congratulations on my new job.

I got a job as a server in the dining room of a retirement home. They make me wear black pants and shoes. I bought the whole outfit in the men’s section at Target, because who gives a fuck what I look like? The shoes are excellent except there’s something about the shape of them that makes me trip over my right big toe often and without warning, and every time is a little more perilous than the last. I feel like the shoes are cursed and something really bad is going to happen, but it’s probably just that I’m humiliated about my job and my pathetic station in life.

The old ladies think I’m some kind of big blonde giant lumbering toward them, and they’re all spellbound by my name, which I guess is more modern than I thought. You would think that old people would be more aware of things in life instead of less, but that’s not the case. Like, you’d think that they might have met at the very least a little dog named Molly in their 70+ years on this planet, but no. I tell them that I’m named after my great Aunt Mary, that historically Molly is a nickname for Mary, and it’s as if I told them we’re all going to start tasting with our feet from now on like butterflies.

The thing about being old is that you can’t remember anything. The old ladies hang out together and help remember each other’s orders. (“What is that thing I like?” “You like honey mustard. You like honey mustard so much.”) Here’s an example of a hilarious conversation I overheard in the dining room.

Joan: I’ll go grab your walker.
Ester: I don’t have a walker.
Joan: I’m pretty sure you have a walker.
Ester: I really don’t think I have one.
Joan: This is your walker.
Ester: Are you sure?
Joan: I’m pretty sure.
Ester: I really don’t think I have a walker.

They went back and forth like this for a pretty long time. The exchange felt comfortable and laid back, like the ladies were old friends.  The story ends with Ester wheeling herself out of the dining room, all the while convinced that the walker in her hands didn’t belong to her.

If I’m making it sound like I hate these people, that’s not the case. A few of them are assholes, but most of them are kind, beautiful snowflakes and it gives me genuine pleasure to bring them extra napkins when they ask for them. I have a particular fondness for old people because they’re such misfits. They’re complete fucking messes and everybody can tell. If I have any regrets about the job, it’s that I’m bummed out that I’m a terrific writer with a master’s degree, 60+ publications, 2+ years of teaching experience, I’m 31 years old, and the only job I could find in Seattle after months of tireless searching is working in an old folk’s home for $9.50 an hour. It’s embarrassing because I’m sure the world expected more out of me, but then again, does it really matter? You get up, you go to work, you come home, you go to bed. There’s more to life than a little bit of money, you know. Whatever, I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying.

I have a story at Spork Press called “Black Dog, White Rhino.” If you read that and you’re champing at the bit for more, the protagonist continues her sad life in another story on Monkeybicycle from last year called “What People Without Jesus Do.”

Thanks for reading! Also, am I boring you? What do you think I should write about? Any suggestions would be appreciated. I don’t really get this website or what it’s supposed to be about or why I’m writing it.

11 thoughts on “congratulations on my new job.

  1. Hell, I think of Molly as a charmingly old fashioned name. I could go on in a humorous vein about the Mollys they’ve probably forgotten but that would just be wrong.

  2. I vote for more stories about old people.

    Also, Thomas Bernhard wrote in one of his novels that instead of committing suicide people go to work. So there’s that, which maybe fits in with your post about why we shouldn’t kill ourselves .

  3. I’ve been in restaurants for 10 years. It’s not where I thought I’d end up either. Hopefully it’s just a temporary setback, and best of luck in your endeavors.

    I don’t know what I want to read, that’s why I read whatever you write. I have no idea what I like to read.

    That’s sad. I know.

  4. 1. I really like your blog
    2. These days, anyone making cash, money, and/or cash money is doing better than most
    3. I really like your blog, and should probably say that on a more regular basis instead of quietly reading, lurking, and then scuttling away

  5. total stranger here. is this going to turn into dispatches from the old person’s home? because i would read that regularly. and frankly, i feel like it’d be good for that to be in the world. our culture relegates old people to the sidelines and we don’t get to know what they’re like or what it’s like to grow old.

    i fully plan on living into my 100s and i have no idea what i’m in for because i don’t see it or experience it. keep writing!

    also, i’m unemployed w a master’s in ethnomusicology and crap tons of experience doing lots of bi meaningful stuff. you are not alone. i’ve finally decided to throw myself into web design (and substitute teaching next fall if they’ll take me)—hoping the ends meet by the end of the year.

  6. My visits here have been interspersed with forays into Just Kids and Inferno, both of which are about young female artists subsisting on low-paying day jobs, so your voice is melding with Patti Smith’s and Eileen Myles’.

    When I was thirty I’d had an MFA for six or seven years, and I was washing dishes in a bar and doing odd jobs at a sorority. I lived in a veggie coop and had no car, no computer, no TV, no phone–”just some rags and a radio,” as the barfly says. I walked or Grayhounded everywhere.

  7. Old people who are hazy make me terribly sad. I’m a sap and probably a patronising one.

    Also on the cry list: women past their youth looking determined in pretty scarves, the New York city subway, getting headbutted by a golden retriever.

  8. I read “Black Dog, White Rhino” and thought it ended with the black man saying There’s a duck in your pocket. (Aren’t ducks white? Black man, white duck?) I thought that was a beautiful unresolved ending, at once funny and menacing. Later I went back to the story and realized that I hadn’t scrolled down far enough, that the story ends with Keep it up, Brian, we can do this all night. The sexual connotations occurred to me. Now I can’t decide which ending I prefer.

  9. @David I didn’t intend any of the symbolism or entendres you’ve mentioned, but the author is dead so it’s fine. Any ending is fine. You’re talking to a dead woman right now.

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