Working Woes

I need to get a new job.  This one keeps getting stuck in my head outside of work, and that just will not do.  I lie in bed at the end of every work week watching the same phrases wind their way through my tired brain:  “Thank you for calling ____.  My name is [Wildflowerfever] and I’ll be assisting you today.  May I please have your first and last name and your zip code?  Thank you very much.  And how can I assist you today, Mr./Ms. ____?  What type of meter are you using?  If you turn that meter over for me, there should be a small sticker toward the bottom with a serial number on it.  Could you please read that to me?  Thank you.  Was that X as in X-ray, H as in Henry, Z as in Zebra, 9830, B as in Boy, Y as in Yellow?  Thank you.  And were you at home in the United States when you had this problem with your meter?  Do you have your test strips with you as well?  On the black plastic vial that they come in, there should be a lot number to the right of the code number that begins with a 2 or 3.  Could you read that to me please?  And do those have a code of 25?  And an expiration date of 05/2011?  And a control solution range of 104.0 – 136.0 mg/dL?”  I have to repeat these phrases at work dozens of times a day.  And now that I’m taking calls in Spanish as well, I get all of this stuck in my head in Spanish. It’s annoying as hell and makes it rather difficult to sleep.

I am, in fact, aware that all jobs involve some degree of bullshit, but you will just have to trust me when I say that this particular job is so brimming with bullshit that it’s streaming out of every orifice.  I don’t even feel like going into the details, and I’m sure you wouldn’t want to read them, either.  Just for one example, they have me scheduled as the ONLY person handling the Spanish language line for the entire country two nights a week.  One person.  For the whole country.  And I am probably the lowest-level Spanish speaker they have, since it is my second language and not my first.  This is extremely frustrating and stressful, not to mention unnecessary and ill-advised.  The worst part about it for me right now is the hours.  I work 1:45 – 10:00 p.m. Saturday through Wednesday.  Essentially, I work the exact opposite hours of all my friends, who work 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.  And since the main reason I moved back to Buffalo was essentially to spend more time with my friends, I see this as a major drawback to the job.

So the trouble is that I am making $12 an hour here and working just under 40 hours a week.  It’s going to be hard to find another job that can match that, which is not also a call center or equally terrible, and it’s hard for me to justify switching to a job that pays less, even if it improves my quality of life otherwise.  I’ve applied to a couple of cafés as well as Barnes and Noble, but I don’t really see any of those going anywhere right now.  So where does that leave me?  I’m not sure.  I have an appointment with the Canisius career center for next Thursday, and I’m hoping that they will be able to help me a) find a better short-term job, and b) figure out what direction I should go in career-wise in the long run.  I will let you know how it goes.

So far, my favorite career options are:  Librarian, Organic Farmer, Café Owner, and Historic Preservationist.  Believe it or not, I was trying to pick things at the intersection of “Things I Could Feasibly Do” and “Things That Are Appealing.”  I rated these options as more feasible than careers such as Photographer, Writer, Graphic Designer, Prophet, Pirate, and Indiana Jones.

And now perhaps I should say something regarding the apparent Plight of My Generation.  It seems that many of us go off to college after high school because getting a four-year degree is more or less demanded of us these days if we expect to get any sort of decent job.  So many of us pick majors we enjoy, having been taught to follow our passion, and hope to be able to utilize these degrees post-graduation—at which point we slowly come to the unpleasant realization that a bachelor’s degree does not amount to much in today’s economy.  This, of course, does depend somewhat on the specific type of degree.  You can still find a job with business and computer science degrees as well as education degrees and BS-es in general—those that are more “practical” because they feed into a specific profession.  True, it might take you a year or two to land a decent full-time position, but it’s possible.  Those of us with bachelor’s degrees in the liberal arts are left floundering with regards to careers and usually end up working at jobs that don’t utilize our degrees, unless we head off to grad school, generally taking out more loans and investing even more money in an education that will hopefully land us a good job in the end so that we can spend the next 10+ years slaving away to The Man to pay back all of those loans.  The problem seems to be that so many people have bachelor’s degrees these days that they are becoming less and less valuable in terms of the types of jobs available, and we need to pursue even further education to make ourselves attractive to employers.  We’ve been raised to believe that we can become anything we want to be, only to find out that there are not enough jobs for everyone to have the job they want.  So what is the solution to all of this?  Do we need to lower our expectations?  It seems so, unless we are going to have a complete overhaul of society, which I have to admit is unlikely to happen any time soon.  So that’s just depressing.

Ideally, I think what I’d like to do is go back to some sort of apprentice system.  I enjoyed getting a bachelor’s degree, so I would still want to have that option, but when it comes to getting started in a career, I would really just like to start working for someone who has the career I want so that they can teach me all they know about it.  I would get paid only what I need to get by, and eventually when my mentor retired, I could take over their position or business seamlessly.  And, to tell you the complete honest truth, at times I have found myself thinking back to reading the Little House on the Prairie books when I was younger, and the division of labor that they relied on then, where the whole family farmed for a living, then men did the heavy labor and the women did the cooking and cleaning and caring for the children, and at times I’ve thought, well, would that really have been so bad?  I mean, I actually enjoy cooking and cleaning (strangely enough), and I do think I’d like to raise children someday.  I feel as though if I lived in that context, I could be content with that sort of life.  I know that I say this at the risk of sounding very un-feminist-like.  But feminism means allowing women choice in how they live their lives, and if women choose to stay at home long enough to raise a family, that certainly does not preclude them from being feminists.  You know?  I wouldn’t want to be forced to marry and have children because that’s the only option available to me as a woman, but that doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t want to choose to do those things, nor that there is anything inherently wrong with that lifestyle.

Please forgive any gross generalizations I have made here, but feel free to comment and correct them as well.