all workfamily & parenting

My two-week career: tales from the working world

No Gravatar

I’ve been away, dear reader, for quite some time. I’ve been busy driving a child to and from preschool, making Target runs, finding my spiritual center on Oprah’s Lifeclass (the first lesson taught us about the false power of ego), watching The Bachelor and Bachelor Pad (it takes three hours to watch that show every Monday night — that keeps a girl busy!), and wondering how I can avoid cooking the Thanksgiving Day turkey.

I’ve also been busy getting a job, and then quitting that job two weeks later. I write that sentence with relative ease, but I’m mortified about the entire experience. It’s so embarrassing that I can hardly admit it to my closest friends. Therefore, I think the best course of action is for me to blog about it, so that complete strangers can read it, know my deepest, innermost, and personal thoughts, and absolve me of my guilt and shame. Then we can all go our merry ways and pretend the entire thing never happened.

I’ve been a Stay-at-Home-Mom for a few years now. And, despite the somewhat negative public perception of this career choice, I’ve been happy. I’ve had time to read, write, have coffee, lunch with other ladies, work out (which of course I never did), and keep in touch with friends. Oh, and be available to my child twenty-four hours a day.

Then, when the little man started a few hours a week at preschool, I feared that the never-ending coffee break would become boring, and I decided to get a job. The thought was that I would meet new people, maybe do a little work while having a lot of fun. And get paid. So I found a job in retail.

Allow me to mention that I have never before had a job in retail. I had plenty of other jobs kissing ass, mind you, but never had the pleasure of kissing ass as a sales associate. But I was optimistic and excited for the all the fun I would have.

The first week at orientation was easy enough — a lot of sitting, talking about the brand, the customer, and the amazing sales associates. There is nothing I enjoy more than hanging out (while seated) with other women talking about how amazing we are. My friends asked me how the job was going, and I said “Great!”

The second week was not as easy. Although I was learning about the retail business, I also spent a lot of time opening boxes and using that gun-thingy to attach the plastic-tag-thingy to the garments. I hung clothes, sorted, re-hung, resorted, folded, and sorted some more. Not only was I on my feet for hours at a stretch, but I was lifting, pulling, and bending, all with four seconds to take a bathroom break. (I had fifteen minutes for the break, but it took me 14 minutes and 56 seconds to figure out how to open my locker.) And I had to appear happy doing all this physical labor, lest the manager think I wasn’t as amazing as I appeared at orientation.

Managing the job and my son’s schedule was complicated. In the past, I only had to wake up, make my son’s breakfast and lunch, drive him to school, and drive him home. Now, I had to wake up, take a shower, make my son’s breakfast and lunch, eat my own breakfast, drive him to school, stop at the store to get milk, drive home to park the car, straighten my hair and put on makeup, get on the bus to take me to work, work for a few hours, take the bus home, get back in the car to pick my son up from school, drive home again, and tend to all the other things that mothers do. I didn’t even have the time, or the energy, to work out. Oh wait, I never do that anyway.

Midway through the second week, it was all getting mighty stressful. I said to my husband, “I’m not sure how I’m going to do this”. My husband assured me that I wasn’t used to working outside the home, and would soon get into a rhythm.

A few days later, I got to interact with customers. Finally, I would meet all these new people and have lots and lots of fun. Only the store was packed. I’ve never seen so many people needing so much attention. And, in my effort to be a great sales associate, I pushed myself. I talked to everyone. I asked the customers questions. I got different sizes from the sales floor, did personal shopping, measured hems, found dressing rooms, asked how the pants fit, ran to see if we had items in back stock. The frenzy never stopped. I got 15 minutes to step outside to eat half a banana and some grapes and take a four-second pee break. (And yes, I came back inside for the pee part of the break.)

I started to get a familiar feeling -– the one I had when my son was a week old,  which was, “I had such a great life. What have I done?!?” (Note to new parents: you’ll stop asking yourself this question after three years.) The herculean effort it took to get out the door in the mornings, the commute, and the fast-paced job quickly became too much. I decided that the entire thing had become a lot of work and no fun at all.

And finally, at the end of the second week, I got a cold sore. Nothing says “I’m under extreme stress” like herpes simplex virus on your lip. It was time to quit.

If you’re reading this thinking I am a wuss, a high-maintenance brat, or a lazy prima donna, you would be right on all accounts. I’ve taught my child a number of lessons here, such as: when the going gets tough, it’s best to quit. Or: it’s better to luxuriate in your pajamas and a cup of coffee in the mornings than to shower and race out the door. And: retail jobs are hard. It’s much more difficult to work in retail than to sit in a cubicle appearing to be busy while surreptitiously looking on the Internet. (Unless of course your Internet usage is being monitored, and the log says you’ve been spending time on a gambling site. But that’s a conversation for another time.)

I reasoned that the amount I got paid wasn’t worth the stress, that it cost me more in child care than I made per hour at the job. But the reality is that I couldn’t cut it. Many parents successfully work while raising children. But for me, after a full two weeks on the job, I resigned. And I am beyond embarrassed. I warned everyone that I was going to be very busy with my new job. How am I going to tell them that I’m back to being very un-busy? I could barely tell my husband the truth. When he asked, “Aren’t you going to work today?”, I just murmured, “Oh, I don’t think I’m going to go today. I don’t know. I like that shirt. Where did you get it?” Thank goodness he is easily distracted and enjoys compliments or else I really would have been held accountable.

So now all of my friends (and my husband) can read of my not-so-long and not-so-illustrious career as a sales associate. My family can once again shake their heads at my failed attempt at employment, and my friends will be reminded of how pathetic I really am. But the one glimmer of hope here is that I now can spend most of my day watching reruns of Oprah’s Lifeclass. Which is good, considering I might need some help with my bruised ego. And I’ll have unlimited hours to watch The Bachelor, which began filming its latest season just a few weeks ago, and should be airing soon. I quit just in time.

Print This Post Print This Post

Discussion Area - Leave a Comment