Thursday, September 15, 2011

On failure

photo found here.

On the path to achieving ones goals it's important to remember than failure is very much a part of the process.  I know this, but for some silly reason I'd always imagined the pursuit of my dreams to be a shiny wonderful path of creation and eventual fulfillment, and then I'd be done, surrounded by people praising my talents.  

I'm in a pretty happy place right now, but like most people, I want more and I expect more of my self. Ambitions are scribbled secretly on pieces of paper that I'm too embarrassed to show anyone. Nonetheless there are goals and dreams in place and it keeps me going. I think Churchill was onto something good when he said 'success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm'. I don't take failure as well as some people, so I try hard to remember his words.

Looking back on some of the jobs I've had, there have been a lot of embarrassing moments and epic fails. Maybe the beauty of hindsight is a wonderful thing but I can't help but laugh at some of the failures I've endured. It seems as a general rule of the universe, embarrassing incidents magnetize towards my life. Birds shit freely on my skirt, occasionally I manage to lodge my head between closing bus doors and routinely I accomplish run, trip, fly, starfish falls across busy city intersections just as traffic lights turn green.

Below are probably my deepest moments of work shame.

Sandwich artiste

I got to wear a sexy forest green visor with pride and smile painfully at people while I packed their sandwiches full of gherkins, meatballs and swiss cheese all the while listening to Nelly, Kelly Rowland and Chingy
on repeat. As a result of my job I always smelt like honey oat bread. Furious scrubbing in the shower didn't dissolve the smell, nor did perfume. Friends would sniff while in my company and rub their stomachs suggesting we get, perhaps, sandwiches for lunch? That was depressing. Depression spawned down to its darkest levels when two of my coworkers explained to me in the most awkward of fashions how they once did it in the office right by the sandwich counter. My supervisor was a power tripping maniac, and made me work my first 7am Sunday shift alone. I ran out of bread and had a mini meltdown while enraged customers repeatedly yelled at me 'NO I DO NOT WANT A WRAP'. 


Being a waiter/waitress is the default job for many while at university. I foolishly took this path and learnt very important lessons. I lack basic coordination. I cannot carry more than two plates at a time. Tills are confusing. Chefs are going to get angry at you if you send out their meals and drop them on the way to the customers. Customers are going to get angry if you drop their meals on the way to their table. Despite these lessons I did not leave. This is because I was deliriously in love with the dishwasher/kitchen hand. He was one of those guys who was aloof and sexy and said no more than five words to you in a day, sending you over the edge. He sort of reminded me of Jordan Catalano from 'My So Called Life'. For whatever reason I exposed myself to daily public shame to be in his presence. I would foolishly obsess, dissecting the meaning of his words. Like, for example what did he really mean when he said 'hey' and then casually touched his hair, and if we went to the beach together was it a date? I eventually came to the realisation that I hated being a waitress and he was a massive douche bag thus cutting ties with waitressing forever.

Radio promotions bitch.

Hypothetically my job was supposed to be me driving around town playing 'onst onst' music, wearing some 'I be fly' over sized sunglasses and suggestively sizzling sausages at store openings, all the while liberally applying lip gloss and chugging Red Bull. That's not what happened. On my first day I was handed car keys. My palms broke into a cold sweat as I mumbled lame protests. The last time I had driven, I flew my car off a steep bank, rolling it three times, demolishing my car. Driving is not my strong suit. This I tried to explain, but my new boss glared impatiently. Down in the basement I was faced with, horror of horrors, a four wheel drive truck. It was a beast, a terrifying beast. I hadn't driven in years. Or in Wellington. Ever. Pulling out of the car park and I heard a terrible screeching. I had managed to jam the beast against the wall as I veered out, scrapping most of the paint off the left side. Approximately $2000 damage 15 minutes into the job. Check. Breathing deeply I ventured out onto the highway. I was heading to a nearby town for a store promotion, my boss driving in front. 'Fuuuuuuuuuuck' was the single all encapsulating thought that pulsated through my brain as I looked down at the cars, like tiny toys from the heights of the beast. Maybe I was following a little bit too closely because suddenly boss lady was right in front of me and the brakes weren't working. As I crashed into the back of the vehicle I saw her tight lipped face in the rear view mirror. Priceless. I shrugged. I had warned her. $6000 worth of damage in one day. Check.

Faux nurse

While in university I applied for various receptionist jobs. I made a shitty waitress and figured being a receptionist might be a good alternative. I went for an interview at a hair replacement clinic and got the job, starting the next day. My new boss handed me something in a plastic bag and smiled. "What's this?" I asked. As it turns out, that plastic bag contained a uniform. The next day I left the house tentatively to be greeted by honking cars and winking men. My uniform you see, was evocative of a slutty nurse. Bright white, tight, collared and zip up, it looked like I was auditioning for a role with a pole. I hung my head in shame and scurried to my job. Boss man explained the duties. Filing, answering phones, checking emails, stock take. A relatively breezy walk in the park. Then I was thrown the curve ball. Massaging clients scalps with weird machines. In my ridiculous uniform I would shut men and women into a room, all the while making nervous conversation and touch their scalps throwing various potions to inspire hair growth. Some had dandruff, some were sweaty, some were alarmingly sexy with minor thinning and others were the kindest lovely people I'd ever met. All combinations made me flustered and horrified. Then, a few weeks in, I became sick with a flu to end all flu's which involved talking incoherently at night about bags of cash and Tina Turner. My body broke out in a nasty body rash, my mind settled into a swampy fog. Boss man insisted I come in as surely I wasn't that sick. While in the midst of deliriously massaging a scalp and seeing plaid spots on the wall, I spewed down my bright white uniform, just missing my patients scalp. Lovely.

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