I know my profile says that I’m unemployed, but technically, that is kind of not true.  It ought to  say that I’m not gainfully employed.  What I mean is this:  I have a part-time job as a server in a wine bar.  But since I’m paid minimum wage I make like $50 a week*, and I spend like $40 a week* on public transportation to get to and from my “job.”  So I don’t really know if it counts as a real job, or if it is just evidence of my masochism and poor money-management skills.

Add to that the fact that the owner (who is also the manager and cook) doesn’t exactly pay me on time.  Or ever.  Well, ok, he has given me one paycheck.  In the past two months.  It was for $318.  It would have been for $368, but he “withheld” $50 for taxes.  Which is funny, since he hasn’t entered the W4 I gave him on September 11th.  In fact, he doesn’t even know my last name.  So I’m thinking that he is a douche-canoe who doesn’t want to have to pay payroll taxes, or even payroll for that matter.  Awesome job, huh?

As livid as I am about the bologna that is this job, that is not the subject of this post.  This is a post about perspective.

Until March of this year, I worked for a Big Bank.  It was pretty terrible, but the pay was decent.  I made about $19 an hour to answer phones and put up with old people’s bullshit and ineptitude.  Seriously, have you ever walked an 80-year-old through the process of signing on to his or her online account, complete with three layers of security questions?  After about ten minutes of back and forth, I finally asked one client, “ok, what is it that you see on your screen right now?”  He replied, “it says Yahoo Search.”  He hadn’t even figured out how to type in the url.  Oye.

I was pretty arrogant about it, too.  I was one of the best and the brightest!  I went to college!  I took leadership skills and time-management courses!  I was too intelligent and important to be wasting my time with this crap!  Someone else could answer the damn phones; I thought I should be doing the real work.  What an idiot I was.  Not for thinking that I was too smart for that work, because I was.  No, I was an idiot for not appreciating the cushy job I had.

What I mean is this: when you can’t afford food or rent, it suddenly doesn’t sound so bad to be paid $19 an hour to answer phones and let old people gripe at you all day.

So back to the wine bar.  The other night the urinal got backed up.  As in, pee-water-all-over-the-floor-of-the-restaurant-eww-gross-backed-up.  Thank goodness it was only the urinal.  It was the end of the night and there was only one couple sitting at the bar (the pee-free zone), so the owner had me mop up the mess in the back of the restaurant while he took care of the customers up front.  That’s the scene.  Me mopping up pee, and a cute young couple drinking wine at the bar about 25 feet away. Can you picture it?  OK, good.

While I was playing janitor, I overheard one customer say to the other, “Today sucked.  They had me stuff envelopes all day.  I mean, really!?  There are mail services who you can pay to do this.  Why don’t they just hire them?  They want to pay me $25 an hour to stuff envelopes?!”  She was outraged.  She was irritated at being treated like a lowly intern when clearly she deserved to be the CEO.  Meanwhile, I was mopping up urine for $8 an hour.  I was thinking about my job at the Big Bank and wishing I was being paid $19 an hour to talk on the phone and wear cute shoes instead of wading around in the piss puddle for minimum wage.  I bit my tongue and kept it to myself, but what I wanted to do was shout at her, “Really, bitch?!  If you wanted to pay me $25 an hour to stuff envelopes I would be like HELL TO THE YES; WHERE ARE THE FUCKING ENVELOPES?”

Perspective.  Now I have it.

*These figures might not be exact.  I probably make more than $50 a week.  It’s probably more like $70.  And I actually only spend about $39.46 a week on public transportation.   In a few months, I’ll have saved enough to buy a pencil.