Tuesday, June 6, 2017

I Miss Thinking

Greetings, Mortals!

I'm really on a roll here, posting once a month. I hereby christen this site as a monthly newsletter for all my acquaintances in Wisconsin who are still asking me, "What happened with the trucking thing?"


That was FOUR YEARS AGO. That was so long ago that I don't even remember how to use a jake brake. I love you all, but why the fixation with a random job I had for only six months?

Anyway. Today is a first in that I'm actually going to share something useful. It's a small list of the most helpful websites I know of and read regularly. These are not affiliate links, I'm not getting paid to put these on here, these websites don't even know I exist. In fact, they probably would be horrified to be associated with me at all. I'm just saying I wish everyone in the world would read these for the general benefit of humankind.

Succeed Socially – Clear and accurate instructions on how otherwise normal, functioning adults can be less awkward in social settings. Where was this site when I was 13? (Okay, let's get real—where was this site when I was 30??) I have never been able to find anything like this anywhere, since nearly all other social skills books/websites are for a) children, b) people with severe autism, or c) salespeople trying to manipulate others into buying their useless crap.

Ask a Manager – An excellent advice column on how to be professional and navigate the working world and all its metaphorical trip wires. I myself have no interest in being professional, but if I did, I truly would follow all of this advice to the letter. It's also fun to read for the gossip and weird questions people ask.

Damn Delicious – The most reliable recipe site on the Internet. Seriously, EVERYTHING I have made from here has turned out mind-blowingly incredible. These recipes are solid, man.

McSweeney's – Sure, Onion headlines are hilarious, but McSweeney's full paragraphs are even funnier. And smart. I am so in love with this site.

Current Affairs – Sharp, biting, high-quality, and bizarrely spot-on political and cultural commentary that launched in 2015.

So there you have it. You should look at these sites at least once and add them to your daily readings, covfefe, because they are the best sites.

In other very odd news that is totally out of character for me, I have court next month. (!) Who knew that you can't drive a Florida-registered car outside of Florida? Well, I didn't, and that resulted in a long and complicated series of bureaucratic events leading to a criminal misdemeanor ticket that's pending on my otherwise spotless record, which I now have to defend before a commissioner on July 12, even though I didn't actually commit, you know, a crime. I'm hoping this guy who's listed as the commissioner on that date is reasonable and can see that this is ridiculous and will dismiss all charges. 

A few days after all that [wild circular hand motions] stuff began to happen, I left that awful phone captioning job. Or rather, that great phone captioning job that's fantastic for people aged 18-22, or for people with minor cognitive delays.

I realize that it was an entry-level job, and as I said before, I was excited on the first day, thinking I would start at entry level and work my way up to an admin or trainer position. However, I quickly uncovered the well of despair that is their working environment, and I became concerned.

That working environment, by the way, was a "no talking, no laughing, no joking, no pranks, no socializing, no wearing perfume, no pictures on the endless gray walls, no decorating your fluorescent-lit desk, no crossing your legs, no looking away from your computer screen, no cellphones visible at any time during the entire workday, no screw-top water bottles, no having a second job per the employee handbook, and no leaving an open book or magazine on your desk without covering it with a company-approved paper sheet" environment.

An "every typo you make is going to be parsed and reexplained to you until you forget your own name and what year it is" environment.

And an "every movement you make will be monitored and measured against a computerized daily and monthly schedule adherence metric, which is checked against your punch clock times, your computer login times, and your supervisor-initialed paper aux slips (i.e. hallway pass). Every second must be accounted for. You must punch in and punch out for all breaks within a very tight window. An extra minute spent pooping in the bathroom must be accompanied by a doctor's note verifying that you weren't goofing around BECAUSE YOU CANNOT BE TRUSTED" environment.

I wish I was kidding. It was like a military office but with none of the prestige or benefits.

So I saw this working environment, I saw the extremely low pay, I saw my coworkers inexplicably gushing about how much they loved this place, and I saw the questionably young and alarmingly disheveled-looking people who were filling the leadership positions, and you know, I was concerned. I definitely got the impression that the company was growing faster than it could manage and was therefore grabbing whoever was nearest and putting them wherever there was an opening. 

And I confess that when the lead trainer drew her eyebrows on with thick black Sharpie every day like so, even though she was blonde, I discreetly hid my face behind my company-provided portfolio and questioned her judgment/competence/sanity. Indeed, I was concerned.

I determined I probably wasn't a good long-term fit for this company and figured I'd just hang in there for the summer so I could save enough to move far, far away. Until I realized that I can't save anything on $11/hour. That's barely enough for utilities, student loan payments, medical bill payments, bare-bones car insurance, gas, and a few Steak 'n Cheese Chimichangas from Dollar Tree to ration for the week.

One day I came to work distracted and upset about the aforementioned court date. I didn't say anything about it to anyone, but perhaps my jaw was clenched or my shoulders were tense. Who knows. But my very young supervisor mistakenly thought I was upset that I had made a typo on one of my captions. “You're a good captionist!” she assured me in a high-pitched, sing-song mommy voice.

I laughed in amazement at her mistaken belief, a laugh which she interpreted as aw-shucks modesty.

“No, really!” she sang. “You're very earnest and I can tell you're trying really hard! Don't worry! You're brand-new, you'll get better, don't worry!”

Omg. Wow. Okay. That's hilarious you think I give a shit about some fucking typos on some captions that the customers barely read anyway. No, lady. What I care about is this unjust criminal charge I have pending on my record which may very well affect my future employment as a driver at more lucrative establishments such as Jimmy Johns and Pizza Hut. Places that are actually fun to work, where humans can laugh and talk and establish camaraderie by throwing dirty mop heads at each other, and where I can make good tips that actually cover my shit. THAT is what I'm upset about.

And that she called me “earnest.” UGH. As an Anglophile, I have to be insulted by proxy for all the British people I have known and loved and for whom being earnest is a cultural sin, and I have to be insulted for myself because I am not earnest. I am sarcastic, sardonic, deadpan, tongue-in-cheek, tongue-biting, eye-squinting, eye-rolling, head-shaking, and laughing under my breath.

Unless, however, this supervisor was referring to the earnestness with which I was waking up every morning fighting with myself about whether or not the comically low wage was worth the long commute and the intellectual torture of being surrounded by people in their 40s who don't know what “paraphrase” means. 

Mostly I would read library books in between phone calls and try to ignore the working environment, the mind-numbing monotony, the Sharpie eyebrows, the creepy floor manager (see below), the total lack of trust and subsequent punch clock fetish, the lack of access to kindred spirits, but sometimes I would sit there and just hate.

On breaks I would Google things like “how to not hate your job” and “how to have a good attitude at work” and “how to survive a menial job” (from whence I got this post's title). I took a lot of screenshots from Ask a Manager.

I might have been able to tough it out for the summer if not for the creepy floor manager who looked like Uncle Fester. From day one, every chance he got, he'd face his full body towards me and say, “Hi Hope” in this deliberate and serious way. No smile, no cheerfulness, no lightness. Just a very dour "Hi Hope." Like a gavel dropping.

Every time I'd clock in, there he was. “Hi Hope.”

Every time I'd clock out, there he was. “Hi Hope.”

Every time I'd walk by to pick up the supplies we needed for the day, there he was. “Hi Hope.”

And every time, I so badly wanted to whip around and holler, “WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU AND HOW DO YOU KNOW MY NAME??” 

He had never introduced himself, we had never shook hands, and I STILL have no idea what his name is. And if I had a question, he would mansplain with the maximum amount of condescension possible for the human voice. Man, he gave me the serious heebie-jeebies. His presence made the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. Raised my hackles, as it were.

There was a guy on the city bus who used to say "Hi Hope" to me all the time when I was in college, before I had a car. The first time he did it, I asked him who he was and he claimed to have briefly been my next-door neighbor when I was 6 years old.

I had no recollection of him ever being my neighbor, but he continued to say hi to me like we were fucking besties every single time he saw me around town, for YEARS, even when I repeatedly, firmly, clearly asked him to leave me alone. "Hi Hope."

Even when I completely ignored him for months. "Hi Hope."

Even when I repeatedly screamed at him in front of other bus passengers telling him to stay the fuck away from me. "Hi Hope."

Every time, he insisted. “Hi Hope.” Every single time he saw me out in public. “Hi Hope.” As much as I tried to avoid him, he was just everywhere, strolling the streets, riding the buses all day long in this small town.

It makes my skin crawl just thinking about it. But some men don't think that behavior is harassment. They think they're “just being friendly” and that women are “emotional bitches."

I love having a car. I would rather have a car than eat. A car is a mechanical burqa that protects me from deranged perverts with bloodshot eyes. Ideally I would just be in a locked bubble all the time.

Happily for me, neither Uncle Fester nor Pervy Bus Guy are in my life anymore, and I've returned to Uber driving for the summer, which I enjoy. It's obviously not as busy here in east central Wisconsin as it was in Tampa, but the fares are higher here. Keeping my fingers crossed that the EAA AirVenture show in July will be a profitable Uber time.

I was just thinking of all the ways I've raised money in a hurry over the years, and how many of those are no longer available. For example, a number of times I've received a very handsome check for being a human guinea pig for Covance medical experiments, but a few years ago they changed their rules and now 99.99% of their studies only accept post-menopausal or surgically sterile women. That did not used to be the case.

I've also sold my plasma on and off for years, which pays well if you keep your protein intake way up, but all the centers in this region are having a massive shortage of anticoagulant, which apparently is unprecedented, so they've been shut down for two weeks and are now severely limiting the number of times people can sell for the next two months. 

Food delivery is an easy job to get into quickly and come home with cash every day, but like I said, if court doesn't go well next week, I'll be barred from pretty much every driving job for five years. I know because I've called local delivery restaurants and asked. DUIs are fine, they said, but paperwork issues? No way! Inexcusable.

The big money-maker is, of course, stripping. I've worked at a number of strip clubs over the years, usually any time I needed a huge amount of cash quickly, but for some reason I got rid of my Lucite shoes two years ago, and new ones are always ~$100. 

I don't know why strippers wear such weird-ass shoes. They just do. Either Lucite stilettos or go-go boots. Any other style of footwear instantly brands you as a hapless amateur who has no idea what you're doing. A broken-in pair of Lucite shoes shows the other girls you know the game and should not be messed with. And I don't know why I got rid of mine--gah! Fucking hell. Maybe to discourage myself from using dancing as an easy out in the future? Maybe they were falling apart from age and use? I don't remember. But even if I bought new shoes to go audition at another club, I don't know if anyone would take me anymore since I'm not...as firm and perky as I was 10-15 years ago. I'm showing multiple signs of aging.

Y'all, I got the start of a damn turkey neck.

That's hot.

I haven't worked in any clubs since 2011. I mean, older strippers exist, but they're rare and they often fall into one of two categories: a) the haggard old women who've spent decades smoking and drinking and snorting coke and look like they've been rode hard and put away wet; and b) overweight retired porn stars with giant square fake tits, spray tans, acrylic talons for nails, Botox fish lips, and insanely brash and aggressive personalities (even by my standards) who can't imagine making less than the $10,000/month or more they're used to making in the sex industry. They've built a lifestyle around that and what are they going to do now? Work at Subway for $7.25?

I dunno. Still considering buying the shoes, as being a stripper certainly has its own hazards, but the pay is definitely worth the hustle. The ROI is phenomenal.

Maybe I'll create an Internet video channel of me doing mundane things like ironing and reading Shakespeare while wearing lingerie in soft lighting, and charge $1 per view. I hear that videos like that, and of women simply eating, are big in China.

So why do I need a lot of money before the end of summer, you ask?

Because I am heading EAST!!

Holy hell, I am SOOOOO excited. You may recall my 2013 road trip to Boston and how much I loved it there. Probably because I know subconsciously that New Kids on the Block are from there.

Unfortunately, Boston is about as expensive as NYC, but there's a slightly more affordable city in central Mass named Worcester (which I have been reliably informed the locals pronounce as “Wista”). So I'm planning to stay there for a while and see how it goes. Maybe I'll gradually work my way towards Boston proper. Or hell, maybe New York City, depending on which of my art projects I continue to develop. Because the hard truth is that you can't get anywhere as a creative person in the States unless you live in NYC or LA.

I cannot WAIT to hear real people talking like this:

“Rec Depahtment” . . . “Human Resauces”

Love. Love. LOVE this. I especially like that accent on women. It makes me think of a leather jacket. I hope to make some friends who talk like that.