You got laid off after only a few months at your first salary position in NYC. They asked you to come into a conference room while they packed up your many many snacks at your desk. They gave you your generous severance check and escorted you out with two huge bags of desk snacks.
Months later your severance was well spent and you were tired of walking dogs and writing listicles for $25 per article. Your unemployment insurance was going to be expired soon. You had been living in NYC for a little less than year and nothing was working. You were completely wasting your time at open mics, bar shows, and hooking up with an actual Jersey garbage man. You wanted more, so of course you answered the craiglist ad about employment opportunities at a sex museum.
You showed up wearing your go-to summer dress - tight purple a line you found at a thrift store. In the summer all you ever want is to feel as little as possible on your skin. You wanted to be one of those beautiful effortlessly clean and glamorous women walking around New York City in flowy dresses and expensive sunglasses. Instead you were sweaty, smelly, and your shoes were covered in slimy New York mess.
When you arrived, a skinny man wearing a dog collar greeted you. He escorted you down to a basement where you had an interview with an elegant older woman.
She asked, "What makes you want to work as a museum sex actor?"
You responded, "I need a job right now that pays money. So the money."
She looked at your resume. "A comedian? Tell me a joke."
You hated this interaction. You got it all the time. You had an opportunity to tell your dirtiest joke for a job opportunity and you cheapened yourself like a little joke whore and went for the bait anyway.
"I don't understand flavored condoms." You said.
She was dubious, as everyone rightfully should be when they hear a joke from someone for the first time.
"My butthole doesn't have tastebuds."
You got the job.
You were escorted to a part of the museum with a film screen in the background showing Linda Lovelace gagging on a big ole dick. You sat down at a table with the manager, the man wearing the dog collar. That is where you filled out you tax forms and employee contact information sheet.
You were instructed to "sexually intimidate" museum visitors using a BDSM paddle. You were encouraged to sneak up on them, blow in their ears, and guide them seductively to a clitoris shaped theremin at the end of a mirror maze. You were required to ask tourists to remove their watches before entering the titty bouncy castle. Some of them didn't speak English. Some of them wanted you to spank them with your paddle, but usually it was European dads with their family.
One day you had a team meeting on the floor by the dick rock climbing wall. The manager said, if the employees wanted to, and felt compelled to, you were allowed to have sexual interaction with visitors in the mirror maze that led to the clitoris. You replied, "We really need to get some windex and clean these mirrors. They are covered with smudges."
You were encouraged to sell a butterscotch flavored lube near the museum exit, over by the dick rock climbing wall, but you were scared to touch the lube bottle.
One day you noticed black stuff all over the foreplay derby, which was essentially skeeball meets some kind of Dave and busters derby racing game you had seen before. You looked at it closely. It was black mold.
You told your manager. His response was "That's just dust."
You said "I know what dust looks like."
He was visibly irritated. "Ok you can just leave if you want to."
You took off you cape and set your paddle down and walked right out. On your way to the back exit, seeing the statue of deers running a train on each other affirmed that your decision was the right one.
After a few months of living in New York, you found a post production coordinator salary position at a major marketing agency. It was an unnecessarily stressful job because the company was recently acquired by another advertising agency and layoffs were on the horizon.
Your boss was an old man who was clearly on a ton of adderall and/or cocaine and/or god knows what his script happy doctor was giving him to maintain his speed. He was always on level 10 go go go mode, red faced, and ready to scream at you because he found a very minor typo in one of your e-mails.
One day he punched a computer screen because you attached a screenshot to an e-mail instead of embedding it. He punched the screen and it fell on the ground, shattering all over his office. They had to completely replace the monitor.
You had a pretty bad commute. You took the G train from Bed Stuy and the 7 Train to Grand Central. You were often about 10-15 minutes late, sometimes more if the 7 train was down due to snow/bad weather.
You always gave the boss a heads up via text or e-mail if the trains were being dysfunctional. One snowy day you were about 10 minutes late. Right when you arrived to work, he ordered you to come into his office and close the door.
"Chelsea. No one cares about your silly train problems." he said.
You wanted to laugh so badly at the cartoonishly mean and classist thing he said. You couldn't and still can't afford cabs , and you don't have a life partner who can drive you to work in his or her BMW. You are a mere plebeian who relies on public transportation, which is often unreliable and inconvenient.
You realized almost 5 years later, staring out your window in your Crown Heights apartment that he was right. No one cared about your silly train problems. This city wasn't for you, it isn't for most people. It's for people who have abundance and for people who are okay with depriving themselves of self acceptance. You had your fun here, but it was time to go back where you belong.
You landed in New York back in 2013 with bleeding gums, an ear ache, and a backpack. You went from the airport straight to a hostel in Queens. You left NYC with a cat you found off the streets and 2 suitcases full of stuff and went straight from Hartsfield to your sister's house in East Atlanta.
You looked at your wrist. You got a peach tattoo right before you move to New York. You know deep down that you got it because you knew you were not finished with the south and it was never going to be finished with you. You were no longer enchanted with New York and its Woody Allen era intellectual magic, its gutter punk piss covered dive bars, and the people with personalities larger than the screens in Time Square.
You called your mom and said you're moving back home. One month later, you were on a plane back to Atlanta. In Atlanta, there are no train problems because the train is so bad most people don't even use it. In Atlanta, everyone is going to be late because of traffic.
In Atlanta, you have a past to contend with and fears to confront. You had so much fun with your silly train problems that seemed so real at the time. They were all folly and distraction from what you were running from.