It’s often assumed that working a job that does not jive with your interest (or wallet) serves the purpose of “telling you what you don’t want to do” or “makes you appreciate jobs you like that much more.” The above platitudes, of course, tells you absolutely nothing. With the exception of jobs that you honestly thought you would like but turned out to be terrible, you were probably already aware that you didn’t really want to do the job; indeed, as your bank account dwindled and some loan officer or another kept blowing your phone up, your decision came down to which form of prostitution–including prostitution itself–you would subject yourself to for financial gain. Of course, in those instances, there are some who have epiphanies; in a pressure situation, life slowed down just enough to make some employment desire or interest abundantly clear to them. For most of us doing jobs we don’t particularly care for, that is not the case.
Because life has a funny sense of humor, jobs we don’t care for often times do not point us in the direction of jobs we would care for. In fact, jobs we don’t care for only make us yearn for not doing any job at all. Jobs we don’t care for seem to only serve the purpose of making us tolerate eight hours at work that we might gain the weekend as a reward. I’ve found in the five or so years in which I’ve had myriad jobs that ranged from “hm, this isn’t terribly engaging” to “God, I hope I have a slip and fall accident at work” we spend a good deal of time being catty and bitchy about the jobs we don’t care for, intermittently accenting said cat bitchery with bittersweet exultations about what we plan to drink this weekend and doing little else. Having been both torch bearer and pitchfork wielder in this familiar mob, I can tell you it has only helped me to determine I didn’t particularly care for whatever job I was doing. This is somewhat redundant since I not only knew I didn’t particularly care for the job before applying, but was very likely brandishing my pitchfork while I grumbled my way to the stockroom to get more hats/sweaters/sneakers/Endorush.
(Sidebar 1: Lest I sound like a hypocrite to the Crookeds and The Straights project, understand that no matter if you love or hate your job, there is someone or something about the job that chaps your ass. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, just keep reading and don’t trouble yourself with the above clarification. But if you really want to know, go check out http://www.crookedsandstraights.blogspot.com)
The other day on my day off, a day in which I was contemplating turning in my nametag for the umpteenth time, I decided to chat up The Michelle. Having known her for some time, I should have known it was less than prudent to begin haranguing against my job, but I of course did. Here’s a dramatization of conversation:
Me: This job is beneath me!
TM: Yes; it is.
Me: I’mgonna just quit! I went to too much school to abide this garbage. I’m taking too many lateral steps.
TM: So make a decision, take a forward one and call me back when your testicles drop.
So I put out my torch, dropped my pitchfork, and did just that.
Perhaps because we fear self-reflection and evaluation, people don’t realize that the answers to their fulfillment, at least with regard to employment, is a question that must be asked of the self. It’s a fairly tall order to ask a job you never wanted to sate your passion. In my case, I have much less of an excuse because–for the time being–I have a very good idea of how I want to spend my hours. In fact, I’ve probably always known it, but shied away from it as I grew older and learned what fear and “knowing better” was. The depth of self-evaluation and reflection it takes to accept the facts can be staggering. The journey to discovering your passion often reveals exactly who you are, good and bad, to the one person it is impossible to lie to. If you don’t know what you want to do with your life, the first thing you have to do is ask the question.
Unless you live an abundantly charmed life, there will be a time when you have to do a job you don’t want to do. What purpose does such a thing serve? The easy answer is that it helps you bridge the gap to your passion. If you’re a photographer, that job at Foot Locker helps buy film. I’ve found recently that the work has gotten light to me because I have no illusions as to why I am there. Perhaps this is coming from a place of detached arrogance or perhaps I just believe I can close the gap, but I sweat this situation much less because it is temporary.
But there’s more than that. Unfortunately, the following statement applies more soundly to people that have an idea of what they want to do, but if you’re willing to put the leg work in with regard to discovering your passion or interests, this will still be holding water when you get back. Jobs you don’t care for tell you why you don’t care for them and why you do care for your other interests. While wearing a nametag and punching a clock every day is abhorrent to my sensibilities, they are merely annoyances in the face of what I feel the essence of my actual job is. No matter how good it feels to close a membership deal and get a few more coins in my pocket–and believe me, I do get a kick out of the chess match and the resultant pennies–I can never feel fully invested in the work.
As I sat at my desk earlier this week, using gamesmanship and my gabbing gift to sign a young woman on a fixed income to a membership that both suited her income and my commission check–while I never cross ethical lines, I am a salesman; hence, I can always give a person a better deal than they are getting, but to do so would hurt my income–I had a simple yet profound insight. Though, on a technical level, my professional interests lie in quarterbacking the make-believe, I never feel like I am lying when I do it. Peace to Willy Loman.
Penultimate Thought: Though Jamaican, I’m glad the fastest man in the world is 6’5.
Final Thought: I have no idea where they throw dumpsters out.
Yesterday, I woke up around 8am, put on my black and yellow sneakers, black shorts, two black long-sleeved shirts and Yale track and field Boathouse and went to the bus stop to wait for the 8:50 bus–number 79–to take me to Bally Total Fitness, arriving approximately at 9:01. Glad to be out of the rain and having deposited my change upon boarding, I sat down in one of the first four rows of seats, feeling oddly out of place among the morning shifters and bummish derelicts that tend to frequent the number 79 at that time of morning. Being dressed for the gym and then getting on a bus not driven by Skip and not headed to or from Payne Whitney has a tendency to make me feel oddish. Perhaps I merely yearned for the halcyon days of yore, but it’s more likely that getting eyeballed by bummish derelicts had an adverse effect on me. I’d probably have felt entirely out of place had I not been a morning shifter in disguise.
The bus having made its stop for a lady who works at Papa Gino’s, it was my turn to disembark. Having made sure I didn’t leave anything behind on the seat, I thanked the bus driver and stepped off the bus. Though it was on its way to being a warm day, I knew the two black long-sleeved shirts would come in handy as I made my way through the double doors of Bally’s. Melody, the good-natured blonde who does works there on the side while pursuing her music career–a Berklee grad no less–smiles and waves as I make it through the inner door. I do the same. Passing a few elliptical machines, a take a left into the office I share with two other co-workers. It being 9am, I’m the first one in, so I put my bag down and head down to the personal trainer’s office where I collect four jump ropes of various weights. Having begun to work out seriously in the last two months, jumping rope has not only become an exercise I enjoy mastering, but also a good way to do cardio when I don’t ahve an iPod, which is always.
Having collected the ropes, I go into the PT section, where Colin, a Nigerian and Caucus mash-up, a trainer and collegiate high hurdler, begins the morning with the standard heckle for using the black speed rope which, of the ropes, is by far the lightest. Kerry, the fitness director–a jolly Black giant of sorts–joins in while he stretches out a client. I reply that the other ropes burn my forearms something terrible and they reply with something in the neighborhood of “get the sand out of your vag.” Sufficiently heckled, I begin my rope workout. Two feet, one foot, switching feet, double jump. I don’t break an honest sweat for ten minutes, but after that point I’ve got a decent lather going. At the thirty minute mark, I put the ropes away and finish my workout, which is a full body circuit. Having stressed out my body, I hit the showers and unsuccessfully try to ignore the ball smell, old man ball sightings and the old man conversation–often had while their balls are out.
Finally dressed in my red t-shirt, too-short black Champion swishies and the same black and yellow sneakers I sat at the bus stop in, I exit the locker room and punch in at the front desk. By this time, Justine, an affable Puerto Rican lass of 23, is at the desk and we shoot the breeze a bit. Breeze satisfactorially shot, I head to my office and open my file cabinet drawer–third from the top–and take out my nametag. Clipping it on the upper left part of my red t-shirt, I remove a file from the cabinet and sit down and checked my appointments for the day. Having none till the afternoon, I go to our phone list and began making calls, urging people to come in and check the gym out. I also manage to call Kim and see how her red shirtedness goes across town. That being done, I sit and work out prices and different pricing scenarios until I’m called to the front desk by my manager Darren, an energetic jock-like white boy, not unlike many of my former Eli goonies. At the desk I got some tip or other about membership sales and then, for clarification, I asked some questions back.
The story really gets started in the afternoon. I spent some time at the front desk, where I answer phones and swipe cards. Once Teresa, my sassy assistant manager, comes to relieve me from this, I get the black heckle rope and do some jumping. Though I jump during the dead part of the afternoon, I returned to the front desk area to find people waiting to be toured around the club. Quickly changing back into my red t-shirt, I go into my office with various characters and ask them some preliminary question concerning their lives and fitness goals. After that, I toured them around the club–spin bikes, free weights, pool–and get to know a little about them. Arriving back in my office, I threw out a few numbers to see what would stick. Three of the people didn’t have the money but would “be back”; the other group knew exactly what they wanted because they had talked to someone else before meeting with me. Now here’s where it gets interesting.
Contract printed out, gone over and signed, I made this couples’ ID cards and got them set up for their first workout with Dana, one of our hulking and good-natured PTs. Shift over, I head to my office to collect my things and get called into my manager’s office. We sit down and discuss not letting people walk out without memberships no matter what. I explained that I did my best. Now here’s the kicker: He says OK, just work on refining your technique.
That being over with, I collected my things, punched out and sat and waited for Kim to come pick me up, feeling out of place in my Yale track and field Boathouse as I watched varying degrees humanity stream out of the club and towards their cars. Upon Kim’s arrival, we went to my house and sat in my parents’ living room until she had to leave at 1am (house rules).
Multiply by five, accounting for changes in weather patterns, and that is my life, ending one day at a time. Peace to Second.
Penultimate Thought: If you’re a member at a gym and remain fat, you should probably ask for fitness advice.
Final Thought: Or stop wasting money on the gym altogether.