Obvious life lessons sometimes take a while to digest.
By Rachel James (Treasurer/Writer)
I started a new job this week. And it sucked.
I haven’t started a new job in two and a half years. I’ve changed projects, sure. Working in commercial theater, it’s very rare that a show lasts more than a few months, so you have new people going in and out all the time. But I’ve been at the same three theaters for two and a half years. Using the same ticketing software, pulling the same reports, filing the same settlements. One of the great things you learn working front of house is that while shows can differ vastly, most fiscal reporting is pretty similar.
By the way, I know how fortunate I am to be employed in this economy.
And to make my living in the arts. I am very lucky. Oddly enough, it still doesn't make change any easier.
Day one was horrendous. I showed up and ended up doing a lot of set up that I thought would already be done. I couldn’t pull reports I needed. I couldn’t answer producers’ questions. I couldn’t sell tickets! I went home feeling like I’d failed.
On the subway platform I heard someone shout my name. I turned around to see a good friend and immediately burst into tears. Probably not the best show of bravada, but I didn’t know what else to do. She gave me a tissue and a hug and whispered, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.”
Day two got better. People in the show and at the theater remembered me and said hello. Everything started getting set up. I could sell tickets! I could begin to form a routine and a system that will make the days easier. I left work satisfied. I had worked through hiccups and set goals for the next day. It would continue to get better.
I like to think I’m good with change. As I age, I figure I should be used to the ebb and flow of life. Instead, I find that I’ve settled into routines. And any shift in those routines freaks me out. I cling to old habits instead of embracing new experiences.
So I’m going to use the good and the bad of this new job as a lesson. I shouldn't be so hard on myself. I can survive change. Things may seem terrible, but if you come back the next day, it usually gets better.
Mr. Bowie, will you help me out here?
RACHEL JAMES is a native New Yorker and theatre baby. Her plays have been produced by The 52nd Street Project and Starfish Theatreworks. She currently makes a living working the various box offices of Off-Broadway.
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