah.

Sorry to go all Mali on y’all.

Outlet Mall: Survivor

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People who have never worked in retail don’t realize how traumatizing it is. Or maybe they do? Because I’ve never been a waitress but I know how much that must suck. But that may also be because there are so many TV/movie characters that help me understand that kind of pain. There isn’t really anything like that for mall employees. I always used to tell my coworkers that I wanted to write a script and they’d all be famous one day—as my “made up” characters. Haven’t gotten around to that (add it to the list) BUT here’s a peek into how hilarious that TV show will one day be.

My first job was the summer after junior year in high school: Gap Outlet. Then I transferred to Old Navy Outlet (“sister companies”), where I worked through sophomore year of college. Finally, I worked at White House Black Market Outlet for the remainder of college. That’s about six years total that I spent slaving as a cashier/fashion consultant/therapist/custodian/professional liar/store manager/accountant/gossip queen/model. It was the best of times and the worst of times. More so the latter. Here’s what I learned:

  • If you ever work at a large outlet mall store, you WILL spend hours being trained on how to properly fold a t-shirt table. Talk about torture—that water drip thing has nothing on this. It’s a damn t-shirt, does the way it’s folded actually have anything to do with the rate at which it’s sold?! It does, actually. What’s worse is when you’re “assigned” to that table. As in, your job for that day is to literally stand by or near the table, folding. You fantasize about one of those buses from Mexico coming and buying the whole stock. You think seriously about spending your entire paycheck on t-shirts so that there will be less but then you remember the trucks that seem to drop off boxes of more t-shirts daily. You brainstorm t-shirt ideas of your own because if the shitty, overpriced pieces of cloth on your table can sell, so can your designs. Anyone can stamp a graphic of fruit on a 25 cent Hanes tee.
  • Customers are DIRTY. One day, after picking up a pair of white linen slacks that were left in the corner of a dressing room, I gasped in horror after realizing that there was blood in the crotch. What kind of disgusting person does that?! It’s sad that so many adults still need to watch those 5th grade menstrual cycle videos.
  • Stores are dirtier than customers. You think that top you bought is clean enough to wear before washing? It’s not. It’s been all over the dusty floor, where multiple types of bugs live. You know what else has been on the floor? Sweaty feet, boogers, spit, blood, and who knows what else. You think we intensely clean every night? Ha! We mainly just hide the dirt under fixtures.
  • When you work at a store for a certain amount of time, the clothing starts to appeal to you more and more. I blame this mostly on the employee discount, which the managers trick you into believing is SUCH a great deal. Your closet is soon taken over by your job. You begin to see that you are never NOT representing the store and you freak out and try to only wear other stuff but realize you have no other stuff and then you shrug and put on one of your ten black dresses (thanks a lot, WHBM). They still haunt me.
  • If you have zero acting/lying skills—do not work in retail. On a daily basis, you will have to tell a woman that she looks great when she looks hideous. You will have to put together outfits that you would never wear or recommend in a million years. You will have to squeeze fat rolls into a corset top and use every ounce of your strength and concentration to zip it up—and then say it fits fine. This prepared me for teaching.
  • I used to hide things that I wanted to buy later. People would stash stuff all over the damn store. You really find ways to be easily amused.
  • Anything a cashier says they can’t do—they can. A few clicks on the keyboard can save hundreds of bucks. Pretty powerful feeling. This also means you can mess up, easily. One day, that idiot will be you. Your drawer will be short and managers will look you up and down, deciding if it was really an honest mistake. Screw them. Do you know how much those corporate companies make per year? More than I’ll ever have in a lifetime.
  • Don’t crush on or date or hook up with a retail coworker. Wait, I think that goes for all jobs. Something about not pooping where you eat. It’s always disappointing and their clothes are just so predictable (you’ve put the exact outfit on a few mannequins).
  • Black Friday is called Black Friday because everyone should wear black to the stores because it is the funeral for all retail employees. Doors open at midnight, who the fuck thought of that?! You are not saving that much money, you crazy bitches! Go home and sleep off the turkey!
  • Be a good customer, please. Hang everything up correctly and ask whoever is helping you about their day (it’s the simple things, people). Don’t walk into a store ten minutes before closing and expect good service. Be courteous. Don’t leave makeup and deodorant on clothing.

 

I am beyond thrilled that I will never work in retail again—once you get out, it’s like you survived a tsunami and promptly moved inland. The money and boredom and bullshit is just…not at all worth it, unlike teaching, where I literally make almost the same amount but my job is super fulfilling. I will say, however, that those were also some of the most fun years. The people you meet are amazing. I have some pretty great memories from those stores. But absolutely none of that nostalgia comes from being a “fitting room specialist” and it sure as hell doesn’t come from folding.