Model Employee

There were red flags the size of Kansas waving at me from the beginning.

For instance, the fact that it was almost an hour away.

But I’m stubborn and in college (i.e. broke and desperate), so I told the kind lady at the temp agency that I would work – for one day – at a model home.

Again, being in college (i.e. having never bought a house and knowing absolutely nothing about real estate). I’ve never done sales, either, but I can’t blame that on college.

By purposeful speeding, I arrived at the home about 25 minutes earlier than I expected. I swung out of my car in my houndstooth pencil skirt, oversized bag (stuffed with books and pens) hung over my shoulder, and sauntered to the side of the house. I had been given the combination to a clever key-holding device that hung from a spigot protruding from the house.

(Did I say “key-holding device”? I mean “key-jail.”)

I crouched in the shrubbery and dialed the combination. There was a button on the side of the device that looked like it needed to be slid up to release the key, so I tried to push it up.

Repeatedly.

Hard.

No key.

I like to think of myself as a resourceful person. The name of the company that manufactures the key-maximum-security-prisons was on the front of the lock. I pulled out my phone and looked it up. I found some advice for resetting the numbers. I tried it.

Nothing.

I was sweating by this time, my blonde curls sticking to my gray cardigan.

Finally, I called the agency. I won’t go into all of our little back-and-forth – me to the agency, the agency to the saleswomen, agency back to me, back  to the saleswoman, the saleswoman to the construction worker – suffice to say, by the time a gaunt, white-haired angel named Jerry turned up, I had actually rubbed the skin off my thumbs and had tiny paint flecks on my fingers.

I had arrived 30 minutes early. Jerry let me in 30 minutes late.

Thankfully, no clients had come yet. Which pretty much describes the day.

In the eight hours I worked, a grand total of four people showed up. They all asked questions I couldn’t answer and after I found the answer, no one asked me that question again. The entire time I was with a customer, I felt stupid, inadequate, and frustrated.

The remaining seven-and-a-half hours, I stalked everyone I’ve ever met on every social media site in existence, read an L.M. Montegomery book, and wrote a short story, as well as most of this post.

The saleswoman whose desk I occupied had a few nicely written sticky notes on the side of her laptop. One read, “Always REMEMBER DAY 1: excited, nervous, ‘goosebumps,” ½ starved, happy, proud.” From a plaque or two in her office, it seems she ended up doing very well.

Granted, the lady did come in later and verbally roasted me, but she helped me realize something.

I want a job that I’m so excited to have, the first day makes me sick. I want to feel proud of my work. I want to be happy to come in and do my job every day. (Well, every week day. With plenty of vacation.)

And I don’t want to go into real estate.

Or sales.

And I want my own key.

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