I was recently sitting in my local co-op after my memoir class, eating my chocolate nut mix, and jotting down some notes for my next assignment. A friend of mine I knew mainly from the co-op, an older gentleman who writes haiku, walked up to me as he often does when he sees me there, and asked how the writing was going. I replied that I was only there for a short time, as I had to work later that day.
He scrunched up his face a little and shook his head. “I hate to see you there at Foster’s,” he said, referring to my job as a cashier at a local grocery store.
“You’re too classy for that.”
Classy, huh? I’m not exactly sure what he meant by that; probably that he thought I was meant to do “better” things than mindlessly run groceries through a scanner.
Well, duh. Writing is that “better” thing. I explained to him that I liked the job because it’s mentally undemanding, and so I have my full intellectual faculties to apply to writing. Once I leave the register, I forget about it until the next time I’m there. I’m not worried about the job, or bringing it home with me. It’s just there, to help pay the bills.
“What about PCA work?” he asked. I’m not sure why he brought this up, either, except that maybe I seem like a nice person who could take care of others.
“Nah. Too emotionally draining,” I said. I tried it for about six months some time ago, and that was plenty. I take care of enough people in my personal life as it is.
He chuckled, as if to say, damn, girl, what is it that you want?
“I just want to be a robot,” I explained to him. “It’s just a job. This,” I said, pointing down at the notebook, “is my work.”
He got it in the end and laughed. “You’ve got it all figured out, huh?”
God, I hope so. But yeah, I’ve made this decision to save all my intellectual and emotional energies for writing. It hasn’t filled up the bank account, and probably never will. It often engenders pity, like it did with my friend above, who finds it sad that an intelligent person like me will waste her life at minimum wage jobs.
Maybe he’s right, but it’s far too late for regrets. I’ve decided to follow my passion, for better or for worse. It’s the only life I can imagine living.