A few weeks ago, over some post-run sushi in the park, my lunch companion asked me what my dream job was. I thought about it for a moment.
You mean like, for real for real? Like if I could have any job in the world what would it be?
He said it so nonchalant. Should I admit that I had spent the better part of my adult life agonizing over this very question and felt no closer to an answer? Probably not. Lucky for me, and for him I supposed because an angsty Rebekah is not the best Rebekah, I had recently come up with something that seemed like a thing I would like to do. Without going into the long, drawn-out backstory that involves my Master’s thesis I told him about how I had always been interested in post-disaster reconstruction work. I feel somehow drawn to being one of those people who goes to places after horrible things happen and then sticks around long after many of the first responders leave. I want to be there to help communities rebuild, after the international aid ends and our global conscience moves on to the next thing because there is always a next thing. I want to be there to shame the disaster tourists. Of course I have absolutely no medical knowledge and, truth be told, get queasy rather easily. Recently at work I had to take a 5 minute sit-down because a piece of glass protruding from my thumb made me so nauseous I turned green.
Back to the drawing board, perhaps.
But, of course, my thinking about it didn’t end there. It never does. The hamster that occupies the wheel in my brain has a never-ending supply of energy, that little bastard. And in the time I spent thinking I realized that, sure, I have all sorts of lofty goals. I would like to have something I write published somewhere that people have actually heard of and be paid for it; I would like to be on the Ellen Show (don’t ask); I would like to perform at The Moth and maybe one day, one wonderful day, be featured on The Moth Radio Hour on NPR that plays on Saturdays from 7-8pm and hear myself on the radio and just be in the car all alone and be like, wow, there I am and just smile to myself; I would like to travel so much that I need new pages for my passport; I would like to be part of a group of women (and some men) who make feminism an inclusive part of the conversation rather than something talked about as its own issue. It effects us all. All those things, though, sort of exist on this other plane separate from where I am right now and so let’s bring it back down to reality, back to the present. And so now I will ask myself:
Rebekah, what is your dream job?
And here is my answer, in list form.
- I want a job where I am respected.
- I want a job where people aren’t constantly telling me what I am doing wrong and how to do it better even though they have never done what I do a day in their lives.
- I want a job where people don’t throw objects or insults at me on a regular basis.
- I want a job where people don’t whistle at me, clap at me, hiss at me, snap at me or flash their cellphone flashlights at me to get my attention.
- I want a job where no one ever calls me “ma” or “beautiful” or “sweetie” or “baby.”
- I want a job where I can go to the bathroom and there isn’t piss all over the seats that I have to clean up because people are animals.
- I want a job where people don’t ask me, while I am working at my job, what else I do because I can’t possibly just be a bartender.
- I want a job where photographs of me taken without my consent do not end up on Yelp. Or better yet…
- I want a job where people don’t take photographs of me without my consent. At all. Ever. End of story.
- I want a job where people don’t hit on me or ask me out and then refuse to tip me when I say no.
- I want a job where my awesome male coworker doesn’t have to step in and deal with people who treat me like garbage because I am a woman.
- I want a job where I am not treated like garbage.
- I want a job where I don’t have to keep my relationship status secret, when there is a status to keep secret, because it will likely effect the amount of money I make.
- I want a job where I am respected. Wait, did I say that already?
Here’s the thing: my job could be all those things if people would just learn how to act because, if you noticed, nothing on that list had anything to do with my job, really. There was nothing about the weird schedule and late nights (though that isn’t my favorite), nothing about being on my feet for hours and eating the majority of meals standing up, nothing about looking up and seeing eyes upon eyes upon eyes on me all needing and wanting something when I only have two hands, nothing about coming home smelling of the liquor that I didn’t drink but has saturated my clothes and my skin over the course of a busy night. Those are all parts of the job and they are okay. They are how it is. And there are a lot of really cool things. I have met some amazing people, both customers and coworkers; I have learned a lot about myself and others; I think I have become a better, more understanding person. I think that my job, although it isn’t responding to a disaster and helping those having the absolute worst days of their lives, has some amount of value and, to be honest, I think I am pretty good at it. I don’t know. It’s all relative I guess. And maybe the job I want, the job described in that list above, doesn’t actually exist. Maybe it isn’t out there. Maybe my realistic dreams are just as lofty as one day being on the Ellen Show or normalizing feminism. Maybe this is another project my hamster needs to spin her wheel about. And so, until then….
Hi, what can I get for you?