So I'm still in London, waiting for the next basketball gig, and in the meantime hunting for alternative or short-term real jobs. Some people wrote me back about the emails I sent out for the freelance writing jobs, saying it helped them to not take the process so seriously. I then sent out a bunch more along the same lines, although without much success. (I'll post those later)
However all this work talk got me thinking about some of my past jobs, and I be honest I havent worked that much since I've been 'working' at basketball. But the ones I have had were mostly god awful jobs, two in particular made me hate life so much I would wake up wishing I could contract a rare Amazonian virus just so I would have an excuse to stay home.
One was in my third year of college. Now usually athletes at Universities get the pick of the best jobs, oftentimes 'court monitor,' or 'front desk supervisor' or some other misnamed title. However, we don't monitor or supervise anything, we basically sit in a chair, check our email, do some work for a few hours and go home, if that. Well, after doing these jobs for a couple years I wanted to branch out and find something more challenging in a different area of campus. After some interviews I found a slighty better paying job on the other side of campus in the reserved section of the library labelling and categorizing books into the foreign literature section. (The salary was up $1 an hour to $7.50, which in college was like working on wall street and taking home 6 figures, afterall what did I really need money for? a date consisted of the $2 i needed to rent a VHS to watch a movie in my room and all parties were free booze courtesy of the magnanimous Dartmouth frats). The job sounded easy enough, I thought.
It was torturous. The office was in the basement (or dungeon as I liked to call it) with no windows, neon green lights, strict sanitary rules (I had to scrub in before work. It's a library for christsake not a hospital) and a slave master as my boss. Once when I asked her if I could go to the bathroom (I had to ask by saying 'Madame...' she wouldn't respond otherwise) she said, 'is it number one or two?'
'Umm,' totally perplexed I said, 'I guess its number one.'
'Well, just hold it, it's almost 3, then your finished and you can do whatever you please.' I looked at the clock...it was 12:45.
I had a quota of some obscene number of books that had to be labeled everyday. I had no idea were all these books came from and why we had so many foreign language books in the first place, were there really students reading Hemingway translated to Swahili (not joking), or the Kama Sutra with captions in Romanian (also not joking).
After three weeks, I had had enough, the extra $15 a week just wasn't cutting it. During a post-practice meal, I told my friends I was quitting. 'Quitting is for quitters,' they said. 'Get fired, thats the noble thing to do.' I'm not sure it made sense, in fact it didn't make any sense, but we laughed all night at the endless possibilities. There were at least 1 million ways to get myself fired.
The next day, I only labelled half of my quota, ate on the job and took frequent bathroom breaks to the dismay of 'madam,' yet I still had a job. So the following morning I came in, put my feet on the desk, read the 'articles' in Maxim magazine and proceeded to fall asleep. Still, I remained employed, I had to have a better plan.
I was beginning to lose confidence in myself, 'I couldn't even get fired properly, whats wrong me with,' I thought. I needed a creative idea, so I searched my closet and found an old Halloween costume. An 80's basketball outfit, complete with headband and high socks. I smiled, Tomorrow would be my last day at work.
I arrived at the library, went to the bathroom and changed into my outfit, took a small stereo from my bag and laid it on my desk and blasted 'eye of the tiger' on repeat at full volume. Then I did a warm-up 20 minute jog around the foreign literature section before calmly laying down a towel and beginning my stretching routine on the floor in front of my desk. I followed that with 50 push-ups and 50 sit-ups. Eventually Madam came over and demanded to know what I thought I was doing. 'Hold on,' my breathing quickened, 'one sec, I only got 5 more reps.'
I stopped, looked up and I could see the steam coming out of her head. 'Flinder,' she paused, then said the sweetest two words I could imagine, 'you're fired!' I went home, with a huge smile on my face.
I'm still not sure why I didn't just quit with dignity. I think a part of me just wanted to see how far I could push her, and part of me wanted to see how far I could push myself. I guess in the end I found my challenge after all.
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