I’ve had quite the week. Not much was accomplished but I had what I like to label some “experiences.”
When we moved from Syracuse to Martha’s Vineyard almost four years ago, I felt like changing everything. I gave up a job that I had loved for almost 16 years; I was editor at a Catholic newspaper and nobody has that kind of job stability anymore. But hey, why not pack up and move to an island when you’re just shy of your 50th birthday? The mantra in my head kept repeating “If you don’t do this now, you’ll never leave.” So we left.
Obviously one question mark was what kind of job would I find on Martha’s Vineyard. I wasn’t sure I wanted to work at a newspaper. I’d done it for nearly half my life by that point and since I was willing to uproot our lives, I thought why not go all the way and try a completely different job.
For years I’ve thought that being a lunch lady would be an ideal job for me: I love kids, I love food, I love “mother’s hours.” What’s not to like? So I applied for every school cafeteria opening I could find on Martha’s Vineyard months before we landed here. Needless to say, I was unsuccessful.
Fast forward to last Friday and you would have found me at the regional high school cafeteria spooning what was called “stir fry” into thin white cardboard serving dishes. There were more than a few students who asked for no veggies. (Sorry about snitching.) What a fantastic day. Seriously. The staff was unbelievable and I noted immediately that they had little to no body fat. You’re on your feet for five hours while you do this job. I’m used to sitting for ten hours on publication day at newspapers. I nearly lost a couple of toes by the time I got home. I had no feeling in my feet at all and I was pretty sure amputation was the next step. I went to bed at 8:30 p.m. and that was after spending the entire afternoon on the couch.
I like to mix it up so I found myself midweek at a semi-therapeutic horse facility working on a freelance feature story. There were four little girls there who managed to put a halter on horses that I was afraid to touch, and then they lead them around. Finally someone showed me that I could let one of the horses sniff the back of my hand and she wouldn’t lop it off with her big ol’ horse teeth. Sometimes I truly am an idiot.
By the time I left the place I knew the names of all three horses and I wondered, to myself of course, could they carry a 200-pound woman? They didn’t look that big. Maybe I should take up elephant riding instead.
As if that wasn’t enough of a wild week, I just ended it by getting a manicure with my daughter Cate. We live on Martha’s Vineyard so we figured a $50 manicure was about right, so I suggested Cate pay. She’s the only one out of the two of us with a real job. She agreed only because I’ve managed to raise all of my children with a strong measure of Catholic guilt, even though they never go to mass.
So we get there and as soon as we walk in the door we notice that the place is about the size of a walk-in closet. The other thing we picked up on is that there was no talking allowed. The only two people talking were the ones who worked there and neither one of us could understand them.
I tried to focus on choosing from the 4,000 colors of nail polish that they had and settled on a calming soft pink. Cate handed me a hot pink reminiscent of the color on those Troll toys everyone used to buy.
“Noooo!” I said. She shushed me immediately because everyone in the 4 x 6 room turned to look at me when I spoke.
I pulled myself together and watched amazed while the two staff managed to serve six customers at the same time. One would file my nails and then leap up and the other one would slip into the chair and take over and trim my cuticles.
I find it hard to make clever conversation with someone I won’t likely ever see again, so I remained silent. I think Cate was freaked out by this. She had the female nail attendant and being Cate, she managed to chat the whole time her nails were being done. And, her nails look about a thousand times better than mine. I liked mine better before they put the polish on. I should have gone full throttle. I should have had the gel French manicure.
The biggest surprise was when we checked out and I found out my little pink nail job only cost $22. Isn’t that always the way when someone else pays? I felt like we should follow it up with a $20 hamburger someplace.
What a week though. Hairnets, horses, and hangnails. Wow.