Ed. note: “The Miss Jobless Chronicles” is a weekly series written by Caitlin O’Toole.
When you’re un/under-employed, if you let yourself, your day can revolve around TV. I have a “no daytime TV rule” now, which I instigated when I realized I knew by heart the number to Empire Carpet because of their insipid jingle (800-588-2300-EMPIRE!) I also know FAR too much about the Chubb Institute (and have thought about enrolling). Since they all advertise on local daytime TV, I also know every accident lawyer in town — even the ones that only speak Spanish (1-800-ABOGADO!) It was definitely time for me to pull the plug.
I still watch movies, though. I recently had a girlfriend with a Netflix account so I could watch free movies on my computer. My ex — a self-described witch (as in, witch) — finally caught on to the fact that I was still using the service and changed the goddamned password. She probably cast a spell on me, too, and that’s why I’m still unemployed. Bitch.
More often than not, my days revolve around waiting for imaginary checks in the mail and doing dumb errands like going to the post office and the bank.
The Chase bank and post office on my corner are notorious for being slow and full of juicy neighborhood drama. Sometimes, the drama revolves around me and my screwed up finances. Sometimes, it’s a love drama in my mind between me and Maxine, a hot bank teller who I’m convinced is moonlighting as a porn star.
If I have $20 to deposit, I do it in small increments — $5 at a time — so I can go in there as much as possible throughout the day and ogle.
Other times, I am in the bank begging that insufficient funds fees be reversed on my account. They charge $35 even if your account is overdrawn by one measly cent. The bank manager, Mark Zaretsky, was the recipient of my latest mini-tirade. I had been charged $70 for being overdrawn by less than $10.
“You know how Chase’s slogan is ‘the right relationship is everything’? Well this relationship is NOT WORKING FOR ME! I’m going to Citibank.”
I don’t really say that. I fantasize about saying that, and tell people that’s what I said. What I really say is, “I know this doesn’t mean anything to you, but I’m going through some stuff right now and I really can’t afford this. Is there any way you can reverse the fees as a courtesy?”
He informs me that they have been “courteous” more than once in the past year, and that there’s nothing they can do.
“With all due respect, sir, I’m thinking of taking my business elsewhere,” I say, unable to look at him directly.
He doesn’t say so, but I know he’s glad — as my account has been drained since I became unemployed a year and a half ago. Chase isn’t making diddly squat off of me.
I look up and see a “like I give a shit” look in his eyes, but what came out of his mouth was, “Well, Ms. O’Toole, we’re sorry to see you go. But you can’t close your account with a negative balance. You’ll have to even it out somehow.”
“Well, I know you did the best you could. Thank you, sir. Mr. Zaretsky.”
Dumb fucker in a cheap Botany 500 game show host suit.
And then I go home and scour my closets, cupboards, and desk for something to sell on eBay.
My latest trick is putting that the item is “haunted” in the listing. Like, I sold a “Haunted Shrek Chia Pet” for $26.28. People are into haunted things and search for that keyword. Just like people go crazy for ANYTHING with an image emblazoned in it that looks remotely like Christ. Like toast or panes of glass.
My latest thing is selling crappy old jeans. The trick is to put a positive spin on it. You don’t say “crappy” or “old,” you say things like “lovingly destroyed” or “broken in.” I sold three pairs of nasty, haunted old jeans last month and made about $60.
Since I’m always selling shit on eBay, I frequent the the post office right around the corner. It’s drama CENTRAL.
I saw a woman from my apartment building there the other day, she was in tears because someone accused her of cutting in line.
“Can you give me a break? My mother just died,” she sniffled.
“My mother died in 1972,” a older man chimed in, “but you don’t see ME cutting in line.”
The woman became hysterical, cursing at him and sputtering. She went… well, postal.
The rest of us in line try not to snicker, but I feel that slightly uncomfortable pull in my cheeks that you feel when you’re trying not to bust a smile.
Later, I saw her in the elevator and I kinda felt bad for her.
“I’m sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you,” she half-smiled. “That’s very sweet.”
Caitlin O’Toole is a New York City-based writer and editor. A native of Washington, D.C., she began her illustrious journalism career as a Washington Post paper girl. She has since written and edited for Sesame Workshop Digital, Star Magazine, The National Enquirer, Glamour, People.com, Parade.com and Washington’s City Paper. Her work has also been featured on Fox News, ABC, MTV and VH1. She lives in Chelsea with her two cats, Lucy and Ethel. She can be reached for work at her LinkedIn page.