Checked Out: Cinderburg Part 46

At lunchtime the same day of the branch’s second gun scare, I sat in the break room with Quinn and a few others, feeling numb and detached from everyone and everything. After the excitement of the morning, the rest of the day seemed tame in comparison. I munched away on a banana and turned the pages of my latest book, trying to direct my thoughts away from how desperately I wanted to escape what had become my life, when my phone went off.

Much the same as almost everyone else today, most of the phone calls I receive are from telemarketers or people posing as student loan officials, calling to let me know immediate action is about to be taken against me. As I have paid back all my student loans, I know they’re lying. And as a result, I dubiously look at my phone when I see unrecognizable numbers.

But I had been spending months applying for jobs. Perhaps I had finally made some progress and it was a call for an interview.

Doubtful.

With a sigh, I answered it, expecting an automated message.

“Hello?”

“Hello, I’m trying to reach C.”

“This is her. How can I help you.”

“Hello. I’m with Bells Largo Financial Planning. I was given your resume recently and we’d like to speak with you about a job opening here. Are you available for an interview this week?”

I launched out of my chair, sending my book and part of my banana flying. I needed privacy and fast. I shoved my feet into my shoes, which I always kicked off for my lunch break so I could curl up into my chair, and bolted out of the break room and into the staff conference room.

“Yes!” I said, sounding winded from my rushing, “Yes, I’m available.”

“Great, what time?”

Thinking of an annoying children’s meeting coming up in two days where we’d be working through part one of nine story time training sessions (the same training I had been protesting, as my master’s degree had trained me in story time, but whatever), I replied, “I’m free Wednesday afternoon.”

I had plenty of sick leave that would go to waste if I happened to find a new job. I could easily be “sick” that day if I needed to.

We hammered out the details and I thanked the person who’d called. I hung up and stared at the phone, only just then realizing that I had no clue what the job actually was.

I didn’t care. I’d find out in the interview.

And after that morning, I could only feel ecstasy. There was a glimmer of hope that I could actually get out of there.

I called out Wednesday as planned and left for the interview. It went well. I left it feeling like I’d accomplished something pretty great.

In all the years I’ve been applying for and failing at finding jobs, I have always had one prevailing thought: that I look terrible on paper, but I am amazing in person. I’d always argued that my resumes and cover letters were lackluster, even after copious edits and input from experts. But if I could ever get a face-to-face meeting with someone, I’d get the job.

I once said as much to my mother, who responded by saying that made me sound conceited. I mostly was just trying to argue that I made a better impression when talking than any other method.

Wednesday’s interview went really well. I jokingly laughed about agreeing to an interview without ever having asked what job I was actually there for. I met a few people who told me what I would do and talked at length during the interview itself about what I was looking for. I emphasized, in no uncertain terms, that I was looking for a better work-life balance. That I was looking for something that would provide me with more stability and safety than what I had within the library system.

It seemed like the job would provide that.

I returned to work the next day and kept quiet about the fact that I’d had an interview. I didn’t want to jinx myself or my endeavors. I also didn’t want to build my hopes up if they were only going to be dashed by not getting the job.

The next day I opened my work email to discover a message from Lacy.

“C,

Your absences lately need to be addressed. You called out of work on Wednesday, claiming an illness that caused you to miss yet another children’s services meeting. This is the third one that you’ve missed and I can’t help but conclude that you are developing a pattern in avoiding them. This is an expectation of your job and you are required to represent the Cyprus branch at these monthly meetings. By missing this past week’s meeting, you missed an important story time webinar. You will not miss any further meetings.

Furthermore, you were also late to work this past Saturday. I am cracking down on tardiness. I expect all library staff to carry out the responsibility of preparing themselves to arrive to work at the time they are scheduled to be here.

We will discuss this further at our weekly meeting.

Lacy.”

I was livid. Yes, my reason for calling out on that Wednesday hadn’t been for true ill health, but I was allotted sick leave. Surely it was up to me to use it at my discretion, especially when I hardly ever took time off to be sick.

What’s more, she knew there were legitimate reasons for me missing the prior two children’s meetings. For some reason I couldn’t fathom, the system held a meeting the last week in July when summer reading was still in full swing. I couldn’t absent myself from the branch for half a day during our busiest season just so someone could lecture me on how to lead a story time, a practice I had successfully done for 7 years at that point. There hadn’t been a meeting in June. The one in May had taken place before Angie had arrived at the branch, but while Nesca was absent for her mental health treatment. As the only children’s person, I was just supposed to abandon the branch like that?

I was more upset about her calling me out for Saturday. As if I had any control over someone rear ending me on the way to work. Yes, I was already running late, and yes, had I been on time I probably wouldn’t have been rear ended in the first place. But even so, what’s a woman supposed to do in that situation? I have no control over other people’s driving.

But it also hurt.

I was arguably one of the most reliable people at work. I hardly ever called out. I was hardly ever late. Lacy knew just as well as everyone else that I’d just suffered through the week from Hell when she had hardly been there at all. In fact, on the whole, I was at the branch more than she was! I was more reliable than she was too, having been present and handled far more emergency situations at Cyprus than she had, by far.

Who was she to call me out for being late one day and using one of my hard-earned sick days?

The manager, obviously. But this was a really petty hill to die on.

This only increased the heat of the fire that was already lit under me. I was ready to be gone and I wasn’t about to be passive aggressively shamed by a manager who was going to call me out instead of Myron or anyone else who constantly bailed.

A week later, I had an official job offer from Bells Largo, which I accepted immediately. I did not stop to consider if this job was a good fit for me. I could only see how different my life would be if I were to take it. And I was convinced that difference would be better.

The following Monday, I gave official notice.

We’ll explore my final days at Cinderburg during my next few entries.

Until then, I remain…

-C. Quill

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Writing and reading my way through this thing called life.

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C Quill

C Quill

Writing and reading my way through this thing called life.

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