Spider Blob Mascara (and Other Employment Concerns)

27 Jun

ink blot pic

Everyone knows that a person’s brain is composed of several parts, but that a person’s mind has only two: the front, and the back.

Similarly, everyone knows that the two most important considerations on the first day of a new job are (in this order): 1. What you are going to bring for lunch and snacks, and 2. Your new job, new you look.

These two considerations exist in the front. Anything else – like transportation details – is relegated to the back, next to memories of that time you locked your baby sister outside of a hotel room, naked, and that text message from your landlord, telling you your rent is seven weeks late.

With a highly compartmentalized mind like this, it can be difficult to leave margins for error. You might have 0.5 margins, like a naughty student who’s trying to elongate a paper. Or, if you’re super into color-coded Tupperware and ballpoint pens and “calendars,” you might leave one-inch margins for error.

You might also be an abstract artist, who doesn’t believe in setting margins, and who would prefer to finger paint on walls. That is OK.

But, as an abstract painter who began her FIFTH internship last week, let me usher you this warning: on your first day of work, you will get finger paint on your clothes, in your hair, and a little bit in your mouth.

On my first day of work, I woke up at 6:30AM without hitting snooze. I cleansed myself – physically and emotionally – and then got dressed.

I applied my mascara, only to step away from the mirror and realize that one set of eyelashes looked like a spider, and the other looked like the prongs of a fork. Thinking I could do better, I attempted to touch up my work, only to poke myself directly in the eyeball. (Ladies, can we just agree that on normal days, where we have nothing to do but return books to the library and buy a sandwich, our mascara looks FLAWLESS. But then, when we actually have important things to do, like start new jobs and meet the Queen, we develop rare shaking disorders and poor eyesight, and our eyelashes come out looking like those ink blot designs that therapists use to assess kids who suck on their shirt collars and play with poo.)

Still, not all was lost. I was on time! I had a homemade latte! I had remembered to put on shoes! I was like one of those moms whom people ask, “Dina, how do you do it?” Except I’m not a mom and my name isn’t Dina and if anyone asked me that, I’d ask them why they hadn’t asked the same question to ______, my dedicated husband and life partner, with whom I share equally any and all child rearing responsibilities. (I’m going to be a real picnic at neighborhood potlucks!)

I got to the train station on time for my 7:30AM train. I’ve always driven to work, so I was a bit nervous to be a public transport “commuter.” What do commuters wear? What do commuters eat? Do we feel united under the bond of public transportation? Would there be commuter ice cream socials and book groups? Or, would we silently stare at each other and wonder why we’d never called one of those 1-800 numbers that offer “high-paying” jobs where you can “work from home” in your “pajamas”? (Turns out, commuters do the latter. There are no ice cream socials. Or book clubs. None to which I’m invited, at least.)

I texted my friend, Lindsey, to see if she would also be taking the train to work.

Oh, happy day, she was!

We stood on the platform and chatted in hushed whispers because nobody else seemed to be talking.

We waited for five minutes. Then ten. Then twelve. Then fifteen.

“Wow, the train has been on time literally every other day that I’ve taken it,” said Lindsey.

This is when I knew. This is when I knew that the emotional and physical cleansing, the latte, and the shoes had all just been too-good-to-be-true distractions from the blatant omen that was my spider blot mascara job.

We boarded the train and arrived at the station, thirty minutes late.

I told myself it was no big deal because when people give 9AM as start times, they really just mean 9AM and some minutes, right? Like when people say they’re “twenty plus ten” because it sounds better than thirty…right? RIGHT??

Besides, the shuttle from North Station to my Seaport office would only take a few minutes, and it was conveniently the same shuttle as Lindsey’s!

“Ma’am, I don’t know what building you’re looking for, but you can’t get there from here,” said the shuttle director.

“But, I, I have instructions telling me to take a shuttle and…I…well, it’s all written here…um…”

“Ma’am, you can take the number four bus, which picks up across the street in two minutes.”

And just like that, I was ripped away from Lindsey and was running across the street for the Number Four bus which was about to…

Nope. The Number Four bus would not arrive for another twenty minutes.

During that time, I would feel a giant WHACK against the back of my leg, and would wonder if I had just been bitch slapped by the tail of a T-Rex…only to realize that I’d been smacked by the cane of a blind man (who knew exactly where he was going…)

I finally boarded the bus, only to pay $3 for a $2.10 bus ticket, and to stand in the doorway of the bus for several seconds, stupidly waiting for the floods of change that I was owed from a machine that does not give change.

You have to spend money to make money, right?

The kind bus driver told me where he thought I should dismount, but of course acted like he’d never heard of the address I’d said, and like it was something I’d made up off the top of my head, perhaps inspired by a game of Monopoly I’d played last night.

I wandered along the road, frantically turning my GPS left, right, and upside down, hoping the building would just magically call, “Sophie, I’m over here! Follow the yellow brick road!” (Knowing me, the road would be yellow due to piss, and I’d have to change my shoes, afterward.)

I wandered into a building that I thought might be the right one, only to realize I’d entered a high-stress emergency situation, featuring an older man who couldn’t breathe, and several concerned receptionists.

“Um, hi,” I said, to the one receptionist who didn’t seem directly involved in the situation. “Um, could you tell me where building number twenty-one is located?”


“Just follow that road out there to the end of the building,” the receptionist replied.

“Oh, so it’s in the same building as this?” I asked.


“Yes,” she said. “It’s the same building.”

“Okay,” I said, “But is there an entrance that’s open, because I saw a lot of construction and I wasn’t sure if…”

“INCOMING,” yelled the emergency responders, as they wheeled a giant stretcher into the lobby.”

“Yes,” replied the receptionist, “you’ll see the entrance, it’s all the way down and to the left.”

“Okay, thanks,” I said, as I tried to maneuver around the stretcher and the people pulling out oxygen masks, without seeming like that girl who asks for directions and then leaves a suffocating older man in the lobby of a hotel…

After walking past several construction workers and appealing looking food stations that had me wondering if it was too soon to take an “early lunch,” I found the entrance!

I was late. But, all of the time I’d spent waiting had allowed me the opportunity to fix my eyelashes. And, I opened my calendar to find that lunch had been scheduled by my boss!

And just like that, poof! My front-mind was cleared and ready to be filled with more important concerns and ruminations, like whether or not my dog feels loved or if I’ll one day be a commuter who commutes in sneakers and then changes at the office.

Welcome to the rat race.






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