Image by phr3qu3ncy via Flickr
How I got from Point A to Point Z
to … what was the point?
My uprooting and eventual flotsam status in the deep end of the unemployment sea began soon after I left my job of nine plus years at a mommy magazine from which I needed a change, not a Chapter 11 restructuring. At the time, change seemed inevitable despite the fact that change and I never really got along, and I preferred wearing an old pair of broken in sneakers to new shiny unyielding ones.
The fact that I took a chance at all was nothing short of a miracle in a life that rarely deviated from old habits rooted in a lack of discipline, compounded by zero self-confidence, not to mention time management issues and a propensity for being late. Enjoying the same old same old ruled my life and kept me returning to ham and cheese themed lunches.
At 54, I’m not what you’d call a young duckling, yet I certainly should have ducked when the bakery owner hurled the job offer at me. If I had only known the owner discarded people like used cupcake doilies, I wouldn’t have jumped from the frying pan into the convection oven and stayed seated on my old broken chair, at my wobbly desk, another year or two longer. Had I known, but hindsight is best viewed through a high-powered lens and my lens prescription didn’t compensate for astigmatism.
After nine plus years, I had reached the point of no return with, Stu and Lou, the two co-owners of the mommy magazine who preferred screaming at deafening sound decibels rather than speaking at tempered librarian tones.
Stu and Lou’s loud vocal profusions, prompted by their tendency to provide conflicting directives to the staff, usually left everyone dazed and confused including Stu and Lou. The diametrically opposite duo also had a knack for giving strange and insulting gifts during the holidays. I once received a $25 gift card for Christmas with a star registered in my name. I was not amused.
On a brisk September afternoon, the last day of my two-week holding pattern, I grabbed my baggage and took off, bidding adieu to a screaming Stu and Lou. The words “We need two more weeks,” followed me down the hall until I slammed the door behind, silencing their screams forever. My nine year time out at the mommy magazine had finally ended.
With thoughts spinning inside my skull like a universe caught in a cosmic flush, I approached the other side of the New York border ready to start work as a customer service rep for a bakery where the cupcakes were nut-free, but the owner was not.
Frank, the CEO, CFO, and pistachio in charge, enjoyed several hobbies, one of which involved pacing the length of the office while shouting on his cell phone. Apparently, my ears wouldn’t be safe here either.
Blessed with wide-angle peripheral vision, Frank’s other hobby involved office reconnaissance and searching for employee transgressions even if there weren’t any. It was unfortunate for me that my desk stood in the range of his special ops sweep.
Frank’s pacing route started at the front door, continued past my desk, and ended in the back of the office at the assembly table where illegal immigrants stuffed bags of hard candy into boxes. As he raced past me, the air from his cold front sent a chill down my spine, while the burn of his glaring eyes charcoaled my back.
On days that Frank’s wife and business partner Lynn made a cameo appearance, the couple’s combined four-eyed stare set my clothes on fire.
To best describe baking diva Lynn, in a nutshell, the pistachio didn’t fall far from the tree. Speaking of trees, while working at the bakery, I learned what happens to trees when they die; they’re reincarnated into stacks of paper on my desk. Sifting through dead trees was a favorite pastime of mine. Another fun game: hunting for press packages buried beneath sheets of trees.
Thus, I learned a new word, paper-plotzed.
To my dismay, I discovered I had to send out complimentary press requests before, after and simultaneously, while handling customer and inventory orders, processing invoices and billing, and manning the phones set to “perpetual ring” since they were answered by humans instead of a machine.
In retrospect, I should have quadrupled my spinach and Ritalin intake or not responded to the job at all.