Day Jobs

holding a sign at JFK airport

me holding a sign at JFK airport-one of many day jobs

After not getting any “appropriate” job offers, I started working at Starbucks. This job paid the bills and was a consistent source of material. But I was always sick, too tired to do late night mics, and every paycheck was a depressing reminder of just how little my sweat was worth. The constant noise, rude people, and the physical demands of the job were overwhelming. But more than the hours, the headaches, the AmEx black card people who didn’t make eye contact- I was bad at it. I left work after only 4 hours, ($36 before taxes) defeated by my own incompetence. I spent many afternoons not writing, but lying in bed reminding myself that ‘I am a unique and beautiful snowflake.’

I was bad at almost everything the job demanded. Could I please remember to ask people if they wanted a receipt?
No, I couldn’t. Could I please not spill hot coffee on children? No. Could you please arrive promptly for work, you only live 3 blocks away? No, impossible. Could you fill the rag bucket up with the right ratio of water to disinfectant? Nope. When someone orders a soy milk latte, could you please use the proper container? Uh, only if it’s already in my hand. Can you try harder? Clearly not.

Between comedy, my increasingly stressful “romantic” relationship, the don’t-judge-me-this-is-a-normal-part-of-the-transition-into-adulthood feelings all culminated in me quitting. I wish I could tell you I went out in a blaze of glory, that there was a statement of some kind made. But honestly this was one of my less proud, tail-tucked-firmly-between-legs, moment. For that, I am ashamed.

So now I scrape together a living with an odd assortment of jobs. SAT tutoring, “night monitoring,” I once held a sign at the airport for 13 hours while conference attendees flew in from different parts of the country. No day, or week, is ever the same. My income is unpredictable, but I seem to make ends meet. My goal is to add freelance writing, commercial acting, and paid comedy gigs to that list.

SAT tutoring is all my high school fears come true. I stand in front of a classroom of judgmental teenagers, re-teaching myself math I was never very good at to begin with. I perpetuate the myth that doing well on the SAT a) matters and b) results in some increased chance at being “happy” or “successful.” I don’t have the heart to let the children know it’s all a lie because I never liked killing Santa Claus. Plus, I only found out that doing well academically doesn’t automatically translate into professional success a few months ago. I found this realization- depressing.

“Night Monitoring” means that I sit in a hallway of a hotel when school groups come to NYC and prevent abduction, pregnancy, and property damage. It’s cheaper to pay me to sit there than take on the potential liability of a missing/impregnated child…

My jobs are all flexible enough that I’m able to go on tour. When I come back I’ll figure it out all over again.

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2 Responses to Day Jobs

  1. You sound caught between the intellectual understanding of the need to “Work to Live, not Live to Work” and the emotional need to be seen as ‘acceptable’ in society’s eyes. You’ve made the choice that is truest to you at this moment in your life — a brave and gutsy thing to do — and yet you keep wanting to hedge on it.

    Don’t. So you’re tutoring. Big deal. I’m guessing it’s something you’re very good at. Understanding the full concept of the math would be a bonus. For now, teach and be happy someone is paying you to do it.

    (My first class as a TA in college I challenged a room full of Radio-TV-Film-major freshman as to why they were there. “If you want to work in TV, why are you spending tons of money on college? There are plenty of small cable operations out there that would love to have you as an intern!” Oddly, I found that these students were not receptive to my version of The Truth. Instead, they were openly hostile to my arrogance in questioning their life choices and daring to tell them what to and not to do.)

    “Night Monitoring” can also be “writing time.” (paid writing time, in fact) Or “Not cleaning subway toilets for a living.” It’s really all in how you look at it.

    Speaking of which, yes, Kaytlin, you are “a unique and beautiful snowflake.” However, that and about five bucks will get you a cup of coffee. Say, at Starbucks.

    Yes you’ve chosen a different, more difficult path for yourself. It is, however, your path and one that deserves your full energy. For your next trick (“Nothing up my sleeve!”) you get to take yourself and your art seriously enough to emotionally believe all that you’ve intellectualized.

    (The issue of “Voice” deserves an entire post unto itself. I’ll wait to say anything on that subject until I read what you have to say about it.)

    Now go continue being wonderful.

  2. (It’s a pity the image isn’t linking properly. I’d love to see you holding a sign at an airport.) : )

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