The thing about a job like this is, if you're not in it to advance to management or ownership, you can't keep caring. You just can't. You're not making the hot chocolate because it's what you love to do, and you wouldn't dream of calling it your fallback plan. You're doing it because it's a tax you pay to stay alive while you attempt to pursue other foolish dreams. In all my years (about 4 and counting now, oh god) of food service, I've met exactly one part-timer who said he had nothing else going on, and even he planned to go back to school eventually.
Of course, even if you don't have any emotional investment in the job, that doesn't mean you have no investment in yourself. Professionalism remains important even when--like me, towards the end of my tenure at my last location--you'd happily get punched in the face ten times a day rather than do your current job. Digging ditches, making coffee, executing prisoners, whatever, you have yourself to live up to. And usually you do.
But you get used to a...lack of investment. A sense that, as you look upon the job you've poured hours and days and years into, I don't belong here and will never have a life here, why do I care how professional I seem while I'm banging my head against this brick wall?
Because it's an opportunity, you idiot, is what I usually say. What I hadn't realized was how this quiet dismissal of obligation and expectation could color my behavior in other facets of my life; how unprofessionalism in something as "inane" as part-time, futureless employment could, say, interfere with my pursuit of performance-as-a-living.
"Jim," someone said to me recently. "We want you in this show, you're ready for it, but...we just can't rely on you. You've been late to rehearsals. Late to show calls. We hope when auditions come up a while from now you'll be ready for them."
It blew my mind. I operate on a sliding scale of lateness, where five minutes is to be expected and half an hour is where things even start to get problematic. And I'm very, very good at proving lateness or absence is not my fault. The thinking goes: I left for the [whatever] with [very, very slightly over the amount of time required to get there exactly on time]. [Something happened.] Who could have seen it coming? It's not like I caused [something], so what a shame, eh, but whatever, I'm here now, let's do this! And through the occasional disciplinary action at MoonDollars Coffee I'd learned to buffer my time, to arrive five to ten minutes early, and so on, but I'd written off other things--acting gigs, dates, meetings with friends, and so on--as informal stuff, stuff I could take my time getting to, fun stuff where reliability doesn't matter.
Nah. Screw that. Reliability always matters.
1. Xiang invites Xiao over for soup.
2. Xiang's snakelike bow just so happens to point straight into Xiao's soup.
3. Xiao, ancestor to countless people who forward chain letters, thinks anything snakelike pointing towards his soup means OHHH SHIT, SNAKES!
4. Xiang yearns for a new way to meet friends, one not dependent on geography. Through genetic memory, Friendster is born.
Once, a while back, several authentic decals for a super expensive prototype car lay within my reach. I'd just purchased my beloved Honda Civic, but the little H with the...thing around it wasn't doing it for me. I tried, and failed, to get a decal for my car, perhaps hoping some badassosity could be transferred into my engine through decal alone.
Good to know somebody in Kashgar had the same idea. And I agree with Jess, for the most part, though I'd also settle for "Serenity."
No, I'm not wiki-linking that one. If you don't know what I'm referring to, I have a DVD box set I need to send you.