If I were to write my professional memoirs today, the cover would look suspiciously like this one:
Being a writer is often a discouraging proposition, especially nowadays, when Tweets and Tumblr pics have crunched the collective attention span down to the approximate width of a gnat’s ass hair. A few years ago, I worked as a copywriter at a company where one of the top execs confidently declared that, “People don’t read anymore!” He declared this right to my word-loving face. (And yes, he miraculously walked away from that conversation without a limp.) Why people seem to delight in boasting about this alarming rise in voluntary illiteracy is beyond me, but I digress. I’m worried that this trend won’t be reversing any time soon. And that words don’t matter anymore.
I can’t tell if I’m standing at a career crossroads, or if this pothole I’m attempting to extract myself from is merely temporary, albeit with an it-goes-all-the-way-to-China depth to it. Am I meant to display Rocky Balboa-inspired grit and resilience here….. OR a newfound wisdom that ought to stop me from throwing myself headlong into the same brick wall over and over again? (The perpetual concussions are making it a bit tough to discern which of the two options is meant to be the career game-changer.)
Most of my freelance jobs have granted me the luxury of working from home. But, to fill the sometimes alarming-in-length between-gig gaps, I often take odd jobs – emphasis on “odd.” Such gigs often fulfill a dual purpose. For one, they force me out of the house. (It’s surprisingly easy to go feral when left to your own devices, unfettered by social norms like, say, being expected to shower regularly and/or refraining from making gross slurping sounds when eating or drinking.) Plus the gigs also ensure a steady flow of booze money (and of course booze), with which I can console myself after being subjected to all those asinine, “People don’t read anymore!” remarks upon my return home. As an added bonus, odd jobs provide plenty of fodder for future stories, too. A writer can never have too much fodder, right?
Which is why I simply had to apply for that candy packer position posted by a medical marijuana edibles manufacturer.
When I first came upon the Craigslist ad, I instantly pictured this being the polar opposite experience of what happened to Lucy and Ethel when they took jobs in the candy factory:
Not that I reeeeeally expected to partake on the job, but the enlarged comedy-writing lobe of my brain did instantly cast myself and my fellow employees in a sketch in which we were all standing around, glassy-eyed and slug slow, having our minds blown by all the colors whilst saying things like, “Put a label on it? No way, man. I, like, don’t believe in labels. The candy should be free to just BE, man. This should be an expansive culinary experience, you know? So don’t put it in a box either, ok? That’ll just harsh everyone’s mellow.”
But seriously…..wrap candy? That’s all I’d have to do?! How hard could this be? Pffft!! I have several decades of experience unwrapping candy! I’d just have to work backwards, right?
Alas, my would-be stoner overlord subjected me to a motor skills test that went south, fast. Thanks to my utter lack of manual dexterity (I’m an intellectual, damn it! A heroin-addicted manatee (you know, the ones without opposable thumbs, and with a twitchy air about them?) would have performed more ably!), this was clearly not destined to be anything but another anecdote. Much like one of my heroes, Lucille Ball, my escapades-to-successes ratio tends to skew in an unfavorable direction. Yet, also like my hero, that doesn’t generally stop me from trying to get cast in the show, anyway.
I walked into a room in which there was a stoic Russian woman sitting at a table, waiting to administer the test. She showed me the steps involved and then turned me loose amongst the wax paper and stinky bon bons. Alas, after watching The Russian do it with ninja-level speed and precision, my confidence crumpled faster than a bag of Cheetos tossed into the midst of a pack of stoners. Turns out that all I had to do was envelop weed-infused, surprisingly squishy candies within epic acts of origami that would hold up to certain merciless Slavic standards.
I fumbled. I bumbled. I laughed, trying to make the best of it. I glanced at her, hoping that perhaps my cheerful determination and pluck would count for something. But she was too busy making this face:
I braced myself for the inevitable moment when she’d press a button and I’d go sliding through the trap doors beneath my feet, down a chute toward this guy who would be “happy to escort me out” (of my mortal coil):
Fortunately, the Russian didn’t declare me shark-food bad. Just unemployable bad. NIET on the stoner candy packing gig. (And, perhaps more sadly, “Dos Vedanya!” to the hours upon hours of cocktail party anecdotes I’d hoped to glean from this.)
Onward to the next adventure.