One Job Fewer

This past month has been one of the worst and hardest of my life. Between working so many jobs (most of which aren’t terribly fulfilling) and not seeing much of a change in my bank account, to having a lot of upsetting arguments with my parents, to being artistically frustrating, to dealing with my emotional problems on their own and relating to all those other things, it has been an awful whirlwind that left me miserable pretty much all the time.

I tried not to let my misery affect the work part of my life, and most of the time, I succeeded. Sometimes, though, it didn’t work. Twice, my anxiety showed at my hostessing job, and I could feel the managers watching me. But I wasn’t worried- people have bad days, and anyway, I didn’t need ANOTHER thing to worry about. The anxiety wasn’t just affecting me mentally, it was affecting my physically- I was dizzy, sick, and tired, sometimes to the point where I couldn’t even see straight.

Then came this week. I didn’t get my schedule for the week until Sunday night after work, and discovered that I was scheduled to work on a day that a surprise rehearsal had been scheduled for the show I was ASMing, less than two days later. That gave me about 24 hours to find a cover… and of course, no one was picking up their phones and I had a rehearsal for my children’s show, giving me no time to be on the phone all night. Finally, though, I found a cover and told her that I was sorry, but I couldn’t take her Thursday shift due to working two other jobs that day.

So I went to my ASM job feeling happy that I didn’t have to rush around. Then came Thursday. While I was still at job #1 for the day, my phone started ringing off the hook. It was on vibrate in my pocket, and it was hard to ignore the fact that someone obviously needed to talk to me while trying to pay attention to the boss right in front of me. I stepped out for a minute to call the person back, and five minutes later, I was sitting on the floor of my boss’ lobby, crying because apparently, I hadn’t shown up for my hostessing job… the one I wasn’t supposed to be working that day.

I apologized profusely and the girl who was originally supposed to work was able to go. I had to write the manager an e-mail with my conflicts anyway, so I included a lengthy apology. But even with all of that, I got a call on Friday asking me to come in for a “talk.” I’ve never been fired, but I knew what that meant. Not only did it mean I was going to lose my steadiest job, but it meant that in order to get the news, I had to miss my roommate’s thesis show. It was suckage all around.

Sure enough, at 3 pm on Saturday, I was told they were letting me go. I was pretty emotional about it in the moment, but even without my emotional instability, I think I would have reacted the same way, because my (former) manager was completely condescending. He said I had a lot on my plate, which is true, and if that were the reason I was fired, I would have understood. But he kept going. “If you need a letter of recommendation, I’d be more than happy to write you one. I’m not even supposed to do that, but you’re a really sweet girl, so just… let me know. But I do need to let you go, and all of the other managers agreed. They’ve had some problems, too.” This last part was not only hurtful, but confusing. I knew that one of the other managers had witnessed one of my bad days, but I also know that she had been genuinely sympathetic when I explained to her upon arriving at work that I had had a really bad day before arriving. And as for the other two managers… I can’t think of a single thing they’d take issue with.

But as I’ve said to the few people I’ve told, this was going to happen eventually. Even though this job was basically forced on me, they were obviously growing to hate my schedule. At the interview, they said they were happy to accommodate an actor’s schedule that might require me to basically take two months off. They also said it was fine that I had two other jobs. I tried my best to accommodate right back: though my therapy sessions are in the middle of the day, my therapist and I have worked together to schedule them as early as possible so that I could be available to work seven or eight hours as my hostessing job. But rather than taking advantage of that, every week I was scheduled for the afternoon shift, requiring me to remind them each Monday that I had to leave early, after two hours of work at the most. It was frustrating even to me to do this every week.

When I accepted my job as an ASM, I actually asked permission to take it from all of my jobs to take it. The ASM job does not pay much at all ($200 for a month of work), but it has career benefits that make it worth the small pay. But money IS important to life, so I wanted to make sure that my paying jobs were fine with me devoting a ton of time to the theatre. All of them said yes.

And yes- this show has eaten my life. I’m not a backstage person, and sometimes I wish I could devote more time to jobs that paid me more. But theatre waits for no one, and so I am working this show every day they need me. I gave my manager the show schedule weeks before the show started, and it was pronounced fine.

But then came the confusion of this past week, and it all culminated in my being terminated. I was hysterical. I was humiliated at being fired after only one month and I reached a low, low point. Hours later, though, when I had calmed down a little, I realized that I felt weird. Well, not weird, but different than I had felt for the past month. The pokey wire ball of anxiety that had been lodged in my chest was no longer there. I felt like I could breathe again. I had been afraid to check my email for weeks because there was always some new, overwhelming addition to my schedule, but now, I could look. In short, my stress level had gone down significantly.

It’s hard to believe that losing my job, after the initial mourning period, has actually made me happier. I feel terrible for feeling this way, but I think that in this case, my sanity was worth more than a job like that.

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