I’ve been with Wilhemlsplatz one month today. Let’s do one of those, whatchacallems, those… er… thingies they do at the end of the year. You know what I mean… retrospective, that’s the word. Let’s do a one-month retrospective.
Today a teen came up to the desk and asked for help on his senior research project. He’s studying whether street car racing should be legal or not. And it was the damnedest thing– I was able to help him. I was amazed. He was amazed. We were both amazed that I managed to find him some books and some database articles on drag racing.
After I walked him over to the call number he needed, I headed back to the desk with a big ol’ sloppy grin on my face. I couldn’t help it. I was so happy that I made this kid happy. This, ver batim, was my thought: "Gosh, I have the best job in the world!"
That is not a typical thought for me. I avoid optimism with religious intensity. It is entirely out of character for me to use exclamation points, and prior to today, I had not realized that "gosh" is in my vocabulary. It is impossible to maintain an image of wry disaffection with pollutants like that creeping into one’s speech. Thank God I didn’t say it aloud. What would people think?
So that’s the good news. I really, really love my job. I already have a passle of patrons who like me, who stop by to chat and keep me apprised on their reading, their research projects, their step-children’s iTunes collection. Every day I get the opportunity to help people, and… well… gosh, it feels good.
I also get the opportunity to look smart. The other day I guy came in asking where he could find books by Robert Heinlein. Said he liked Starship Troopers and wanted more by the same author.
"Have you read Stranger in a Strange Land?" I asked him, not missing a beat. The guy hadn’t. He really grooved on my improptu booktalk and he just about thought I walked on water when I showed him our Heinlein collection.
Really now– that was a softball question. It took no special background knowledge or mental dexterity for me to help this guy out. But he didn’t know that, and he was just thrilled to get a friendly response. He walked away happy, with a stack of books in his arms, and I looked like a rockstar.
I have a job where I routinely look smart and where I get the bubbly feeling from helping part on a daily basis. Cool.
But I’ll be honest, I’m feeling lots of stress. Not from the job– it doesn’t hold a candle to the anxiety I had in Backwater– but because, as Marian reassures me, two of the biggest stresses in life are moving and getting a new job.
I’m working very, very hard to understand the personal dynamics and social norms within my department and within the library. That in itself is a fulltime job. Though I pride myself on my intuition and my ability to understand people, I’m no great shakes at reading social situations.
Brief sob story:
When I was in second grade, we moved from Mississippi to North Carolina. (Thank. God.) Several months after the move I sent out invitations to all the girls in my class. I wanted them to come to my first-ever birthday party.
…You guessed it. No one came.
Almost two decades have passed, but I’m still that same kid, albeit with boobs and glasses and a college degree or two. As was true then, I have trouble making friends and doing, you know, social stuff.
Am I happy I took this job? Absolutely. I have the best job ever at the best library ever.
Am I a nervous wreck? Yeah, that too. I just about cried when I went to the local coffee shop today. I forced myself to go: not only did I want to celebrate my one-month anniversary, I wanted to take precautions against hiding in my apartment all the time. Did enough of that in Franklin, thanks. And I do so like coffee. More than life itself, if you must know.
So I put on my fuzzy jacket and pretended I looked like Helena Bonham Carter and I walked over to the trendy/hip coffee place.
But I was by myself! And it was noisy! And I didn’t know what to do!
Where was I supposed to order? Where was I supposed to pick up my order? Where was I supposed to sit? Was I supposed to sit before I got my order, or was I supposed to loiter? Where was I supposed to loiter, if that’s what I was supposed to do?
After waffling and feeling nervous I decided to sit at an innocuous looking table, and I hit my head on the overhead light. That’s when I almost– almost– started crying. I managed not to. Would Helena Bonham Carter cry? Would Helena Bonham Carter get all nervous because she was in a new coffee shop?
…have to say, getting coffee wasn’t nearly the relaxing Bohemian experience I had anticipated. But at least I tried. Maybe next time I’ll look suave, or at least not completely inept.
To recap this one-month analysis:
Job satisfaction: 100 gazillion percent
Social comfort: er… needs work.