a scene i've been seeing way too much of
Sunday April 1. 2001
I feel like I spent the entire weekend sleeping. After my miserable day on Thursday, I spent most of Friday curled in the fetal position, lying on my godforsaken mattress, bundled under sheets, occsionally crying. I have never felt so worthless, never felt so overwhelmed and unable to handle my life. Even though I didn't want to, I got up and went to work on Friday night, and then on Saturday from 9 to 5. I came home with many grand plans. I settled down with a novel for my women's studies course around 7 or so, and must have fallen asleep, because next thing I knew. I glanced up at the clock and it was 5:06 am.
I had slept another evening and night away, and I felt no better for it.
My parents came to see me this morning. I think the purpose was trifold: to bring me food, to give me a pep talk, and to kick my ass into gear. Which they promptly did. My Dad sat down at the computer, drafted a resignation letter for my job, and went about trying to convince me that I should quit my job. I somewhat resented the imposition on my independence, but in the end I realized they both were right. I couldn't continue this way. I was falling behind in my classes, miserable, stressed out and angry and sad at the world. Something had to give. So the job gave.
Over breakfast at Friendly's, they coached me on how to quit a job. "Just go in there, hand them the letter and explain you have to resign because of health reasons," my father said expertly. "They can't say no to that."
I tried to envision myself standing up to my managers. I couldn't.
I sighed, and swirled my two percent milk around the bulbous glass in my hand. "You know, you've raised a wimp for a daughter. I'm such a pussy." And it's true. I hate how I shy away from confrontation. Either I avoid it at all costs, or break down and cry like a little girl.
Once I got into the breakroom at work, I felt my heart beating faster. I saw J sitting in the office. Okay, she was the least threatening of all my managers. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad. I went up to her, explained quickly. Her brow crossed, she repeated the "school is most important" adage and said because I wasn't giving two weeks' notice, I Could Never Work At Barnes and Noble Again. I nodded and handed her the letter.
I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror as I was walking out of the room. I looked old. There were bags under my eyes, my skin looked ashen, my face was bloated. You really don't have any choice but to do this, I thought.
I spent the rest of my shift immersed in a sort of lukewarm nostalgia. Even though there were so many things I hated about the job - most of all, the misogynist attitude that was rampant throughout the management staff - there were just as many things I will miss. Most of all, the people. I'll miss Ras constantly talking about his souped-up Honda Civic and teaching me how an internal combustion engine works. I'll miss Carol good-naturedly complaining about her grown son still living with her. I'll miss all the after work get-togethers at TGI Friday's. I'll miss M balancing salt shakers on his big bald head. I'll miss Cara retelling (for the 4th time) how she went off on a rude customer.
I cornered Cara shortly after she came in at 6. I had debated not telling her at all, and just leaving, but I realized that was unfair. "You promise you won't hate me if I tell you something?"
She stopped, and looked at me. "Yeeeees."
"Today's my last day."
Well, she wasn't mad. But I don't think she was happy, either.
After I finished my shift, I hung around for a few minutes, just talking with her as she waited on customers. I guess I was hoping for a final sendoff, an emotional goodbye. It took me a few minutes to realize that I wasn't going to get one. Cara's Midwestern, with all the typical traits - no-nonsense, hard-working, nondemonstrative. So I said goodbye, turned around and walked out for the last time.
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One Year Ago:
"Alicia suggested I vote Libertarian. She cocked her head and looked at me and said, "Yeah, you look like a Libertarian." What is a Libertarian supposed to look like, anyway?"