Very few playwrights make a ton of money mounting their plays. Often, we're lucky if we don't lose money. So, we take stupid day jobs to make ends meet. I've had more than my share: pharmacy clerk, door-to-door salesman and, the most recent, a sales associate at Banana Republic.
This wasn't my first time working in retail. Ten years ago, I sold children's shoes at Nordstrom. The experience was so awful (imagine having to shove a little shoe on a big, fat foot while a rich parent belittles their child for eating too much, this would happen every day) that I vowed to never work retail again. But, I lied to myself, like I often do. (Hey, you won't gain any weight for eating that ice cream. Sure, you can have that fourth shot of vodka and still be able to walk home.) Because I'm terrified of having zero money for just about anything.
I lasted less than 30 days at the Republic, which was run more like a dictatorship. Old businesswomen yelled at me for not ringing them up fast enough, while young managers scolded me for not folding sweaters properly.
There were meetings on standards and practices every week, and I was "on call."
"On call? For what, a cardigan arrest?" I once asked a manager, and then the crickets chirped. And for all of my effort, I was paid an astounding $8.50 an hour.
So, I started to think this job was beneath me. That made me feel like kind of a snob, but the more I thought about it...I didn't go to NYU to get yelled at for not folding fucking jeans the right way, this "job" was standing in the way of attending rehearsals for my upcoming play Acts of Love and, in order to deal with this torture, I was taking a Xanax before work--so in the long run, I was spending more money than I was earning. So, last week, I went home, ripped off my khakis, and called the store to nicely inform them I wouldn't be coming back.
"Yeah, this job sucks. But thanks for the opportunity."
The real question is: what the hell was I thinking trying to work there? My friend, Tiffany, over drinks last night, put it best, "Markie: A. You're colorblind. B. You don't like people." Both valid points, and reason enough to think I'll find something better.
For the time being, however, I'm back to being unemployed and terrified about money. On the flip side, I do have plenty to write about.
Mark Jason Williams
I find trouble wherever I go