I just started a new job. I know, I know, I write books and I write this column, but there’s one thing that writing for a living often doesn’t provide: sanity.
Oh wait, I meant health insurance. Because let’s admit it, health is kind of a theme in 2020. Recently, I was in my backyard when I was approached by a murder hornet. I calmly explained that I had not hit my yearly out-of-pocket maximum, and would he be so very kind as to move along to the next person, preferably my neighbor. (Just kidding, Nick. Can I still borrow your lawnmower?)
Anyway, as a writer, I’ve been used to waking up with the sun, typing furiously until I would take a short lunch break to eat thinly sliced apples with artisan cheese and sip a glass of red wine. Then I would leave my house and find a delightful corner café and it would be back to the cacophony of clacking on a keyboard while I waited for Hemingway and Fitzgerald. (I totally spelled cacophony right the first time, because I am a writer.)
OK, no I didn’t. And I rarely wake up with the sun. And my mornings were spent sitting in front of a blank page, and then thinking that doing the dishes would be better than writing, and then catching up on the news would be better than doing the dishes, and did I really need to get out of bed to do any of this, and oh no, now it’s noon and I’ve done nothing. It’s definitely time to get writing. Seriously, seriously, it’s time and — now it’s dark. Too dark to write. Maybe sleep will help. Then, suddenly at 2 a.m. inspiration would hit, and that was when I would write. In fact, it’s 2 a.m. right now.
Apparently normal jobs don’t work that way.
So you can imagine the (quite literal) wake-up call a full-time job with regular hours was. They expect you to get your work done between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. And they expect you to wear something other than pajamas.
Halfway through my first day, I realized my skirt was on inside out. It was another couple of hours before I wondered where I got the skirt in the first place. I had salad for lunch, and afterward I realized I had a piece of lettuce stuck in my front teeth, which is not good when you’re dealing with customers. And this is when what I like to call “the staple incident” happened.
A regular wooden toothpick was too thick to get the darn piece of lettuce out. So, on my desk, I happened to see a staple that had been removed from a packet of papers. I pulled down my mask and wedged the staple in between my front teeth. (Don’t worry. I sterilized it first.)
Success! The piece of lettuce was gone. And the staple was still there. And… it was stuck. I couldn’t get it out. I pulled and pulled and the darn thing wouldn’t come out. That’s when I turned to find a customer at my window.
I smiled with the staple sticking out of my teeth and slowly raised my mask to cover my mouth. The mask got caught on the staple.
“Yeth?” I said. “May I help you?”
You’ll be happy to know I got the staple out without losing a single tooth. I nonchalantly lowered my mask and spit it into the garbage. My co-worker gave me a strange look.
“It was a staple,” I said. “In my teeth.”
“Of course,” she said, confused.
Now each night, I rummage through my closet searching for rogue skirts, especially ones that are inside out. I also have extra skinny toothpicks in my desk drawer, should I meet a felonious leaf of lettuce intent on humiliating me. Oh yeah, bring it on, corporate America.
Brodi Ashton is a New York Times best-selling author who lives in the Salt Lake City area. She’s also an occasional columnist for The Salt Lake Tribune.