I am a non-conformist, an outsider. I have always been drawn to weirdness, oddities, and esoteric ideas. I love coming across a book or movie that blows my mind and gives me a new way to look at the world. Many of the best moments of my life come from those discoveries that shake me to my core and fill me with excitement about being alive, despite the always present pain of being a sensitive human existing in an often ugly, terrifying world. I tend to shy away from what’s popular or what’s “in” at any given moment. No matter how many people get excited about the latest cinematic superhero offering, I am never interested in seeing it, and the few times I have I’ve been miserable trying to get through it. I like this aspect of myself, take pride in my taste, and am glad to know when I like something and when I don’t. The way I’m certain that I’m into something, be it a film or a person, is simply interest. If I’m digging it I pay attention and become absorbed. When I don’t care, I zone out even when I’m really trying to focus. This is a blessing and a curse. There are parts of life that require attention even if they’re super boring, and I don’t “get” things that are important, things that require a fundamental understanding.
I often beat myself up for not retaining what I’m told I need to know. When an explanation is given, I pretend I understand because of my fear of being thought of as stupid. That’s my worst worry, that someone will think of me as stupid and/or boring. The irony is that my experiences have taught me that people who might think that of me are the very people that I generally experience as stupid and/or boring themselves. I see it now, as I continue to develop more and more confidence in my intuitive skills as a positive thing; to get someone out of the way before any more of my time is spent.
I once got a job at a cute, trendy café in downtown Manhattan. I was nervous about taking on this responsibility but intrigued at the same time. I walked around the neighborhood, getting excited about where I would soon be spending my time, imagining the funky bookstore I would frequent after a long day of making cappuccinos and serving fancy croissants to all the cool city folk. The morning came for my first day, where I would be trained do whatever it is that it takes to run a coffee shop. A man took me over to the machine that made the coffee: espressos, cappuccinos, macchiatos, etc. He ran through it a couple of times then asked me to do it. I froze. I didn’t know where to begin. I asked him to please show me again. He was nice and repeated the process. I felt his frustration (as well as my own) but assumed it would fade as the day went on. He gave up and told me to help with something else in the meantime. A couple of hours later the lunchtime crowd came in, and the place was swarmed. The manager came over to me and said, in the midst of this influx of energy, “wrap the sandwiches in wax paper and aluminum foil after they’re made by the guy who makes the sandwiches fresh to order”. She handed me one, and when I wrapped it she said “no, not like that, let me show you.” After two more attempts she glared at me with disgust and anger and fired me. Just like that. I saw it in her face: I was too much of an imbecile to wrap a sandwich properly.
I left the place and burst into tears. I was hysterical. I couldn’t contain my self-loathing, not being able to accomplish this simple task. An animal would never fire me for this. An animal would never condemn so quickly and easily, ever. This event took place about 15 years ago, and now I can laugh at it. I was so negatively impacted at the time, but now it’s a memory of little importance other than it being so memorable.