How is today different from yesterday? Well, to begin with, yesterday I had a job, and today I am unemployed.

I only got my job because I have a huge ass. I just realized this recently. Despite the four years I spent in college (where I majored in film; yes, I know, laugh it up), my super impressive bachelor’s degree, and winning personality, these are not what secured my job. It was my huge, fat ass and the fact that the person who interviewed me was a sex addict.

I spent most of the first year cringing in horror when this dude would make a pass at me; laughing loudly and protractedly when he asked me if it was true that young women preferred older men; ignoring comments about going to bars and the state of my underwear and whatever else drifted into his sex-addled mind. Finally asked if he’d appreciate me phoning his wife.

“Stacie,” he drew out, “I wasn’t serious, of course. It was all just a joke.”

“Yeah sure,” I said, jabbing my finger in his direction. “Just don’t let it happen again.”

OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly like that. But it was pretty damn close. It didn’t happen again, but a lot of other stupid shit did. One day I came to work to see the SEC (that’s the Securities and Exchange Commission, for you dreamers out there) raiding my building. I rolled down my window as a stern-faced officer made her way to my car.

“I work here,” I told her apologetically.

“You should probably go home,” she replied, not bothering to explain why. When a federal agent tells you to go home, you go home, no questions asked. The next day I called work to see if I still had a job. Surprisingly, I did. Even more surprising, I fucking went.

Another time I got into a huge fight with the owner, and he fired and rehired me in the span of five minutes. This guy was fond of calling people cock suckers and once stopped me in the hall to point out that Jesus Christ himself had chosen to etch his image into the engineer’s office door. Stacie Adams, smiling politely. I also worked with a guy who assured me that a race war was bound to happen within the next few years. He eventually had to go back ‘underground’ as he put it, which meant that he was finally caught in the one of the myriad of illegal activities in which he was involved, and this entailed him fleeing the state to avoid jail time.

Last week I received a pay check from the owner’s personal bank account. “Oh fuck,” I said to myself. That’s never good. I cashed it first thing, while he still had sufficient funds. Today he sat me down, took on a dour expression and said,

“Look Stacie…” I brought my head to my waiting hands.

“Oh god,” I moaned.

“It’s just for a week,” he insisted. Bankruptcy is never just for a week, I told myself.

“I can’t believe this,” I chanted over and over, until he wrote me another check.

So now I’m on the dole, like the British say. I’m a member of the non-working poor. I can do a lot of shit, just none of it officially. I’m what they used to call a dilettante, or, I guess even more hilariously, an autodidactic. I’m also a polymath, I know because I took a test on the internet.

I haven’t been out of a job since I graduated college. I’m still in shock. Some people tell me I should go back to school, and I refrain from slapping them because I’m a charitable person. I have no interest in adding to the already massive debt I accrued spending four years jawing about mise en scène and whether or not Charles Foster Kane was supposed to be a sympathetic character. That information will totally help me when I’m cold calling for Verizon or fighting with drunks in a bar.

I had a plan yesterday. Well, not a plan as much as a routine. Today is wide open, just waiting for me to take a running leap and fall right on my fucking face. My job sucked, but I had my own desk tucked way in the back where I could listen to Mr. Bungle and Queens of the Stone Age and Khanate, where no one gave me shit. I could wear whatever I wanted. I could flaunt my rat tail and tattoos and nobody thought twice. Those days are gone. Here come the fake smiles and awkward handshakes and bullshit questions about goals and strengths and weaknesses that no normal human being could answer with a straight face.

I was talking to my boyfriend about it. “Imagine what I’m going to look like by the end of next week,” I queried. He had a vision of a bedraggled, old-faced woman in a stained bath robe, with a massive dildo jutting out of the pocket, brandishing a glass of liquor at all times and crying mascara, lamenting the ‘good old days’ when the daily 9 to 5 didn’t entail fudding yourself insane to Maury Povich.

Is this destined to happen? I can’t say. I promise you, if it does, I will provide pictures.

I have a new boss. Her name is Pam. Pam emails us and we reply. Pam never replies to our replies. I hadn’t heard of Pam until this semester. But there she is in the staff directory, listed as a Course Coordinator.

“Where the hell is Pam?” asks my colleague after yet another crisis. And Franz, the Co-coordinator is going nuts. He has to find a replacement for the lecture on Coetzee because the professor scheduled to give it has been embroiled in a scandal. Or has had an accident. Pam isn’t clear on that.

Pam is reportedly based at the Other campus (we have three).  However, the big red-haired administrator tells me that Pamela works right here. At This campus.

The administrator has a sheet of paper taped to the filing cabinet in her office. It says in caps:

A LACK OF ORGANIZATIONAL
SKILLS ON YOUR PART
DOES NOT CONSTITUTE
AN EMERGENCY ON MINE.

“What’s she like, this Pam?” I ask. The administrator looks at me askance. I’d almost face-planted running for the train that morning and caught the fall with my hands, which are dripping blood all over the carpet.

“Pam?” says the administrator. “Pam’s an older woman. Favors scarves.”

But someone else describes her as Not Old. Keep an eye out for a pink cardigan and ankle boots, they say. Her office is in Building 5. Room 10. Level G.

That’s my office.

Pam, like Elvis, has been sighted at any number of conflicting locales. Sitting in front of someone on the bus or disappearing across the parking lot. The situation is rare but not unusual. Many graduates and teaching assistants describe their superiors as immaterial. Sightings of the Head Librarian, Associate Dean or one’s Doctoral Adviser abound, and are the stuff of campus legend.

Franz emails my colleague and asks her to fill in the Coetzee spot. Pam also emails my colleague and asks her to be the new co-coordinator.

“That really bugs me,” says Franz. He looks like he is about to cry.

My contract goes missing.

“You can’t be working without a contract,” says the administrator.

“I sent a copy to Pam,” I say.

“Leave it with me,” she says. “I’ll get onto Pam straight away.”

“Thanks,” I say doubtfully.

“This conversation never happened,” says the administrator.

I wait a week after the conversation that never happened. I keep an eye out for Pam in my office. Finally I go to see the administrator who cobbles me up a new contract.

“So have you seen her?” I say.

“Who?” says the administrator.

“Pam,” I say. “For the love of God—!”

“Oh,” she says, swiveling around from her desk. Rolls a tic tac on her tongue.  “You’ve just missed her.”

The latest from Pam is a mass email announcing her resignation and a ten percent pay raise.

“Believe it when you see it,” says my friend, a Bronte scholar who moonlights as a nanny to make ends meet.

But there it is in my next pay check. I don’t know who, or even if Pam is. All I know is that she’s gone, down into the murk below the inexact surface of our so-called reality. Today I created this digital dream to cover the tracks she left. It’s the least I can do.