As I’ve posted before, I got pregnant in the Big Easy. When a local subcontractor presented his plan to capitalize on Hurricane Katrina’s destruction, Rooferman jumped at the idea. We could work together, helping rebuild the city while making some cash for our future married life. We wanted to buy a house, but with the average home price in Durango topping $400k, it wasn’t a reality.
Until that fateful day I quit my job and moved our belongings to the deep south.
Things didn’t go as planned. There was plenty of work, but the post-Katrina chaos had opened a can of worms for insurance companies across the nation. Claims sat unsettled for months, houses rotted from the inside while adjusters debated water versus wind damage.
All the while, our little Colorado construction crew slaved away, gutting houses, repairing roofs, patching holes, cutting drywall, salvaging landscaping and other valuable items. At the end of each day, we’d wait to hear from our fearless leader. Each day he would promise us that our checks were coming, he just had to work things out with the local contractors.
For a few weeks we had faith in him. We understood the mayhem and confusion that surrounded us. Grocery stores and post offices were hardly functioning, let alone office buildings and other administrative work. At the end of the day he would buy us hamburgers and cheap beer, making sure our bellies were full. It was just going to take a little longer for the checks to come in.
We continued to work, washing the mold and dirt and grime off our bodies with a hose at the end of the day. As always, the 18 pack of Bud Light would be sitting there waiting for us. But no checks.
The money never came. After I got pregnant, I couldn’t even indulge in the beer after hauling garbage in the 100 % humidity. I sat on the concrete slab, miserably watching Rooferman chug and laugh and pretend that we weren’t slowly draining my savings account.
As the days went on, I began to have a violent reaction every time I saw this contractor’s smirking face. I would get sick to my stomach. I couldn’t tell if I was having morning sickness or if the hatred and despair I felt was too much for me to handle.
Does he think he’s paying in beer and everything is going to be fine that way?
Jump to today:
I sit in my cubicle and I remember this story. Why? Because I feel the same anger I did then. I feel placated. I feel condescended. I feel appeased. When there is a problem in my office, it is never addressed. When we are required to do something unreasonable, we are never allowed to ask why. We are assumed to be a loving, sisterly UNIT, one that never wants to disturb the water. One that suffers together in silence because that’s what women do.
And to make things “better” in our land of florescent lights and hideous cubicles, a box of chocolates will present itself in the break room. As if to say “sorry about your problems, here’s some endorphin stimulants…SUCK IT UP LADIES.”
My boss is telling me that I can be bought with chocolate. The same way that contractor told us we could be bought with beer. Keeping our moods only high enough so we could tolerate the situation we were in. Solving the problem was NOT a priority, only keeping peace among the ranks.
It’s insulting. It’s offensive. It’s infuriating. And it shoots me right back to the sweaty, smelly wasteland where I watched the heart and soul slowly drained from the bodies of me and my loved one.
I admit, as painful as the ordeal in Louisiana was, and as heartbreaking my custody battle has been, both the events made me a stronger person. But only because I got through them. They had an end date. Something had to give, and I moved on.
This may be over-dramatic, but I see my job situation as something that could possibly never end. Something I could be stuck in forever. I don’t want to be a 60-year-old administrative assistant. I know some think that’s ridiculous, since I’m only 27, but I see it everyday.
That’s who I work with; 50-60 year old Administrative Assistants. That’s who my boss is: An aging secretary who pushes candy on us until she can sail into retirement. Why ripple the pond? Why bring up things that need to be changed? Why make a fuss about something that probably won’t ever get fixed anyway?
Unlike the custody battle and construction disaster, I don’t see anything good coming out of my job, except more jobs like it. I don’t see myself becoming a stronger, better person because of what I’ve learned in a cube. On the contrary, I see myself becoming a weaker, less human, more jaded, soulless, “who cares” person.
I don’t want that to happen. I’ve got to get out of here. I’ve got 75 pages on my screenplay. Another 45 to go. At least the thought of being a decrepit old Admin Assistant is motivating me to write.