My last hoorah as a working girl was in the spring of 2012, soon after I finished the 6-week outpatient program at the Oakview Behavioral Health Center.
Little did I know that I would be there again for 2 extended inpatient stays just 3 short years later.
I thought that I was better after the outpatient program, but all I had really accomplished was just putting a band-aid on the issue.
I had landed my dream job at a large daycare center, a modified building that was an elementary school back in its prime. The daycare had 300 children in attendance. I had initially applied for the dishwasher/server position, but once the owner found out that I was a trained cook, she offered me the head cook/kitchen manager position instead.
She was planning on starting over from scratch by firing one or the other ladies who held each position. She wanted me to take over for the inept cook, who didn’t know her ass from a hole in the ground, according to my new boss.
What kind of professional business owner would talk smack about their employees to a new hire?
But any off kilter vibes that I had were shoved to the back-burner. I wanted this job so badly that I could taste it. The pay rate was more than I had ever made in my entire working career. Yes, it was a huge responsibility, but the owner had promised to help me with anything that I needed. She even sent me to the Cleveland Board of Health to renew my Servsafe certification. (It expired again in 2015. I have no need for it now.)
But I can still tell you how to properly handle and store food.
It didn’t take me long to learn the routine, getting familiar with the industrial sized kitchen, ordering and instantly butting heads with the truly lazy woman who I was supposedly in charge of, the dishwasher/server. She didn’t listen to a word that I said. She never helped me with prep work or putting stock away. I couldn’t stand her and her feelings for me were mutual.
Most of the teachers didn’t seem to like me much (some of them were still loyal to the old cook.) I did manage to make a couple of friends eventually, but honestly, I felt uncomfortable most of the time. I was still struggling with my depression and anxiety (although I was just fine, thank you) so my ability to socialize with coworkers wasn’t up to snuff.
The cooler was always stocked…with alcohol. My new boss was an alcoholic. She’d come into the kitchen a few times a day and have a couple of drinks. While she drank, she’d bitch to me about the other employees, her kids or her asshole husband. I’d nod my head in mock agreement while I prepared mass quantities of macaroni and cheese, trying not to judge her too harshly. We all needed to vent sometimes.
Yet, it still bothered the hell out of me, that this lady who was in charge of the safety of children for 12 hours a day was lit like a Christmas tree most of the time.
The summer camp program was coming up soon. That meant that I would have at least an extra 100 kids to cook for. I was freaking out. I had questions, but each time that I brought it up to my boss, she’d blow me off. We’d have a meeting next week, she’d tell me, but it never happened.
I did my best to ready myself and the kitchen for the big day on my own. I had spent extra time organizing everything, making sure that I had enough food to feed everyone, finally deciding that I could pull it off without any assistance.
I walked in on that fateful Monday to a huge shock. Over the weekend, my boss had completely rearranged the kitchen to suit her tastes, without my knowledge or approval.
Yes, I was pissed off. I was worse than pissed off, I was fucking livid.
And that’s what finally cracked me like an Easter egg. I walked back out of the kitchen in a huff, out the front door of the building and got into my car. I dialed up my best friend Cheryl while I drove, crying my heart out. She told me to come over to her house, which I did. She had a hot cup of coffee waiting for me and a sympathetic ear.
I had just met her at Oakview the prior December. She had struck up a conversation with me because of my Beatles hoodie and we’ve been besties ever since.
Meanwhile, my bitch of a prior boss had called me, leaving a long-winded voicemail that I was too shaken up to listen to. Cheryl listened to it for me and gave me the rundown.
I hadn’t prepared properly for summer camp. She had no other choice but to do it all herself. Blah blah. Whatever.
“I tried to ask her for help, but she ignored me!” I told Cheryl.
“I know, bff. This job has been stressing you out since you got it. Fuck her.”
When I told my mom and my husband that I had walked out, they were appropriately upset with me. I had just screwed up everything. Again.
Out of work, no weekly paycheck. I was a complete basket-case, even worse off than last time.
That job was what finally broke me mentally, right good and proper. A couple of failed job attempts later, I finally decided to apply for disability that fall, not knowing while I waited for the powers that be to decide my approval, that the fibromyalgia was planning an uprising.
I started this blog in October of 2012.
I’ve been waiting to write this story until I was ready to admit that I’m still ashamed for not staying that day and defending myself. I just couldn’t handle it, the confrontation that I would have had with my bitch of an old boss who liked to drink on the job. Back in the day, I would have dealt with it the proper way.
You know, by punching her.
No, I’m just joking. (Ha.)
I know now that I had bitten off more than I could chew. Taking on such a massive undertaking, being in charge of a large kitchen like that, with so much responsibility right after a mental breakdown was a stupid decision.
But I did my best, like I always have. Now it’s just a fading memory, a gloomy last chapter of my life before.
I need to finally let it go and writing about it will help me do that, even though it’s still surprisingly painful.