I’ve received several URGENT and BRIGHT YELLOW notices in the mail from my sorority’s headquarters, informing me that it was URGENT I get in contact with an Outside Agency in order to update my alumnae information and ensure the accuracy of the newest alumnae directory. URGENT. On Thursday I also received an URGENT email, so I contacted the Outside Agency and confirmed my name, address, initiation date, graduation date, marital status, etc. I declined to include my job title and phone number, but when asked for the field in which I work, I answered, “retail.” Ummm, just a minute, the voice on the other end of the phone said. Well, retail, or maybe fashion? I suggested. Just a minute…she said again. After a pause, she asked, Maybe you’re in sales? Not really, I said, It’s product development…? Retail…? Um, let me go talk to my manager, she said.
No, really, it’s oka- I said, but she had already put me on hold.
I don’t talk about work much; partly because it’s a potentially bad idea to air professional laundry – dirty or otherwise - online, but mainly because talking about work, listening to other people talking about work, complaining about work, listening to other people complain about work…is boring. I don’t mean that YOU are boring, but unless you are a spy or a lion tamer or a rock climbing instructor or a professional assassin, work is work and it’s not particularly interesting. My work is not particularly interesting. And I’m okay with that. As long as it keeps me interested, and as long as it keeps me in receipt of steady income, my work is a-ok. I don’t need my job to keep other people intrigued, I just need a quick cocktail-party description of what I do, so that when the “What do you do?” question is inevitably asked at a party, I have a pat answer and can get it out of the way. I find that the pat answer goes over much better than the frustrated sigh and protest over the question, because if you’ve said, “But I’m sooooo much more than what I DO,” on more than three occasions, you are kind of an asshole.
I’ve been that asshole, and I’ve also been the person asking, So what do YOU do, and in neither of those circumstances do I want to get in a pissing match over whose job is better/fancier/more impressive. I catch myself asking people what they “do” because as much as I hate being asked the same, I really am curious about what they do “do.” Not because I care about their jobs but because I am fascinated by what it’s like to be them. To be you – stupid details like how do you get to work in the morning and how often you vacuum actually interest me. But, work is boring and it’s not always easy to boil one’s job description down to a quick phrase; my job title is product development technician, but honestly, that could mean just about anything and rarely makes for interesting conversation. I work for a fashion retailer, in the technical design department, I fit samples and monitor any problems with merchandise, blah blah blah, and there really is no quick and snappy way to describe my job so I usually settle for “I work in retail,” and leave it at that.
The woman (girl?) taking my information for the sorority update certainly was not satisfied with, I work in retail. She returned to the phone and asked, Maybe you’re in marketing?
I’m not, I said, you can just leave it blank, it’s okay…
Which means that my career, as it were, cannot be categorized by either voir dire OR generic networking surveys. I’ve fallen off the matrix.
Earlier today Kent and I felt sufficiently secure in our relationship to put it to the ultimate test: a trip to Target, on the weekend. For all of you spoiled bitches out there with normal Target’s, let me tell you how it is in Brooklyn: We walk 20 minutes to get to Target, and have to cross Flatbush Avenue to do so. There is no parking, should you be lucky enough to actually have a car. The Target smells like diapers and mothballs, and I stepped in nacho cheese heading for the escalator. Nothing is in its proper place and on every aisle you can see either a crying kid or a couple fighting. The lines are 20 deep and if you go with someone else, you will lose them at least once in the bed and bath section. But, we needed sundries and were feeling brave, so Kent and I made the journey down Atlantic Avenue and into Target. We emerged about an hour later, with seven heavy bags, shell-shocked by the image – now BURNED into our collective memory – of the woman who stopped in the middle of the laundry detergent aisle, dropped her hand-held basket, and screamed: IS THERE ANY ONE HERE WHO CAN HELP ME? I AIN’T FOOLIN. I WANT SOME DAMN FOOL IN A RED SHIRT TO GET OVER HERE AND HELP MY ASS. CAN SOME DAMN TARGET WORKER GET HIS SELF OVER HERE TO HELP A SISTER OR WHAT. SHEEEEEET…
But, we got our Method leather wipes and a new shower curtain, so all is well in our household. Sure, I may have threatened divorce over Kent’s suggestion that we purchase TAN VELVET CURTAINS for the bedrooms, but it’s all a matter of perspective, no?
We went to the movies on Saturday with my friend Pastry, whose husband is in Las Vegas for the next few months directing a series for A&E about a tattoo parlor on the Strip. His job allows for a much better answer to the standard cocktail-party question, So what do you do? He’s turning 30 next weekend, and seems to have found himself in the perfect spot to do so. Pastry is going out to visit him for his birthday, and hearing her talk about his Las Vegas experience reminded Kent and I of a very important fact which we keep ignoring: We are going to Atlantic City next weekend. To gamble and drink ridiculous things and hit at least one waffle bar and wreak havoc with Emilie and Caroline and their respective spouses. Hearing Pastry talk about her husband’s Las Vegas experience also reminded us of another thing: we don’t know how to gamble.
I have never gambled with real money, although I won $1,500 of fake cash at my company’s summer picnic at the blackjack table. I’ve been to Las Vegas once, and I was 15. I’ve never been to Atlantic City, although Kent has – he went with his friend Jeff shortly after he and I started dating. I told him coyly before I left, If you’re near a roulette wheel, bet on my birthday – 5 26. The memory absolutely raises bile in my throat now, because GROSS with the contrived flirting and the coy. But! Kent did bet on my birthday, and he won $500. And, since he was in AC with Jeff, who is one cheap bastard, about $75 was spent on hotel and food (their establishment featured a ‘common’ bathroom, one per floor), netting Kent a nice profit on the trip. This 1-0 record, plus my $1,500 fake winnings have me optimistic that we might have the Touch. Still, as Pastry recounted her last visit to Las Vegas, a few weekends ago, both Kent and I made mental notes to refresh our memories as to what ‘doubling down’ really means, and also to call Jeff the Cheap Bastard, who is a professor of Economics and interned with the NSA, apparently having an aptitude for the numbers. Mama needs a new coffee table, so we’re hoping for a profit. Also, we are hoping for a ridiculous level of tackiness, and at least one drag queen and/or strip club.
I used to work with a girl whose boyfriend is a professional gambler. He paid for Yale and graduate school and bought an apartment all with his winnings. He is apparently “on the circuit.” I wish I could call my sorority alumnae update database contact person back and tell her, Hey, you know what? Forget the Retail/Fashion/Sales/Marketing thing. I am a professional gambler and Yes, you can include my email for networking purposes.
We’ll see how Atlantic City goes.
Apparently there was some sort of official “de-lurking” day or week, not long ago. And of course, I was not aware and came to the party a day late. But, for those who are interested in playing along, tell me…What do YOU do?
Extra credit for gambling tips.