As you know, a few weeks ago I started a part time job at a local animal hospital. Ten or twelve hours a week, decent pay, nothing too taxing on the brain. I didn’t expect to get the job. In the interview, for example, I explained that I do not do well with numbers or math, and when asked if I was a very, very good multitasker I said … well, I’m a pretty good multitasker but I don’t work well in confusion.
My sister (who is a human resources professional with international accreditation) laughed and said that probably wasn’t the way to do an interview. And yet I was hired. Imagine that. They must have been desperate. Really desperate.
I liked the job. I liked the people. But it was much more office paperwork than working with clients. I like helping people learn how to be better pet owners. Not so much a fan of filing and entering codes into a computer.
The worst part, though, was the change from days spent with a house full of four-legged furry coworkers to a day spent with two-legged coworkers crammed into a space smaller than my bathroom. (I should have known on the first day, when one of my coworkers commented that I talk a lot, that this wasn’t going to work. Granted, I had just apologized for talking a lot, but I hadn’t expected anyone to agree with me.)
Four-legged coworkers ask very little of you. You want to take a break? Let’s go! Hungry? Let’s eat! Want to talk? Use as many words as you want today; no one is listening anyway. Want silence? Give your coworkers some peanut butter in a Kong and enjoy the quiet. Need a nap? Who can get to the couch the fastest? Working at home, I’m not only the highest paid member of the staff, I’m also the smartest and I’m in total control of my day. I can eat when I want, have a cup of tea when I want (in fact, I’m going to stop writing right now and go make a cup of tea, just to prove my point), talk when I want, not talk when I don’t want, run around barefoot in the grass and drink from the garden hose when I want.
Working with people is completely different. The air conditioning is too cold, so someone puts on the space heater. (On a 90 degree day.) You can take a break, you can’t take a break, let’s all take a break. Every question gets a different answer depending on who you ask or what day it is. No endless cups of tea. And I’d forgotten that being around people all day long is exhausting. (Even being around very nice people.)
Maybe the worst part of the job is that no one thought I was funny. I mean, these are people who have never seen “Seinfeld” or “The Office.” My “That’s what she said” jokes went right over their heads. And when two coworkers were discussing the little pictures they use to code the files of difficult clients, no one got my reference to that “Seinfeld” episode where Elaine Benes saw the note in her own chart at the doctor’s saying she was “difficult.”
Seriously. Who can work under those conditions?
In the end it was clear I wasn’t a good fit for the job. And I know they’d agree. The job was different than I expected, and I honestly wasn’t prepared for the transition of being around people all day. I mean, I love working at the animal shelter. I love the people I work with at the shelter. Then again, my volunteer job there is mostly to do adoptions. I help people make sure they’ve made the right decision about the dog or cat they’ve chosen, answer questions about taking care of their new family member, and sometimes help people understand that this dog (or any dog) is not right for them.
And so on Saturday, I put in my resignation at the vet’s. I figured that it wasn’t fair to them to continue to spend time and money training me when I knew that I wasn’t going to be there six months from now. I offered two weeks; they said Saturday could be my last day.
I don’t feel like a failure, although let’s face it: I failed at the real world. I come out of this little adventure more movitated to find paying writing gigs to replace the entertainment gigs I gave up last December in a moment of self-righteous “I don’t want to exploit people for pay” moment. I’m also more motivated to help Bandit finish his book. He’s going to be more successful as a writer than I’ll ever hope to be anyway.