I’m pretty lucky when it comes to jobs. 7% of America is out of work, but I have two jobs (technically three, but the third is only a backup). What’s more, I have two jobs that allow me to work alone with a certain degree of freedom. I’m luckier than most, that’s for sure.
However, lately some of the luster has started to wear off my second job, overnight kennel assistant at a vet hospital. There’s been a steady stream of notes complaining about all the things I don’t do, despite the fact I’m already doing everything I can with my dwindling energy supply after working an 8-hour day before ever setting foot in the hospital. I also seem to be the only person doing things from the weekly chore list that we’re all supposed to chip in on. Never a word of thanks for that.
I desperately wanted to leave under my evil boss who instituted the nonsensical 2 a.m. mandatory lunch, but I persevered and she was replaced with a better woman who doesn’t insist I come to staff meetings that take place in the middle of my full-time job’s work day (that insane lunch is still in place, but I’ve learned to embrace it).
This past weekend, however, I again teetered on the brink of a career change. One of the weekly duties is so essential, yet so utterly heinous, that we actually have a written schedule of whose turn it is. This is the cleaning of the gutters beneath the dog kennels, which get filled with hair, food and fecal matter; and in the case of one of them, all of the above is swirling in a putrid soup of standing water that one must reach through to clear the drain enough to scoop that mess out.
I…can’t even describe what this task does to me. B, head tech, says “Yeah, no one likes doing it, suck it up.” No. It is psychologically damaging to me. When I do dishes in my own sink and there’s a bit of a food blockage, I whimper to Tery to come clear it (our quid pro quo is I’m her Pillsbury tube detonation squad). This…is nothing short of HORRIFYING to me.
But I do it, because it’s my fair share (and once it’s done, the rest of the night feels like a very relieved walk in the park).
But then the month ends and sometimes a new schedule isn’t made, and I know bloody well no one is stepping voluntarily into the vacuum (least of all me; PSYCHOLOGICALLY DAMAGING). So imagine my delight when, weekend before last, I was called into the vacuum via a hastily scrawled note of all the things that needed doing. NOOOOOO (though I will admit, having it sprung on me was actually preferable to having the week to dread it).
But this wasn’t what made me start to rethink my career choices. No, that came this past weekend, when I walked into a SECOND note asking me to do them again. OH, HELL NO. Because this ain’t my first rodeo and I know how this place works: do something two or three times and it magically becomes “your job” from then on, like washing all the muzzles and anesthesia tubing, jobs that only I have done for six months now. This simply COULD NOT be “my job.” This was my line in the sand, this far, no further.
I agonized over what to do; angry note refusing? Say nothing, don’t do it, hope no one noticed? As usual, level-headed, diplomatic Tery gave the best advice: do it, remind them it was my second week doing it, and ask for a pass on the next schedule. She should work for the U.N., war would be a thing of the past. I took her diplomacy a step further and charitably assumed B forgot that I had done them the previous week.
I did them. I thought since I knew it had only been a week, they wouldn’t be so bad. I was mistaken.
Then I spent the rest of the night furiously calculating if there was any way at all I could leave this job. There was plenty I hated about it: the third shifts really kill my whole weekend because it takes a couple of days to recover. The big old lack of appreciation, always criticism for what I hadn’t done, never thanks for what I had. No raise in a few years. If I never have to stop a postop rabbit’s scrotal incision from bleeding again it will be too soon. And lately my feet and legs had started to hurt extraordinarily terribly from about two hours into my shift on into the following day, to the point that by the time I got home my gait was a grimly comedic, stiff, shuffling parody of its former self. Let me tell you, when your feet hurt that much, nothing matters to you except how to avoid using them for the foreseeable future.
Like my wise sister said, who recently changed jobs herself, rarely does one big thing make you want to quit a place, but rather lots of little things that one day just suddenly reach critical mass. I felt I might be critically massing.
I went home that morning and immediately started considering alternatives. The problem is, the older you get, the less inclined you are to want to change paths too radically. So I looked at other transcription companies that might let me work the same shift, except from home, off my feet, with 100% less drain cleaning. And I found some, to my growing excitement.
Halfway through trying to polish up my resume with a free website, I got an email from B apologizing profusely; she HAD forgotten, and furthermore offered a 2-month vaca from doing it. I suddenly loved my job again.
Well, not love, but the fact was there were a lot of good things about it too. Another fact is those free resume websites are a freaking pain in the ass, and I hadn’t even got to the interviewing stage yet.
For instance, I can listen to podcasts/music while working; can’t do that while typing medical reports. It’s easy exercise, as opposed to sitting on my ass almost exclusively. It’s literally the only thing that gets me out of the house, and truth be told, after 8 hours of staring at a computer I think starting up 8 more hours of the same immediately after would get old really fast. And after a day of excruciating attention to detail while preparing medical records, doing laundry and walking dogs is a nice mindless way to earn money.
So it was, with 2 months gutter free before me and my legs finally starting to function again, that I decided I didn’t need a different job, only better shoes.
I had been wearing Adidas hiking shoes that had served me easily a decade or more. The soles had been glued back together at least three times in the past two years. They were still mostly intact, but as far as supporting my feet, they had given up the ghost. I almost felt like I should hold a service before chucking them in the dumpster.
What to replace them with? The first place my mind went was to Crocs, a pair of which got me through more than one 16-hour inventory and still able to walk the next day. I wore that first pair down like pencil erasers to shapeless rubber blobs (some might argue that they start out that way). Yes, they are ugly as hell, but also twice as comfortable, and if dogs judge our fashion choices, they at least have the courtesy to keep quiet about it. I would strap two raw chicken breasts to my feet if I thought it would offer any relief.
Not to mention they’re still very cheap, so win-win.
While in the store debating between the Crocs and some Tevas that seemed comfortable but were $40 more (plus, in my experience, practically every pair of shoes feels okay in the store, a sensation that can sometimes rapidly dissipate upon getting home; it’s a risky decision), my judgey friend texted me trying to dissuade me from my disastrous, life-destroying footwear plan, and I decided to buy them just to irritate her (plus, $40 less).
They’re just as ugly (in fact, maybe even a little moreso; see pic), but just as comfortable. In fact, I’m wearing them right now because they’re actually better than my bare feet. Sorry, judgey friend, but a pair of comfortable shoes can change your life.