Thursday, November 14, 2013

When I Grow Up...

I kind of hated being asked what I wanted to be when I grew up as a kid. I never really knew what to say. An adult? Alive? I think people expected me to come up with something fabulous, like doctor or lawyer or something since my mom was a doctor and when she went through medical school, there weren't many women doing that. I was a boring kid, though, and would usually come up with something stereotypically female, like teacher or nurse.

I remember in 2nd or 3rd grade deciding on four careers. I know, ambitious. I had it all figured out, though. I would be a teacher who was also the school nurse and I would teach art. But of course, all this would be in the spare time I had from my fabulous movie career. Because I wanted to be an actress.

Turns out none of those came to fruition. When I realized all the stuff nurses have to do, I had to pass. I can't handle vomit of any kind, whether it's mine, the cat's, or my kids'. The smell, sight, sound, or, God forbid, feel of it has me dry heaving and looking for the nearest receptacle. So that was out.

Art was also out once I came to accept my complete and utter lack of talent. While other kids doodles in classes when they were bored, I seriously wrote stories. I have hundreds of pages of blurbs, bits of conversations, descriptions of locations, story outlines and more from about the 6th grade on. Some blossomed into full on stories, a few of which I'm actually pretty pleased with. But when your stick people look pathetic, it's time to pick a new career.

I still had teaching and acting to fall back on, so I was ok. Until I decided that I hate teaching. I mean sure, getting your summers off appeals to kids, but then there's the whole having to deal with children all day long. Most of whom I found annoying, even as a child. I don't have the patience to be a teacher. I'd probably make everyday a movie day so I could read a book.

My love of reading made me decide maybe a librarian would be a great career. So I decided on that. I mean, I could be paid to read! Yes, I know they do more. I didn't at the time. Then I realized there was school to be a librarian. I was amazed. What more could there be to learn than the Dewey Decimal system and the alphabet? Is it really so hard to learn those things that it necessitates a Master's degree? No offence intended towards any librarians, my mother-in-law is one, I just was astounded when I discovered all that. Since I didn't really want to go to school that long, that option was out.

Acting. Yes. I thought I was pretty good. I thought I could do pretty much any part. And when I was young and cute, I wasn't bad. Then I got older and less cute and out of the private school environment and I never got a part again. I tried, though. I auditioned for every school play in high school and attempted to audition for local theater. Nothin'. So I decided that if I didn't have a part by the time I graduated high school, I'd give it up. And I didn't so I did. Moving on to the next career option.

Which was flight attendant. What could be better than to get paid to travel?! I love to travel! Then I realized they don't actually get to SEE the places they visit, just the airport and maybe a hotel. Long hours on their feet, cranky passengers, no thanks.

I even briefly toyed with the thought of becoming a chef but then had to laugh because 1 I'm too picky an eater for that to be feasible and 2 I really hate cooking and 3 I don't really come up with my own recipes. I follow them almost to the letter.

For years I didn't really have a career in mind and then, I don't really remember how it came about, I decided on hotel management. It seemed pretty cool to me. I'd get to meet interesting people from all over, get discounts on travel, could be great!

This one lasted long enough that I got a degree in it: RHIM. Restaurant Hotel and Institutional Management. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have a degree that says I can manage an institution. Like a prison or a mental hospital. I spent 7 years in hotels, since the 4 I was in college were actually spent working in the hospitality industry as well. I worked retail (Hasting's), I worked in 2 different b&b's as cook/hostess/maid, I worked in a roach motel as a maid (here in Abilene, maybe they're better so I won't name names), I worked in nearly every type of select service Marriott brand both as an intern and as a manager in Austin and in Mesquite. And I loved some of it. Which is true of any job.

Being a maid? Sucks. Tip your maids. Seriously. Five dollars for every person for every night. Do it. They deserve it. Maybe not from you, you may be super clean and tidy and whatever, but the person next to you had some kind of ritual sacrifice in their room and the place is trashed and all they left for the maid is about 3 cans full of garbage strewn across the room. I hated every second I had to spend cleaning up after people, but it definitely gave me perspective and now, I try to be super tidy as a guest.

As a manager, I ran up and down five flights of stairs in 2 inch heels on a regular basis. I ate poorly and slept sporadically so I was down to 105 pounds at one point. I was wearing 2P clothing. I was also lonely because when you work from 1pm-11pm, you don't really meet people other than the guests checking in. And a couple found me appealing, which they should have, I was a cute little thing. I got propositioned A LOT but it was ok, because I had the desk between us. One guy tried to console me when I broke down in tears after breaking up with my boyfriend. He and I still chat occasionally. One guy wanted to fly me out to Salt Lake City meet his brother because he thought we'd be a great couple. I politely declined. One old man purposefully dropped some beer bottles on the floor so that when I was cleaning them up, he could attempt to push me over with his cane because he wanted to see my underwear.

We had refugees and Red Cross people during Hurricane Katrina who were so grateful to have a place to stay they were the best guests ever. We had sports teams who were absolute nightmares because the parents used us as a babysitting service. One time, the parents even let their kids use the pool as a communal tub, complete with soap and towels in the water. They were banned from ever coming back.

There were awesome people who stayed with us a lot and who I was genuinely sad to hear wouldn't be returning because their work was done. There were people who stayed for weeks or months who I was ready to be rid of 10 minutes after they walked in the door. And there were hundreds who were never a blip on my radar.

Moving to Dallas to be with Austin was what finally ended my love affair with hotels. My hours were better,  I got out more, I made some friends (with guests, so don't get too excited) but the hotel was in trouble and it felt like a lot of the blame and responsibility for all that was shifted onto me. After less than a year, I turned in my resignation and became a stay at home wife. And it was glorious.

For about 4 months. Then I went back to work, but this time as a researcher for my father-in-law's consulting firm. That was fine. I worked until I was done and then went home. I was fast and efficient, which the consultants loved. I was able to continue doing it when we moved to Abilene, though not for long. I had a baby so they stopped sending me work and gradually, it just ended. In the meantime, I started working for Stephen's Rubber Stamps (shameless plug).

I'm back in retail, my first job. It's a lot like hotels, except my encounters with customers are MUCH shorter, thank goodness. I get the easy going, whatever works kind of people and they're great. Then I get the picky, do it right or else kind of people who make me want to claw my eyes out. The best customer is someone who has a vision for what they want but isn't too picky. And who doesn't need it yesterday for no additional charge.

Stephen's is great because when need be, I can take my kids. I can lock them in their little area with their toys and a movie and work, knowing they're nearby and safe. If I need to go home because one is sick, I can do that very easily. Working for family has its perks.

I try not to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up because I'm still not sure and I'm going to be 30 in a couple of weeks (dear lord). For now, I'll work at Stephens and be the best mom I can. Which I need to do now because they're shouting my name. "Mommy, where are you? Anybody home? Hello?"

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