Hello, my name is Katie Rose Leon and today, Monday July 27th at 11:26 A.M I was fired from my job at the pet store where I held the prestigious titled of "Customer Service and Animal Care associate" for three years. The fact that my manager was planning to fire me did not stop them from letting me work four and a half hours before they informed me of my unemployment. It is the first job I have ever been officially fired from.
I have always had a tenuous relationship with the employment scene in Portland Oregon and as I look at out at the landscape before me I can't help but feel bewildered. Its a bittersweet victory, today I lost a pay check but I also am now officially a working comedian. I know I am a working comedian because my former manager sat across from me, teary eyed and pale and told me so. He told me that the store could not afford to staff around employees who hold a second job, and then he told me my second job was comedy. This is how I found out I am a working comedian. I thought there would be more money, or press, or at least snacks. The fact that I no longer have to wake up every morning to paste on my "Black Hole Sun" smile while a rich lady in yoga pants lectures me about how her cat can't eat GMO's hasn't quite settled in. Mostly I just feel aloof and hungry. Where are the snacks?!
Many creative types struggle with having a day job, they feel like they are "selling out" or being suffocated by the capitalist machine. I can relate to that and even sort of agree, however rent don't pay itself and where would my brand be if I couldn't afford a different fuzzy monster coat for every weekday. Working at a pet store came naturally to me, because I care about animals and hanging out with boys takes the same skill set as most small mammal care. Talking to pet owners made me feel stable and smart. There is a genre of person out there in this lonely world that only talks to their animals, and that means for the past three years the only human contact they ever had was me. I shaped minds and possibly derailed a few public shootings, all with a nodding smile and a knowledge of proper reptile lighting. I have had some genuinely good days, mostly involving dumb cute creatures or snacks. I am still hungry you guys. As much as I liked to pretend I was some budget vet tech, it was still retail, and retail is rough, there is so much standing and smiling!
Once I remember incredulously watching an old white man watch his dog take a slow wet shit across the store. Come Sail Away played in the background as the dog teetered around making sure not to miss a spot. My wide eyed alertness and straight muppet mouth did not phase his owner, who was watching slack jawed and generally uninterested until the deed was done. Once the crime was committed I got on my hands and knees to clean it up, because I am good at my job. As I scour away like the peasant scum I am I hear him take a long breath. It's the kind of breath that alerts you that someone is about to say something stupid, and as a customer service rock star, you are going to have to hide how much of your soul they are actively crushing. He looked down at me and squinted in the same way I imagine he looks at anyone he deems "unsavory" in his manicured neighborhood. "Hey, didn't I see you do comedy last week?"
I knew my job was going downhill for awhile. The store was suffering finically after some poorly thought out impulse business decisions and there was a general feeling of unrest amongst the staff. Clearly our manager had not heard about the historical lesson of Napoleon and his foolish quest to try and open a pet store in Russia. Ultimately it is a good thing I was "let go". I am over having stress dreams about pet food recalls and almost all of my long term co-workers have already quit. I look forward to whats next and hope this snarky blog post won't hurt my chances of rejoining the work force.
Thanks job, you gave me money, a few asthma attacks and taught me that I am a "working comedian".
Best Wishes xo.
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