The past, oh, almost decade and a half or so, give or take, I’ve been in a plethora of employment scenarios. I always worked part-time, pretty much ever since I was legally employable. I worked in retail as a young college student, in the “Home Fashions” department of a large store in the “big mall” of the area. Being eighteen/nineteen years old at the time, it was the most fun when customers would want my “expertise” on which crock pot, toaster oven, blender, or other small appliance they should purchase. Seeing as how I owned none of the afore-mentioned appliances, and usually ate microwavable masterpieces in my room or fast food while moseying to class, my “advice” usually consisted of my observational skills. “Well, this one has an extra slot,” or, “This one is much bigger; that means it’s going to take up more counter space.” The funny thing was, nobody seemed to notice that I had absolutely no idea how a convection oven even worked, nor did I ever attempt to learn anything about any of the finer points of small appliance differentiations; after all, I made minimum wage, no commission involved. They’d always leave happy; I’d always gratefully half-run back to the towel section and hide.
That first job “experience” always paves the way to getting a “better” job, which happened the next year, when I was hired at a local bank. What I didn’t know was that getting As my first two semesters would also lead to a better job; I was also hired as a tutor, teaching first-years who were struggling how to properly study. The problem with this job was that *I* never really studied; I never had to. I would usually read stuff, once (okay, I’d at least “skim,” skimming is almost just like reading, only much faster), and I’d “cram” the night before (sometimes), and I always ended up with decent grades. Above decent, usually. (Except Calculus. But, seriously, who needs Calculus? Lesson learned; never do your best on math aptitude tests before you start college (when you’re not pursuing a Math/Science degree), or they’ll put you in Calculus.) So, I had to google “study skills” to be able to teach these first-years how to study, because they were already doing what I did, and then some. I remember meeting with a flushed first-year who presented me with oh, about five hundred flash cards she had made up since the beginning of the year for her Psychology class. She still received a “D” on her first exam. Boggle. I’m happy to say she ended up with a “B” average, with lots of work; I mean, if I’d had to do that much work for one class, I wouldn’t have been able to work, and tutor, and take six to seven classes a semester. Tutoring really helped me appreciate my brain, although it’s gone downhill at a semi-alarming pace since I graduated in 2002; maybe it needs a tune-up.
In my final year of college, I started working in a field more relevant to my degrees (well, one of them; Psychology), and, after graduation, started working full-time there. Working full-time for the first time in my life was a huge transition, as were my living arrangements. I was living with my Dad back at home, yet working overnights, sleeping all day, getting up, and going to work (Dad and I worked opposite shifts and hardly ever saw each other). You step backward in independence in the living situation, and forward in the employment situation. It’s an odd thing, to sleep in the bedroom where you once played with Pound Puppies and Voltron, the room still adorned with rainbows, clouds, and a plethora of pink (I have no idea why I ever picked pink for my room; even as a kid I didn’t really like pink). Odd to not have the social life that college provided, yet not feeling like an “adult” either, because, well, you may be working full-time, but your bureaus have stickers on them, your shelves have stuffed animals, and your walls have posters of puppies.
So, I started looking for a place to live. That would be the key to being truly “jobbed” versus “semi-jobbed” and in college still. This would be the BIG step. I was eventually hired at a job where my degree was required; the first job I obtained with said degree, and my search for a home began in earnest. I also had brought home Fiona, my very first “grown-up” dog, well before I landed the “good” job, but I was, at least, full-time “jobbed” at the time. She was my graduation present to myself, and an adult responsibility to offset all of the weird child-ness associated with moving back home. I also acquired two kittens (pretty sure my Dad started looking for a house for me even harder than I was) from co-workers during that time. In August of 2003, I found my home, moved in, and promptly brought another dog home, since the place had a massive six foot tall chain-link fence covering nearly an acre of the six that came with the little three-bedroom ranch. (I bought the place for the fencing; the house needed/needs a lot of work, but man, is the fencing wonderful to have with a menagerie).
So. Here I was. I had arrived at “adulthood.” I was jobbed, I had a car (not a great car; I had to down-grade from the sweet ride my parents helped me get my senior year as an early graduation present. They put a down-payment on a brand new, bright yellow Jeep Wrangler, and God, did I adore that vehicle. I reasoned with myself that it was one of the sacrifices of becoming a true adult; sacrificing the *awesome* car so that I could have both a car and a home. Boo, I know, and my next car almost killed me, but that’s another blog post), I had a house, and I had two dogs, two cats, and two leopard geckos left over from the college years (what animal lovers get when they can’t have anything that isn’t able to live in a tank). I had arrived.
Fast forward several years. I went through a series of transitions due to physical and mental health issues that very nearly, and may still, cause me to back-track completely… all the way back to Dad’s basement. It started in 2009, when my health (mental, physical, with me it’s all intertwined) began to realllllly deteriorate. I went from jobbed to semi-jobbed, simply due to my lack of ability to be able to handle full-time work. But, there were supports in place, as I had been jobbed for so long. I had sick time, vacation time, and then FMLA time. All that time eventually did run out though, and I became jobless. Being jobless, after being jobbed for so long, is a completely foreign thing; I’d wake up in a panic, throwing dogs off the bed and turning the shower on before realizing that I didn’t have anywhere to go. I constantly had dreams about clients, about working, and would wake up feeling like I’d just worked a twelve-hour shift. I’d go surf ebay, and then realize I had no money to buy this shirt or that new journal. Eventually, much of my shopping habits devolved to my college trends; cheap food, cheap, comfortable clothes, alcohol, and cigarettes. Now, before everyone jumps all up and down pulling their hair out because I occasionally purchased cigarettes and, much more rarely, alcohol, while on unemployment, well, um, screw you. Until you walk in my shoes, don’t judge me. My bills were getting paid, for the most part, I sacrificed having cable or a cell phone so that I could have *other* things, and I’d continuously quit both alcohol and cigs for periods of time, but one of my people would invariably “help” me nullify that poor decision (insert sarcasm here). I had a social life similar to college too; granted, much of it was inside-my-head people; oh, and internet people (not sure which is more pathetic here, hmm). I was regressing into “young adulthood” last year. I could sleep twelve hours a night (or day, rather), I forgot how to clean, how to cook (and YES, I had been cooking, somewhat), and spent more time reading books than I ever had in college, even. I was on my way… backwards.
Things went from jobless, but with UI, to being jobless without UI. This part sucked. This part still sucks, which I will explain momentarily. Let’s just say that, at the end of being jobless, three of my four dogs were in foster homes with three friends, two truckloads of my stuff was packed away and in storage, and I was about to move in with my Dad. Then, on a random Tuesday, everything changed, yet again. I go to two interviews that fateful Tuesday, and am immediately offered a per-diem position with a local agency. Yes, please. So; the move is put on hold, and my babies returned to me. Joy and lollipops and memory foam mattress toppers! I am saved! I’m moving forward again. Wait, am I? Per diem work, in case nobody knows, is contingent upon many factors, and there’s no guarantee of, well, ANYthing. So, if you work there for three weeks, and two of those weeks all but one person cancels, forgets, gets the dates mixed up, or simply wasn’t scheduled (because you’re not allowed to schedule things yourself), well, you’re screwed, and still have no money. But, I was just offered a second job that will be starting in a couple weeks (and was the second job I had interviewed for on that fateful Tuesday), so, well, hopefully I can stay here until then. I’m trying to be good. I’m trying to make my people understand that THEY have to be good; that we have to make this work, because going backwards after a certain point can’t really be a viable option; it means losing too much, giving up an unfathomable amount, and regressing too far. I don’t think I’d survive it.