My Permanent Vacation out in the Working World
By R.O. Scott
I did it again this morning. Standing in the bathroom of the house I grew up in, I looked quietly in the mirror, straightened my posture, and repeated to myself, “I am a full time worker” for like two minutes. The idea is too fresh, too foreign, to avoid saying it out loud. When I do this sort of thing, it feels like a mantra, but it actually reminds me more of Jake LaMotta from Raging Bull, at the end of the movie, before he goes out to do his stand up routine. True, I get paid better than most stand up comedians, but I can’t say the work I’m doing is as thrilling. My coworkers range from around my age to over thirty years older than me, doing very similar jobs that I do, and being paid a salary like my own. I am sure we all enjoy seeing the biweekly deposit that makes a smooth, unceremonious landing into our bank accounts. No one pays me to make jokes at my job though.
It’d be nice if they did.
Let’s backtrack for a second. December 19th, 2015: I walked down an aisle I would never walk down again, wearing a robe I would never wear again, and shook hands with faculty members I had never met, and who’s whose faces I would struggle to point out in a line up. It was a nice ceremony, I think. The pictures that would sit in my living room turned out well, and my selfie at my ceremony earned the most likes on Facebook ever for a photo of mine. That was a plus.
Now, once upon a time, the frame work in which I could lay out my indefinite plans was guaranteed – practically served to me on a silver platter. Young Americans like myself are used to a systematized rhythm in their yearly schedules. We start a new year of school in either August or September, have a break or two sometime during December and March, and then are officially finished the year starting in either May or June. Summer rolls in, and with it comes three months of a nice, long, and stagnant vacation. It’s just the way it works. We know the rhythm. We practically feel it. And we are aware that it’ll pass. Fall comes back, as does school.
And then it doesn’t.
Suddenly, you get that diploma and then, well, that’s it. You’re done, out of the system that has been your cocoon for so many years, and now it is time to fly out into the working world. You hear of an alumni association, but that’s the difference between saying you’re in the fan club of the Marvel Universe and actually being a member of the Avengers (dibs on being Iron Man). All that matters are the wings on your back and that free, open blue sky that in any other circumstance would soothe the soul. No chance to go back into the cocoon now as it withers away on the branches of memory. At least as Iron Man, you get thrusters, so flying out takes less time, you know?
Damn, maybe I should have studied mechanical engineering. Would that have made me Iron Man? Probably not. Then again, neither will a Liberal Arts degree. Probably.
I had exactly one job interview lined up after my graduation though, and luckily, that interview would land me the job I work at now. If anythingnothing else, it gave me a direction that was pretty elusive up until then.
A few weeks later came Day 1 of my full time job in the Philly area. It’s a set schedule, where I never take my work home with me, and I do enjoy the comfort of a rent-free place (my folks and I have worked out other arrangements), commuting to work in a car that I am still paying for with my salary. To this day, that is how much of my life is set up. The mantras began sometime in March.
Even the word “salary” has this foreign ring to it – wasn’t it only last year that I was working minimum wage at the college town grocery store? Salaries are meant for people who are grown up, who have families, who are working for retirement, right? Am I really heading in that direction? I keep thinking there will be that next semester of college classes, that this job is simply meant to fill in the time before I head back up to my alma mater and take classes again. You know, like a vacation. Funny how words take on new meanings with age.
I will be honest at this point: my wings feel pretty light at the moment, as I flutter with trepidation over the remnants of my college years. I’m 22 right now, yet that number carries little significance anymore. There’s nothing after the “Senior” (or Super Senior) status once held, so how am I supposed to define myself now? I am more than my full time position, one I expect to ultimately eventually move on from, but who is to say that the next step will carry any logic with it? Senior year followed Junior year, which followed Sophomore year, which followed Freshman year. Now, the path is not so linear.
Was I ready to leave, to break from this linear path? Ultimately, yes. Was I ready for what was next? Well, you better check back with me on that one. As of the writing of this piece, I’m still trying to work out a rhythm of my own.
R.O. Scott currently works in the telecommunications industry, but harbors an intensive desire to get involved in the film industry, both in front of and behind the camera. Outside of working full time, he enjoys running, playing music, and improvisational theater.