The thing about conventional jobs is that usually there’s a boss you have to work pretty closely with and usually that boss will have some kind of terrible personality quirk. Maybe they can’t admit when they’re wrong. Maybe they tell you to do a thing and then decide they want the opposite thing instead and somehow it’s your fault for not reading their mind. Maybe they forget to tell you important things and can’t admit that they forgot so they throw you under the bus for it. There’s almost always something.
I’ve mentioned before that I took a part time job at an art gallery to supplement my model earnings. My boss has many good qualities. She’s not around much; she gives me a fair bit of freedom; when she does pop in, she always hugs me and thanks me for my work when she leaves; when she forgot I’d booked a day off, and then saw the multiple emails and texts we’d spent talking about it, she apologized to me for accusing me of not having told her I needed the day off.
But she’s inconsistent, and inconsistency drives me mad. One day she’ll point out that the gallery is slightly in disarray from an event the night before and that I should have restored things to normal first thing. Another day, I’ll come in to find some disarray and work my ass off to get things to normal and she’ll see me doing this and tell me I should have done some other thing first instead. Some days it’s like “why is that chair still there?” and other days I’m asking her where I should put this random chair and she’s like “Ehhh, just leave it.” She’s not horribly mean when I’ve displeased her, but still – I’m a perfectionist who wants to excel at work and she keeps moving the goalposts around and I hate it. I want clear rules that I can learn and win at.
The most annoying thing happened just recently.
The gallery does life drawing some mornings and I model for it from time to time (it’s how I met the owner and got the desk job). At one time she was booking models and offered me two gigs in the same month. I asked if she was sure; my understanding is that artists like variety so it might be a tactical mistake to have any one model pose too much (I felt like I was shooting myself in the foot to point that out but I really wanted her life drawing days to thrive, dammit!). She said she loved my work and would happily have me pose every single week if I wanted to.
Then back in December she told me to go ahead and book myself some model days in January if I wanted. Those were her words: some days. January starts off slow for me (the schools are closed for the first week and then it takes a while for them to start booking) so I figured what the hell and I wrote myself in for two different days. Boss lady had said she didn’t mind me posing all the time, after all, and it was a month where I could really use the cash.
Turns out the gallery closes for the holidays and wouldn’t reopen til later than I thought, so I had to cross off that first day that I chose. And the remaining date, I wrote in my calendar wrong somehow. Those things are both entirely my fault; I own that.
Long story short I showed up to model the other day and so did one of the gallery’s regular dude-models. Boss looked at the calendar and it was indeed supposed to be the dude-model that day. But she also saw that I had written myself in on two days in January (and crossed the one out). She told me that she’s the only one who books models and always has been. She got this quizzical, why-are-you-so-crazy expression and said “You can’t just book yourself in. And on multiple days!” I said that she’d invited me to do exactly that last month and she briskly said “No. I wouldn’t have done that.” And I had no way of proving anything because she’d said it to me face-to-face, so I had to just suck it up and apologize. Goddddd that infuriates me so much.
I think it’s blown over now. It doesn’t look like she’s gonna do some big exaggerated thing of re-explaining the basics of my job to me or acting like I’m not trustworthy (as other bosses have in similar situations). But still. Fucking hell.
(The dude-model gracefully stepped aside and let me have that shift, btw, because he lives ten minutes away by bike and he knows I live across town. So that was lovely. I owe him one.)
The art instructors I work with have a lot fewer opportunities to be inconsistent like that. Sometimes they’re wishy-washy about booking me, or write a booking down wrong and then automatically blame me when I don’t show up on the day they mis-wrote, but for the most part it’s pretty smooth sailing. They usually don’t ask me to do anything specific in class – I choose my poses – and times that they do need me to do a particular thing, it’s pretty cut-and-dried: they ask me for the thing and I immediately do the thing. There’s no time for them to forget what they asked for and claim that I was doing something different, and if they did try that (nobody ever has) I’m in a room full of witnesses who could attest that it didn’t go that way.
Normal jobs suck. 😦