"I was working for an on-demand grocery shopping and delivery service called Instacart, often referred to as “Uber for groceries.” I was wooed by stories of Instacart’s flexibility, and because I was a freelance writer, I required that kind of freedom."
I'll cut to the chase and save you reading this entire piece, no, she does not need some special amount of "freedom," really free time. All of that free time produced the dreck which is this article. She needs to work at a job which is demanding, and requires much of her, or she needs to work at a job which is difficult, physically demanding. She needs to stop being a childish narcissistic fop, and undertake an 8 hour per day job which can pay the bills, and then write for another 6 hours after work, and 8-10 hours each weekend day. She needs difficulty, she needs experience, she needs to be tested, and proved. But this is not what she wants, she wants to be a dilettante who works a few hours per week, and pikes at writing about her family. This article should take about two hours to write. There is no research, no analysis, nothing but stream of consciousness. For this she needs 108 hours per week?
"The customer laughing at me over the phone had a voice that sounded green. Green like overpriced avocado toast, bottled chlorophyll, spiraling, eco-friendly laundry detergent, and other “clean” affectations that seem to sum up a lifestyle that’s so natural, organic, and pristine only wealthy women with cold, tony laughs can afford to live it."
Interestingly, this describes her attitude to a T. One has to love her overwrought, tortured green prose. I do have to agree with her that the upper middle class has adopted an affectation when buying groceries. For them it is either the pretentious Whole Foods store, or Walmart, after all, without the pretensions of green living the only distinguishing characteristics are selection, price, and quality, and Walmart generally hits it out of the park on all of these.
"The woman who laughed at me was one of these customers with very discerning tastes currently causing me a lot of anxiety. I was looking over all of the items I’d carefully picked out for her when she gargled that curdling laugh, making fun of my flabbergasted response to her curt manner and rude replies to the questions I had asked about her order. For a second, I blamed myself for making the mistake of contacting her to ask a question. As I palmed an overripe Granny Smith, I thought about how similar my rude customer was to the laughing character in the pea-green dress from Toni Morrison’s Sula. (To pass the time, I often listed scenes from black women’s literature that featured grocery or market scenes.) Her laugh inspired another character, Eva Peace, to feel a “liquid trail of hate”; while I certainly didn’t hate the customer who ridiculed me, I could relate to Eva’s instantaneous recognition of her emotions and the quickness with which she adapted her outlook."
1. Cannot take personal responsibility, others cause her anxiety, check.
2. Degree in black feminist studies or the like, she can list scenes from "black women's literature that featured grocery or market scenes, "check.
3. Cannot take responsibility, she "[f]or a second," blamed herself for her own actions, check.
4. Lives half in a fantasy world comprised of fictional characters, she relates to Eva, blah, blah, blah, check.
Still standing in the middle of the produce section with my phone against my face — the call over — I couldn’t decide whether to laugh or cry. With “all my education,” as my family would say, two degrees and the student loans to show for it, I was nonetheless positioned only marginally better off than my grandparents, who ran errands and did other grunt work two generations removed from where I now stood. Activity continued around me, and this glaring manifestation of what it meant to only slightly improve over one’s predecessors was a quiet, personal revelation that somehow moored me and kept me from imploding. I recognized a shared struggle between myself and them, a sort of inheritance. And unlike my grandparents, who had grade school educations and did factory and domestic work, I had options. Or at least, I thought I did."
1. Uselessly over educated, she has two degrees, neither of which can catch her a job, check.
2. Under experienced, picking groceries is her best job prospect, check.
3. Lack of critical thinking skills, she has "the student loans to show for it," check.
4. Incompetence, she chose whatever it is she majored in and not something with a degree others might value, check.
5. Willing to blame others, she does not have options, check.
Oh, she is not done, she continues apace:
"How many bananas made up two pounds, the quickest way to check for cracks on all sides of an egg, how many produce bags one needs to properly contain pointy sweet potatoes without ripping them all felt beneath me. I was supposed to be The Writer, not a beat of generational repetition. If, in some future, a granddaughter of mine sat on the living room floor and stared up at me while I remembered my own work, what memory would I have to offer her?"
Oh the horror. She had to perform services for others because she forgot to follow an educational path which would lead to a job other than one she finds demeaning. What job would not be beneath her? Perhaps she could do one of the jobs I did when younger, cleaning the inside of a lime kiln during the annual paper mill shut down. All one had to do was wear a full coverage hazmat suit with supplied air apparatus, and stand inside of the lime kiln which was never less than 120˚, and commonly nearer to 130˚ and using a pneumatic hammer, scrape off the hardened deposits, then clean out all the scrapings. After shift end, I would pour about a half gallon of sweat out of each boot, drag ass home and sleep 12 hours, lather, rinse, repeat till the kiln was cleaned out. That sweat? That's the flood of money!
Or how about the industrial demolition jobs, 12 to 13 hours per day, 7 days per week for a year or more? Good pay, tough hours, but I could take time off after the project, after all I was laid off. Great time to write, and she would be flush with money. But no, that would be too much like real work. All that hard, physical work? That's the weight of money.
Or how about removing and capping a 100 year old sewer spur. It really was beautiful, a brick edifice standing about 6' tall right where we needed to place a building. We had excavated down to create the space and found the unexpected sewer spur. There is an entire story around this but that is for another day. The importance here is that breaching, and reducing this pillar of pooh, was a shock. The smell so foul that even those who had worked around the facultative lagoon found it oppressive. Better yet it had to be reduced carefully, since any brick falling into the abyss would need to be recovered. That thought was madness. What's that smell? That's the smell of money.
No, here we have a woman, who is only marginally capable of picking groceries, a skill most of us mastered in our late teens, living on our own, tending to our household needs. There is no trick to this, learn the best way to check and observe, and relish being the best at this job, and providing customers, many who are apparently shut in's, with the very best service, produce, eggs, and groceries. But this is demeaning to our brilliant correspondent. She is a "free lance writer" dontcha know. Apparently in the wackadoo world where she lives, this is a "better job."
As if somehow vomiting brain flatulence is somehow more important than helping the helpless perform a necessary task. Sweet pea, just for your edification take this thought experiment with me, who can you most live without, the man who keeps the drinking water running, or the woman who keeps the sewage flowing, or the garbage/sanitary engineer, or a "free lance writer?" Only the fool would choose the latter. For me, my job was always second, the lawyering, the pipe fitting, the industrial demolition, the writing was a cathartic release, a stimulation, it has always been that my real job was raising my children, and providing the associated needs of my wife, parents, siblings, etc. Obviously, it was easier before I had children, wife, and my parents and siblings were all but completely independent. But even then, the occasional need would arise, and my true job would surface, show itself, only to quickly submerge.
Sweet pea you can write even while you work. After my 12-13 hour, 7day per week shift during one of the industrial demolition jobs I wrote a White Paper, which landed me job offers from CIA, NSA, among about a half dozen agencies. Boy howdy was that fun, work my 12 hour shift, then change into clean cloths and spend another 3+ hours researching at Portland State University, for a couple of months, then shift to writing for about 3 weeks. After 3-1/2 months of 16 hour days the product went out. If the desire is within, one can accomplish much, under great hardship. Or one can whinge. I guess we know which way our illustrious correspondent swings.
The whinging continues pointing out the tragedy of her grandmother having to pass up opportunities because she earned her money through criminal enterprise, "I think she felt she was unable to purchase the home, fearing inquisitions by tax auditors and police." Yeah, making bad choices has a way of doing that to you. Nice how she tries to transfer the negative implications to the "tax auditors," and "police," people simply doing their legal jobs, and away from granny, the mobster. This is immaturity writ large, the inability to accept that living the criminal life might have consequences.
"Ever since I can remember, my mom has worked jobs she didn’t quite like. She had dropped out of high school in 11th grade and got her GED when my brother and I were little. At the end of elementary school, my mom worked as a telemarketer, then spent five years as a clerk at various state-owned liquor stores throughout Philadelphia."
Pretty much everyone I know has worked jobs they didn't like, if one has any smarts at all, one learns from this and finds better work in the future. I admit to being surprised that her mother was able to work as a telemarketer and then spent five years as a clerk at various state-owned liquor stores throughout Philadelphia, at the end of elementary school! I had a paper route at the end of elementary school, and I was a church janitor in 7th and 8th grades, but I was neither a telemarketer, nor a liquor store clerk at that age. Or perhaps she needs to brush up on her "free lance writer" skills? Perhaps he grandmother also threw the horse over the fence some hay? It's an article Sweep Pea, polish it, burnish it, you are trying to get a job, this is not an E-mail to a friend, or even a blog post, or a rough draft. This is life, full bore, full speed, right now.
Our fearless correspondent continues, "When I was in high school, she got a job as a front desk associate at a Marriott in downtown Philly. Lateness caused her to lose that job, and another at a Marriott property in Southwest Philly near the airport." Was this really a shock? Getting to work on time seems the easiest part of the entire job. Failing this easy part, twice doesn't bode well.
I must bore easily, I've lost interest in this long kvetchy piece as it began meandering through the authors crimey male side of the family. She seems to be in a lineage best defined as crimey.
Unsurprisingly, as she begins to wind down, she finds some scapegoats, "Any misunderstandings I have toward my dad, brothers, certain uncles, and cousins are my own fault, and they’re due to the wariness I feel toward the external fighting they’ve done. I’m worried that, no matter how eloquently I describe the men in my family, or how much space I give them on the page, I’ll flatten my loved ones. I’m concerned that my family’s long-term generational mobility will be compromised, not only by bad choices and capitalism and the prison industrial complex but by my own ambitions, too."
"I’m concerned that my family’s long-term generational mobility will be compromised, not only by bad choices and capitalism and the prison industrial complex but by my own ambitions, too." What the hell does that sentence mean? Capitalism had nothing to do with her families problem, their problems were due to bad choices, and anti-contraband/fun laws. The prison-industrial complex sounds like a way to whitewash her families bad decisions. Perhaps more oddly is how prominently she needs to state that she is ambitious. Her ancestors were ambitious, she, is not, well only to the extent that she got a degree, now faced with actual work, she is disappointed in her position. If she were ambitious she would make a position. But she is not. She wants an easy peasy lemon squeeze go to school, get great job track. You know, that track that never existed.
She is disappointed that life does not look like the fantasy she assumed life was, but life is always more, something real, something grinding. Bad decisions have a way of finding you. Karma is a bitch, and one that never seems to forget, a bird dog, if you will, with an unerring nose, and unfailing stamina.
"I stopped scheduling myself at Instacart after the incident with the laughing customer who mocked me, but I’m still a little afraid that I’ll need to return. Though, after doing this kind of soul-searching, I know I can’t go back to picking groceries for someone else. It’s difficult to pick up where the women in my family left off, to strike a balance between criticizing the actions of the men in my family and holding on to a deep belief that they truly are not what they do for a living, despite how it impacts the quality of our lives, and despite how the frequency of their jail trips builds a convincing argument that they have settled into the roles they try to convince us they’ve outgrown. I think I’m more understanding of their aliases and job-hopping and identity-shifting now. Our national history is rife with examples of black Americans facing exclusion from labor movements, as well as general workforce discrimination. It’s not hard to see how the effects of these policies have trickled down. I see my family’s work history, rendered briefly here, as a particular kind of ingenuity necessary for black Americans."
Double degree, this woman is adrift morally, and ethically. She has ready excuses for all of her family members failings, but never the accurate ones, personal failings, bad decisions, and lack of moral or ethical character. No, its labor movement exclusion, or some other BS, Toots, don't try to blow smoke up my pant leg. We all make mistakes, the difference between the successful family and yours seems boil down to one family accepts their failings and redouble our efforts to do better, to make better decisions, and to act morally and ethically, the other does the opposite. Your way out is to break the dysfunctional model your family follows. Chart a new path, a path which utilizes concepts of hard work, adherence to moral and ethical rules, to slowly change the direction your family is traveling. Or you can whinge.
If she cannot do the Instacart job, what job can she do? She has no obvious qualifications to do anything, and apparently grocery picker is beyond her ken.
"Despite feeling like my female relatives’ strategies are more relatable, I’ve picked up my dad’s job of writing." Huh? I thought his job was drug dealing, and murder victim. The writing you have from him consists of one typed page and a few hand written pages, and he is a writer? That is one low bar.
Good luck. I suspect you are setting yourself up for failure. Find a day job you can do, I don't see much future in writing.