Monthly Archives: February 2013
After having been in the work force for approximately twenty-eight years, I can confidently say that my best job, at least as far as having fun at work goes, bar none, was when I worked at a video rental store when I was eighteen years old.
It wasn’t only the job itself that I liked, which turned out to be a lot of fun as well as lucrative in the eyes of a teenager. It was also the boss I had, who was the nicest, most sincere person I have ever worked for, and someone I will never forget. I actually looked forward to going to work.
I have come to accept that when you work for someone, it is rare that the relationship can be anything more than a boss/employee dynamic. I have sometimes heard others brag about what a great boss they work for and have gone on to see some of these same people shocked and disillusioned when things go sour with a boss they thought they could trust.
I have never had an employer quite like the man at the video store or a place of work that I looked forward to going to and I don’t think I ever will. After having had years of experience in the workforce since I left his employ, I see the difference between simply working for someone and working for someone that you actually get to know and who genuinely cares about you as a person, beyond what you can do for them as an employee, and the difference between working in an atmosphere where it is okay to be yourself as opposed to a toxic environment which results in an impediment to creativity.
Unfortunately, there is so often an authoritative line drawn between an employee and an employer. Ironically, when I was at my youngest working age, I was made to feel less like a child, less condescended to, than I ever was when I was employed as a more mature adult.
Faced with the possibility of one day looking for even a part time job at this time of my life is daunting to say the least. The only thing that I could think of that could make it bearable would be if I were lucky enough to work somewhere that felt the way it did in that video store.
While VHS and Beta videos are now a thing of the past, so it seems, by the time one reaches their mid forties, are the days when many of us held so-called “fun” jobs, often trading them in for stress and squashed dreams.
I still remember telling my boss at the video store, “I want to work here my whole life.” I did work there for a few years, which was a long time at that point in my life. Perhaps things would have been simpler if I had made that joke a reality and remained in a fun job like that permanently.
As a writer wanting to focus my energy on simply that, I no longer want the stress or time commitment involved in a serious full-time job. As I teeter in the area of my mid forties I have a lot of work to do if I want to have any chance to make it as a writer. I cannot afford to wait until retirement age to get started. In the meantime, I just want to make a few bucks on the side in a fun, non-toxic environment. I wonder if such a thing even exists for people in my age group.
Financially, in a way this is mid-point between beginning my working life and retirement and I have many more potential earning years. Some might worry if they were in my predicament. Most of these so-called fun jobs don’t often pay very much, certainly not the money I was used to earning before anyway. Perhaps as I reach this juncture that does not matter as much as I once thought it did.
Where I used to derive enjoyment from putting smart looking work outfits together, I now find the idea of wearing a uniform to work quite appealing. It would save a lot of money on clothing and I like the idea of proudly displaying the word “Staff” on the back of my jacket.
I doubt that kind man I worked for all those years ago ever knew just how much I truly appreciated him. I don’t think I even realized it myself until I became more mature and after I had many more years of working experience behind me.
I venture to say that all of us who worked together all those years ago have never forgotten our experience and all the laughs we had together. I would not be surprised if none of us ever found jobs that felt quite like the ones we had at the video store, at least where having the kind of person we were lucky enough to have as a boss was concerned.
If I ever bumped into the man I worked for all those years ago, I might very well ask him if I could work for him again, no matter what the job was. A truly good boss can make all the difference if they can somehow elicit respect and enthusiasm from their staff without actually acting like a boss, just as the right work atmosphere can actually make a job feel a little bit more enjoyable and a little bit less like work.
The environment we spend our days in is important to our overall well-beings. I have experienced the glory of being part of a big, dynamic company and in many ways it was great at that time in my life.
I suppose I may have ended up feeling stagnated and depressed after a while if I had never challenged myself to try anything more than the job I had in high school. Still, the valuable lessons I learned from working at that video store are things that have helped me at work and in life in general.
All of my past jobs, including those that were not necessarily that much fun, have taught me something, the most important lesson being that I needed to do those serious jobs in order to get back to the place I am in right now. You never know; maybe one day I will actually be able to put the words ‘work’ and ‘fun’ in the same sentence again.♦
Copyright © 2013 Andrea Freedman
Going to the gym, besides helping us to stay in good physical condition, can also be an interesting place to observe different types of people, specifically with respect to their workouts.
As a regular at the health club I am a member of, I cannot help noticing some of the quirks of other faithful gym-goers and find some of them so amusing that I have given them nicknames.
There is Squeaky Shoe Man, an older gentleman whose running shoes make a squeaking sound when he walks on the treadmill or anywhere else in the club for that matter. When on one occasion the man noticed myself and a friend of mine snickering about it, he and his wife looked at us indignantly but continued on with their routines nonetheless, and as far as I can see, or hear rather, new, quieter shoes have not since been purchased.
Then we have Throat Clearing Newspaper Tosser, a revolting man who rides the bike at the gym and tosses his newspapers all over the place, especially on the bikes on either side of him, so that other people are discouraged from using them. I find myself unable to use the bike when this person is there because his presence bothers me so much it gets my blood pressure up, which kind of defeats the purpose of exercising in the first place. Not only is he inconsiderate in the unnecessary space he takes up and the mess he makes, he is constantly clearing his throat in an exaggerated manner, possibly to garner attention or quite simply just to be annoying.
One of the members who I find most fascinating is someone I like to call Formal Wear Guy. This man actually wears a button up shirt and trousers to work out in. The only proper workout attire he does wear are running shoes. His shirt could otherwise be worn to work, that is if it was not covered in sweat. I wonder if he keeps the same clothes on after he is finished working out and lets them dry off on him while he is on his way to work.
When I saw him in his familiar outfit the other day at the gym, I could not help noticing that his shirt now had a large tear at the elbow. Furthermore, the pants showed visible signs of ground-in sweat stains. It got me thinking. I had assumed that since the man was able to afford the cost of his fairly expensive gym membership, that he would have no trouble splurging on at least one proper gym outfit. Maybe his attire is merely a symptom of something that may not have anything to do with money.
Extreme Sweaty Guy is one person at the gym who perspires to an extraordinary degree. I realize that we are in a gym, where sweating is acceptable as well as encouraged, but this poor guy needs to cover the floor surrounding the bike he is riding, as well as the stationary bike itself, with towels on either side of him as well as in front and behind. Those towels are noticeably soaked right through. I must confess, as someone who is drenched in sweat by the end of my own workout, Extreme Sweaty Guy is someone I can sort of relate to.
Flabby Armed, Coffee Drinking Crazy Runner is a middle-aged woman who has become visibly skinnier and gaunt looking as time has gone on. Although she has become noticeably thinner over time, possibly frighteningly so, the flab on her arms seems more pronounced with each pounce of her feet on the treadmill. She runs incessantly, a coffee always in the spot where her water should be. The woman holds onto the treadmill for dear life, most likely out of fear of falling because she has set the speed too high. There is usually a point where the woman switches treadmills, coffee and purse in tow.
No Upper Arms runs with his forearms scrunched up, so that when he runs it looks as though his flailing hands are jutting straight out of his shoulders, as if he has no upper arms, only forearms.
Military Woman always runs with a hooded jacket tied around her waste and her hands straight out in front of her. She never breaks her perfect posture, something she should really be commended on. Because she does everything with such precision, the name Military Woman always comes to mind when I see her in the gym.
Self-proclaimed, Imaginary Model. We have all seen them, the women you see staring at themselves in the mirror in the weight area, posing and making faces while they try to look like they are working out.
Of course no gym would be complete without the cliché of Gratuitous Grunter, the overly bulky guy grunting with every lift of his ridiculously heavy barbells.
The Boxer, The Singer, The Clapper and the Too-Short Shorts Wearer, just to name a few more. I could go on and on. They are out in full force. Everywhere I turn I see one of them while I am working out.
People look different when you see them outside the gym. There has been more than one occasion where I have been told “I almost did not recognize you out of your workout attire.” Sometimes it is surprising to see the changes in fellow gym members after they have showered and done their hair and make-up. Perhaps they also seem so different because they have left some of their peculiar habits in the gym.
The fact that we are all known as Gym Rats is a little weird in itself but I guess it really doesn’t matter, as long as we all benefit from being at the gym. Who knows what’s going on beneath our respective headsets? I wonder if anyone there thinks I or any of my exercise habits are weird or, for that matter, if anyone has a nickname for me.
Our goals and desired results are things that all of us at the gym have in common, no matter our varied techniques, habits or attire. We are all in our own worlds under our iPods, sculpting our bodies, becoming super heroes, even if it is for just one hour a day, and even if we happen to look a little bit weird in the process.♦
Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013