I trained this week for my new temp gig. When I walked off the elevator, I almost passed out from the view. People were scurrying around not even looking out the giant windows – and all the walls are actually windows. Why aren’t you looking at it? I was thinking all day. It’s a 360-degree view of Manhattan from one of the top floors of a skyscraper. It was a clear day. I could see well into New Jersey. I suppose that is a good thing. (Later, when I took the elevator back to the lobby, I swear to God my ears popped.)
I kept worrying an airplane might fly into the building while I was in there. Yep. That’s what happens when you’ve lived through 9-11. Tall buildings just seem like giant fireballs of human flesh waiting to happen.
I met the Butler. He is very nice. He does not wear one of those Butler uniforms. He wears a Butler-ish outfit though, so you can still tell that he is the Butler. I don’t know why I am so fascinated by the Butler because they also have a Chef and an entire household staff. Jonesing for an ice cream Sundae in the middle of the day? Just call the kitchen, and they’ll bring it to you!
Anyway, the job turned out to be a total nightmare – and not just because I kept thinking: I wonder if there were any unfortunate temps in the World Trade Center on 9-11? Surely there were. Can you imagine? You get incinerated in a building because you happen to be there as a temp? Jesus.
Anyway, more about the terrible job in The Skyscraper Office with the magnificent view later.
For now, I want to tell the sad tale about how, no matter how far I travel from academia and no matter how many years go by, my dissertation still haunts me. It has nothing to do with me anymore at the same time that it is inescapable.
My diss was partly about rags to riches stories. They are so very interesting! So I wrote a lot about them, plus some other stuff.
One of the rags to riches tales I told is about an actual living person. Let’s call him Bob. Bob is a very wealthy and important guy in America. I can’t say too much about what he does because then you might be able to figure out who I’m talking about.
Anyway, Bob, who has hobnobbed with Presidents (of the United States!), comes from a modest background. In fact, his grandmother was a member of the household staff for a Very Famous American. I cannot tell you who it was because then . . . well, you know.
So, long story short, Bob’s grandmother was basically a servant, and now Bob is an Important Rich Guy in America. How this happened is a long story (you’ll have to read my dissertation! Ha, please don’t).
The point is, I lost track of Bob after grad school, even though I had been following his career in the news media due to my weird obsession with rags to riches narratives, an obsession I followed until I myself became increasingly poor due to student debt. (Logic!)
This week, when I walked into the office to start training for my new job, there was Bob! Bob is now a big shot at The Skyscraper Office doing Important People Things. It makes perfect sense. Bob doesn’t know me of course. He smiled and kept right on walking.
In my terrible job, I will be answering his phone and putting appointments on his calendar (along with a lot of other women).
That’s the story so far. I wrote a dissertation (partly) about a guy with a rags to riches story. And now, PhD in hand, I am answering that guy’s phone in an office building that terrorists might crash a plane into at any moment.