…the one’s that never knock…(sing it with me!)
I started my new job on Sunday. My second job. A job that might be 16 hours of work every other weekend. It’s pretty good, as jobs go. I man the concession booth at a public park, I walk around and pick up trash and keep an eye on things & people, I keep the restrooms clean and stocked. The rest of the time, I can read or think or write or listen to music or whatever. Not too bad. It’s the opposite of my M-F job. I am in the booth alone. I walk the park alone. I logged 5.4 miles just walking around picking up trash on a windy day. I righted a lot of upended trash cans.
There were a few games going on in different fields. Softball, soccer, the usual spring sports. A family came and played some touch football in one of the empty fields for a couple of hours. It was nice to see them all hanging out together – a dad, a mom (I guessing – they were parent-type people but I don’t want to assume; they were a family unit), a teen girl, two boys. Lots of cyclists, hikers and dog walkers in and out over the course of 8 hours.
It was nice. I’m sure if I see people I know they will come in two varieties – the ones who will say hi, the ones who understand that work is work; and others who might feel…awkward. They’ll see me and then look away. Like I’ve stooped to some level beneath them. I’ve seen it before. It’s inevitable. Or maybe this is all in my head. Probably it is. But I’ve found that shame often comes from without rather than within. You often don’t know you’re doing something you shouldn’t (or that people feel you shouldn’t) until other people tell you by words, body language, a look.
But, no job has ever been beneath me. I like to be busy. There are things that need to be done and if I can do them, I will. I like that this job pays me to do things I do anyway: clean up after people and pick up litter (which is a pet peeve of mine). I’m having a little difficulty (read: a LOT) with the cash register but I’m sure I’ll figure it out eventually. Maybe. Or, I’ll continue to post incorrect tapes at the end of each shift until the accountants in the main office sigh and tell on me. But right now, my boss doesn’t really give two hoots about it. He’s just glad I’m there.
As I walked around the perimeter of the playing fields with my county cap on, carrying a bright orange bucket and swinging my picker, I remembered my first year of college. I was awarded some work-study money – about $100 a month – and the college I attended didn’t have enough good jobs to go around so I was assigned to the janitorial staff. Yeah, sure, I’d have preferred a job in the library but instead I spent the first semester emptying trash cans in faculty offices, faculty whose classes I was often not showing up for (that’s a whole other sad story).
Second semester, I was assigned to a dorm. I was to clean the bathrooms (all but toilets) and mop the hallways. I wasn’t cleaning a dorm I lived in but one I spent time in visiting friends. Those friends were always glad to see me. It was the other girls, the girls who were surprised, shocked and then embarrassed to see me wielding a wet mop and trying to clean sinks around their piles of dishes, scrubbing their products off the walls of the showers. It wasn’t the best job in the world but it was made worse by the shaming. The job, and my time at the college, didn’t last long. I wouldn’t recognize those girls if I saw them again. Never knew them to begin with. But it didn’t matter. I’d been lowered. I’d say “put in my place” except I’ve never really had a place except the space I occupy that doesn’t have a social status attached to it. I’ve never considered myself middle class, blue collar, white collar, any of it. I don’t fit in any of those categories. I just am.
I doubt any of this will happen (again, I acknowledge that this is mostly in my head) and if it does, I’ll work on not caring. Why should I care? They don’t know a thing about me except that circumstances are such that I need to make some extra money. Because I do. Just like the other divorced mom who was hired to work at another park. And this is one way to do it. And it’s an easy way apart from losing a lot of free time. But I’ll get that back in December when the park season ends. Then I can sleep late and catch up on projects and go back to looking for abandoned motels (which can be seen much easier when the leaves are off the trees). No regrets. More exercise. More money to rebuild a savings account and possibly take more adventures with my girls. We had a fantastic time at a state park over spring break. I’ll write a post or two about that soon. When I get some free time. Right now, I have to go clean my house with only the cats to give me the stink eye.