It’s completely normal and natural to complain about your job, even to hate it at times. When you spend 40+ hours a week doing anything, it doesn’t matter what, you’re going to have your own special brand of grievances — from the fact that your boss wants you to fax every email she receives while she’s on vacation to the baby opossum infestation in your classroom. Yep, I have experienced both. It’s normal to be filled with murderous rage about these things. (If those feelings are persistent and pervasive,I suggest you look for a new job.)
The key to being content at your job, I’ve found, is to constantly remind yourself of all the much worse things you can be doing to earn your living. Whenever I feel myself about to go off the rails over something stupid, I simply remind myself that it’s BTCDD, short for Better Than Changing Dog Diapers. This is something I’ve done for pay. And seriously, it was the most awful/degrading/depressing/disgusting way to earn $12 an hour. I’ve had a million odd jobs and changed careers three time, so that’s saying A LOT. As far as I’m concerned, there is no worse fate than taking a velcro nappy off a pug, and replacing its poopy sanitary napkin insert with a fresh one. To put all of our job annoyances in perspective, here are some more of the the most awful things I’ve done for money…
1. Changing doggie diapers. See above. I was hired as a personal assistant. I did not realize this would include changing my employer’s dogs’ diapers because it was “too much work to potty train them.” By the end of my time at that job, there were 3 dogs whose nappies needed changing.
2. Licking boots. In college, I worked at a night club for extra cash because working late-night shifts didn’t interfere with my class or study schedule. While the pay was better than working at Contempo Casuals (which I did for a few months), I was still always hard up for cash. One way I earned a little extra was by betting drunk customers that I would lick the bottom of their boots. Of course, no one believed I would lick a boot that had been walking the NYC streets, but I did. Twice. I made $20 and felt too ashamed of myself to ever do it again.
3. Being a part of an accidental harem. While living in LA and pursuing my acting career, I applied for a “personal assistant” job. The interview/audition consisted of 40 women taking a math and grammar test a local hot tub spa (only in LA). My high scores qualified me to work at a rich, older gentleman’s home, where I would “organize his office.” When I got to his house in Laurel Canyon, there were 5, 20-something girls who looked just like me. We were supposed to “organize” without “taking any breaks” or “asking any questions” or he would “yell at us.” When he left to order pizza, which we would be required to “eat while working,” I escaped his compound, got in my car and hightailed it out of there. I didn’t care about my pay, which I never got. So technically, I did this for free, which makes it ever more humiliating.
4. Playing a prostitute who gets shot in the head in a vampire movie Gary Busey did for drug money. I got paid $850 to to play the part of a hooker in the desert who gets shot in the head by vampires. Most of the day included me laying on a splintery piece of wood, without moving, while fake blood dripped into my ear. No, Gary Busey was not in my scene. Here’s proof that I’m not embellishing.
5. Wiping diarrhea off a 6-year-old who just shit herself. My first and only foray into directing children’s theater (I usually worked with teenagers or adults), ended with me in the bathroom during our final dress rehearsal using cotton balls to wipe explosive diarrhea off a nervous, crying 6-year-old. Poor girl. But also, poor me.
6. Acting as a go-between for my boss and her soon-to-be ex-husband. You probably wouldn’t be surprised to find out that this was the same person who put diapers on her dogs. Since I worked for her, I was in charge of every bit of communication to or from her husband who had recently moved out of the house. Trust me when I say that telling a man that his wife can’t come to the door because she “doesn’t want to speak to you, you motherfucker,” is the absolute apex of awkwardness.
7. Rolling a 1,000-pound set piece 20 NYC blocks. Here’s the thing no one ever tells you when you go to work for a Broadway production company: no matter what your title is, you’ll have to do heavy manual labor. After pushing said set piece down 10th avenue, I almost longed to change doggie diapers again. ALMOST.
8. Driving a 24-foot U-Haul truck down the narrowest street on the Lower East Side. The other thing no one tells you about working for a Broadway production company is that even if your job is to negotiate tour contracts for “Wicked,” at some point you will have to drive a 24-foot U-Haul van full of sweatshirts to an undisclosed location on Norfolk Street, just because you’re the only people with a valid drivers license, even though you’ve never driven a commercial-sized truck. You will get the truck stuck in an alleyway and obstruct all traffic on the Lower East Side. Then you will cry for an hour until you flag a legitimate truck driver down who is willing to get the van unstuck.
9. “Hanging out” with a little girl with cancer. When a friend of a friend tells you she knows someone who is looking for a person to “hang out” with an 11-year-old who has cancer and be her friend, your first thought is, This is my chance to be a good person! Your second thought is, What if she dies while she’s in my charge? She didn’t die in my charge, thank God, but I don’t think I did much in the way of cheering her up. During our first “hang out,” she asked if she could show me her wig collection and I cried for the next 2 hours, inconsolable over her impending death. I was never asked to come back.
10. Attending a cult meeting. Again, I did not get paid specifically for attending the cult meeting, but my presence was requested by the owner of a company I worked for, which makes it obligatory if you want to keep in good stead with the person who signs your paychecks. I can handle an hour or two of New Age crap, I thought. It was much, much worse than that. When I showed up, everyone was dressed in full linen cult regalia. We were led through a guided meditation, where we were told that The Guru (whose name I shall not mention) communicated the books of Merlin through pop music. Cue the Celine Dion, the laying on of hands and the speaking in tongues. It was far more than I could handle.