Malaise. Insignificance. Missed opportunities. Like many others working long hours in the service industry, it’s hard to feel anything but marginalized as you remain Scotch-taped to a counter for days at a time. But when you’re put out to collect spare change in an establishment where the customer does literally all the work except charge themselves, it’s hard to feel anything other than out of place.
My mom always told me that the world was made for jars like me. But now her advice just seems mocking. I’ve always been her vessel; I followed her advice my entire life, yet here I am. Maybe the only thing I can contain is ennui. If there’s a greater meaning to life than supplementing the salary of someone secretly texting under the cash register, well, I hope I find it soon. I can’t sit here and face biodegradation unfulfilled.
I think too much. That’s my main problem. Well, I think it is. I know, I know, more trite, unsolicited existentialism, but hear me out: I’m a firm believer that all of us are cast from the same mold, no matter what we’re made of. I have the ability to recognize my own role in this grand production called “life”—I just haven’t yet. My little cousin passed the bar straight out of school and now he’s got a steady weekend job at Rick’s. People LOVE him there, man. He’s there because people appreciate the service they receive and reward him for it. Not just with money – but also compassion and gratitude. Me? In my job? The only service anyone gets here is a complimentary card swipe. I might as well not even exist.
Would anyone even miss me if I just weren’t here one day? People might actually be happy that I’m gone. I wouldn’t be around to intrude on their lives. Plus, the girl behind the counter wouldn’t have to keep seeding me every shift to make it look like people voluntarily give up extra money for a product they made themselves. God, I just need to get out of here.
I keep coming back to three little words: change of scenery. That’s all I need. There has to be something else out there beyond those trendy, frosted-glass doors. Somewhere where I would be welcomed, not just tolerated. I don’t need an Eat, Pray, Love-style epiphany to realize my place—I just need an environment that doesn’t leave me feeling so empty. Preferably one with less pastel paint on everything.
Originally published Dec. 2014