Virgo for Hire

by

08/15/2002

E 44th St & 3rd Ave, New York, NY 10017

Neighborhood: Midtown

One of the other editors is looking at the Dow Jones or the stock market or something and whistling. “Wow!” He shakes his head. “You wouldn’t even believe how bad it is!” He sounds kind of merry.

The staff reporter is reading aloud from a posting on a job search web page from a woman, a college graduate and a journalist, who is thinking of setting up a table and selling tarot card readings in order to pay her Manhattan rent.

I am quitting my job, even so. Not just changing jobs, but leaving without securing the Next Thing first. I have a decent salary, good hours, and the work itself (reporting for a trade magazine) is actually kind of fun, but I quit anyway. I’m sick of my cubicle, is what I tell an old roommate on the phone. Upon hearing this news, her grandmother informs her that the reason I am an unreliable employee is because I am a Virgo. As proof, she offers a corroborating friend, Howard, who used to own a caramel popcorn cart in the Staten Island Mall. Howard refused to hire Virgos to work at his cart. “They leave,” the grandmother says flatly.

It is true that I like an ending. My ideal exit would be pointed; I’d leave my boss’ ears ringing with the sound of me, laughing last. I would get a condescending email or a badly-edited story and I would write a two-word message (Bite me), to be sent as soon as I could clean off my desk. Instead, I am giving a ridiculous six weeks of notice, enough time for me to see how much more qualified the applicants for my position are than I am. And, of course, my colleagues get six weeks to make snide references to my youthful folly, my lack of direction, my laziness, my sense of entitlement, and my meager prospects.

So here is my misguided, selfish, unoriginal rant. Work sucks.

I don’t quibble with the actual labor, with the individual tasks, but with the crazy trappings. I am too young for this. I don’t need a receptionist for my visitor(s) – my 18-year-old sister Ivy has been here about 30 times and is still made to wear a nametag so she doesn’t steal a laptop. Last time she arrived in my section of the cube maze, she was wearing a sticker reading “Hello My Name Is: I-dog.”

I am also sick of the color beige. Beige, tan, slate: it’s like I’m living in a sepia-toned movie from the ‘30s, only instead of sepia, they chose a kind of taupe. I have even tired of the internet, that staple of unhappy twentysomethings sitting in ergonomic chairs across the country. Isn’t my job better than working in a coal mine? Most definitely. I complain about my sedentary life, but think how much worse it would be to quarry granite or collect garbage or load boxes. A lot. I assume this logic is along the lines of, “Eat your dinner, there are children starving in Africa.”

What ever happened to Kerouackian fantasies, or even the sanctioned slacker life of the early 90’s? Perhaps I will singlehandedly revive a dying sense of shiftlessness in our youth. In the meantime, I start packing up my five by six “office,” starting with the books. I bring novels to work with the idea that I’ll read them at lunch, but once I realized that I could wedge an open book between my keyboard tray and desk, I was reading on the sly regularly. It’s actually been great for increasing the rigorousness of my reading list. I’d never read Madame Bovary at home; who wants to hear about some sniveling harpy and her tedious adultery when ESPN2 is showing a national aerobics championship from 1998? In an Emma vs. voicemail competition, on the other hand, she wins hands-down every time.

I can only box stuff up in short spurts, so as not to be depressed by my own banal artifacts. A postcard from a friend who went cross-country. A breath-mint dispenser in the shape of a computer (the mint comes out the disk drive). A stack of magazines filched from the reception area. Four umbrellas. Three glass vases that you get when someone sends flowers from 1-800-Flowers. Advil, cough drops, Krazy Glue (I trip a lot, so the fronts of my shoes are always separating from the soles. Maybe I’ll pursue a career as a cobbler). Add a couple of receipts from lunches at decent Midtown restaurants and some Instant Messenger transcripts, and an observing anthropologist would be able to piece together a dishearteningly complete picture of the last year of my life.

It’s my astrological destiny: the copier hums, a woman barks into her phone; I shut my computer off, roll my chair back, pack up the stray Tupperware, and leave.

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