That’s right. I do want attention. And I think that we have a negative view about that, like wanting to be noticed is some sort of selfish entitlement. But I feel like perhaps someone might misunderstand my intent. I don’t want attention for myself, but rather for what I believe in.
I honestly believe that I am a performer for purpose. I believe that when I perform that I will help influence people’s decisions. I would even be so willing to go onto shows such as America’s Got Talent to raise awareness to certain issues and attempt a cultural change, from issues such as education to how we conduct ourselves on a daily basis to deep core beliefs.
This past semester, my last semester at Bakersfield College, helped me really see and understand what I could do. I took a class known as Oral Interpretation for fun, where we looked at how to perform poetry, prose, and drama in solo, duo, and readers theatre style performances. And this class has probably been my favorite subject to study.
I performed three times for the class, where I brought out things I deeply cared about. I did “The Man” by Ed Sheeran for my poetry assignment, to show how the end of a relationship truly never is one sided, but that how we handle it can affect someone else’s way they view the world and themselves. I did an excerpt from the book Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari to highlight how clueless men are when texting girls and also how they experience a disconnect that allows them to be more offensive and aggressive towards women. And lastly, I did a Readers Theatre of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness to showcase how cheating on your partner really messes with your head. All of these went well, but there was one performance that really stuck with me. And it wasn’t in a classroom environment.
March is Women’s History month. That March 2016 our school was having a week of events related to women’s history events, ending with a panel called “The Art Of The Selfie” where a panel of women, including my professor, addressed how women see themselves in the modern culture. And our class was given an invitation to attend.
“Not only will I allow it to be an extra credit opportunity to go and watch, but I’ll even open up some extra credit to come out and perform. I’ll be having auditions next week.”
Extra credit in a class I like doing something that I enjoy is always an exciting prospect, but I struggled with what piece I wanted to choose. Did I want to do “What Would You Do?” and discuss how the system funnels women into becoming sexual objects for pay? Did I want to do “Gasoline Dollhouse,” a combination two different works that relate to how women aren’t human but merely objects to look at and be perfect? Finally I decided to go with a piece that I felt fit the best with the theme: “Mrs. Potato Head” by Melanie Martinez.
My audition was, rough. I hadn’t practiced a single time, and so I stumbled a little bit, but I never acted as if I had made a mistake. In the end my professor told me, “I’ll let you perform, on the promise that you’ll keep working on it, especially your introduction.”
So I then practiced occasionally, but I didn’t feel as if it was enough. The day of I spent the last ten minutes of work in the back of the warehouse going over it again and again, reading the song as if it were poetry, putting together an introduction, reading the verses and finishing off with the chorus. I was so nervous. I was even nervous about what I was wearing.
“Why am I wearing a light green, long sleeved button up and jeans? These aren’t even good jeans. I get that this was the best compromise since I was going straight from work to school but maybe there could have been another way!”
I show up early, and I am nervous. No one is there. I go to the bathroom and come back, and still barely anyone. A young man sits in front of me and asks me, “Excuse me, is this the women’s history month thing?”
“Uh, yeah. I mean, I sure hope so.”
“Okay cool, just making sure I’m in the right spot. See, I go to CSUB and I’m not familiar with this campus.”
“Oh really? What got you out here?”
“I’m a Philosophy major, and my mentor that I’m working with had me come down here. I’m meeting her here. I hope she shows up soon so that it doesn’t become a waste of time. I could have gone to class after all. Maybe I’ll leave early and see if I can still make it.”
Him and I chatted for a bit, and as it happened, the room began to fill up with people. Before I knew it, every seat was taken. People showed up and were sitting on the ground because they wanted to be there. Talking had calmed me down but now there was a crowd.
“I’ll be right back,” I told the man I was talking to. I go up front and see that my professor still isn’t there, but the rest of the panel is.
“Can I help you with something?” a blonde woman asks me.
“Yes, I was told to be here tonight. I’m going to be doing Oral Interpretation tonight.”
“Oh, it’s you! We’ve heard such good things about you!”
And then it hit me that I was the only one going up that night.
“Okay,” she continued, “so we would like to have you come up after your professor is done with her speech and do your piece right before out Q&A session.”
“Okay, where is she now?”
“Oh, traffic. But don’t worry, she’ll be here soon.”
“Okay, thank you. Do you need me to sit closer to you guys or?”
“Oh no, it’s fine. Just be ready when it’s time.”
I go sit back down by the gentleman I was speaking to before, and before long the night begins and my professor walks through the back door and takes a seat. We make eye contact and she nods at me and I am ready to listen.
After all four of the speakers were finished, I was introduced and made my way to the stage. I was asked, “Do you need the microphone?”
“No thank you.”
My professor looked at me, “You sure?”
I was holding my black book, a required script for an Oral Interpreter’s performance, and I had practiced having a free hand, so I simply respond, “Have you never heard me talk before? I am loud.”
We all laugh and then the room gets quiet. I open the book and start off with the sing songy prechorus, ending with the plainly spoken “No one will love you if you’re unattractive,” and then I close the book to deliver my introduction.
“In the graduating class of 2012, a girl graduated from one of Bakersfield’s many high school. She was extremely intelligent, graduating as one of the top students and excelling in advanced history. She was such a capable scholar that she even was a teacher’s aide for AP United States History and helped her school’s academic team with a focus on American Government become recognized on a national level. However, after she graduated high school, people had a tough time recognizing her, because while most students get a car or a laptop as a graduation present, hers was a boob job. Jeremy Dussolliet, Melanie Martinez, and Timothy Sommers all collaborated on the piece ‘Mrs. Potato Head’ to show that we live in a culture that despite the fact that women have gone from being property to making their own income, from being voiceless to being able to vote and run for office, from being uneducated to being able to excel at it, they still feel as if there is one prison they must escape, and that it the confines of their own body, that if there is something someone doesn’t like, they should just change it. This is ‘Mrs. Potato Head.'”
I delivered the piece just as I had rehearsed it, reading each verse and finishing off with the chorus a single time. I paused. I closed my book. And the people applauded. I walked away and after the Q&A I had many people, men and women alike, walking up to me to shake my hand and tell me that they loved my performance and they were happy that I picked that piece and so on. It was embarrassingly happy. I approach my professor and she said, “That was so great! I could tell you worked on it.”
“Thank you! So, I do have a question though. I’m done with the class and this campus after this semester. I go on to CSUB next semester. If I wanted to do this more, what would I have to do?”
“Honestly, neither college here has a speech team, so you’d have to go either volunteer with local high schools or you can always come back and help with my class.”
While disappointed, I at least considered how big of an honor it was for a teacher to invite someone to help teach that subject to their students.
But either way, that performance opened up within me a desire to keep doing this, that I could really make a positive impact and highlight things that I really believe need to change. I can do it, and I want to do it, and morally I believe that I should, but I do struggle with opportunities to do so.
There is one last thing I want to address, however. That guy from before, who came from CSUB, he stayed the entire panel, missing his class and everything. He seemed like he was smiling. I asked him, “Hey man. So, was it worth coming out and seeing everything?”
He looked at me and smiling he said, “No, not at all.” And then he walked away.
And so another important lesson is that not everyone can be reached to care. But that’s all the more reason to try, because I would rather try and fail than stand before people one day and say, “I could have spread a message of my belief, but I didn’t. It’s not like everyone was going to change anyway.”
If only there was a way I could do so right now.
Nathan’s head pierced the top of the water, gasping for life. His eyes opened to see the boat speeding away in the distance. He struggled to keep afloat, and once he got his bearings, he called out to them.
“Guys! Guys! Real funny guys!”
But they didn’t stop. They kept going.
“Fine. It’s not like I just can’t call someone, assholes. Waterproof phones,” he said as he fished for his smartphone from his pocket, “for the wi…”
The phone slipped from his hands as he pulled it out of the water, due to the slickness of moisture and the struggling to stay surfaced. Nathan took a quick shallow breath of air and sank below the surface yet again, swinging his arms wildly to try and catch the now sinking salvation.
With the sun setting and the murky water in his eyes he could not see clearly, but he could feel his own heart beat faster and faster as everything sank in. He wasn’t catching his phone, he was stranded in the middle of open water, and he was running out of air and light. Quickly, he shot back up to the surface, breathing wind into lungs that stung like fire. Panicking, he looked around, seeing no one was out this far and that there was no shoreline in sight. Desperate, he took in a deep breath and attempted to see if he could swim fast enough to get to the bottom and find his phone in one straight shoot.
He closed his eyes and attempted. He kept going down, down, down, never realizing how deep this place was. He has never gone down so deep. But his lungs began to burn again and he turned his body back upwards and began to swim, hoping he was buoyant enough to make it in time.
Success in escaping death again, but he wasn’t sure how much farther he could flee.
“Gotta get back to shore!” he chanted to himself as he began to swim. Pushing his body in the direction he believed he saw the boat go, but he wasn’t entirely sure. Deep down he acknowledged that, but it was better to more and hopefully eventually hit something than to stay in one place like a corpse on the water. The water tasted disgusting, and he found himself spitting frequently. He closed his mouth completely so he could swim smoothly and quietly. He closed his eyes to protect them from the sting. He made it a habit to hold his breath and breath only when he could not take it anymore.
The next time he opened his eyes, he noticed no difference because of the darkness. His body ached from exerting himself. His brow furrowed and his eyes narrowed. His teeth clenched. His body stiffened. He stopped swimming to catch his breath, which was shallow.
‘I’ll kill em. I will kill them while they sleep. And I’ll do it myself. I’ll freaking drown them in their beds.”
But then within the darkness he saw a light appear below him in the water. He stared in uncertainty. It looked like a rectangle of white light, with bits of other colors, but it was small and far down. He looked up and around before taking in the deepest breath he could and then dove down again. He swam deeper and harder than he previously had. He could hear it. His ringtone. He could hear it.
The thoughts through his mind. Oh my gah, my phone, I’m gonna live.
He swam down and found it within reach. He reached out and snatched it. The light of the cellphone was in his hand.
And then he was pulled deeper.
The jaws swallowed up his arm. He could feel the pain and the blood colored the water. He tried to pull away, but another tug pulled him in deeper, sucking in his head and the top of his chest. He kicked wildly, but again he was pulled in further, his face mashed against a wall of flesh as now only his feet stuck out. He struggled the best he could, but one final pull took the rest of him inside and he found himself moved along inside the giant, fleshy prison.
I am not much of a concert guy. Why would I pay money to go see someone when I can listen to their music in a much more polished way? I mean, it’s not like I totally dislike concerts. I have fun at them in the same way I have fun watching sports with people: I’m really good at upping the hype, but when I leave I leave my interest there. However, there are a few acts that I would actually be extremely interested in seeing, and here are three of them.
- Game Grumps
- Ninja Sex Party
Okay, so yeah, for those who don’t realize it right off the bat, these three acts are pretty much the same act. Game Grumps and Ninja Sex Party share a member, Danny Avidan, and Starbomb is each of these other duos put together for a trio. I have an appreciation for each of their different comedic directions, even if I don’t enjoy every piece of content. And these guys are not the only guys I’d be interested in seeing, there are others, but I wanted to start off here because there actually is a story to this one.
In the summer of 2016, Game Grumps Live was going to be taking place in Sacramento and I was happy that they finally announced one so close to where I lived. I knew that they did them all the time in California, but they never announced them on the channel like they did for their travelling shows.
The day that they were released, I actually went to the site to buy tickets. However, demand was so high that I couldn’t buy general admission anymore. So what I ended up doing was buying balcony seating where we could order food and drink during the show. They sold in packs of four and six, so I bought four tickets that were $40 a piece, costing my $160. But it was worth it, I was excited. I wanted to do this, but the thing was I didn’t have a way to get there, or even an inkling of who these four friends would be. But soon I got a cast of four maybes. Not yes, just maybe.
Then we have the week before the show. It was a Tuesday night. After work I went to the bank and decided to stop at a certain Italian chain restaurant that I won’t mention here. I had a bit of a routine with the place. I would eat the delicious loaf of bread they gave me, use their two appetizer special to get an order of macaroni and cheese bites and loaded fries, and I would get an entrée of fettuccini alfredo. I underwent this same routine but things different when the waiter asked me, “What would you like to drink?”
“Oh, just water is fine.”
“Well, if you’d like, we have a selection of Italian sodas, teas, and lemonades in a variety of flavors.”
“Oh, like what?”
“Strawberry, raspberry, and peach.”
“Hmm. I think I’ll actually go for a peach lemonade then.”
“Peach lemonade, you’ve got it.”
And then he left me alone with the bread. I ate it while I read my copy of Your Lie In April Vol. 1, and I enjoyed myself. And then the peach lemonade came. I took a drink and my emotional response to the taste was, well, confusion.
It had all of the wonderful taste of peach that I had hoped for, but it also had a faint taste of soap. Not being one to cause a scene at a restaurant, I drank it anyway. After all, it still tasted good because of the peach flavor.
That wasn’t the only half off taste, however. The macaroni bites were also weird in taste, and I couldn’t even find myself stomaching the fries. When my entrée got there, I felt like I couldn’t eat anymore.
“Could I get some to-go boxes please?”
I got two boxes, one for the fries, one for the pasta, and the waiter told me, “You can just hang out here for a bit if you’d like and keep reading. Sign your check whenever you’re ready.”
I finished my manga and paid for the meal. I then proceeded to walk home listening to the newest Epic Rap Battle of History, “Ivan the Terrible vs. Alexander the Great” on repeat the entire thirty minutes. When I go home, I felt awful and so I went straight to bed.
The next thing I realized was that it was 11 o’clock at night and I needed to get to the bathroom, ASAP. I get out my bed and move through the darkness to the bathroom next door, when I hear my mother say, “Ian, what are you doing?”
For some reason, those words paralyzed me there. And then, the vomiting commenced.
After the first wave, I rushed into the bathroom. I got through three waves before I made it to the toilet. It was everywhere, an orange slime coated the toilet and the floor and soaked into our rugs.
“What is wrong with you?” I heard my mother say once my body had ceased. “You’re not a child! Clean this all up and go to bed.”
Still not feeling well, I began to scrub everything and set a load of laundry into the washer. It was after midnight when I was done.
The next morning my entire body ached so much I couldn’t stand moving. I did feel my forehead and I was so warm but I wasn’t sweating. I texted my bosses, “Hey, I’m so sick right now, there’s no way I can come in.”
I spent the entire day in bed, occasionally getting up to drink some water, but I never found myself eating. The closest thing to a meal I had was when a friend brought me some Jamba Juice so that I at least had something in my system.
At midnight I found myself waking up and being terrified. My body felt fine, but the left side of my chest felt as if someone had put a railroad spike through it. I just shifted position and I started to feel a bit better. I wake up again. The pain is back and it’s spread. I shift again and pull up Safari on my phone.
“What to do if you have chest pains?”
I read article after article telling me I needed to go see a doctor because of heart attack risk. But I couldn’t be having a heart attack. I was only 21. I roll over and the pain is relieved so I sleep again. I wake up and my left arm is hurting too. I move again and I kept repeating this process until about 6 when I get up and get ready for work.
I meet up with my carpool and the driver asks me, “Hey Ian, how are you feeling today?”
“Oh, you know, I have some pain in my chest, but other that that I’ll be okay.”
“Uh, that doesn’t exactly sound good.”
“I’ll be oaky. I mean, I was tempted to just go see a doctor, but I didn’t want to miss another day, you know?”
“Well, it’s not too late to go do that, you know?”
I still go to work. I clock in at 7 and head to the warehouse. I get the laptop and print out the current stock report on seals that we have in the system and I go around to start checking to see if that number is correct. But I find it harder and harder to focus on the task. The pain is still there and I just want to go lie down. I end up going back to my desk and laying my head down to try and experience some form of relief. I text my boss at about 9:
“Hey, I feel like I am like not cutting it today and I don’t want to be here if I’m not being productive. Would it be okay for me to clock out early so that I could go see a doctor?”
My boss walks into the warehouse, “Hey Ian, you ready to leave?”
“Okay, I’ll take you home.”
He takes my home and I go to bed. At about 1pm I text a friend, “Hey could you take me to a doctor?”
“Sure thing! I could pick you up around three. Try to schedule an appointment if you can.”
I look up a hospital just to read the words, “If you are experiencing chest pains, do not make an appointment, but either call 911 or come straight to the emergency room.”
So, begrudgingly, I call 911. The fire department show up for some reason and then the ambulance, after some time had passed, finally shows up. I get put on a stretched and they take me to the hospital and give me some aspirin.
I felt a bit better when I got to the hospital and they gave me all of the tests. Urine test, blood test, x-ray, even an MRI and an ultrasound. Back into the waiting room. Eventually a nurse calls me up.
“Now, when you had your last meal on Tuesday, was it a fatty meal?”
“Ugh, I guess, why?”
“Well,” she starts drawing diagrams, “here’s the stomach, and the esophagus, and the liver and pancreas, and here is an organ called the gallbladder. Now, when you eat a lot of fat, it makes the organs work harder, and your gallbladder might very well accumulate buildup. So, this fat might be making gallstones and when you threw up, that was you passing a stone. We weren’t able to find any stones and they normally don’t cause chest pain, but that’s what we believe it to be right now.”
“So, what now?”
“Well, we’re going to do one more blood test, but otherwise I would recommend that you start meeting with a doctor and have a change in diet until you stop producing these stones. So life is going to be a little boring for a while.”
It was bittersweet. On one hand, I was relieved that I wasn’t going to die, but on the other, I was going to not enjoy the foods I loved anymore. But whatever, right?
I get blood drawn from me yet again and I go back to waiting. I text my college group leader.
“Hey, so I’m in the hospital right now. I guess that I’m just having gallstones, so I’ll survive, but it doesn’t look like I’ll make it tonight. Just don’t tell any of the new cute girls that are there.”
“Ian, you have gallstones, not gonorrhea, you’re fine.”
I laugh. My mother texts me.
“Hey bud, how’re you feeling?”
“I’m okay. I’m kind of at the hospital right now.”
“What?!? Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to freak you out if it was nothing.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
Shortly afterwards the nurse returns.
“Ian, can I talk to you for a second?” she pulls me aside. “Look, I do not feel comfortable discharging you. We compared your blood tests, and your heart attack markers are increasing. Something has damaged your heart. And it doesn’t make sense. You’re not overweight. You don’t have a family history. You’re not much of a partier, right?”
“No, the last drink that I had was last month.”
“See, so it can’t be that. This would make sense if you were doing something hard like cocaine but otherwise, the only thing that makes sense is that you have a virus. Your heart is infected and you need to be admitted.”
I then spent days in the hospital being pumped with fluids, having my blood checked consistently, and not being aloud to eat because of tests I may or may not even have that day. On my last day in the hospital, I had an angiogram that confirmed that my heart was fine and that the viral infection was gone. However, I now had a major problem in that it was extremely painful to walk at first, given that I’d been confined to a bed for a long time, and that an angiogram is a procedure that enters your heart through your groin. Yeah. So I was bed ridden for the rest of the weekend and for the next three months I couldn’t do any squatting or heavy lifting.
Because all of that was happening, I was unable to make the trip to Sacramento to see the Game Grumps Live show. And even if I was well enough to go, it seems as if everyone backed out on me. So now I don’t buy tickets to these shows anymore, because there’s no certainty that I’ll even make it to the show. I make sure that everything is good before I buy tickets, and no one I know is as into this type of comedy as I am. I thought I was going to get tickets to go see Ninja Sex Party that Christmas, but it never happened. So now, I just wait for the rest of their music to come out on a platform I can listen to it. But still, I would really love to see the work these guys do. So yeah, it’s still a goal of mine to get to see these three types of shows. I just don’t know how I’m going to do it yet.
“You’re a good friend!” never reciprocates.
I work at The Garlic Company in Bakersfield, California, and it is one of the best kept secrets of the area. I didn’t know that the place even existed. When I was offered the job by their Director of Operations, people would ask “Where are you working?”
And I would say, “I don’t know! He just keeps saying the garlic company!”
Then when I saw the company sign it made sense. I’ve been working there for two years as a member of their purchasing department and I will stand by my claim that this is the greatest job I’ve ever had. Seriously. And trust me, I’ve had some awful jobs.
My first job was to work for a guy that I knew. I met him through a local photography club, and he told me that he did many jobs around town taking pictures of all sorts of things, but mainly sports photography. So I began doing everything with this guy. I set up and took down equipment for photoshoots. I collected funds and paperwork. I took pictures, and even did editing jobs. I did a lot of stuff, and I had a lot of fun doing it.
What went wrong?
Well, first of all, he was paying me under the table. Now, we could have a debate about all of this. I was a kid making side money, a high school student, not a regular employee. But still, it does raise ethical and legal questions. But either way I was getting fairly compensated.
Yeah, in a way.
I made over minimum wage at the time and was paid by the hour most jobs, but being that there was no paper trail I did get shorted a few time. It was small amounts, like $5, but when I’m making $10 an hour, that’s half an hour worth’s of work. But I never really had the courage to demand that he cough up the extra cash because I wanted more work.
And that leads me to the last problem: it was freelance work and it was infrequent. When school was not in session, there was practically no work. Even when school was in session, it wasn’t like we had weekly gigs. I needed something way more stable than what I was getting if I was to make a living for myself.
The Garlic Company was a step in the right direction. Not only am I on a legal payroll with all of my income, including bonuses, being taxed correctly and documented extensively, I also can work up to 40 hours a week when I’m not in school, which really helps me out. This is obviously better than my photography work.
Yes, men can be receptionists. I was a receptionist at a salon that my mother was working at. I had a simple job, to make sure we had coffee, to great the customers, to schedule appointments, at answer phones, charge transactions, fold towels, etc. This was my first stable job where I knew my hours every week and I had a weekly paycheck. I made minimum wage, but to be fair, it was my first real job, it was what I was worth.
What went wrong?
A lot of things. But it mainly boils down to management.
I wasn’t hired directly through the company, although I applied directly with them and did everything through them. But then I needed to go to a temp agency to actually get the job. however, the people who owned the salon also ran the temp agency. So, they were paying my salary, but they didn’t have to give me benefits because I wasn’t working for their company, but through their other company. Also, I was given no training on the policies of the company or labor laws of the state, which made for a confusing first day.
There was also strange policies on money. The people who ran this were such penny pinchers that they didn’t even want to fix their air conditioning in summer. As a note, not only was it uncomfortable for everyone, it’s also a health and safety violation, as Bakersfield heat gets into the 110F range during summer and we had pregnant workers and elderly guests. Also, they had a policy that only $25 could be kept in our cash register at any time. However, it usually came down to them leaving me with a $20 bill, a couple of $1 bills and some change. So if a cash transaction was made, I was required to leave my post and go from nearby store to nearby store to ask if they could break a $20.
Not only that, but slowly by surely I was subjected to a hostile work environment. It started small, with many people just saying things about how their husbands, no, men in general are stupid, and yes, my bosses were the ones making these comments. At first it seemed like they were joking but as time went on with how many times comments like these were made, it really starts to eat at you. But that I could stand. However, there was another girl that was hired to work there half the week. I heard many of the stylists complain about how all she would sit at the desk and do nothing but be on her phone, but the bosses wouldn’t say anything. However, I would be up front doing something required of me, like folding towels, and I would get reprimanded, told that I needed to get up and do my job, which is confusing for a receptionist currently doing their job. In fact, a receptionist’s job is to be up front to deal with customers. But suddenly they were getting mad at me for not cleaning the inside of the head dryers or scrubbing the sinks or removing buildup from a bathroom wall while I was up front dealing with clients. After my mother left the salon these things escalated so quickly. I came in early and left early one day because I needed to attend to something and the next day I received a call from the temp agency that I was let go for repeatedly violating company policies and willfully negative behavior. I was so shocked. And two narratives came about from speaking with the other workers: either I was discriminated against because of my sex, or I was the subject of petty revenge against my mother for leaving and working at a different salon. I personally think bother are somewhat true.
Obviously this place cannot be as bad at that all way. The Garlic Company does hire from temp agencies, but they do so only to find good employees to fully hire, not to target some sort of legal loophole. Also, there is no discrimination of any sort. There is a consciousness of the culture we live in, and each employee is evaluated fairly. Some men make more than women, and some women make more that men. Also, we are all trained in the labor laws and in harassment prevention, and we have an excellent and diverse Human Resources department to report to if we feel uncomfortable or someone does their job incorrectly. We even had a case where female employees were refusing to work with a man because it was revealed he had been having an affair, and they stepped in immediately and reminded everyone that the workplace is not a place of personal business, and that he should not be fired because of other employee’s personal issues with him, all without actually defending his actions. Also, if I do something wrong, I’m told what it is and we have clear ideas as to what it is I’m going to do in my job. The only complaint I’ve ever had brought against me were all jean related, either they had a hole or they were a little too low or whatever, all things I could easily fix. I have a much better and much more positive environment to work in and I couldn’t be happier.
Yes, I worked retail. I worked in the Men’s Department of a clothing store at my local mall. Well, they had more than just clothing, but that’s about all I worked with. Everything started out great. I had great coworkers, and I worked under great employers. I even got a discount on clothing. I didn’t even mind working with difficult customers. It was nice, for the time.
What went wrong?
Mostly, it was me. But I’ll get to that. One practical problem was that it was very not set in stone. I never could plan my future out because I had no idea when I would be working. It changed all of the time. Sometimes I was middle of the day. Sometimes I was late at night. Sometimes I was first in the morning. Sometimes I had to come in 8 hours later than when I left, and when I don’t have a car, that’s enough time to go home, change clothes, and come right back. I spent a lot of money on taxis to get home because I couldn’t take a bus so late at night, and some days the busses on my side of town didn’t even run. I didn’t spend Thanksgiving with my family that year because I needed to walk almost four hours to get to work on time.
But it didn’t help that I was suffering from crippling depression. It was no secret to everyone that my fiancé had left me a couple of months before I started working there. I still wore my purity ring at the time, and everyone, customers and coworkers alike, would always ask me, “Oh my, you’re married?” I was opening myself up everyday to talk about a painful subject. I was great at putting on a good show in front of our customers, but I can recall going into the storage area to look for a coat someone wanted and just bursting into tears one night. Also, just a fun fact, I have a crippling fear of ladders. Yeah. I am freaking terrified of climbing up ladders. I do not mind heights at all, but I do not trust ladders. So when I would need to get something from high up, it was difficult and the store didn’t exactly have a safety policy set in place. I remember watching safety videos, where we were told to have a partner hold a ladder for someone who was climbing up one, and to use an appropriately sized ladder. However, when I walked into the storage area and asking someone, “Hey man, could you help me get that coat up there down?” (For reference, this was near the high ceiling).
The guy looks at me and says, “No. There’s a ladder over there.” And just straight up leaves the area and leaves me alone with the only ladder left, a ladder that is so small that it doesn’t even reach halfway to where I’m trying to reach, so I find myself standing on the top of a small ladder trying to knock down an out of reach coat.
They wanted to keep me on, but with school, a second job, and my emotional problems, they ended up saying that my temporary, seasonal employment had expired.
I have a much better schedule now. It is set in stone and consistent on a daily basis. They are also much more flexible, seeing that I am a student. If I need to do something, I can get permission rather quickly to either adjust my time or take the time off. They are encouraging of my goals and what I am currently doing and willing to work with me for the good of both myself and the company. Plus, as time has healed many things, I no longer have the same emotional baggage, and I usually have another guy who can climb ladders for me. Not to mention if he’s not there, I have sticks and a special staircase like ladder to use to get what I need. I feel more comfortable and I can rest assured I can get proper rest and enough work.
This one’s a little confusing. My family knew this guy who was looking to hire a smart kid they could train to use AutoCAD, the main software I use in my degree path. In fact, they are the main reason I’m studying Industrial Technology, as part of the requirement was to take CAD classes at my local community college. They even worked out a schedule around my days at school, where I could come and go as I please during the working day so that I could be at class but still work everyday. I also got paid well above minimum wage right off the bat, and I did multiple odd jobs, working with everything to prepare me for my work with the Engineers, from getting familiar with inventory (haha, training for my current job it seems) and also dealing with tagging and bolting up our jobs for companies who need pipes and takes and so on… oil companies mainly. There was even one guy I worked with who made amazing salsa. So..
What went wrong?
Two words: office politics. The guy who hired me on was once co-owner of the company, buying half of it to save it from going under, while still working as a director of operations. Once they got back on their feet, that original owner then approached him with a contract to relinquish his ownership in exchange for higher pay and other incentives, which he signed. However, he never delivered. This guy then complained to the owner multiple times about how he never followed through with the deal, which then got him fired.
I was terrified, but I made up my mind to stay quiet and to do the best job I could. It was what I should do, and all I could do.
Then fast forward two weeks later. The former owner, who again, got my foot in the door, came back to collect his stuff and told everyone about how he had found an awesome new job. That day I was handed a pink slip, laid off because there wasn’t enough work, despite being told previously that this was the busy season.
I have all of the good stuff I once had with a better work environment and a lot less drama. It’s as simple as that. Even if a skirmish like this developed, I would be protected by my direct supervisor, who has fought to keep me in his department and admits I am a necessary part of the team in a necessary part of the company. If I’m going to be fired, there is going to be a real reason for it. A “You aren’t doing your job and we’ve already warned you” type of reason. Or a “You did something atrocious” type of reason. Legitimate reasons. And it would be hard for everyone involved either way. This is a positive work environment with a position that I won’t be losing unless I terminate it or I get promoted.
Academic Peer Tutor
The last job I had before my current employment was working as a tutor for my school. I was nominated by one of my professors and soon I was approved to teach multiple subjects, mainly math up to Calculus I, biology, and Microsoft Office. I did a great job, and everyone was so appreciative of my work. It was at my school, so I could schedule to work between classes and not have to worry about transportation. Plus, it was something I was truly good at: being a student and a teacher. Plus, I made so many friends and we played card games all the time between appointments. Heck, I got paid by appointment, so if a guy came in to ask one question I got paid a full hour. I seemed great, but in hindsight there were problems.
What went wrong?
The big issue was payment. I made minimum wage, which is better than nothing. However, I was only paid once a month. And it was after all of my bills. So it wasn’t a system of “Paid my bills, how much is left?” It was “I cannot spend a single cent because I have to make sure I can pay bills.” On top of that, I was not allowed to work twenty hours. The most I could work was nineteen. So with minimum wage being $8, I could only make so much.
Also, being a student, it would be impressive for anyone to have nineteen slots of available time open. However, not only were we paid infrequently, paid very little, and not allowed to work over an amount of time, even if we had managed to have that full time available and scheduled, we still might not make our maximum amount. That goes back to the appointment policy I mentioned earlier. If the guy shows up, I get paid an hour. What happens if this person doesn’t show up? If they just never come in or call, they are considered a no show. I’m required to wait 15 minutes, but then I get paid half an hour. Now, that sounds awesome, getting paid double, but think about the fact that I just made half of what I would have made if the person had shown up. That can’t be made up during the week. That person is also stricken from your future record.
But what if they called ahead and let us know? They are no longer a no show, but a cancellation, meaning they can still hold their spot for the next week, but now I get paid no money. So if I’m in route and they call in just as I’m getting there, sorry, I get nothing. Also, policy dictates that a no show is anyone who calls in, so even if someone calls in after 15 minutes into their session, or even after the entire session should have happened, they count as a cancellation, meaning I don’t even get paid for the showing up and waiting that I did. And again, I can’t make up that lost money.
Oh, also, this job was tied in with a class. And towards the end we dealt a lot with people being terminated for not doing assignments for the class, (something I don’t necessarily disagree with) and also for our personal choices like holding a tutoring center superlatives (something that I can’t believe went down the way that it did).
In comparison and conclusion
Here, I make a decent wage and I get paid every two weeks. I don’t have to worry about losing it because of weird rules, and I’m legally protected in that sense. Things that I suffered as a tutor I could take to court here and so of course they don’t happen. I no longer worry about money as much as I used to, even considering previous posts. I can now live without parental support and I have the chance to get an education and move up in the company.
And so I conclude that perhaps one of the most important days of my life was being offered this job. I have experienced so much growth, and I am in a better place. And my message to pass along to everyone is that, well, work can suck, but it can also be fantastic. The only job I ever complained about while I was there was as a receptionist. But none of these jobs were great long term investments. I don’t wear rosy colored glasses when I look at my past, but I definitely do when I look towards the future. That’s how I survived all of my jobs, despite the fact that I was suicidal at my retail job. I knew that the problems that I had were only temporary, and I knew the value of working hard. I am so happy where I am now, but maybe one day I’ll look back on this post and say how stupid I was for thinking that this was a good job too. But that’s okay, because that means that I will have been blessed and rewarded with something even better. I just hope that this can help someone realize that where they are at now isn’t fruitless, and that there very well may be an opportunity to sweep them away from their awful position.
But I was only given this because of my character.
The guy who recruited me told the people I was working with, “He means nothing to me! If he isn’t doing his job for a second fire him!”
Well, here I am two years later.
Work hard. Look for opportunity. Realize that the future has to be better no matter what, because the future is always building up on the past.
Soccer Position: Goalkeeper. Future Planning: Goalkeeper.
Okay, I’m back to big dreams again. This is something I’ve actually considered wanting to do all year. I will go through college and get a PhD in whatever I need to just so that I can become a professor and teach this class. This is like my favorite aspiration right now. I really want to teach a class about Danganronpa. I know I’ve mentioned the franchise before, but I think it’s time I dove in with this aspiration. Let’s start from the beginning.
What Is Danganronpa?
Danganronpa is a Japanese franchise, simple as that. It started as a game for the PSVita called Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc released by Spike Chunsoft. The game was so well received that it grew from there. It has had two sequels, Goodbye Despair and Ultra Despair Girls, an animated series based on the first game, a manga based on that anime, and a final two anime that ran concurrently and were lumped together as one experience called Danganronpa 3: The End Of Hopes Peak Academy. There is also a new game coming out this year that is known as V3 and will feature an entirely new storyline.
Okay, so that’s what it physically is, but what is the premise? Well, the game revolves around a group of students all attending Hope’s Peak, an institute dedicated to the most talented students they can find, whom they scout and recruit. There are Ultimate Baseball Stars, Ultimate Photographers, even Ultimate Lucky Students. However, when one student walks onto campus, he suddenly loses consciousness and wakes up in a classroom. He meets up with 14 other students to find out that they are being held within the school for the rest of their lives. However, they will be allowed to leave on one condition: they must graduate by killing a fellow student and avoid being caught and executed. It is such a gruesome tale and I love it. Oh, and the one keeping them prisoner is a robotic black and white bear named Monokuma. He’s great.
Basically, the core of this game is talking with your fellow students and helping to investigate murders and do logic and rhythm based puzzles in order to convict someone. But now that that’s out of the way…
How Could I Teach A Class Based On This?
Well, it’s simple. The class would be called, “Danganronpa: A Study Of Multimedia Storytelling.” I would use this as an opportunity to go through each of the games and the anime with the class in order to look at how to tell a story. After all, a teacher gets to decide what books they use and what topics they discuss in a reading and writing based class. One class I took the teacher wanted to talk about Globalism and another wanted to talk about Animal Rights, so it’s not impossible for me to talk about Danganronpa. This would provide a lot of room for discussion because, like I mentioned, one continuous story is told over three games and an anime. Essentially, they didn’t stick to just using games to tell a story. They broke a convention, and we could study how that works and see how effective it was and so on.
Who Would Take Such A Class?
The best degree paths I could see this fitting in for would be English or Communication majors, but if the school had a Writing or Game Design or even an Animation program this would also fit very well. This class would be very reading intensive, as the games are mostly dialogue, and we have all agreed that film is also a literature study as well.
Why Teach This At All?
This would be no different from taking a class on Children’s Literature or a class on The Bible as Literature or so on. The big difference is that it focuses on something so specific, mainly because it is the only one to really successfully do what it has done. The only other franchise that comes to mind is the Five Nights At Freddy’s Franchise, mixing games with a novel, but Danganronpa does it in a more easily taught way. This study opens the door to challenge people how to tell stories and convey information and may also spark innovation and show that starting something a certain way doesn’t mean locking yourself in for the long hall. This is a great chance for students to also see outside their own culture and even face a little darker theme in a lighthearted way. It’s something I would be proud to teach.
When And Where Will This Be Taught?
I don’t know. I don’t control the future. I merely walk towards it. I probably won’t get a chance to teach this for decades, however, because I’m barely getting an Associates Degree. It would be a bit difficult for me to get a PhD rather quickly, let alone get a job at a university and be able to institute a request for the class to be added. It’s going to take a long time. But would it be worth it? Absolutely. This is what I want to do. I want to teach. Even if I don’t study education, teaching about what I enjoy and what I’m good at is rewarding. This would be fascinating. I hope that I can do it one day.
Exchanging old faces for new ones.
This one is more of a resolution than my last post in this series. The perfume thing was more like “Whoa, this would be awesome!” This one is coming from a much more sad place.
So, for starters, I want to make a drastic move and cancel my current bank account and start a new account with a different bank. Which bank? I don’t know. But I do know one thing: it will stop anything that my current card is attached to and change my billing address. Is that pretty drastic? Yeah, absolutely. But it will get the job done without me having to scrounge through everything I do and selectively cut. Plus if I use a larger bank with a mobile app or something I can actually keep track of things easier.
I’ll be honest, I have lost track of where my money goes. I need to start from scratch. Plus since I moved, I don’t even receive my own bank balances every month, and I can’t do anything about it, since the bank closes at 5 everyday and I work until 4:30 and I can’t do anything online because the site doesn’t have a “I forgot my password” type of service so if I want to do anything I have to put in an enrollment statement and then get on the phone with a representative while I’m at work and it’s such a huge hassle. I just want to be done.
I need to start saving money again.
It’s awful, really. I’m pretty sure that my first paycheck of the month gets spent on utilities and the other on stuff that I’m not even given a notice about. I calculate in my head where I should be at just to find myself painfully less so. I am so done with this type of stuff. But it helps me think.
What Are Some Goals
There are some things I probably should be saving up for:
- A Car
- A PS4
- A House
- That Chiaki Nanami body pillow I found on Amazon
Okay that last one is a joke but you get the idea. There are things that I should be and want to save up for, and that is motivation. Despite the fact that I pay bills, I should be able to put aside money each month, but right now that hasn’t been happening. At least with a new bank I could at least follow my finances more closely and be able to dissect my spending habits a bit more to see what I need to do and how much I’ll save. I’ll be spending less money knowingly and I’ll be able to put away more.
Plus, I still want to be generous.
There are things that I give money to without expecting a huge return. There is a child that I sponsor named Kendal that I wouldn’t want to abandon. After all, this is helping a child live a healthy life and receive an education in a less than fortunate area. I also help support a fellow creator named Minx, who runs the YouTube channel TheRPGMinx, the Krinx Show Twitch Stream, and has a Minx Gamewisp account that I use to support her. There are rewards she offers, but I seldom cash in on them. I’m just happy to help keep a channel like that afloat. But I also want to do more good, and reevaluate my tithe and so on. There are great charities out there that do great work. I’d love to give a reoccurring donation again to the Alpha House of Tampa, a charity that helps pregnant women gain skills, support, and supplies to maintain a healthy family life. There are even dreams of putting together my own charities one day, but I will talk about those another time.
There Are Things To Cut And Things To Keep
That I know of, there are many things that I want to keep. I like YouTube Red, Funimation, and Crunchroll, and also Amazon Prime. I like having a Nature Box delivered to my door.
But there are some things I might need to reevaluate. Like Loot Anime. I love the service, but if I don’t use everything in that box it’s a waste, and I mainly just like the shirts and the manga.
I’m also sure there are many reoccurring payments that I’m not even aware of that I need to figure out. And some things that I’d be fine with if the account just stop receiving money. But I won’t bore people with those details of my life.
So What Now?
Now that I’m on break I can probably afford to do a bank scouting on my day off and switch my accounts around. Maybe I’ll even get checks just in case. Who knows? There is a world of opportunity here. The advice I always here is cut what I don’t need, but if I can’t even be aware of my own spending habits then what is the point? I need a new system and I am excited to get my life turned around.