I remember 17. I remember graduating (a smidge early) and diving recklessly into the working world. I had a gorgeous, talented, musician boyfriend, a crap load of self-confidence and just enough seed money to pay for a months rent and security deposit.
We eagerly moved out of our parent’s homes and started looking for jobs. What the hell was I thinking??? I’d be living the dream right? I’d take a few classes at community college, wait a few tables, use my fake ID to watch my boyfriend rip it up at the local metal bar and call it a 1990’s kinda night.
But strangely enough, the job offers didn’t come flooding in. I guess ‘Short Order Cook at the Donut Hut’ didn’t carry as much weight as I’d thought it would.
I refused to live off anyone else. I refused to ask my parents for help and I would cut off my nose to spite my face six ways to Sunday just to keep my pride in tact.
Time for plan B!
Except there was no plan B; In fact, there was no Google, no cell phones, no social network, no MapQuest… My God how did I exist!
I read the classifieds (gasp!) and one ad in particular caught my eye: ‘Outgoing, attractive young women needed for promotional work.’ Well, who better than myself to take on such a task? They might as well have invited me personally.
I showed up for my interview bright eyed, high haired and bushy tailed, probably sporting something very neon that I had purchased (half price) from my previous employment at Contempo Casuals. The woman running the show was immediately impressed. I could tell. The interview was short, her enthusiasm higher than my hair. She offered me the job on the spot.
“Here you go.” She said tossing a tiny little package into my hands. “This will be your first outfit. Wear it to the bar under a long coat to save time changing.”
This stuff was skimpy! And that’s saying something coming from someone who’d worked at Victoria’s Secret! (To be fair I only lasted a couple weeks over the Christmas season.)
“You’ll take first shift. It’s 7-10AM, but don’t worry, the steelworkers tip great when they get off shift. Make friends – make conversation! The brighter you shine, the more money we’ll make!” She was very excited.
I took the flimsy plastic bag gripping tight to the ‘uniform’ I was being asked to prance about it. I smiled politely and said. “You bet!” because that’s what I needed to do. The world of actual responsibility began swirling in my head like an ice storm tornado looking for the strongest structure to decimate.
I got in the car and drove back to my apartment. I remember thinking, “What are you doing? You’re better than this!” Then questioning, “Am I better than this?” followed immediately by “Hell yes you’re better than this!”
When I got home my boyfriend was eagerly waiting to see how the interview went. I smiled weakly and murmured, “Great.”
“Oh, cause Bennigans called while you were out and offered us jobs. I know it’s just waiting tables but I figured we’d at least be together.”
I‘ve never been so relieved to wait a table in all my life. Because I probably would have gone through with it if no one else had called. I would have made the best of it. I would have tried to learn something from it. I would have possibly written a steamier (or more uncomfortable) blog about it right now. But whatever I had to do – I know me, I would have done it.
17 isn’t so different than 41. I’d still do anything I had to for my family and myself. Just glad I‘m blessed with the same self-confidence, the infamous social network, and so many more options!