Saturday, March 21, 2009

It's All a Matter of Perspective.

Sometimes, law school is rotten for the self esteem. This post over at Law Ingenue really touched me. Reflecting on this reminded me: I've had a post which is long overdue to share with you.

Before my legal life, I worked for a city recreation department. It was a blast: playing in the sun all day with little kids, working with my friends-- everything a high school/college student could possibly want. That is, until I got promoted.

The Powers that Be over at the city ascribed to a "learn by doing" philosophy. Why write anything down? Throw the new manager in unawares! Let the baby touch the stove! Taste it to see if it's poisonous! The hilarity that ensued during my years in management was enough to write a book about (keep your eyes peeled). It was, on so many levels, an utter disaster.

I was an Assistant Manager, so I had two new supervisors: fully fledged Managers, who had been my boss before, and with whom I was now pseud0-peers. It was awkward. One of them was outstanding (hello, Voice of Reason!), but I learned that too late in the summer to take advantage of her wisdom and humor. The other, Rambo, was an exercise in What Not To Do: a terrifying combination of Andy Bernard, Michael Scott, and the Devil.

Being an Assistant Manager is not unlike being a baby lawyer: you get all of the responsibility, but none of the respect. You're in charge, but not really....and you have no idea what is going on. Ever. Unfortunately, Barbri does not teach an Aquatics Management course.

Entry level staff loved Rambo, but he was a terror to work for. As a staffer, everything was posies. Once I got promoted, I would get called into the facility at random hours of the day and subjected to the third degree:

"Do you know why we're meeting?"
" No?"
"We're meeting because you didn't put all the quarters in stacks of 10."
"Why did you do that?"
"That was very important. I'm disappointed."

Because Rambo the Terror Manager made a federal case out of everything, and because I was much more tightly wound as a college student, I spent 6 months of my life in constant fear that today was going to be The Day I Ruined Everything.

I cried a lot. I adopted all sorts of crazy coping mechanisms: Every time work makes you want to vomit, give a kid a balloon from the snack bar. Every time you think you Ruined Everything, eat a cheeto. I considered quitting almost every day. Finally, one day at the very end of the Summer of Fear, I was waiting for Rambo the Terror Manager to come in and relieve me at the end of my shift. Rambo never took days off, so it surprised me when he came in for his shift and immediately asked me if I could work the rest of the night.

It wasn't hard to see why: his face was chewed up and bloody, his lip was swollen, and he looked like he had been dragged down a flight of concrete stairs. Because I'm good and kindhearted, I asked him what happened- he refused to answer. Rambo not vulnerable! Rambo strong like ox!

Because I am also nosy and opportunistic, I refused to work for him unless he told me what happened. Facing the prospect of an 8 hour shift looking like something the cat dragged in, Rambo swore me to secrecy and then explained his injuries.

It seems that Rambo had taken a second job at the local gym. That afternoon, he began cleaning equipment. To clean the treadmill, one turns the machine on, and then runs a soapy rag over the running surface. To clean the treadmill Rambo-Style, one turns the machine to its fastest speed, and runs a soapy rag over the running surface.

The inevitable happened. Rambo slipped. Rambo skidded across the treadmill, head first. And then, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, Rambo got his face stuck. In the treadmill.

So, as finals and graduation approach, and you think to yourself: am I smart enough? Why can't I do this? This is a horrible day!...Just remember: today is the day that you didn't get your face stuck in a treadmill. And a day that you do not get stuck in a treadmill, ladies and gentlemen of the internet, is a day you can chalk up as a win.

It's all a matter of perspective.


Butterflyfish said...

bwah hahahahah

Philosofya said...

Have I mentioned you're my hero?
I'm just saying.

(In)Sanity Gal said...

wow. clearly every day of my life has basically an amazingly wonderful day. ha!

Anonymous said...

I cry. Thanks, I needed that!

All rights reserved to my snotty and generally self-deprecating writing. And if your comments bother me, I'll delete them. That's right, pumpkin.
...How dreary—to be—Somebody!
How public—like a Frog—
To tell one's name—the livelong June—
To an admiring Bog!
-- Emily Dickinson