Just yesterday, I started a temporary job assignment. It’s a menial labor job, twelve hours a day/six days a week on my feet, and the kind of petty busy work that normally would have me painting my face with the blood of the dead.
Did I mention that it’s temporary?
To wit: my job, as well as the other sad cases who are enforced via requirements of a good weekly check to perform alongside me, is to take a comestible item, remove a twist tie (like the kind you get with your bags of bread) and label from its wrapping, drop the said item on a conveyor belt so that it can go through a metal detector (I’ll explain later), and then re-twist the tie back onto the item so it can be packed up and shipped off to places.
A metal detector? you ask. Indeed. For these said items had been produced in China and, gosh darn it, somehow metal shavings got into the production vat. Said items are $1, which I would guess is exactly what some poor schmuck in Chengdu makes at the factory that produces these items.
As I said above, this would be the kind of work that a pre-crash gonz would’ve been chomping at the bit to quit. However, that’s not the case. I need this, for there is rent and all sorts of lovely bills & creditors that must be assuaged with currency. Since it’s temporary, it won’t be forever (nothing is, grasshopper) but it’s concerning as this seems my jobs are trending downwards.
I’m 43. While this isn’t old, it is a advanced a bit. I’m not the spry wee fellow who could pull 12 hours on my tootsies and still stay up most of the night drinking and writing and otherwise being a nincompoop. I’m not resigned to this job being a signpost for my future employment, but there is an anxiety that from now on this is the best it’s going to get. In fact, I breathlessly posted a status update on Facebook that I’d applied for a membership-only merchandise warehouse club (hint: rhymes with “Bosco”). That’s a far and distant island from my previous career as a video editor and promotional writer.
There is also an anxiety that when I do get my job back closer to what my field is, that I’ll immediately lose it. It’s not an uncommon fixation. There’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, that after Groucho Marx lost a good deal of his money in the Great Crash of Wall Street he became quite stingy and thrifty. It’s the same sensation: I’ve been rocked by so much financial devastation that I’m always waiting for that other financial shoe to drop.
I cannot foresee another way to live. Wisdom acquired through pain is barbed with regrets and acrimony.
But for now, I have something that’ll cover me for the next couple of weeks and there’s promise of actual writing work after the New Year. It’s something I’m grateful for, along with this roof over my head and the exceedingly generous patience of my flatmates.
As I say to myself at least 1,948 times a day, it won’t always be like this.