01 December, 2017

Giving It All Up for a Desk Job

The perks of my job in the staff dining hall, where I served dinner to Crossroads' guards and late-working caseworkers, were by all accounts enviable. I got to eat what and however much I wanted (a mixed blessing, come bread pudding nights). My shift was a meager four hours a day, three or four days a week. It paid nearly twice as much as positions twice as coveted. It faced one with no coworkers to have to deal with. Only a crazy person would give it up.

Call me crazy; I took a prison library job on 6 November.

Weirdly, a lot of people think they remember me working in the library before, years ago. I didn't. Even the librarian, when I submitted the application, asked, ''Didn't we offer you a job here once before?" They didn't. Evidently, mine is just one of those faces — library face.

Certain others are surprised that I'd take any position in the library, considering previous complaints about the raging harpies who ran the place. I point out that they're no longer employed here and that the current librarian has yet to turn me to stone with her gaze; I think this will turn out fine. Besides, it's a job — I'm not trying to make friends and influence people.

My position is at the reference/periodicals desk. I hand out World Book volumes, prescription medication guides, and magazines (GQ, Muscle Car, National Geographic Traveler) and newspapers. It's a good gig. My friend Zach and I see each other every afternoon, when our shifts overlap. In between tasks we banter, debate, and collude on strategies legal and writerly.

To judge by the last few weeks, it's work I enjoy. And what philomath wouldn't like having hundreds of hefty, data-rich tomes at his back? On my first day, looking things up for others, I learned all about Aruba, that rottenstone is a silica-rich rock used in metal-polishing, and that Morrissey appears in a hilarious new ad for PETA. It's not Internet access, but it's close enough, for now.

Continuing to look on the bright side of this lifestyle tweak, I was happy to see that, a week after leaving Staff Dining, I lost three and a half pounds. Maybe now I can finally earn those eight-pack abs I've been straining my way toward.

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