Sew Busy

Over the past week, I’ve gone to a place where I sit and do stuff and get paid. I believe they call it work. Er, a job. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I’ve been working. For money. CASH MONEY! Don’t panic. It isn’t a “real” job and certainly isn’t a career. My friend Karen is in the UK visiting her mom for a month. Before she left, I asked her if, perhaps, the man she was working for at the Chelsea Market location of Artists & Fleas might want someone to fill in for her. She put me in touch with the guy and — voila! — I had work!

He trained me over a quick hour on a Thursday night, then left me on my own. That was a three-hour shift. I worked Friday 10am till 9pm and Monday for the same 11-hour-shift. Tuesday I went in at 10 and was scheduled to leave at 2 but the woman who was supposed to relieve me didn’t show up so I worked till 5. I went in on Wednesday for four hours. I thought I’d be working 11 hours Thursday, was told he didn’t need me, then received a text Thursday morning asking if I could work that night. I declined. I’d already made plans. And I’d already worked 36 hours in less than a week. That was plenty for someone who’s used to sitting on her ass watching Sons of Anarchy. I know, I know; I shouldn’t have turned down any work. But it was the principle of the thing. Though I’ll admit I felt super guilty. I hate to say no. And he did say he “wasn’t feeling well.” Sigh.

So what am I doing for this guy, you ask? I’m cutting up vintage sheets, which he buys on eBay, ironing the Star Wars and superheroes and Hanna Barbera characters onto Stitch-Witchery stuff, then appliquéing them onto t-shirts. I started out pretty shitty but it didn’t take long till I was sufficiently proficient. I am not, however, much of a salesperson. Over all those hours I only managed to sell six shirts. I didn’t contribute much to his bottom line even if I did considerably bulk up his inventory. And I organized the shit out of his tiny little booth. I counted and stacked every shirt, made note of what was made and what was “unmade” stock, sorted and folded and piled everything by size and color…I got totally OCD with that shit. It kept me busy while I was busy not selling anything.

I was told I’d be given a little “lesson in how to sell” on Wednesday but by the time I got there, the guy had come to the realization that it was, indeed, as slow as I’d said it had been so he didn’t bother sharing any of his salesmanship secrets with me. I am betting it helps that this is his genius idea. Everyone is far more enthusiastic about the shit the springs from their brain than the brains of others. Though, truth be told, I’m equally as lousy selling the shit that springs from y brain… $35 for a t-shirt appliquéd with a segment of a vintage sheet seems a little expensive to me, but then I never pay retail. Guffaw.

I realized something over this past week: I am a hard worker. I am a conscientious employee. Maybe not the best or most compliant or easiest to manage. I definitely work best with some measure of autonomy. And I like to “innovate,” which, in most cases, is frowned upon. I got a little too creative with some of my designs and bossman wants to keep things pretty uniform. Ah well. But I show up on time, I do my best. In fact I hold myself to pretty ridiculous standards. As in total perfection. My problem has always been that I don’t suffer fools gladly. And even bosses can be fools. It has never meant that I don’t respect you (you, meaning bossperson). It just means that I question everything. EVERYTHING. And believe in constant improvement. Maybe I should’ve been one of those people who comes into the workplace and turns the joint upside down to make it better. I dunno…

One of my favorite jobs was with Penthouse Forum. My boss there thought I hated it, which couldn’t have been further from the truth. I was just always…dissatisfied. Not with her or the job but with the status quo. I wanted things to improve. More readers. New ideas. Better. BETTER! My direct boss on DPW (Burning Man’s Department of Public Works, which has been employing me seasonally for the past nine years) gets me. It’s rare. I’m incredibly grateful for him as well as for Burning Man. It’s an organization that understands — actually encourages — innovation and change. I spend less money. Get the same shit done in a shorter amount of time. Hmm. Maybe I’m just a shitty capitalist. Or cog.

Anyway, if you were wondering where I went after my long-awaited return to the blogosphere — which I know you were! — that’s what’s been keeping me busy and rolling in the Benjamins. Er, Washingtons… Lalala…spring is right around the corner. Maybe more people will be buying t-shirts next week!

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