I remember when I worked at a commercial grocery store -- you know the kind. You cannot buy just a regular container of mustard, you need to get a whole gallon. Cheese is sold in pounds rather than ounces and no, ma'am, I'm sorry, but you have to purchase all six and a half dozen eggs in that case. Right. You get it.
I got that job when I was seventeen, and it was such a step up from the janky, ghetto movie theater that I had worked at for the two years preceding the jump to the lovely land of cashiering. Don't get me wrong, I loved the theater too...for the first three months at least. That isn't the point though -- I'm sure I have a few blogs within me about that first job.
Anyway, the grocery store seemed incredible -- huge, shiny, and corporate, it was miles away from the family owned and operated movie theater. I was suddenly the youngest person employed, save for one of my best friends, Kelsey, who is five days younger than me. She and I were the Minors, the Untouchables, the High Schoolers. Glamorous, yes? Not really. There were probably less than twenty people who worked at this particular location; three of them were older women, mothers and wives, four of us were young women ranging from 17 to 23 or so [our names were Kelsey, Kellie, Kristen, and Carly. How obnoxious is that?], and then there were probably twelve guys between the ages of 19 and 24 who worked there. Those of you who know me at all can guess what I loved most about this wonderful little store -- I was surrounded by fun boys. My favorite.
Again, I am digressing. As a seventeen-year-old high school junior, my primary reason for having a job was frivolous: I needed spending money. Yes, I paid for some of my gas at that point, but it's not like I had bills or needs. I only had wants. Since 20 to a maximum of 30 hours a week at this grocery store covered magazines, make-up, jewelry, and going out with my friends, it was more than enough for me. It is understandable then, why I could not grasp how some of my co-workers held two jobs.
I could not begin to understand why these people wanted two jobs. I could not begin to understand how they handled the nightmare of scheduling conflicts. I could not begin to imagine the sheer hours they put in. Now, it's not like the grocery store was some sort of slave barge, because that hardly describes it. I spent many blissful hours sitting on squeaky blue carts in the back room talking to my co-workers, and just as many hidden away in the coolers "sampling" the cheesecake that was scheduled for demo. Some nights we were so slow, I reclined in shopping carts as if I were Cleopatra and I begged my favorite manager Guy to push me around the store. He let Kelsey and I climb on top of the freezer once and hide behind the huge boxes that were stored up there, so that we could scare one of the stockers by throwing packages of napkins at him after we closed. We worked hard, but we knew how to avoid our work just as well as we knew how to sell our products. It was a good balance.
Fast forward two years and here I am, frittering my time away at a desk and computer, only to rush out the door early to get to the private, invitation-only opening of the new restaurant at which I am now employed. Today will easily be the first of many twelve-hour days this summer, which is an overwhelming thought to say the least. I mean, I suppose I have been planning on it; my outline of the summer was "Work a lot, read a lot, get a tan." I have been able to do all of those things so far [although my tan is compliments of...modern technology, let's say....]. So far so good? I cannot decide.
I'm all about working hard and then playing hard. This crazy schedule has plenty of positive aspects to it: I'm learning about what a real work ethic is, I'm getting great experience for later employment through college, I'm making some decent money, and I'm out of the house [which has been a lot better lately, but I still prefer to keep a little cushion of absence between my family and me]. More than just that, though, it makes the time I have to myself more sweet, and the time I get to spend with my friends even sweeter still. I am learning the value of more than just money, but also of time.
So I am sorry that I cannot hang out tonight. I am sorry that this summer is so vastly different than the last few, that we are all growing up, getting more realistic jobs with longer hours. I'm sorry that we are all spread out like never before, that my friends are all in Nashville or Chicago or Allendale or Grand Rapids or London, and you who are here are festering away at your own jobs. On one hand, it makes me really sad, and it makes these countless hours feel empty. On the other hand, though, it's kind of cool. We are adults now. We're growing up, developing our goals and dreams, pursuing the lives that we want.
Working two jobs is no one's idea of fun, however, it is empowering. I feel like I am at the edge of an enormous pool, and I have to take a huge breath and dive in. So here I go, diving into the waters of adulthood. Hold your breath!!