Try a Little Tenderness (Chocolate Wouldn’t Hurt Either) by Ren Martinez

It is a truth universally acknowledged that working at a job under your skill level almost always sucks. The reasons we work these jobs are many: financial difficulties, family responsibilities, attending school, etc. These jobs are a necessity in a way that’s different than a career. And, it’s all too often that the work environment leaves a foul taste in your mouth and a migraine knocking away at your temple.

I’m at one such job as I finish up my master’s degree. I’ve worked in customer service for what feels an eternity, a weeping Sisyphus pushing a boulder up the metaphorical hill. I’m currently working for a veterinary service that, while having top notch doctors and excellent medical practice, has – how do we say – lackluster management.


I’m working in the phone room, managing the multi-line system with four other coworkers. It’s a tiny, tucked away dungeon that never sees the light of day, where our hunched-over, beleaguered forms are kept far from the sight of any clients. I had just finished setting up an appointment when I heard my phone buzz. I pulled it out of my purse to glance at it (a missed call from my mom). At that moment, my manager happened to see me with the phone in my hand.

The scolding I received was both cataclysmic and showed a remarkable range of vocabulary to express my utter incompetence.

During this spiel, I watched as my other three coworkers played Words with Friends, Temple Run, and one was laughing at a Youtube video posted on her Facebook wall. They were somehow spared from the slaughter.

It’s moments like these that make the bitterness and resentment and disappointment swirl together in this ugly maelstrom that threatens to ooze from your pores and bubble past your teeth. It sits heavy in your chest as you sit in your apartment, staring at the degrees on your wall and wondering, “Is it worth it?”

What I have found is that, during these times, the best weapon against the storm of self-loathing and doubt is a simple measure. Self-appreciation. Taking time to treat yourself. Watch that emotionally wrenching film that always makes you cry and indulge in the romance of Elizabeth Bennett and Mister Darcy to your heart’s content. Buy that double fudge pint of ice cream without worrying about whether it will go to your hips (who cares, you know you look fabulous). Get outside and feel the sun on your face, rejoicing in the fact that it’s finally spring. And, know that you are the unbelievably unlikely combination of atoms and carbon and elements that produced an utterly unique you, and that the universe will never recreate another quite like you again in the history of all things.

So, when your boss is muttering about your inability to monitor your paperclip use, remember in that back of your mind that this storm will pass, Elizabeth Bennett finds her true love, and that you are deserve every ounce of fudge in that pint of ice cream.


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