Like many of my esteemed peers, I spent this summer watching my tan fade in an air conditioned holding pen known as an office. To my disappointment, it was nothing like the hit NBC mockumentary sitcom. I did not find the Jim to my Pam, but rather sat across from a 30-something plaintiff’s attorney named Evan with whom I infrequently discussed my weekend plans. Somewhat comfortable in my ergonomic office chair, I frequently refreshed Instagram and completed my tasks with requisite urgency til I deemed it close enough to 5 p.m. to clock out (which, depending on my fluctuating audacity, could be anywhere from 3:30 to 4:54, since I usually factored the elevator ride into my hours).
I came in on the first day with an uneasy grasp of the concept “business casual” (which I prefer to call “medium fancy”) and a gratuitous sense of optimism. The week before, I had called to make a time to introduce myself, hand over my uncertified résumé and pitch my “skills.” Unfortunately, appropriate phone etiquette was not one of these said “skills” and I found myself pacing my living room, looking into my dog’s eyes for wisdom as the dial tone echoed. Things were going medium well until the woman on the other end asked what company I was calling from and I panicked and choked out “Uh…myself, Amy Balmuth,” as if I were a veritable corporate entity.
I fell into the pattern of metropolitan life like a regular cog in the capitalist machine. I met my fellow sell-outs for lunch at highly efficient salad spots, spending $15 on mere roughage and then complaining about spending $15 on mere roughage. I commuted with my fellow urban schmucks, an experience made significantly more juvenile by the fact that I was with my dad. I would randomly exclaim “buy low, sell high!” in situations where it did not apply, because it felt like the corporate thing to do.
As the summer continued and I realized I never really had a tan that could fade in the first place, the glamor of my yuppie lifestyle suffered the same wear and tear as my only appropriate pair of shoes. I did a lot of writing and learning, but so too did I blankly stare at the window washers scaling the building across from me. I exercised my “research skills” (a.k.a googling stuff), but also found myself in internet black holes, once scouring a sex offender database instead of reading anything remotely related to personal injury law. I could no longer bring myself to spend $15 on a salad, so I ate $6 tortilla soup, solo.
Last week, I clocked out for the final time (30 minutes early, for old time’s sake!) and bid a curt, polite adieu to office life. I returned to Colgate grateful for the experience, but happier than ever to get back to the classroom; while long readings and research papers may be draining, Eatery salads are only $7.25 and the commute to class is far more enjoyable.