I’m not who I used to be. I know we go through a lot of changes throughout our lives but something major has changed. I have always had an incredible work ethic. Maybe it comes from my Korean side. I know everyone in that family worked hard all their lives. No one was rich but they sustained themselves and was proud to go to bed tired.
I got my first job when I turned 14. I remember Daddy had to sign papers saying I had permission to work. I worked at a gas station and my boss immediately liked how sharp and focused I was. I was always on time and and my till was right to the penny. I was so excited about my first paycheck I already had made plans for every cent that was coming to me. I eagerly opened my envelope and was immediately crushed to see the number was way off. What is a social security tax? Medicare? WTF is FICA? There are federal AND state taxes? I felt so robbed. Daddy had purposely waited until this moment to teach me about how paychecks are distributed.
All through high school I kept a 30-40 hour work schedule and still kept up an A average. Yes I was an overachiever. I worked at the same chain of gas stations but at this point I was a manager even though I was never given that title. Now I know they took advantage of me and did not pay me enough for what I did for the company. Ah, hindsight. When everyone else would say they could not make it to work because of snow, I got there ON TIME.
Even with a full scholarship I was so poor I had to work during college as well. I worked at Kmart as an apparel monkey. I put out new stock, arranged displays, helped out by being a cashier occasionally and eventually worked at the customer service desk. Oh do I have funny stories from there for future blogs! I also worked on campus which was way easier. I even worked at an amusement center in the mountains. I was a tour guide at a tourist trap and had to put on a fake hick accent. Embarrassing – amazing what we will do to pay bills.
I earned my BS in English and was certified to teach 9-12 graders in North Carolina. I graduated in December because my advisor overlooked a course and I had to stay an extra semester to meet my criteria. I went straight to work in January 8 hours from home as a teacher on the NC coast. During the summers I worked at a local Food Lion because teacher’s jobs are actually 10 month positions and we are told to just stretch out the checks for the other two months and with under 25K for the year that is just not enough.
After 7 years of working like a dog for the NC Public School System, I moved to “the city” and got a temp job with Glaxo Wellcome as a secretary. I had never done this type of work but the manager took a chance on me and it was a great salary for what I considered a very cushy job. He was very good to me. After 6 months he was ready to hire me permanently when my mother fell ill and needed open heart surgery. My sister could not care for her and Daddy needed to work so I offered to go back home and care for her as it was believed she would not live much longer. I guess I did too good of a job because she recovered.
Instead of going back to the city I stayed in town with my parents until JoAnne and I found an apartment and I got a job as a receptionist for a real estate lawyer in Boone. I found out later that I was doing paralegal work for much less pay. I am apparently an idiot at most or a sucker at least. I left the soul less lawyer shortly there after and worked for a friend who owned a Celtic Jewelry/clothing shop. It paid far less but it was nice working for someone who cared about me. I also worked part time at a Winn Dixie on the midnight shift. The only perks that job had was finding out when meat was going to go on clearance because the butcher found me attractive. It sounds so dirty now. Shudder. I also worked for the Watauga library system somewhere in there and really enjoyed that job.
I finally landed a real job at Appalachian State University working as a grant assistant in the Sociology Department. I. LOVED. THAT. JOB. I was surrounded by academics, the professors were so respectful even though I was a pion. I knew the campus because I graduated from there and my boss was super supportive. My coworker was an adorable cow loving lady. I dubbed her Juliemoo and we became fast friends. When she left and we mistakenly hired a lazy liar in her place and my job quickly became less satisfying as she bullied me for “making her look bad”. Still, I stuck it out until the grant was absolved. I was laid off, got married, moved to Georgia and landed my favorite job with the Gwinnett County Library System. I was a Librarian’s Assistant and I was really good at it and in my comfort zone. I could have worked this job forever if we had not relocated for my husband’s career.
Is this a resume or a blog? I know right? All this to say that I am not lazy – I am a hard worker and I have never shied away from a job no matter how tough. Yet, now I do not want to work for anyone anymore. I have been substitute teaching for years and the other day I could barely get through a day of it. Yes, it’s COVID. Yes, it was virtual. Yes, first grade is hard. Yes, the technology snafus were frustrating. More than that though, I felt CHANGED. I just had absolutely no drive to do it anymore.
Was it because of my father’s death following a battle with lung cancer? Was it because of menopause? Was it because I’m just tired? I do not know. But I knew I did not want to go back to substituting. I wanted to write. I have always wanted to write. But writing does not pay and even after months of writing may not pay anything so it is a huge gamble. Is it a pipe dream? Am I delusional to believe I can publish a book? I don’t know, but my crazy, loving, supportive husband is all for it.
So this week I began my research into Amazon publishing and “dusted” off my keyboard and found all my partially started books. I am earnestly going to give it a go. When I publish my first memoir you all will be the first to know. Writing this blog is what rekindled my love of writing so I want to thank you for reading and commenting. I am no longer a starry eyed teen so I know the risks I’m taking but I have support from my besties and my hubby so I am going for it. I hope people will want to read a book about a mixed race kid making a trek to the land of golden opportunities and the struggles she endured. Even if no one reads it, I will be fulfilled in having written it. Stay tuned. . .