Over a year ago, when I spent the first two-thirds of the summer of 2011 curled up in a ball on my bed, hardly leaving my one-room apartment except to go the 2 blocks to the beer store every other night, I seriously had notions that I might not ever be a publicly functional human being ever again. I could barely make rudimentary conversation with the beer-store guys, and only then because they were/are super-nice and unthreatening (3 recent immigrants from Indonesia).
Luckily, in the second part of last summer, I got eased back into the world of alarm clocks and schedules and office communications with a high-paying temp copy-editing job with an environment where I didn't have to be "on" for any public: just show up on time and do my work well, etc., with no boss looking over my shoulder. I did this for 6 weeks last year; and this was also the same place where I just finished working again for 6 months THIS year. The pay and its rewards of enabling me to buy clothes, etc., were good for my then-fragile ego; the schedule and its stability were good, showing me that, yes, I really COULD function in society again (!).
For the past 3 weeks, though, the pendulum has swung in completely the opposite direction, to my having to be "super-on" at all times. Since the 6-month copy-editing job ended, I've been a temp receptionist in a busy office, greeting people, fielding calls, delivering mail, having stuff thrown at me to do with little info on how to do it... I DEFINITELY couldn't have emotionally handled it last summer, but a year later, it's all doable and OK. "OK," I said, not "great" or "preferred" or anything! :) (I have had ONE mildly interesting task so far: Typing up a professor's notes critiquing Jon Stewart and "The Daily Show." After my initial interest, the tedium of deciphering his handwriting quickly got old, as did my undercurrent of argumentative thoughts about many of his points he'd scribbled. For instance, his positing a correlation between young people watching "Daily Show" in droves while simultaneously not voting in droves. I so wanted to type in my own comments: "The Youth Vote has HISTORICALLY been low! It has nothing to do with Stewart's show!")
Accompanying the public face I must now wear at the office during the week is my previously stress-free Saturday work at UT games last year and this... Up until today, I've been a "floater," relieving people for their breaks, etc. But today they put me on "scanner duty": Being the first to greet the rich folk upon their arrival on the suite floor, scanning their passes, etc. And it's not just "scanning their passes," it's having to smile broadly and be cute and say, FOR OVER 2 HOURS STRAIGHT: "Hi! How are ya! Welcome! Thank yew, Sir/Ma'am! Enjoy the game!" Short of a carnival barker or a travelling salesman, I can't think of how much more ON someone has been required to be for the past 3 weeks than I have been! :)
The good part is: I passed a test! I can do it! I can smile and be perky and personable with the best of 'em! The bad part: Come on now, I don't WANT to be interpreting mundane professorial scribbles and greeting people/making them feel welcome for a living! It's DRAINING! Not horrible or anything, just... oh my god, I don't feel like smiling/not thinking this much! :)
There, see, now I'm starting to sprinkle my previously surly blog posts with too-many smileys! I'm becoming out-of-control perky!