Recently, I had to fill out some forms. There’s always that pause before the question of employment. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom, SAHM for short. Except that I don’t stay home much and my only one gets on the bus at 8:00 am and gets home at 3:40 pm. I spend my days running around town. To the gym, lunch, the bank , the grocery, the liquor store, home depot, back to the grocery store for whatever it is I forgot, back to the bank for more cash. I’m just a run-down, run-around-town unemployed mom. I wrote in NA for Not Applicable.
Half a life-time ago I worked at a cruise line. It wasn’t my first job, and it wasn’t my last job. A friend got me the job. All through high school we had schemed how we would get out on our own. She was a year ahead of me with her own apartment down in the village. I was in awe of her.
I worked with her in the group department at first. I worked and went to school, saved and got my first apartment in someone’s basement not very far from my parent’s place. It was a fun group of people and my manager was the best ever, bless his soul. He was like the dad I always wanted but never had. (Oh, yeah, my dad is still living, but he never was the dad I wanted).
A new department was formed called Foreign Accounts. No one wanted the position so I was told to go work there. The reason for this was everyone was scared of the manager. Turns out his bark was worse than his bite. There was the manager, assistant manager and staff. I was staff. We got along swimmingly in our tiny room in the back of the office on the way to the bathrooms.
On the way to the bathroom, people would pop their heads in asking what was so funny. Quickly, we’d stifle our chuckling, tuck our heads behind our computers and mumble, “nothing,” in unison. Good things never last and our happy little group was torn apart. The assistant manager was transferred out and replaced by a nut job. You know, one of those people whom seem so nice at first and then when you get to know them better you realize they are a complete mental case.
This woman thought staff meant personal secretary. I was now not only doing my job, but the job of the former assistant manager and fielding telephone messages over pink paper notes for Ms. Nut Job. It seems whatever nutty job Ms. Nut job did do was top secret and I couldn’t have access to any of her computer codes. Therefore, I couldn’t actually help any of the people over the telephone, but merely take down their names and numbers and time of the phone call and promise that Ms. Nut Job (who was sitting right next to me) would get back to them as soon as possible.
Thankfully, we were still allowed to smoke at our desks back then. This saved me hundreds of trips up and down the elevator to relieve the stress of wanting to wring Ms. Nut Job’s neck. On top of all this, the job demanded ridiculous things, like I be on time, sit at my desk for 7 hours, not fraternize with co-workers at the water cooler, that I come back from lunch sober, and that I smile and say good-morning when entering the building (there was a memo). Crazy, right?
After work, I walked the 20 blocks to college. College wasn’t demanding at all. It was a big let down. It sucked, work sucked, my water-bug-infested basement studio apartment sucked. Still, I had dreams. I believed, as Virginia Slims told me that I had come a long way, baby and that I had further to go. I hated sitting still and going nowhere. I spent my day booking others vacations and my evenings learning about others accomplishments. I wanted to be on the road, like Kerouac.
When I complained at work and said that I couldn’t do the work of two people, I was told that if I couldn’t handle it then I knew where the door was. When I said that I should be promoted to Assistant Manager, I was told that was not going to happen. There I was just before 5 one evening working through a pile of files as tall as me. I had a final that night and needed to go. I asked for some help, got some snide answer from someone I don’t remember who or what. I picked up the folders , threw them on the person’s desk, and said, “You do it, I quit!” I walked out to go take my final.
I got an A on that final, but withdrew from the college the next day. I gave in my resignation at work. In two weeks, I was on a plane to Europe. I was gone for six months and then came home broke and broken-hearted and moved back into my parents house. I got a job at that same cruise line in a lesser position. Now, they had two people doing my job using the systems that I devised and put in place. I got no recognition then, I get none now. I am mom the obscure.