Monday, September 21, 2015

Annette/Benjamin: Flipping Burgers & Five-Year Plans

Someone explain to me why I can't just open Google Maps, type in ''now hiring", and get a list of jobs available in my neighborhood, maybe with some sort of standard way to apply. This seems like it would be tremendously useful, but you still have to literally pound pavement. It seems like a huge waste of time.

There are job websites, of course, bat they tend to be aimed at folks looking for substantially more impressive jobs than I appear to be qualified for.  I've answered some want-ads for things that I might be able to do but which look pretty miserable (anything that involves cold-calling people), and grimaced when looking at the work history that Benny and Ronan left me with. As much as I didn't bring Benny back to my room at the Inn because he seemed clever and ambitious, his CV since high school is a lot of seasonal jobs and work on construction projects; if he sticks with it, his work as Jordan at that gym will probably the first thing that could potentially be a career, with business cards and everything.

Ronan, meanwhile, spent the year that this was his life working in a hardware store. He was apparently pretty good at it, too: The manager of the place said so when I "returned" to see if that job was still available. It had been filled, which on a certain level could have been for the best (I suspect that even if there isn't that much to know about hammers, I know less). Still, it gave this guy in his mid-thirties a chance to lecture me despite my only appearing about ten years younger, about how I couldn't just make rash decisions and expect someone else to help cleanup after I've changed my mind. No shit, buster. Impart some more wisdom.

Which he did, asking me what my five-year plan was, and looking sadly disappointed when I said that I really didn't have one. "You've got to think about your future, Ben," he said, as if we had this personal connection so that his not rehiring me was his way of making me a stronger, better man.
That said, the five-year plan thing did get to me a bit. Sixteen months ago, my five-year plan was obvious - four of them in college, hopefully including a spot on the Lampoon staff, attending workshops, making connections, and then probably a crappy internship or job at a magazine as I learned the business, whatever that looks like in 2018. It would be tough, but I figured a Harvard degree would be worth something.

Then the Inn happened and I figured it wouldn't be so bad - I kind of tag-teamed with Sandra and figured I was getting really useful new perspectives that would serve me well down the line. But then the whole Ronan/original-Missy/Sandra thing happened, and I'm starting to think I should have chosen differently, maybe tried to learn Cantonese alongside "Missy's" other classes. It looks absurd as I write it, but I really think that, and I feel really envious of Missy when I do. Not for the money, or the vagina, or the amazing clothes, but I want to go to college like I was supposed to and have all the opportunities that you get from it. I can still enroll or take classes as Benjamin, but it won't be the same, either for me or the world at large.

I suppose I could go back to the Inn next year, but there's no way to be sure that the situation would get better short of convincing Sandra to give me my proper life back, and I don't think that's going to happen. I was on a pretty good track, after all. Besides, Benny trusts me with his life, and what if I surrendered it to someone who went and murdered his family or something?


Wow, I thought the self-pity was dark.


ANYWAY, as much as Benny's work history can feel like a big hindrance, it's varied enough to offer some help. For instance, when I applied to restaurants, he's got enough restaurant experience that, instead of just busing tables, I set to be considered for preparing food. It's not a huge difference in salary, but it makes me feel like I'm capable of a little more than manual labor. Cooking is creative, even if it's on a line at a fancy burger place.

Maybe not fancy fancy - we've not spreading foie gas on your Kobe beef most nights - but the place I wound up is as much bar as diner, with cocktails and micro-brew selections to pair with the two dozen or so named combinations.  So far, the folks seem to be pretty cool, and though we haven't been hanging out after work much - in part because I've mostly been working the night shift and the MBTA is not a 24-hour service like its equivalent in NYC, and although the trip home from work is pretty direct on the B line, there's not a lot of time to squeeze something else in between the grill cooling and the subway closing.

On the plus side, working here has cut down on my grocery bill a little bit, and the food is pretty great. Believe it or not, I actually hadn't had much in the way of beef since coming back from the Inn - even with a different identity that doesn't come with cultural dietary restrictions, it takes a bit of conscious effort to change your eating habits - and good Lord, was that first bacon cheeseburger strongly in the running for "best thing ever." My friend Gretchen went vegetarian for a few months in high school, and wound up going back more out of convenience than anything else, and she just said that she had sort of forgotten how good some things can be. Of course, midway through eating my first burger in over a year, I also remembered that putting on weight likely wouldn't be the huge issue it is for girls. I'll still have to exercise, but Benny tells me that his body always responded pretty well to reasonable effort, whereas dropping weight as Jordan took sustained work, so I probably should be okay.

If I'm still at "B&G" (the very minimalist name of this upscale-ish bar and grill) in five years, then something has probably gone wrong. It's serving its purpose right now, though.

-Benjamin / Annette

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