Adventure Girl ends her stint as a gainfully employed member of society

The Receptionist

(Image by mpujals via Flickr)

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.


11 responses to “Adventure Girl ends her stint as a gainfully employed member of society

  1. Hi Mommy. We are glad you are home again. We didn’t like it that you left us alone and made Daddy give us dinner. Because dinner doesn’t taste the same when Daddy does it.
    Love your puppy BANDIT!!!

  2. I can’t wait for Bandit’s book!

  3. Seriously, who could work under those conditions. Nothing ventured… On to the next chapter…

  4. I’m currently reading a book called A Modern Dog’s Life by Paul McGreevy. In the book, he speculates about what our human world must look like from a dog’s perspective. He discusses behavioral and biological research. For example, he points out that televisions are probably mystifying to most dogs, as dogs would never sit down as a group and collectively stare at something. The book is pretty scientific, but I think it would be funny to use his conclusions to write a book from a dog’s point of view. This book could be a good source of ideas for Bandit’s book.

  5. A former co-worker

    Really, Joanne. It was that bad. Really, Daddy had to give Bandit dinner. You only worked maybe 12 to 16 hours a week for a few weeks. You were treated so nicely with kid gloves every time you came in. You came in each day starting off by saying you didn’t want to work but your husband was making you. I guess you didn’t realize that having a job meant you have to work and learn the job, not just chat with whatever client came in to tell storys back and forth. I never said you talked to much, You said you talked too much and I said you talked alot and were very interesting to talk to so I wasn’t getting my work done. Your last day when you were telling jokes, stupid me that I wasn’t listening because I was taking care of the people in front of me and the people on the phone who needed my help. Please be clear that I never put little pictures on files about clients nor will I ever, Don’t misrepresent what was said and by who so you can have a good little story. I’m a little surprised that you didn’t realize that the job description you were given when you were hired was in fact what you needed to do. I know the employees at your husband’s business are very good workers. Maybe that’s why you aren’t working there. Sorry you thought that you’d just get to talk to the clients and play with the puppies. That’s not real life and yes, you did fail a real life job!
    When you quit, I still thought that you were a very nice person but now I’m rethinking that. You were not a good fit for the job and you should have just left it at that.

    • Please understand that this point was most definitely not meant to single out any person. I picked out some situations that were 1) the polar opposite of my real job (writing, at home, with only dogs for company) and 2) things that normal people deal with every day in work situations. If you thought that I was speaking specifically of you, whoever you are, please accept my genuine apologies. That was absoluely not the case and I never, ever meant to hurt anyone’s feelings or offend anyone. I am truly sorry.

      The post was meant to point out that I am a jerk who, after more than a decade working by myself at home, is unable to function in the real world. Since I failed in that mission, thank you for clarifying it for readers.

      And if it’s any consolation, my husband has always said that if I worked for him he would fire me. That he’s remained married to me for 20 years is a miracle on par with parting the Red Sea or putting a man on the moon.

  6. For the love of God and everything that is holy …..

    Joanne, I am so sorry that your ‘former co-worker’ took your story personally and then felt the need to try to publically humiliate you. Some people think that the world revolves around them therefore everything that happens in it must be about them. Do not give that person a second thought. She / He exists in a very small and simple world and it is probably best that she / he remain in their comfortable place where mediocrity can continue to breed mediocrity. You exist in a world of greatness where lives are changed everyday because of you! Embrace it! Your story was hilarious and it is apparent that your ‘former co-worker’ is unfamiliar with what humor writers do ….. they write humor, duh.

    You are one of the smartest and bravest woman I know and I am so proud to call you my sister AND my friend! Write On!

  7. Hi Joanne,

    Sorry the job didn’t work out. If it makes you feel any better, I would have laughed at the Office and Seinfeld references. But then, I’m easy that way. (Even ask Dave; I think that’s why he married me. I think he’s the funniest man I’ve ever met- lucky for him I’ve never met Bill Cosby!)

    To the former co-worker- I got the impression that your feelings were hurt by what Joanne said. But I didn’t read any criticism of you guys in her blog- just a tough fit. I bet you guys are great at what you do.

    • They are very good, and that is why I continue to recommend them to dog owners. And like I wrote, I liked the people I worked with. They are very nice. I am sure that my being there for even 10 hours a week was a trial for them. I would annoy myself if I had to spend that much time with me cooped up in an office. Thankfully, at home I can take a break from myself and go outside to get away from me. They didn’t have that option.

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