It’s coming up on three months since I got hired at the art gallery part time and my boss did a little review talk with me. She had noticed that some days I’ve seemed a bit…distracted. She said she understands that I’ve just been through a breakup (I’d mentioned this a while back) but I need to try harder to leave all that at the door and just focus when I’m at work. I said I’d try.
What I didn’t say is that it’s not just the breakup that’s making me distracted. I think I’m just fundamentally unsuited to most typical jobs. I always eventually start feeling like an interchangeable cog and resenting being there.
In my old office job, I mainly just prepared paperwork to be microfilmed – which meant taking out staples and putting separator sheets between each document. There wasn’t really any way of differentiating my work, of doing it better than everyone else, of making myself indispensable. There was also no accountability – nothing on the batches of paper to be microfilmed said who had prepared them. Sometimes, someone would need to look at an old document so they’d order it from microfilm and the microfilm people simply didn’t have it on file, which resulted in…telling the client “sorry, we couldn’t find it.” That’s it. And people barely ever needed to actually call up documents from microfilm anyway, we just kept them as a precaution. So odds are I could have put all my papers directly into the shredder instead of microfilming them and it probably wouldn’t have affected the company or my employment with it whatsoever. It’s hard to keep on being a bright, eager little worker under those circumstances.
I did okay at the gallery, at first. I’m a go-getter who likes a challenge, and learning the day-to-day flow of the place was a challenge. And I told myself that I was important and not interchangeable because when I was there, it was just me, alone, running the boss’ business. Being the face of the company. Big important stuff!
…But then I got used to the tasks so they weren’t a challenge anymore. And I realized that almost nobody ever even comes in there it feels like my presence is unnecessary about 80% of the time. And the time I called in sick – feeling so guilty about leaving my boss in the lurch – she never even bothered covering for me (or getting someone else to) at all. She just put a sign on the door that said “closed due to illness”. It doesn’t sound like she had anywhere official that she needed to be and that’s why she couldn’t have covered me herself – she just didn’t feel like it.
So I’m back to feeling like nothing I do matters.
Also, can I just say, the chick who trained me (and who I ultimately replaced) told me that the job mostly comprised sitting around. So I anticipated nice quiet shifts where I swept and mopped the floor when needed but mostly just fucked around on the internet waiting for closing time. Boss lady has asked me to do a lot more than that and it’s just taking me a while to readjust my expectations. This was supposed to be my easy job where I didn’t have to think or anything. I resent, a little bit, that this has turned out not to be the case. I’ve even ended up sore from the gallery job on days that I was given a lot of cleaning and organizing tasks. Dammit, I was really hoping for a reprieve from thinking/planning/being sore.
And, the boss has a different idea of “clean” than I do. I think, for instance, that if the floor and walls were absolutely pristine, I could notice when things were looking a bit grubby. But the floor and walls both have some permanent marks and paint drips and whatnot on them. And so there have been times when the boss came down and said “OMG it looks awful in here, you need to fix it!” and I kind of…didn’t see what the problem was. I guess she’s memorized every stain and drip and so she’s able to immediately see when there are other, changeable things going on. That’s not how my brain works. For me, if there’s a bit of daily grime but nothing super obviously wrong like a puddle of mud on the floor, I think to myself “It looks kinda bleh in here. Oh, but that’s probably just that same bunch of stains etc that’s bugging me. Nothing I can do about that.” So that accounts for some of the “distractedness” the boss has noticed. She’ll tell me the place needs cleaning and I’m like “I…okay, I guess so? I’d…probably better do something about the, um, mess?” and I guess I’m coming off a bit weird.
But anyway. This is why I love art modeling. I’m the literal centre of attention, so people know when I’m not there; it matters. I’m helping to teach people things, so it feels like I’m making a difference. I offer a unique combination of things that nobody else does, so I feel like I’m good at the job. I get to see concrete proof of how good I am reflected in people’s ever-improving artwork. And I get showered in compliments pretty much every single day.
If it turns out I’m not a good fit for the gallery job and I leave or am asked to leave, it’s not a huge deal; modeling work will simply flow into the new gaps in my schedule. There will be no “oh no, I’m unemployed, now I need to go through a whole process of looking for new work.” But I’ll feel like a bit of a failure and it will suck. Also the gallery has life drawing that I pose for – it’s how the boss and I met – and I worry that if I fail at the desk job, the modeling portion of things might become strained or stop altogether. And that would be a shame.