Going Postal: Day 1

postman.gifDAY 1: There’s Always Work at the Post Office

From March of 2000 until August 2006 I was the screen editor for Willamette Week, the number one alt-weekly in city of Portland, and the second biggest paper in the state of Oregon. During that time I viewed and reviewed thousands of movies, edited hundreds of reviews by other writers, and in 2002 I started the Longbaugh Film Festival, an event put on by the paper. For the first four years of Longbaugh I did it as a second, nearly full-time job, for which I received no pay. When I stepped down from my position of screen editor, the paper’s owners created a paid position for me running Longbaugh, which is where I was employed until April 2007. Following this year’s festival, my bosses decided to pull the plug on Longbaugh, and after seven years of working for the same company, primarily as a writer and editor, as well as the creative director for one of the largest film festivals in the city, I was let go. Now I work at the post office.

Today was my first day as an employee of the United States Postal Service. It is only a temp position, and one I entered into only because I needed the dough. Still, it is good honest work that pays me way more than my job at the newspaper ever did. But what I find both amusing and disturbing are the reactions people have had when I tell them what I’m doing for a living.

Some people act as if this position is beneath me—like I’m too talented of a writer to belittle myself by sorting mail from 5 pm to 5 am at the post office. And while I appreciate those people’s belief in my talents, I don’t think that way. I was raised by my mother and my grandparents, all of whom worked very hard to keep a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and food on the table. My grandfather owned his own business—cleaning up after other people. His company cleaned both businesses and homes, which basically made him a janitor for much of his adult life. My uncle Tommy worked for him for many years, and I recall one time, for a reason I can no longer remember, I went with Tommy one night when he had to clean a bank after hours. I was about six years-old at the time, and I remember when he went in the bathroom to clean it, someone had literally shit all over the place. I watched Tommy clean all the feces up, because that was his job, and I remember thinking that I hoped to never have to do anything like that when I grew up.

My uncle Douglas worked for a company that cleaned septic tanks, and on bad days he would come home smelling like shit. Two of my childhood friends had fathers who were garbage men. My neighbor across the street was the janitor of my elementary school, and the woman who lived a few doors down worked in the school cafeteria.

The point I’m trying to make is that I was raised in a working class environment, surrounded by people who did the jobs most people don’t want to do. Ever since I took my first job at 16, washing dishes, I have had occasion to have the sort of jobs other people don’t want. I have also had the jobs people dream of having. And I have given thanks and cursed both with equal measure at times, because when push comes to shove, there will always be times when work is work.

There have been other people who have reacted to my new employment status by saying things like, “Well, it’s about time you got a real job.” One person in particular is a very close friend, and let me just say for the record, “Go fuck yourself.”

While some people may not consider being a writer or a film critic or the creative director of a film festival to be a real job, the fact of the matter is all are real jobs. While I was screen editor, my average work week was 50 to 60 hours long. When I began putting together the festival at the same time as working as screen editor, I worked for four months straight with no days off. And I did that for five years. So anyone who thinks I have not had a real job—and you all know who you are—kiss my fat, hairy, black ass.

Now I find myself at the post office—at least for the next month or two. My shifts are twelve hours each, and I’ve been told I may work as many as six days a week. Shit, that’s a fucking cake-walk compared to running a damn film festival by myself.

Because of my schedule, I probably won’t be posting that many film reviews for a while. But my plan is to write something everyday about my experiences at the post office.

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2 Responses to “Going Postal: Day 1”

  1. jamiesrich Says:

    I’m temping at the moment, too. Took a job at a bookstore for the holidays. We all do what we have to. I’m sure when we get closer to the holidays and people start acting the way they act, I’m going to be envious of being locked away all night and not having to engage in customer service.

    By the way, POPGUN is out this Thursday.

  2. blorvak Says:

    Hey, it worked for Bukowski!

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