I have been working on a tedious task—editing someone else’s writing and fact checking sources. I think writing is fun when you’re trying to make a point and you find a great quote from an “official” person who has more clout than you. When you quote that person, it becomes believable and credible to the reader. However, in your zeal of discovery, you copy the quote and put a word or two of reference where you think you might have gotten the quote (but you looked at so many web sites, who can remember…). You move on with the next quote and say, “Let the grunt figure it out!” Then the grunt, who is me in this case, has to spend wee hours of the night chasing down obscure quotes that turn out to be incorrectly copied or attributed to a whole different person or both.
What’s this got to do with the price of eggs? In my misery, I started to grasp for a silver lining and said to myself, “At least I’m not having to stand on my feet behind a cash register all day.” And with that I comforted myself. There’s always someone who has it harder than you, no matter what. And I used to be a cashier at a department store, so I know what that’s like. It’s not so bad, really, but I’d rather be doing this than that, especially now that my feet and back would complain 24/7 if I stood for eight hours. There are lots of jobs that I’ve done, and each had its drawbacks. I was a lifeguard and baked in the East Tennessee sun all day long with the scant protection of white zinc oxide on my nose. I wouldn’t do that now if someone gave me a new car—well, maybe I would but only with an umbrella and a body cast made of sunscreen.
I was a waitress and liked that, but I wouldn’t do it again. Walking back and forth all day carrying heavy trays? Waiting forty-five minutes while a wishy-washy bimbo asked what everything on the menu tasted like—“Is the veal good?” “I’ve never tried it.” “Can you find me someone who has, sweetie?”
I wouldn’t like to do any job that involves an odor. I have been blessed with a nose that can sniff a rose at 50 feet. Unpleasant smells make me barf if I can’t run away from them quickly enough. I could never work in anything having to do with caged animals, sewage, baby day care, or where people are sick to their stomachs. In ancient Rome people would gorge themselves on feasts, but since they didn’t want to get fat, and since they wanted to keep eating, they’d go to a vomitorium and upchuck to make room for more gluttony. Can you imagine being an employee at one of these establishments? First you’ve got to listen to them, which would be enough to set me off, then you’d have to clean up because you know there would be splatters everywhere. I’m almost sick thinking about it.
I also couldn’t work at a place where there is a lot of whining. So I wouldn’t last long in a complaint department. When the lady brought the armpit stained dress back that smelled like tobacco smoke and had a couple of red wine stains—but the tags were still on it—I’d have a conniption fit.
I looked up conniption fit just now. It’s “an angry outburst.” It’s also “one of New England’s premier indie rock bands!” And it’s a little more emotional than a hissy fit.
That’s another job I probably wouldn’t like so much. Defining words for a dictionary. I like knowing what words mean, but I’m not so sure I’d like looking them up. Wait. You couldn’t look them up because you’d BE the dictionary. So how do they know, and know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that a hissy fit is milder than a conniption fit? This question makes me feel like I did when I first discovered eternity in about the second grade. I was in a Catholic school and we were talking about Heaven and going there for all eternity. I’m the kind of person who likes beginnings and endings. So eternity freaked me out completely. All I could picture was the image of two mirrors facing each other, and you see mirrors reflected in both of them that stretch to the vanishing point. That wasn’t even good enough because you kindof got a sense that the mirrors would be so small that they disappeared, which was an ending. It took me a few years of cogitating the whole thing to come to accept that whatever happens I’ll deal with it. Just like having to give my dad showers when he was recovering. Oh my gosh! I would have had nightmares if I’d known I was going to ever have to see him naked. I’m getting a shiver like you get when you see a ghost going up my spine right now thinking about it. Let’s change the subject.
My point was that I guess with anything – a job, an old naked parent, or what have you—you get used to it. That does not mean I would put my application in for a vomitorium, though. I have to draw the line somewhere.