Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fraud alert

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In my dream the other night, I had moved way out west, to Arizona or California or something like that, and I was startled to find myself working as a high school English teacher.

I played it cool. I informed the students of my classroom rules. (“This is an English class. You’re learning to communicate. You will never get in trouble for reading or for writing. You might get in trouble for talking, though.”) Then I discovered that the class was reading Nathanael West’s novel The Day of the Locust, a book I enjoyed in college and which I have since completely forgotten. But no matter: I made a joke linking the characters of the book to the characters in The A-Team.

Is there such a thing as an anti-anxiety dream? Because that’s what this was. Unfamiliar situation, totally unprepared, first day of class jitters– and here I am, cool as ice, making up a very convincing classroom philosophy on the spot.

I hope this bodes well for my new job. I’ve got two more weeks of classroom training, then a couple of weeks of training on the floor, and then they feed me to the wolves.

That’s okay. I eat wolves for breakfast.

This is a three-day week for me. Now that I’m earning anemic wages, I ought to be horrified at not drawing income on Thanksgiving or the day after, but I’m just looking forward to having the time off. This past weekend was productive in many senses– I mopped the kitchen floor and I got a new pair of hiking boots, I dispatched some glasses of wine that were just sitting around doing nothing– but I did not get to start digging into my library books.

Nor did I get to start working on my column, due the first of December. A couple of weeks after I absented myself from the library profession, one of my former editors contacted me and asked if I’d like to start writing a regular column for a monthly library newsletter.

“Sure!” I enthused, neglecting to mention as how I’m a fraud. I’m not a librarian anymore. I didn’t even read any books this weekend.

I further neglected to inform the editor that tapping me for the column was a bad idea on general principle. The previous writer of the column is one of the giants of library scholarship, a god among library men. He was one of my professors in library school, and he was writing thoughtful and cogent pieces about books and reading before I was born. Whereas I, as the successor to the column and facing a deadline 10 days from now, have only managed to come up with one (1) talking point, viz., isn’t this quotation funny?

Strange how these things work. Here I am, an imposter in an imposing land, and I’ve just been offered a paid writing gig. I didn’t go hunting for it; the editor emailed me to see if I’d be interested.

On the other hand, I cannot convince the local public library to hire me on as a volunteer. I filled out a form and explained about my professional experience and left all kinds of contact information. I did my best to convince these people that they should please let me volunteer, to do the same sort of work, for free, that I was recently getting paid $22/hour to do.

Now it’s true that I have not been particularly fierce in pursuing this agenda. It’s not like I need additional activities to fill my time– and between you and me, I’ve got my eye on the local animal shelter as a place I might volunteer. Aside from dropping in to the library occasionally to see if the main librarian is around (she never is), I haven’t gone out of my way to get myself hired on as free help.

Ah well. It’s getting to that point in the afternoon where I have to begin making myself presentable for my role as slightly-more-expensive-than-free help. In the two full weeks that I’ve been at the new job, I’ve been getting tons of compliments on my style. “You just wear the coolest clothes,” one of the security guards informed me. He’s right, of course. I do just wear the coolest clothes. But now that I have established the standard, I need to continue gratifying my public. They have come to expect a certain level of flair in my person, and I cannot disappoint.

Call girls are standing by

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One of the best things about being a librarian, along with the prestige and the groupies and the strippers and the gobs and gobs of money, was having a succinct answer available when people asked about my job. If I were in charge of quality control at the widget factory, I would be flailing for a tidy job description, but with librarianship it was always easy. What’s my job? I’m a librarian. What’s my career? Librarianship.

Now I have a new job: I’m a banker. Or, alternately, I’m a call girl. Dad was nice enough to point this out to me.

In the interests of privacy I’m not going to disclose the name of the bank or the name of the call center. What I can tell you is that I’m being trained in the basics of banking. After the training period, I’ll start answering phone calls, lots and lots of phone calls. When customers of this bank call in with a question, I’ll be one of the people on the other end of the line.

It’s like being a librarian, only with the reference desk you’re expected to be able to answer questions derived from the full body of all human knowledge that’s ever existed ever. With this job I’ll only have to worry about banking questions.

Or: it’s like being a bank teller, only I won’t be dealing with anyone in person and no one will be able to rob me at gunpoint.

Which reminds me of the best job description ever:

“We rob banks.”

I’ve now completed one week of training, and though I like it fairly well so far, I need to register my objection to the way it interferes with my free time. I have way too much other stuff to be doing. For instance, the local public library only lends out new books for two weeks. It’s difficult to read a 1,000+ page book in fourteen days if you’re stuck at work for forty hours each week.

I also have mountains to hike and writing projects to undertake, some of which might conceivably be lucrative, and now I find out that there are free yoga classes offered at a nearby studio, and there is one VERY out-of-practice tuba that needs my attention, and there’s a video game that’s just been released that I want need, and anyway I don’t have enough time for all that stuff as it is, and now on top of all that I have to go be a fulltime call girl.

Longtime followers of this blog will know that I only spoke of my library job obliquely. For this job I shall be oblique-ier. The thing with the public sector is that, to get fired, you pretty much need to show up to work naked AND intoxicated, both at the same time, ideally with a live television crew filming because otherwise it’s very difficult to prove. Plain old gross incompetence or garden variety laziness is insufficient grounds for termination.

Now that I’m working for the private sector, I can get fired whenever. I am not particularly worried about this coming to pass, but I think it would be a sensible policy to tread very, very lightly around my job. I shall speak of it only in the vaguest terms, and if anything dramatic happens there, I will regretfully neglect to report it.

Fortunately, as longtime followers of this blog know, dramatic stuff has a way of happening in my private life, and by “fortunately” I of course mean “unfortunately.” Nasty horrible devastating events happen to me with alarming frequency, when all I’m doing, basically, is sitting about minding my own business.

As I see it, I’ve banked up enough soap opera melodrama to see me through the next two hundred and fifty years, give or take, so I should be looking forward to smooth sailing for the rest of my natural life. Which means that I will have a very dull existence, and consequently a very dull blog, filled to the brim with no explosions whatsoever. But just in case interesting stuff decides to continue happening, I shall dutifully report it here, since I won’t be able to report any of the interesting stuff happening at my job.