During the summer between my first and second year of university, I absolutely positively could not find a job.
I began my search early and applied to a ton of student jobs that seemed to apply to my field of study. After weeks of silence, I turned to the career centre and newspaper ads, applying to anything that loosely reflected my interests.
Two weeks later I was applying to gas stations and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The next week I applied to a cheese factory. Finally, I landed a position as a housekeeper at a hotel.
After my first day ferociously scrubbing bathtubs and hopelessly trying to get the bed sheets straight, I came home and cried.
On day two, I accidentally sucked up part of the bedspread with the vacuum, leaving a giant burn mark on both the bed and my reputation. I went home and sobbed over family dinner.
Day three saw me leaving work two full hours after the majority of my co-workers since their hands were apparently able to work significantly faster than mine. I got in the car and – surprise surprise – cried.
Finally, I got into the swing of things. I learned how to make the perfect bed in five minutes flat and knew how to most efficiently remove all the hair from the bathtub. I would finish quickly and waltz out of the hotel at the same time as my other co-workers (and by that I mean silently trail behind them since nobody wanted to talk to me).
Despite my new-found skills, however, there was one thing about this job that constantly kept me miserable. I was hungry all the time. Nobody realizes how draining it is to clean a room and after a long hour of scrubbing bathroom floors my stomach was screaming at me.
One day, as I was preparing to dust the television cabinet, I found my relief. I picked up a seemingly empty pizza box to throw in the recycling when I heard something sliding around inside. I opened it up. Cold pizza crust. It looked like gold.
I couldn’t stop staring at it. I looked to the left. I looked to the right. I looked back down at the pizza.
It was hard, cold and impossibly chewy, but it was beautiful. I would’ve jumped on the bed if I hadn’t just made it so look so flawless. I smiled to myself, overjoyed at my little secret and the fact that I didn’t have to listen to my stomach growl for the rest of the afternoon.
I was well aware of how utterly horrifying my actions were, but I couldn’t care less. I was miserable, and if lowering my standards and eating other people’s scraps was what it had come to, so be it.
It only got worse from there.
Cold fettuccine alfredo in a styrofoam carton. Half a cookie sitting beside the TV. It was gross but it was necessary.
A few weeks later, through the help of the local employment centre, I found a job as a secretary at a neighbouring employment centre. Before you could say “Tony Danza,” I had written up my two weeks notice and was in the car, squealing my tires all the way to the hotel.
“I hear you’re leaving us,” my co-worker said the following day. I couldn’t even mask my smile as I nodded that yes, I was.
As I walked out of those hotel doors for the final time, I had a skip in my step and a smile in my heart. I laughed out loud. I almost parkoured the side of the building. I ran to the car and happily slammed the door on both my housekeeping days and the practice of eating strangers’ leftovers.
I was so much better than day-old pizza crust. Hot-N-Ready from here on out.