Tag Archives: Survival Jobs

Bring it in, NY

I’ve been struck countless times over the past two months at how lonely a city of billions can be. Really, when you live in NYC, you are alone for a staggering amount of time. Walking to and from the subway, riding to work, doing prep work for auditions-I would say a good 60-70% of my time is spent on my own. There is a good deal of peace and happiness to be found in this amount of solitude, but it can also be cripplingly lonesome.

Which makes moments of real connection stand out. Hurricane Sandy swept through the city, devastating some parts while hardly touching others. My apartment was left unscathed, but I certainly felt the storm’s effects when my restaurant lost power for a week. Somehow, we stayed open, serving bottled beer and mixed drinks by candlelight. Of course, no food and a lack of customers meant that I was rendered useless; due to a lack of communication (thank you, lost phone), I found myself in the back of a cab on Halloween, headed into work. The restaurant’s windows were boarded up with plywood to protect against wind gusts. A rather sketchy-looking “Still Open!” was spray painted across one of the boards. Even I, who had worked there pre-Sandy and knew it wasn’t a serial killer’s hideout, did not want to go in. I pushed the door open, and let my jaw drop. Hundreds of tea lights glowed from every nook, cranny, and corner in the restaurant. A half dozen people sat at the bar, sipping on what must have been lukewarm beer. The lack of top 20’s hits usually booming from every speaker pressed the silence loudly against my eardrums. I walked into my very own Wonderland, complete with an Alice serving drinks behind the bar (it was Halloween, after all). My fellow server, the overly affectionate guy, came bustling over to me, handed me a box of matches, and explained that he was bored out of his mind and replacing used-up candles to stay busy. Steam rose from his lips as he spoke, and I realized we didn’t have heat. 

As I walked around the restaurant, lighting candles and wondering why I was called into work, I heard something. A little trickle of laughter. It bounced and flitted around the mostly empty restaurant, making way for a whole gale of laughter. And that’s when I noticed it: everyone sitting around the bar- strangers, newcomers, regulars – were engaged in conversation with one another. They sat, swapping stories by candlelight, as if they had all come in together. An overhwhelming feeling of camaraderie settled on the bar, as the conversation grew to welcome two new members that had just stumbled in. In a city filled with loners, here was a group that stretched and reshaped in order to include everyone that came near. I felt myself smile as I walked over to join in.  A pizza was ordered, a round of drinks poured, and a happy little community was formed. Sure, it was temporary. We’d all leave soon and go back to not making eye contact with passersby on the street, but that was for later. And, really, it’s moments like these that make the rest of the time seem totally worth it.


A New Kind of Dysfunctional Family

I was incredibly lucky to have moved to the city with a job in place. Thanks to a good friend of mine, I started training at the Irish Pub where I now work the first week I was here. Yes, I completely fulfill that actor/waiter stereotype, and sometimes when guests ask what I do for a career outside of the restaurant I say anything other than acting in order to escape the knowing look in their eye that answer often elicits. Regardless, I have been incredibly fortunate to be put in the company of some of the strangest, funniest, most random people I have ever met. So, I thought I would take this time to introduce a few key members of my new work family:

The Managers:

Th AM Manager-Irish-born fellow who at first seems closed-off, but immediately jumps on running jokes, and laughs at pretty much anything.

The PM Manager-Israeli-born woman who has the type of personality that has you telling your entire life story in about five minutes. Matches my own ability to talk for twenty minutes straight.

The Bartenders:

The dancer- 5’2 blonde dancer who is fiercely loyal to her coworkers, and could kick anyone’s ass. Anyone. I feel as though if she were to get approached by a mugger, she would end up mugging him.

The stereotypical cute Irish bartender- gets tips by smiling at “vodka-soda girls” (copyright W.C. and M.C.) and saying catch-phrase Irish sayings. Plays “Little Lion Man” by Mumford and Sons about 30 times every time he works.

The writer- talks about philosophy one minute, and then pontificates about various metal bands and football the next.

The snarky musician- my friend’s brother who cracks me up with his rye sense of humor and ability to smile and nod at drunk idiots, placating them and mocking them at the same time.

The Servers:

The producer- take charge, no mercy attitude. Knows more about music from the 70’s and 80’s than my parents. Has done more drugs than I have names for. And she’s only 19.

The comedy-writer- Sarcastic, quick, and the first person to ever tell me to “grow a pair” when a table was taking advantage of my obvious nice-girl attitude.

The overly-affectionate guy- Clearly relishes the fact that he works with mostly girls. Sweet at heart, but loves to make awkward joke (I hope) advances and talk about his latest conquests.

The flirt- Hilarious, uber-confident girl who is constantly looking for cute guys, and has no qualms about saying something to them about it. Points out every good-looking guy in the bar within 15 seconds of him coming in. Every time.

The Bouncers-

The Philosopher- Soft-spoken, intelligent, highly spiritual guy who has the most positive, optimist take on life I have ever heard.

The Side-Kick- Friday and Saturday nights, this guy hangs out with the Philosopher at the front door. It’s the most entertaining thing in the world to watch them crack each other up, then get immediately stone-faced and serious when one of the customers puts a toe out of line.

The Owner- Irish woman with a reputation that preceded our meeting. Apparently can like you one minute, then absolutely detest you the next. She seemed nice when I met her, but I’m ready to bet that I’ll see the other side of her soon enough. Can make grown men cry.

The pets- Two incredibly affectionate cats who lie around the manager’s office and use the printer as their personal lounge.

Crazy, loud, and able to tell off drunk college frat boys, these guys are quickly schooling me in how to put people in their place- with a smile. And while we’re all vastly different, you have to look at it as a family- especially when you’re not getting out of work until 2 am.


Dead Like George.

Have you ever seen the fantastic show, “Dead Like Me” ? It follows Georgia “George” Lass, a 20-something college drop-out who dies suddenly (killed by an airborne toilet. Yup.) After she dies, she is recruited to become a Grim Reaper, one of many. In this particular version of the legend, Grim Reapers still have all of the responsibilities of the living, they just have a second, unpaid and unchosen job. The show’s been off the air for a few years, but is free on Hulu if I’ve peaked your interest. (Meaning- Go. Now. Watch the first two episodes. Get addicted. Stop sleeping until you’ve finished the entire series. I mean, it was only on for a couple seasons, and you can function on much less than 8 hours of sleep. You have no excuse.)

Anyway, Georgie’s day job is at a temp agency, where she is a file clerk. And after about a week of my own temping, I have to say this show gets it. Right on the nose. My trainer, much like Mrs. Herbig, is overly nice, and loves to make my duties seem much more dire than they actually are (although I am funding people’s retail and lease contracts for their cars, so I guess it’s a little important. But still, the world will not end.) The job is just as dull and full of sifting through mountains of paper as Georgie’s own, and it definitely makes me wish I had a side job as a kick-ass Grim Reaper. At least it would spice things up (and my blog would be so much more exciting).

Although I will say I’ve begun to fall into a comfortable sort of schedule for my workday, complete with break buddies (mainly Temp Guy. Fifteen minutes of making each other crack up in the break room? I’ll take it.), a lunch group (hah. I’m back in high school. But these girls are hilarious.), and a 3 pm realization that there’s still two hours to go, quickly followed by a silent but emphatic plea to the universe to free me from this paper prison. Finally, I’ve gotten the nickname “Team Awesome, Member #1” to stick (I don’t understand it either, but check that off the bucket list), and I have the best cubicle neighbors a girl could ask for.

Along with this happy little bubble of conformity and complacency, there is this need to not lose sight of why I’m working in the first place. Luckily, I haven’t gone so far down the rabbit hole that I am forgetting. Yet. I still smile like a drunkard when I think about NYC, and I can still feel the purpose behind the drive that makes me get up and go to work every morning-the promise that it’ll all be worth it in a few months. Because, after all, George Lass and I do have one pretty important thing separating us-I’ve managed to avoid free-falling plumbing…

…for now.

The Ever-Glowing, Deadly Dull, Temp Agency Turned Dating Service

There are so many guys here. Yes, this is my first thought as I enter the building where I will be working for the next two months. (Hey. Don’t judge me.  That is exactly what any single, twenty-something girl who hasn’t been on a good date in a while would think when faced with the sheer number of attractive men in one place that I, myself, faced upon entering that prison…I mean fine place of business.) That, and what the hell did I get myself into?

Working at a financial corporation was not something I ever saw in my future, but there I was, sitting in a conference room with two other newly graduated employees, waiting to learn exactly what we were going to be asked to do.

Which brings me to my new friend. We’ll call him temp guy. He graduated with an English degree, can recite Shakespearean sonnets on command, and sky-dives on the weekends for fun. Oh, and he has a fondness for Spongebob Squarepants ice cream pops. Temp guy and I have been hanging out since training started at the beginning of this week, and the more I get to know him, the more intrigued I become. He is insanely good at brain teasers, can make me laugh in .2 seconds, and somehow has the built-in ability to follow my circular speaking patterns with ease. And did I mention he’s got killer eyes and this really dazzling smile that crops up whenever he sees me (quickly matched by my own..)? uh oh…

Yesterday was free jeans/free ice cream truck day at work. (I think they have to bribe their employees to stay. The job is insanely dull. I can literally feel any creative spark or will to live I ever housed within me seeping out of my fingertips and into the computer at my desk. I think that’s how they can afford to have so many lights on. God-awful florescent lights.) This means that we were able to wear jeans without having to pay for the privilege, and an ice cream truck would be parked outside of our building, serving up free ice cream for two hours. I won’t go into how much of a poor choice this is for a company in which most of its’ employees are already forced to live sedentary lifestyles due to the nature of their work, mostly because I am still excited that I got free ice cream.

I was outside, weighing my free ice cream options, when I heard a teasing voice from behind me. “Still deciding?” I turned around to find temp guy, proudly wearing his free jeans and smirking at me. “Hey, it’s a big choice. I don’t want to get the spiderman pop only to realize that I wanted the ice cream sandwich.”

Temp guy chuckled as he confidently went up the window, and returned seconds later with a Spongebob Squarepants pop. “I always get these. Ever since I was a kid.” He was smiling so freely, and standing so contentedly on the sidewalk with his pop that I couldn’t help smiling. This is going to be one interesting summer.

Guilt A La Carte, Please

I’ll admit it- I’ve got a pretty well-developed guilt complex. Forget to call a friend back for a few days? Apologize profusely upon next encounter. Show up late to a meeting? Wring hands and twitch sporadically for the rest of the day. Put off writing maid-on-honor speech for sister’s wedding in four days? Lie awake at night trying to decipher signs of impending doom while contemplating the horrific effects my procrastination will undoubtedly have on the entire affair.

This past week has been a freaking five-star buffet for my guilt, what with all of the last-minute wedding details, discussions/arguments about moving to NYC (how many roommates? to share a room or not to share a room? location?), and, of course, the job dilemma that I faced earlier today.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve become a bit of a temp-agency groupie, bouncing back and forth between different agencies, hoping to score something (Hah. “score” something. Get it? No? Too lame?). Finally, today I had an interview. Great company, temp-to-hire position, so I’m guaranteed a good job until I move to the city. Great. Perfect. Interview’s going just swimmingly until I ask the question, “How’s training?”  I am quickly informed that training is integrated into the work day but usually takes upwards of 60 days to complete. That’s funny, because I’m only planning to stay at this job for two months.

As I smile and nod along to the rapidly increasing rhythm of my heartbeat, I feel the old symptoms begin. All of the moisture in my mouth seems to have traveled to my hands, because while they are just saturated, I’m lucky if I can swallow. The walls are closing in. My eyes seem to think a strobe light has been placed in the room, and I’m forgetting to listen to what she’s saying.

I’m offered the job. I pause for only a moment and think, Now would be the time to admit that you’d be leaving once the training was complete, and would completely waste their time by accepting their offer. Be noble. Be honest. Be- poor. Huh.  So, instead, I shut my mouth, shake her hand, and leave the building as a new employee, vowing to work extra hard to make up for what is going to be a bit of a surprise for them in August. I mean, technically I’m just a temp. So, I shouldn’t feel too guilty, right? As for that maid-of-honor speech…well, I should probably go write that.