I was working at this independent pet store for almost four years, slowly whittling down my hours from full-time to four hour days with no weekends. Don’t ask me how I got away with that. And don’t ask me how I managed to be a stone cold cunt to at least three customers a day without getting fired. I’m generally a nice person, but I wasn’t built for retail. I have an almost pathological sense of justice, and making assholes feel small was the only thing that brought me joy some days, until I started taking antidepressants nine months ago. As soon as my life started going better, it got a bit easier to be nice to people who didn’t deserve it, which really sucks the fun out of customer service if you ask me.
It wasn’t a bad job, it just was a job for a twenty-two-year-old, like my boss. For a while, I think the twenty-somethings I worked with thought my whole aging party girl thing was cool, but that stopped when I started trying to give them advice all the time. Last year, I began my exceptionally unpopular “it gets worse” project, in which I attempted to impress upon my young co-workers that literally everything is way more terrible and difficult as you get older. This is only partially true, as the crystal clear sense of self-awareness needed to realize this and lack self-consciousness needed to say it aloud is itself a nice perk of aging. That’s something everyone needs to find out for themselves, but I’d hoped to teach them a few things from the mistakes I made in my twenties.
I told them that even though it’s tempting, never go out drinking when you’re feeling sad, lonely, or angry. Unless you want to come home from the bar and burst into the pink, ruffly, floral-scented bedroom of your sleeping roommate, screaming, accusing her of trying to steal all your friends. (She was actually a very lovely person, but beautiful and highly heterosexual, meaning my predatory butch lesbian friends couldn’t get enough of her, and I was jealous.) Or also you might wake up with a bruise under your chin from where it rested on the window frame of the passenger side of your car door as intermittent eruptions of tears and vomit flowed down your face, steaming in the still-dark January morning, because it had just been New Year’s Eve and there was tequila and you’d watched your beloved grandfather take his last breath only two days ago. On that note, I also told them they need to get a therapist like now, in their early twenties, before they pile up too much baggage and meet their soulmate then try to ruin it all the time. I told them they should save some money from these, their first hard-earned paychecks, and not spend it all on CDs, which is advice I’m proud to say reached each and every one of them. I told them they should do recreational drugs now, because by the time they’re my age, a third of their friends will be in AA, half will have kids and be judging them, and the rest will either be really fun, questionable decision makers like me or be in their twenties, and then they’ll have to give those kids this same lecture.
Anyway, I wouldn’t consider myself a bad employee. It’s just that I don’t like being at a certain place at a certain time and doing things someone else wants me to do for people I don’t really like, with no benefit to myself other than a paycheck, which I understand is the general premise of unskilled labor.
Once, a man came up to the cash register with his baby, whom I already envied because he had a cute outfit on, super long eyelashes, and a father who didn’t pretend to move to another country to get away from him, which I hear is pretty nice. The man pointed at me in my hideous, scratchy blue polo shirt and said, “she works at the pet store! She sees doggies all day. That must be a fun job!” I smiled and pinched the baby’s fat, pink foot, looking into his gleaming eyes. “Stay in school, kid.” The father gave me a strange look, laughing just a little as he whisked his kid away.
I didn’t go to college because, although I liked learning, I didn’t like school that much, and back when I finished high school it was still all the rage to be a lazy genius. No one told me that the things that make people think you’re awfully clever in your teens and twenties don’t exactly translate to your thirties, and that eventually all the lazy geniuses either get their shit together and get a Masters Degree, or get a government job, or learn to play an instrument and sell cocaine out of their parents’ back houses.
My mom doesn’t have a back house. She has a two-bedroom home deep in the suburbs, and I live in one of those bedrooms, rent free. I’ve moved out twice, but ended up back there again six years ago and never left. This is one of the few things in my life that I feel ashamed to talk about. And that's saying a lot, because I recently Snapchatted myself being scolded mid-rip by my bikini waxer for waiting so long to come see her.
The worst is having to tell people this, and their polite, reasoned reactions juxtaposed with wide, terrified eyes darting left and right for the exit, as if failure to launch is contagious. Sometimes they say, “that’s ok!” before I’ve even indicated that I feel any type of way about it. Sometimes they say, “well, it’s cultural,” which is very worldly of them, but to be honest we’re not really those kind of Mexicans. It’s also super stressful to go to 90s dance nights with my friends, because inevitably TLC’s “No Scrubs” will play, and during the part where Chilli sings, “if you live at home with your mama/oh yes, son, I’m talkin’ to you,” I always feel like I have to look at them reassuringly. Everything’s okay, guys. I know she’s not talking to me. I know I’m not a scrub, it’s fine. I know. I know I'm not a scrub.
Amanda-Faye Jimenez is a Blaxican queer fat femme dyke writer and performer. She has performed at SORORITY at The Hammer Museum, the Radar Productions Queer Readings Series, and the McDonald's in Silverlake next to her favorite gay bar. She was repeatedly referred to as "very engaging" by the interview panel that ultimately rejected her from the 2017 PEN Emerging Voices Fellowship, so even though she made it to the final thirteen, she's not exactly sure if that's a compliment. She can be found engaging her followers and making semi-relatable memes at @failureprincess on Instagram and Twitter, facebook.com/amandafaye, and amandafayejimenez.com.