I finally caved and applied for a part-time job. 3 months ago, I never would have imagined I’d end up here. My naive optimism coupled with a brief One Tree Hill obsession lead me to believe that shortly after graduation, I’d be a young, hip professional, “doing lunch” downtown, grabbing drinks with coworkers, shopping at Banana Republic, and other sassy things. To be completely honest, I thought I’d have an iPhone by now. Since I can barely score an interview, let alone a decent paycheck, I applied for a part-time job working retail. Obviously I didn’t get it. How embarrassing. I blame it on the fact that I’ve never worked retail before, which is actually quite surprising considering my extensive work history. I’ve worked at a smoothie bar, a sandwich shop (where I wasn’t allowed to use the meat slicer), a tanning bed, a fruit basket company, a salon, a golf course, and a restaurant/bar. In my own defense, most of these were temporary summer positions. The golf course was an awesome job because I got to work with my friend Lauren. We were Beer Cart drivers and cruised around the course all day in golf carts. One afternoon I took a turn too fast, tipped over and cracked the cart window, but other than that things went pretty well.
The fruit basket company made “floral” arrangements out of fresh fruit. Monday through Friday, I’d sit in the kitchen from 9-4 putting grapes on toothpicks and watching soap operas. I didn’t choose to watch 4+ hours of daytime drama, but the older women I worked with loved their soaps and thus forced me to learn everything about them. The characters, the characters’ occupations, the dead characters, the dead characters who came back to life, the boyfriends, the girlfriends, the boyfriends and girlfriends who were actually plotting to kill each other… The list goes on. It was a total mess and I could barely focus on my toothpicking.
At first, things at the fruit shop were pretty uncomfortable. Especially after my father decided to pay me a surprise visit during my first few days of employment. My boss came into the back one day and told me that I had a visitor. I was mildly excited…. until my dad strolled into the kitchen wearing a Hawaiian shirt and Crocs. I couldn’t decide if I was more mortified by his presence or by his footwear. He whipped out his phone and starting taking pictures of me while I washed cantaloupes in the sink. For the record, this is very out of character for my dad — his behavior, not the Crocs. Unfortunately the Crocs are an everyday occurrence, no matter how many times I tell him that they make me nauseous.
Sunday was my time to shine. Sunday I was the delivery driver. I drove one of those huge, white, square delivery vans. I could barely see over the steering wheel. I needed the money, so I never told my boss that I had the navigational skills of toddler. I’ve lived in Louisville for most of my life, but I still don’t know how to get anywhere outside of a 5 mile radius around my house. My dad hates this about me and has threaten to confiscate my keys until I take a “map test” of Louisville roads. He decided to enforce this after I had to have a search party sent for me when I got lost on my way to field hockey camp. What a mess. I couldn’t take the bus with the rest of my team because I had to go to a wedding, so I decided to drive to camp by myself after the wedding. Long story short, I got on the wrong highway…. about 5 times. I ended up in a very strange, remote area and called my dad sobbing and screaming. Since I can’t decipher road signs, I couldn’t really tell him where I was or how I’d gotten there. He was still at the wedding, so he rounded up a couple of friends and sent a search party to come find me. My former tennis coach found me a few hours after my initial departure. I never made it to camp.
Back to the delivery driving. My boss could never understand why it took me so long to complete a round of deliveries, or why the gas tank was inexplicably low when I returned. I remember one time in particular I had to take a basket downtown. I realized I was on the wrong highway when I was about 1/4 of the way to Lexington. I called my dad (crying hysterically, of course) to figure out where I had gone wrong. He just sighed and told me that when I came home from work he would be taking my keys for good.
To make matters worse, I sometimes I had to deliver to some pretty dicey areas. One day in particular, I had a basket going to a woman who lived on a street so questionable that I was sure I’d need to hire a police escort. Our store policy mandated that before making any deliveries, we were to call the recipients to make sure that they would be home to accept the basket. I called the woman and began to explain about the delivery, and I asked her if there was a good time for me to drop off the basket. She said, “No! I’m busy today! I have to go get some juice!” We talked for a minute about juice, and then she gave me a detailed itinerary of all the activities she had planned for the day.
Our relationship took a turn for the worse when we moved on to discussing her personal life. She launched into a full rundown of all her current family issues and started yelling at me about how she and her niece didn’t get along anymore, or something like that. Confused, I listened to her tantrum and tried talk her through it. Things got a little ugly when she decided that I sounded like her niece, so I handed the phone to my boss.
Despite this woman’s obvious insanity, my boss gave me the thumbs-up to continue with the delivery. Terrified, I loaded up the van and made a mental note to do a little research on workers’ comp when/if I returned. When I arrived at her house, I was greeted by a dog who had every intention of chewing off my kneecaps. The dog took one look at me and began throwing itself into the fence surrounding the house. He jumped so high that I feared he’d fly over the top and attach himself to my face. Contracting rabies has never been high on my to-do list, so I kept my distance from the welcome committee and stood in the street.
Finally, the woman emerged from the house. I was incredibly nervous, seeing as she had verbally assaulted me via telephone not even an hour ago. She was wearing cropped yoga pants and flip-flops, so I thought for a moment that we’d be able to bond over our matching wardrobes. Unfortunately, this was not the case. She had not yet recovered from her morning tantrum and immediately began yelling at me again. Since I refused to get within biting distance of her deranged pet, I just stood there in the street, holding the dumb fruit basket in my arms as she screamed at me from her front door.
I couldn’t understand why she was so mad at me when I was bearing gifts. I later figured it out when she told me to go away, that she didn’t want to look at me because I looked like her niece. She said a few more things about me, which I’ve decided to omit as they are a bit inappropriate (but still hilarious). After about 3 minutes of verbal abuse, I realized that I had a decision to make: do I stay and fight for my life? Or do I sprint back to the van and forget the delivery all together? I’ll base my decision to stay on my unfailing dedication and work-ethic (hire me, please).
Growing up with an older sister, I’ve been victim to many a temper tantrum. When my sister hit puberty, she was so moody that my mom actually thought she was doing drugs. Seriously. My mom picked up a pamphlet on teen drug use at CVS one time. I myself used to throw a mean tantrum back in my hormone-crazed middle school days, so I knew that if I waited in the street long enough this woman would eventually tire and simmer down. I was right, and when she had finally exasperated herself and calmed down, she told me I could come in the yard, that her dog wouldn’t hurt me. Yeah. Right. I handed her the basket over the fence and booked it back to my van.
I didn’t make many deliveries after that.
So, here I am: A 22-year-old summa cum laude graduate who can’t even score a part-time job working retail. It looks as if I’ll be staying in my parents’ upstairs office for longer than I had originally anticipated.