Maybe you can tell me something. I recently interviewed for what I would call a glorified Denny's. I had FOUR interviews for a management position (is that normal?!?!?!), one that would probably pay me less than serving there. The main concern of this employer: my plugs and tattoos. Okay, I get it. But we're not selling stocks and bonds here...this is a hamburger joint. The crew wears t-shirts and jeans. I have two bachelors' degrees and over eight years of experience. I can wear long sleeves and flesh-toned plugs. In fact, no one even noticed my ears until some tiny "Juno the Caseworker" manager pointed it out between Virginia Slims. I'm sorry Juno, I know you hate me because I had to explain what the word "clandestine" meant to you. Holy shit.
However, is this what is important to employers? Should it be? I see EIGHTY PERCENT of people (mostly women) sitting in these cattle-call style, "group interviews" and all of them are wearing...jeans. Granted, most are presumably younger than I am, but some I know are in my age range and above. Is it ridiculous of me to be astounded by this phenomena? When I was in management, if someone even approached us to APPLY in jeans, we would kindly note that and turn them away. Something about the seriousness of wanting a job, so you look presentable...
Don't get me wrong. I do not go into interviews wearing a leather vest and leggings, with my hair completely spiked and huge gauges in my ears. I look like Mary Fucking Poppins. No one could ever guess I have A tattoo, let alone...I don't know how many anymore. No one notices my ears, unless they look with a magnifying glass. I would assume they would use said magnifying glass on my resume, but alas.
So today, just like every day, I applied to a couple jobs that I know I am WAY overqualified for, but assuredly I will not get. I also applied for jobs I have no idea how to do, also...won't get. People that have interviewed me have actually said, "You might want to leave your education off of your resume from now on." WHAT THE HELL??? I ain't too proud to beg either. I interviewed at Pick Up Stix...and they were "concerned" about my ears as well. "Hi, here's your fried wontons...Oh? My ears? I'm sorry you're suddenly going to leave without paying?!?!" NOT GOING TO HAPPEN.
I have applied at all "freak-friendly" environments, Target...etc. I live in the middle of urban sprawl central, so there's no cute art district or "fun shops" to work at. Even though this is Southern California, people are rigid as hell about appearance in the workplace. DAMN YOU PORTLAND. I can't wait to move...in the meantime, I can't even get Starbucks to call me back. I am this close to jogging down to the Jack in the Box on the corner and throwing myself onto the counter. No, maybe not for a job this time...but maybe just for some french toast sticks.
I was never cool in school. I lived in a constant state of fear. I, like so many other children of this Generation Cusp (as I am calling it), where we are neither X nor Y, and certainly not cool enough to be apart of Generation Me, was told that in order to succeed, we had to go to college.
If you did not go to college, it seemed, you might as well apply at McDonald's, because that would be all you could hope for. No one mentioned learning trades, or perhaps testing the waters by working part-time and actually enjoy being eighteen instead of crying into a phone-book sized college application and trying to decide what crappy essay prompt you would respond to. College was my only way out of my mundane town, and on to a more "intelligent" form of life, or so my teachers told me. I had to go.
I had to go to Pepperdine. I'm not really sure why. My mother worked with someone whose daughter had gone there. He spoke of the place like it was Disneyland. It looked a lot more like 90210, and felt much more like 24 Hour Party People, but it was where I was going to go. We toured other schools, I remember me liking UC San Diego and then all of a sudden there I was, in a dorm room with someone who had intense body odor and a boyfriend that looked like Rumpelstiltskin.
Oh, and did I mention I didn't realize how insane the Christian element is there? I knew it was private but I was unaware I would be required to attend "convocation" a.k.a. church, where I would hear guest speakers wax poetic on such ridiculous topics as, "recovering from homosexuality" and "reformed prostitute shares her story with God." We were graded on our attendance. I took four "F"s, one for each year it was required. I could not get out of there fast enough.
Almost eleven years and two bachelors' degrees later, I am unemployed. I have never been able to reach this echelon promised to me as I signed those Stafford Loan documents, so many years ago. I have never worked above a mid-management job, and for most of my adult life I have been a waitress. That's right, I paid ninety thousand dollars to wait tables.
It's not for lack of trying either. I interviewed with many "big companies" and was even offered an art direction job with Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters...until they ran my credit and background. Of course I had a lot of debt, I had just graduated from college. Of course I got in trouble for vandalism, I am a GRAFFITI ARTIST, that's why you wanted to hire me...because I was "edgy"? Well sadly, apparently your credit and a misdemeanor arrest from fifteen years ago can effect your job performance, or so they told me.
So explain this to me. I can't get a "better" job until I am more qualified. I cannot become more qualified without experience, and as an adult I can't AFFORD the time for an unpaid internship. I can't pay for graduate school, and the idea of incurring more debt just to reach out to this further dangling carrot seems futile.
I cannot work somewhere to gain this experience or these illusive "qualifications" without clearing my background, again, which costs money I don't have. I want to better myself, but the loans I took out to do so keep me from ever being able to save any money to further my path. What do I do?
Well, I did what everyone seems to be doing: I worked just to get by. I waited tables for almost eight years, because no matter how I did the math, that job was more lucrative than any 9 to 5 I was offered. I worked all day and all night, something I was told I would never have to do, if only I made the right choices. Well, I have made a few new choices.
I walked out of my job as a waitress I am not looking back. I am not going to "fall back on" what I believe is a mere crutch. I am not cleaning up one more pile of mashed crackers ground into a cheaply made carpet.
I have decided to freelance full-time, and I am going to get my teaching credential. There are no certainties to life, and I think that is a lesson that needs to be taught.
I want to educate our youth, especially our young women. I am afraid that this "path to success" is not a guarantee. I want to make sure they know no one is going to hand them a job when they walk off that college graduation platform. I want them to think for themselves, and pursue their dreams, whether they include college or not. I want them to see all the options of this beautiful world, and perhaps dabble in a few before committing to a life lead by defaulted loans and "what ifs."
Most of all, I want them to make sure they go through a screening process before choosing a college roommate. I can still smell mine to this day, hoping it's not the lingering air of my own disappointment.
Yes, we all love it in the literal sense. To me, the combination of two of my primary food groups: bread and cheese, is a match made in heaven. Pizza is delicious, often cheap, incredibly versatile and pairs well with sauce. What more could you ask for?
Well, something awesome happened recently, and in a way...I have pizza to thank. I made one awesome friend, one superhero of a girl with a heart of gold and razor-sharp wit. Yes, it was like looking into a mirror...black glasses, totally hilarious, super smart and babe power to the max! Pardon my modesty. Our Wonder Twin powers united.
We decided to create a new hashtag, a body positive, yummy, beautiful hashtag, that has absolutely changed my life, and my way of thinking. #PIZZASISTERS4LYFE became our brainchild, after many meals of the delicious beast, my BFF and I were waxing nostalgic on all our favorite ways to enjoy pizza. Then it hit us. Dude. This could be a THING. Fast forward to one awesome photo challenge, over TWO HUNDRED TAGGED PICTURES AND VIDEOS and most importantly, I have had the privilege of meeting some of the most beautiful, friendly, encouraging, intelligent and clever women in this world. I consider all of them friends, not just Pizza Sisters.
When a sister is down, we bring them up. I can speak from experience. When I'm bumming out on something stupid, I just check the hashtag and crack twenty ribs from all the hilarity. Whenever I feel alone...I know someone has been there before and is more than willing to chat. Hell, we even send each other gifts, help promote business ventures and encourage each other as much as we possibly can.
I just want to say thank you. First to my RFL, for without whom I could not have drug my head out from under my sad, pizza-less rock, to return to you all and become the writer I know I can be. Second, to my Pizza Sisters. I know this is just a small slice, but I have a whole huge pie of LOVE coming your way.
For those of you following @biggirlsdontbuy, our little IG clothing store/swap...I will be posting some radness this afternoon, so stay tuned! In fact, please message me if anyone is interested in getting in on the action.
ALSO, CAN WE TALK ABOUT THIS NEW LAYOUT?!?!?! RAD!
I am in the process of getting some sposnor action together, please email me for details!
I'm glad to be back. Thank you for having me.