A Fairy Tale Ending for a Working Class Princess or Hey

by Jenn ONOFRIO
 

WANTED: Your glossy Polaroid taped to this wall.

Every morning as I gear myself up for my day’s meaningless existence, I can’t help but to check in with the crappy display of regality that stands twenty feet away from me: the Employee of the Month plaque. Admittedly, it’s a miserable excuse for a corporate pat-on-the-back. We’re talking wooden plaque made at John Q’s Trophy Shop stuck with a standard issue Polaroid photo of the lucky moron.

I despise the Employee of the Month program. It’s such the rich white man’s way of trying to make me feel like I’m progressive—like I’m maybe something of significance in the Darwinian scheme. All it really amounts to is mind games, a false sense of hope and, for some, a teaser at the comforts of security.

Have you ever known an Employee of the Month? They’re stupid people. Numb. Psychotic. They’ll do whatever you say and agree with whatever you think—most of them don’t make more than thirty thousand a year. They’re complacent, slow, and ill-educated.

But if you spend your waking life gluing together the gaps in “the man’s” grandiose World Take-Over scheme, shouldn’t it eventually amount to something?

I work as a towel girl in a yoga studio, and not just any yoga studio but a Bikram yoga studio, where each client is merciless to the heat and humidity of classes offered at 105 degrees Fahrenheit. These classes produce a prodigious amount of sweat, distributed into a towel, which I collect. I don’t even make money at this place, I just wash towels and scrub mats so that I can take classes for free.

I worked as a sales girl at a high end makeup/lotion retailer on Fifth Avenue. I made a collective three hundred taxable dollars there before my name began to disappear from the schedules posting in the back room. (I was later informed that this came as a result of my ‘antics’—my sales pitching that certain products were guaranteed remedies for brain cancer, leprosy, anemia—I was bored.)

I have played receptionist at a P/R firm, a vaporizer manufacturing company, a publishing house responsible for those widely-solicited and down-home-favorite recipe cards, and a company of which I am not sure the nature of their business—someplace on 35th Street. I played office bitch for a magazine, which basically entailed me surfing the internet all day long while pretending to be busy. Free coffee, sixteen dollars an hour. Fuzzy, gray cubicle.

I was an extra on Law & Order: SVU, playing a Slovakian Passerby. It gave me border-line frostbite on my cheeks and a corporate-catered breakfast sandwich.

I was a spokesperson for a line of Scooby Doo games, inadvertently dressed as the red-headed Daphne and fed disgusting cold cuts and old potato salad for a week (the week of the NYC blizzard, mind you). I spent a week smiling and Vanna Whiting it up in front of a teal colored display so some suit-wearing salespeople could pass by with their superstore retail clients and ask me not just once or twice if I’d like to go out for a drink.

I was a waitress for all of two weeks at a miserable SoHo restaurant named after—how CLEVER—the first name of the owner of the place. The woman who hired me was a bitch, when she cooked her food she was still a bitch, and when I quit with two hours notice she made me realize what it felt like to be a bitch. The bitch even made me go by “Marcella” because apparently my name was too god damned boring—but I still served the food.

I did not work for one week in the winter as Mia Farrow’s driver. I should have. I was offered the job and I turned it down because I’m sure I had found something better to do with my time. Thinking back on that, it was a mistake. So Mia, if you’re out there, I’m readily available.

I played the White Rabbit in a national tour of the famed Alice in Wonderland (musical version). I wore a furry white bunny head, yellow jacket, blue knickers, and a bow tie. I was Pat the bunny, touring the country’s colleges and shopping malls, delighting and at the same time horrifying the poor children who became entranced by my pseudo-asexual rabbit-like mysticism. “Is she a he or is she a she Mommy?” they wondered.

I even once posed as an HIV-positive college dropout in a government-funded HIV/AIDS prevention campaign that sought to experiment with the emotional livelihood of teens living in the rural hills of a nameless southern state. America’s tax dollars hard at work.

So now I work in a bank where I pretend like I don’t see my boss embezzling money, pretend to be shocked each time we get robbed (first Friday of every month), and where I pretend to be enjoying the fact that the rest of the working world’s money is passing through my lower-class hands. I stand here behind this plastic partition and stare out at that goddamned plaque with the stupid Polaroid picture day in and day out—everyday—and I guess all I’m wondering is…

When do I get to be Employee of the Month?

You Might Consider Visiting

Our Online Shop

or

Review: Real Life Adventures comic from the May 24th New York Post »

« My Sister, Part Five