What time is it? 9:03. Ok … Gotta get up. Come on. Fuck, my head. I still taste whiskey. For a futon, this wasn’t that bad. OK, pants, shirt, belt, name tag. Brush your teeth. Yeah, that’s gross, brush your teeth. A little product in the hair. Sprits, sprits, sprits of cologne. Better, but probably still not good. Doesn’t matter. Time to go to work.
No, I’m not 21, but that was my Sunday morning. My buddy Doug’s bachelor party was not to be missed, but neither is work when you mash three part-time jobs together to make up for the career you lost six months ago. Yeah. I lost my job. I was in newspapers (Google them, they still exist). I went to college to learn how to work for them, and will be paying that off for another seven years. I went from Ithaca College, to Trumansburg (NY), to Saratoga Springs (NY), to Norwich (CT), to Canandaigua (NY). And I worked. I got better. I worked at least one, sometimes two other jobs to supplement the criminally low salary. They shouldn’t even call it a “salary” if it’s not enough to pay back the loans you took out to get there.
So I worked. I was a fry cook, a paperboy, a fry cook again, an American Eagle associate, a gas station attendant, a freelance writer, a deli worker, a server, and a bartender over the first nine years of my career. My career jobs: Sports Editor (9 weekly papers), Sports Writer/Page Designer (‘Toga), Sports Writer/Page Designer again (CT) before promoted to Assistant Sports Editor, Page Designer (Canandaigua) before promoted to Sports Editor, then Production Editor, then back to Sports Editor, then News Editor in 2013. Since it started with a promotion, I wouldn’t have assumed it would be my last year in the biz. I shouldn’t even call it “the biz” if it continuously cuts the people who work so hard to carry its once-good name.
But, hey, gotta make that paper.
Whatever anyone thought about newspapers, at least I used to be able to say I was working in the field I trained to work in. I had a career, even though it took about eight years to be promoted enough to make just enough money to give up a second job. And then I lost it, January 6 of this year. One day before my four-year anniversary with the paper, my sixth year with the company.
“What do you do for a living?”
I’m a server, a bartender, a dock worker, a writer (POST Magazine, in Rochester) and now I’m even trying my hand at advertising sales for the same magazine. Not too many people both write and sell ads. Even fewer people write articles for a magazine, sell ads for the same magazine, load and unload freight with a forklift from 11 p.m. til 4 a.m., serve tables and sling drinks. I told Caitlynn (who’s been amazing through this up-and-down stretch): “I’m proud of how hard I work. I just don’t like my work.” I don’t work any harder now than I ever have; I just have a more diverse range than before. The biggest problem now is there is no calling out sick. No PTO. No personal days. Ahhhh …. personal days …
Sorry, hangover, you’re coming with me. I got to work Sunday and served tables for 11 hours. The next night, I served for four hours, took a break and loaded freight til 5:45 a.m. She asked me, “How can you do that?” And my response is, apparently, what it’s always been but I hadn’t realized until now: “Because I have to.” I gotta go to work. I gotta write. I gotta sell. I’m a husband and a homeowner and I want certain things and none of that comes without work.
And you know what else? I’m not special. I work with these kinds of people all the time. Bachelor’s and Master’s mixed in with GED’s and drop-outs. They all work.
My other part-time job is as professional Job Hunter. Two more applications out today. If I keep my fingers crossed any longer, they’re gonna stay that way. I recently realized how inhuman ‘Human Resources’ is now. It’s a series of fields and filters that sifts through the talent pool, weighing “Years of Experience” more than talent, requiring you to tread water for 45 minutes to get to the “Upload Resume” portion. ‘Oh, and all of that info on your resume? We’re gonna need you to retype that into the appropriate fields. We don’t want to waste human eyes on the actual resume unless you meet all of these specific criteria that may or may not determine how good you are at doing this job.’
If I sound frustrated, it’s because I”m frustrated. But someday I’ll have a shiny, new nine-t0-fiver with all the comforts of sick days and 401k contributions. So sexy. For now, I’m workin’ on it.