with a monkey wrench

Last summer when I came home from school, I didn’t really know where my life was going. Better yet, I didn’t know where I wanted it to go. It didn’t matter though, because I had determination. I made a list of things to do and I did them. I threw myself into deep cleaning the house, organizing the closets, coaxing the front yard back to life, and finding a job. The last one proved to be the hardest. I started with high expectations, but they lowered as I felt more and more defeated. I submitted my 100th job application to Firehouse Subs. Nothing. By a seemingly random chain of events (the way most things have gone in my life) I found a temporary, part time job. I would work random, eight-hour shifts in a dark, cold lab. I loved it. I loved the long drive out into the middle of nowhere, the flexibility, the relaxed work environment, the fact that I wasn’t servin’ up french fries all summer. And after a few weeks I started meeting the people that worked there. It was a bunch of rowdy, unruly guys. In my first interaction with them, they called each other “heathen” and “mongrel” and I was absolutely in stitches at their antics. Just like that, my job got better. I’d come to work in flip-flops, cutoffs, and hair in a messy bun, eager to be the best employee and get good test results. I worked hard because I liked my job.

The summer came and went. Most of the other summer employees went back to school. Plant material wasn’t available for testing anymore. I still came to work every day, and was tasked with whatever random job needed to be done that day. After a few weeks of breath holding, am-I-going-to-lose-my-job limbo, I got an answer. I was sitting outside in the dirt peeling stickers off a truck when I was offered a full time, salaried-with-benefits, real grown up job. With no real title and essentially doing the same random tasks that varied daily, I was given a chance to stay.

Boy I tell you what, that was one of the greatest chances of my life. I changed through the next few months—a lot of things, both deep and shallow. I loved going to work. Like, Sunday night would be thrilling because the next day was Monday and I could go back to work. I would stay late and sometimes go in on Saturdays just because. I distinctly remember walking in the doors and marveling that I didn’t ever get sick of that place; that I knew I probably never would. I made some of the best friends I’ve ever made and really made some strides in the whole being a human thing.

And yet, as I’m sure you can tell from the past-tense writing, something changed.

On April 30th, around 2:30 in the afternoon, I got fired from my first real job.

Okay, fired sounds harsh, I know. Technically I was laid off; I didn’t do anything wrong except thinking I could keep a job at a company that couldn’t afford to pay me. I wasn’t the only one let go that day, but it still stung. I was blindsided. I felt stupid for everything—for what I was wearing, for the way I’d skipped around the office earlier that morning, for everything. Rather that absolutely lose it in the office, I politely excused myself, walked out of the office completely composed (THIS IS HUGE FOR ME, GUYS. I AM AN EMOTIONAL TRAIN WRECK 90% OF THE TIME), and drove to a little back road where I parked and cried.

I lost the safest environment I’d ever been in, other than my home.
I can’t hang out with my friends anymore and get paid for it.
I was comfortable there, and any kind of change is absolutely earth shattering for someone like me.
Yeah, the friends thing again.

The friends thing. I didn’t leave there with any malice in my heart, nor did anyone hold any towards me. I left there knowing that people like me and they would have kept me if they could.
I was liked there so much that I had three job interviews the next day, one of which wanted to hire me immediately. All three interviews were lined up by people at that company who were sad to see me go.
It’s still a safe place. I still have those friends, even though I only get to see them occasionally.
Nobody really thought I was stupid for skipping around the office.

I did get offered a job the day after being fired (sorry, laid off). Today was my first day of work. It was only a mild disaster. At my previous job, I didn’t have to make a good impression or remember peoples’ names or learn how the company worked (I already knew all of this from the stint over the summer). Today was overwhelming as I tried to ward off the waves of despair that flooded over me every time I tried to remember a co-workers’ name. Every time I answered a phone and almost got the company name wrong. Every time I brought a customer back to the wrong office because I cannot remember which one is Jim (luckily that only happened once). Every time I remembered my other job and how much fun they were probably having (which is probably zero because I no longer work there, let’s be honest). Every time I went to the fridge to get a bottle of water and think that this brand of water sucks, why can’t we have the brand my other job had. And I tell ya what, silencing all the Debbie downer thoughts while trying to learn the ropes of a construction company do NOT go hand in hand. I don’t recommend it.

As overwhelming as it may be, I know it’ll get better. There are so many wonderful things that I already love about this new job, and I’m sure I’ll grow to love it as much as the last one and that I’ll eventually start skipping around the office again. 

(and the really good news is that I'm still getting paid from the old job while working the new one. double paychecks is something i'll never complain about.) 

[title from little miss can't be wrong by the spin doctors]

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