Thursday, September 27, 2007

Can I Be Honest with Ya?

I don't like to work for other people. I had a spat (to put it mildly) with Paul last night, and some ugly things came out. For all the excitement I get out of thinking of jobs I like (crafting, teaching, sales, relief aid) I was recalling all the jobs I have had (umpteen years ago) and the bosses, the co-workers, and the general public.

The public will always be the public--some nice and polite and others who seem to live life at the corner of Whine and Complain. I can remember very few. I do remember one husband coming into G.Briggs (a clothing store in Timonium, long since out of business) where I was cashiering. He stormed in there straight to the register, with a stack of dresses and pants hanging over one shoulder and three shopping bags over the other. His wife trailed shamefully behind. He was irate with her and proceeded to broadcast that her compulsive shopping was putting them in the poorhouse. Indeed this woman was in the store every other weekend (probably when they got paid, although she always charged it). Every time, her ticket was in the $500-800 range.

Co-workers, for the most part, have been pleasant people in my memory. Waiting tables we servers always sized up customers and said, "You take them!"--the large families who left big messes and small tips. I usually took them because I knew the secret was to bring kids crackers right away, endless drinks with lids, and stuff to doodle with. I was probably tipped better because of it. I didn't want certain customers (whom I won't stereotype but they do live up to it) who ran you back and forth to the kitchen and only left a quarter. Still others I'd want even though I'd knew they be picky, picky, picky but leave generous tips.

But my biggest problems were my bosses. The women were headstrong hypocrites (except for one woman when I was working in a campus publication office. She was a single lady who didn't make it as a nun for I don't know what reason; she wasn't sleazy or mouthy or a big spender, from what I could tell) but she had the personality of a mountain goat. Cautious, aloof, skittish. Little did I know that if the worst you can say about your boss is that she or he is cautious, aloof, and skittish, you've got it good. One woman was a hotheaded Guatemalan. When she got mad, she used all the worst English and Spanish words she could string together in a solid minute. And she hated the smell of gladioli. "They remind me of a funeral parlor when my GRAN-moh-ther died." It didn't matter that these particular flowers had been a special delivery for one of the hostesses from her boyfriend, but Guatemalan Boss had to tell you her opinion of everything. I think of her every time I see (or smell) glads. Another female boss was very large and of a nonwhite race. She had it in for me. Well, me and a half dozen other girls like me. I think she tried to get me fired by making my drawer come up short routinely. No one on the floor believed her and I was the one with the goody-two-shoes reputation, but she convinced accouting. No matter that I was the type who'd get nervous if I accidentally stuck a restaurant pen in my purse. I was transferred to another location because there was no proof against me, just accusations by this large, nasty, racist boss.

If the women were nasty, the men were slimy. I wasn't raised to know anyone like that. My dad never made crude jokes, never hinted at looking at other women, and modeled honesty by returning too much money mistakenly given him, even if it was just a penny. So to work for men who laughed about cheating customers, cussed like sailors, and asked female employees for favors in exchange for raises, well I was shocked, appalled, and naive. So unaccustomed to that lifestyle I was, and so unaccustomed to balking anyone in authority, especially an employer, that I resolved never to work for a man again, nor a woman if I could help it once I was financially secure. I prayed my future husband would want to be the sole breadwinner and would want me to be a homemaker for years and years (forever) until (or if) I decided I was ready to go back to work. And when I was ready to work, it would be for myself, thank you very much.

Ah, well, funny how life doesn't work the way you plan very often. I've been grateful to have had a husband whose income has sufficed and who has supported this easy lifestyle for me. And of course, I've taken this easy road for granted. Now I am facing the music, and last night went into a tirade to my husband. I didn't realize how much of my ugly past I had squashed, and how much of it was related to employment. "So help me, if anyone, ANYone tells ME what to do, I'll tell him what to do with it."

Paul snickered. (The man who has worked at the same company since 1984 and has hated it since the late '90s.)

"I mean, if anyone disses me, boy," i continued without taking a breath--"I am not gonna take it. I am not some naive little college doormat anymore. I am a 42 year old woman who is perfectly capable of shoving it back. I have been multitasking for 20 years, not only can I do six things at once, I can do them with a baby on my hip, a phone to my ear, a dinner on the stove, and a dog in my way. Ain't a mother alive that doesn't have marketable skills, and I tell you what, I don't need a job bad enough to take crap off nobody."

Paul snickered again and got his Bible. "Oh, don't preach," I said, "you know what I mean. I don't mean I won't take directions or do stuff I don't want to do like paperwork and lifting heavy boxes and stuff. I mean, you know what I mean."

He opened and read to me this:

First Peter 2: 18(A) Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust.

"Okay, I'll be subject till they give me moral reasons not to. Then, baby, I will blow a big, fat whistle and call the cops and the Baltimore Sun, and sic my tall, strong husband and body-building son on him. How would ya like that?"

He snickered again. (I think he secretly likes it when I make an armored warrior out of him in my mind. Not that I've ever seen him throw a punch. As for Ben, I have no doubt at all he could and would knock someone's lights out if he got angry enough. I haven't seen that either--thankfully!-- but the young man's got some serious muscles. I love to think of him also as an armored warrior.)

Emotional baggage? Naaaa. Eager to return to work? Naaaa.


Anonymous said...

I wish I was as against working as you. My husband has to constantly reign me in so I don't work too much. (You see, I'm better at working outside of the home than in the home. I know that I need to concentrate on becoming a better homemaker rather than focusing on escaping it or saying "That's just how I am". ) Thanks for desiring to be in your home so much. I want to desire that too.

Zoanna said...

Well, I can certainly use improvement there, too. It's not that I don't want to work at all outside the home: I don't want to work for someone else and I don't want to give up what little time I already have with older 3 kids.

Amy said...

all I can think of is that song:

"I'm a woman...W-O-M-A-N!"


Anonymous said...

I love this, you had me cracking up!

Vicki said...

Oh Zo... I don't know if I can comfort you too much... I have been working at a job I dislike in unsafe working environments, inhaling cigarette smoke while trying to help people learn how to parent their children while having fleas jump all over me and hope a roach doesn't climb up my leg. I have actually had to talk with a hand over my mouth at one home because the fruit flies were so severe I was afaid they would fly in my mouth. (I did have one go in my eye.) I have worked in a crack house with a wanted fugitive upstairs and also gone into homes where I wasn't sure I was coming out. I have hated every minute.

But be encouraged the Lord has given me strength to press on and I know that He is making me more like Jesus. He is protecting me and teaching me to trust in Him. It is not easy and I have to continually die to myself and trust that the Lord knows what He is doing. The Lord will open a door when He wants me to leave this job and go to a new one.

Surrender to His will Zo, and it might be really hard, but you will be more like the Savior and it will be good. Don't worry... I promise whatever job you get the Lord will give you opportunities to cry out to Him and die to yourself daily. Even if you are working for yourself. :)

Jessi said...

LOVE your honesty Zo!! Hang in there... we're going through my mom looking for a job right now, but it needs to be a rather good-paying office job because of her having to foot all her expenses since my dad died w/no life insurance. She's decided this week she really can no longer keep her house and will have to sell and find an apartment. It's a rough time, but like you, I'm realizing how good I have it to be able to be the stay-at-home mom that I want to and appreciate my husband taking care of provision for our family (well, God taking care of providing through my husband...)

FishMama said...

How much $ do you need to bring in a month? I can't find the post where you said the amount.

I think you should do freelance editing and writing, Miss Apostrophe :) I can send you some links if you're interested. This summer I've averaged $200 a week and that is without really putting in much time.