I used to drive to Van Nuys every weekday morning.
Transplanted palm trees craned their bronto necks over the anxious cars fitting and starting their way through corridors of circa-1967 stucco apartment buildings, storefront attorneys, and corner malls.
It was depressing as hell.
I missed New York. I felt like I was on an alien planet, and I was driving to my job in the Purchasing Department at a Community Health Center.
I’d just returned to work there after doing a show. They welcomed me back because Alma, the best supervisor in the history of hated jobs, put in a good word for me. Thanks, Alma.
Data entry, spreadsheets and inventory: not listed on my special skills.
I had a severe case of temp-to-permanent-job-itis, and I’d just lived in the behind-the-footlights-live-audience world again.
Dispatches to Costco where I squared off in shopping cart chicken jousts with badass Armenian matrons were not my jam anymore. And how many styrofoam cups and powder creamers do you NEED, Independent Living Program???
Like I told you, I was in Purchasing, and that meant inventory. And that meant barcodes.
They wanted me to create a way to track all the desks, credenzas, and bunk beds with these barcodes.
And there was this one company they wanted to use. They made scanners.
I learned that the owner of said company was in thick with one of the headiest Center honchos, so okay. But their product didn’t include any portable thingy that you could track clutter with.
When I asked my supervisor how they proposed I carry the hundreds of stickered desks, filing cabinets and meeting tables into the room where the fixed-in-place scanner was, my questions went vigorously unanswered.
I suggested three other products we might use (with portable scanny thingies). Answer was no.
No problem. I’m an actor. I know rejection.
I’m also a Southerner, so I have a black belt in passive aggression.
I just stopped working on the project.
Add to that some long lunch breaks and early departures for auditions I chose not to mention to my supervisor.
Time passed. Alma called me and said in the kindest way you can imagine, “We won’t be needing your services anymore.”
It was fair. I was a shitty employee. Sorry, Alma.
I still don’t know who they got to carry the desks into the room where the immovable barcode scanner was.
You know the square peg round hole thing, right?
I’d been more of an oval peg at the Center for over two years. Just rounded enough to think, I can make this work. Maybe even full time. Yeah, this is fine.
I was good at answering phones. I’ll say that. I’m friendly as hell.
What about you?
Is there an oval peg situation you’re malleting into a round hole?
Now look, sometimes there’s a titanium quadrilateral rod that’ll never fit in any kind of you-shaped compartment, and sometimes you just have to make it work for a lil while. That ill fit might be paying your bills for a while. Get your food and shelter.
And what I’m saying is this–that is terrific information! The wrong peg-and-hole combo, that is.
I learned a ton at the Community Health Center.
It showed me many character flaws. And I saw a lot of people do excellent work every day with little fanfare. Not everybody needs applause when they key in the correct inventory code.
What is your oval peg? You’ll probably know immediately. If you don’t have one, congrats for now!
If you do, it’s a perfect opportunity to get out your THINKS cap and take a look-see.
If you missed this brain-freeing tutorial including an acronym and a MUSIC MAN reference, you can check it out here.
Or you can just keep reading and celebrate that you’re here right now.Woooooooo!
You deserve to be on a path that fits you, a road that delights you–with less injury attorney offices and more theatres and independent bookstores, and a trail that helps you serve in ways that excite and fulfill you.
You know how I know? This is how.
Think about a little kid you love. Or maybe just like. Or just make up a kid.
See them in your brain. Do they deserve to be on the path that fits them? Do you want them to find the road that fulfills them and helps them serve in the most fulfilling way?
So, I want that for you. I want that for me. I want MY kids to see their dad doing that.
That’s why I’m writing this letter to you right now.
If you’re holding an oval peg right now, woot! You see it.
It makes you start looking for a round one. You may just need to return that oblong hanger to Lowe’s so someone else can buy it. Their return policy is super flex.
Your turn–please please comment and tell me about your planned peg exchange.
Or…what was a time when you realized that peg just wasn’t that into you, and you had to go dig out that receipt?
Por qué comment? Porque I love to hear from you.
I learn from you, and I have a dreeeeam of sharing your stories with this community (with your go-ahead, of course) so that everyone can be living their round dowel best lives.
Stay tuned in the next few weeks because I’m going to tell you about a very recent peg swap in my life.
You had no idea you were going to read the word peg so many times today.
Always remember repeat peg reader, there is only one you, and folks need to hear the story that only you can sing.
ps For reals, I wanna know about a time when you got the lightbulb that this was just not a fit for you and what you did. This last year-plus has been an unmatched time to look at that, right? I wanna know what you’ve learned and what you’re looking at ahead. This article in The Atlantic was really interesting re: all that, too.
pps if you missed the video when I break down my silly yet very effective way to loosen up my brain darts, just click here and have a cup of tea for ten minutes. You’ll be kinder for it, and you’ll also find out what questionable choice I made with ice cream one time.