Personal Records

Hopper Office in a Small CityThis is now the second longest I’ve ever held a job.

“Four months!” a coworker said to me today, “How’s that going for you?”

“It’s going alright,” I said, because it has been.

There are days here and there when I have to stay so late that I become eligible for a company-expensed dinner (8PM) and cab ride home (9PM). One Friday night not too long ago I left the office  at 11:30PM, bleary-eyed and clutching untouched Chinese takeout when I hailed a cab.

At one point I rolled the window down, despite it being very hot outside, and that balmy, smelly, city air had almost a cooling effect on my eyes. My irises throbbed to the blinking lights of midtown and it felt as though I was slowly coming to. I’d been squinting for hours alongside an unfortunate Presentation Designer who’d been dragged onto our project at the last minute, both of us hoping that the fonts were all aligned and that the colors were consistent across slides and that even if they weren’t, the Managing Director wouldn’t spot them. But of course he did, and so we went back and forth, rounds and rounds of ridiculous revisions.

That kind of attention to detail is what separates the worker bees from the self proclaimed visionaries, though to his credit our new Managing Director has not (as of yet) referred to himself as such. And I pray he never does; thus far, I like him. It would pain me to roll my eyes at him. But the more presentations I do, the more meetings I sit in, the more rungs I look up to but have no desire to climb, the more Directors and Managers and VPs I shake hands with, exchange emails with and pass by in the hallways, the more certain I become that I am a worker bee. And not even of the most industrious type.

Those bright smiles! That hair and makeup – those heels, those polished loafers, those gym-toned bodies with mild beer guts due to too many client dinners and happy hours -that energy to talk assertively, almost incessantly. That ability to remember things. Where does that come from – that desire to succeed in this way? It’s not just money. And I’m not alone – I’ve met writer friends at work, along with other “creatives,” as they’re called, whose attitudes that a job is a job is a job are all too clearly written in their bedraggled t-shirts and sneakers and messy hair – but I am clearly outnumbered.

Inching up 8th Ave. in Friday night traffic, I watched throngs of young people, old people, middle aged people walking, driving, shouting, sweating, and laughing, New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers – and where did I fall? – I felt almost high, as though something inside me had just been bent too far and would have snapped into brittle pieces if it hadn’t been for the humidity.

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