February 16th 2015
Story originally written and experienced: October 5th 2011
“Well? Do you want to explain yourself?”
The Vice President of Calvin Klein was looking right at me.
And the rest of the office was too.
I was embarrassed.
Moments before, I was minding my own business.
As an unpaid intern. Sitting at my desk stationed in a walkway between the celebrity fitting room and the full office on the other side.
Typing the things I was supposed to type. Doing the things I was supposed to do.
And the next thing I knew, there were startling accusations being echoed by my boss.
“OLIVE. WHERE ARE YOU?!”
I sTumBlEd out of my chair and stood up as straight as I could.
“Yes? Yes! I’m right here.”
I went there.
“Well, do you want to explain yourself?”
Truth is. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to be explaining. Which. Was far and away.
The very worst part.
Because the Vice President of Calvin Klein was now looking right at me, waiting for an answer.
And the rest of the office was too.
“I um…was there something I was supposed to do…or?”
Jennifer inhaled s l o w l y. Her bright blonde hair slicked back in her typically-tight ponytail. As her hands rested on her standardly-steamed dress.
“The printer, Olive. It’s out of ink and paper. And you haven’t done anything about it.”
I was completely perplexed:
My expected duties had never been delegated or demanded in regards to the printer. Cupcake runs, sure…but the printer partaking? Never.
And I could feel the
from the right
side of my
As my 2 supervisors
sat there realizing
they had forgotten
to tell me that
that was something
I was supposed to do.
They didn’t step in.
They decided to watch instead.
“I’m um. I’m so sorry. I didn’t realize that needed to…be done. I’ll fix it right away.”
“I shouldn’t have to be telling you things like this. You should already know. You should be keeping a watch. And now? NOW I have to reprint EVERYTHING to the other printer on the other side of the floor.”
She whipped her ponytail around >>> jetted into her office. And slammed the door.
Everyone was staring at me.
I was embarrassed.
My supervisors said nothing.
I guess they were embarrassed too.
I spent the rest of my workday sHuFfLiNg through filing cabinets in search of toner, letter-sized paper (a hard xanax) and more.
And spent the rest of that night, catching up with Leah over cookies and coffee at a local cafe:
“What?! She freaked out THAT MUCH over a printer?”
“Yeah. She freaks out about a lot of things. She was so upset.”
“Well, what did you say?”
“I told her I would fix it…but…I was just so confused by it all.”
“Um, maybe because it wasn’t your responsibility? I mean your supervisors didn’t even tell you you were in charge of watching the printer.”
“Well yeah, exactly, I was confused by that, but I was mostly confused by her reaction.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean…it’s a printer. No one who is truly happy with their life would have that obscene of a reaction…about a printer…I mean she’s a super successful woman doing super successful things, so it’s hard to imagine anyone with her status would be anything less than happy but…she’s like that every day. She yells, stomps and overreacts. Every. Single. Day.”
“Man. That’s crazy. Actually that reminds me of this book I read recently. It was called- “
I couldn’t remember the name of the book. Or even the author. The residue from my lingering feelings spilling over as Leah began to speak next. But what I did remember, was taking a sip of the chai I ordered, just in time to hear her say this:
“So in this book there were two theoretical people. First there was Jane who made $100,000 a year and worked 40 hours a week, and then there was John who made $140,000 a year and worked 80 hours a week. And then the book did this whole breakdown about the amount of happiness the two of them had. How much time they spent with their family and friends, doing hobbies, sleeping, eating something nice etc. And then they talked about how much they even liked their job. A lot? A little? An okay amount? Anyway, in the end, Jane had $40,000 less in her bank account every year. But 40 more hours every week to do the things that kept her sane, spend time with the people who made her feel good and it gave her that much more energy to want to work her workday. And basically what it came down to was: $40,000 or 40 hours? What’s more worth it?”
I felt oddly connected to what she said.
Only because I could see it living, breathing and screaming by a printer in front of my very eyes.
I would walk into work, and I could see Jennifer
P-a-c-i-n-g >> back and << F-o-r-t-h
In her office. Yelling at someone for something. No stories to tell from the weekend. Or her birthday. Because she was constantly consumed with exploding at any sign of a mistake or misunderstanding.
And I remembered thinking, as we both stood by that printer on that Wednesday, October 5th 2011:
I’m happier than you.
I’m unpaid. Much lower in the rankings. My clothes aren’t as nice, and they’re certainly not steamed. But. I think I’m happier than you.
It wasn’t the first time I thought that there. This was a pent up epiphany I had. Started on my first day when I walked in and everyone was wearing black but I was wearing turquoise. No one told me of the assumed dress code. And I could see some people laughing at me throughout the day while I wore my colorful mistake. I didn’t care. Not really. Because I felt better being the girl in turquoise than the person who cared about the color of it.
And then the feeling continued about a month or so later when I went into the kitchen one day, where the company offered complimentary juice and I decided to pour myself a glass. No pulp.
I threw up 3 minutes later.
And when I went back to the fridge to investigate, I realized that the complimentary juice, assumed to be replaced on a daily basis, had expired 8 months ago and not a single person knew.
When I told my supervisors in hopes they’d give a heads up to the other employees, Amanda looked at me straight in the face in all seriousness and said,
“Did you throw up because of the juice? Or because the idea of the juice made you throw up?”
“Okay. I’ll rephrase. Did you throw up in the bathroom? Or did you make yourself throw up in the bathroom?”
“…The juice expired 8 months ago. Trust me, there was nothing voluntary about any of this.”
“Just thought I’d ask.”
My boss asked me if I was bulimic. I didn’t care. I guess I realized I’d rather be the girl throwing up in the bathroom due to outdated juice, than the girl who’d automatically assume otherwise.
And then after the day by the printer…
I think that’s when I knew.
Leah and I paid our check. Hugged each other. Put another date in the books and
And on my way home I got to thinking and I got to thinking a lot. About how
Money really can buy happiness.
But only if you spend it well.
Yes. The quantity of it—is great. Big job titles—are great. Trading it in for fancy things—is great.
I can’t deny that. And I never will.
Then I’d just have paper.
Not much to look forward to, lower endorphins and a pile full of replaceable things.
And regardless of if I had 40 free hours a week or even just 4, if I wasn’t spending them on things that felt good—hot showers, long naps, good movies, fun people, a great snack—
Then I’d just have wasted time.
Along with less reminders of things to be grateful for, a habit of cycling through stressful things, resulting in an edgy attitude that would make me freak out over expired juice, miscolored blouses…or even printers too.
And to that I say:
Make money. Work hard. Strive high. And kick ass.
But don’t forget to:
Choose yourself. Your endorphins. Good company. And a sporadic adventure too.
As often as you can.
Because if you can find that balance? And link it with the way you live life?
Then can consider your time, money and happiness officially