Alison Berkley: The ranks of the unemployed |

Alison Berkley: The ranks of the unemployed

I quit my job a few days ago.

So what if we’re in a recession and the job market is terrible? I will not compromise my value just so I can earn a steady income and pay my bills. I am like, so much better than that!

Clearly, I am not cut out for data entry. I was under the impression that this is America and I could work my way up the corporate ladder. Once I got my foot in the door, I figured, they’d realize that I am a professional woman with a great butt and a mind of my own with talent that would speak for itself.

Why, once they realized they were getting so much more than a data-enterer, doors would fly open. The quality of my work would be the bottom line, not those extra vacation days I’d need to go to 150 weddings or the long lunches I’d take to go shopping.

Don’t they realize how quickly one loses track of time in the changing room at Boogie’s? One hour, two hours ” it all comes out in the wash. They were lucky to have me and would certainly overlook my unconventional work habits. I am creative!

I tried to explain this to the Big Dogs, the Head Honchos, The Powers-That-Be. “The quality of my work should be the bottom line,” I’d say. “Not how long it takes me to do it.”

“You’re lucky we didn’t fire you a long time ago,” they said.

People say you should never take a salary cut when you move from one job to another. I make it a point not to listen to other people’s advice ” I am not a follower! But I have to admit whoever told me that had a point. How can you not measure your worth by, well, what you’re worth?

When I worked for that dot-com in San Francisco in 2000, they paid me $65,000 a year even though our Web site wasn’t up yet because they really appreciated me. They paid me just to be part of the talented team they handpicked to impress their investors.

No one was expected to work because we didn’t have any office furniture, just a bunch of computers and cords everywhere with a couch and a coffee table and a bong. The CEO of our company was 30 years old and totally hot.

The first time I met him I spilled coffee all over his lap. I knocked his latte over when I went to shake his hand because my tongue got in the way and I didn’t see it. I had the biggest crush on him ever, which made going to work and not working even more fun than it already was. Then I found out his girlfriend was a Calvin Klein model. Life is so unfair!

Before that I was a magazine editor at a well-known snowboarding magazine. Even though the salary wasn’t what they probably pay at Vogue, I got to travel three months a year to do photo shoots at resorts all over the world and everything was paid for.

They gave us a company credit card and a cell phone, and we had an account at a travel agency that booked all of our airfare on demand. I traveled with a bunch of punk snowboarder boys and was always the only girl, which inevitably meant someone had to share a bed with me. Life really can be unfair ” to their girlfriends back home, that is.

It’s like, hello, don’t you know who I am? I took that data-entry job because I thought it would be good to restore my creative juices with some mindless work and because I was desperate after I got rejected from the 100 other jobs I applied for.

I got hired on the spot even though I showed up 20 minutes late for my job interview in sweaty snowboarding clothes because I had just hiked up Ajax before it opened. It’s not my fault my friend John lied about how long it would take!

But after an entire year I had not moved anywhere at all and neither had my salary. The amount of data that had to be entered grew like a big fat zit before a date. I could squeeze it and try to get the ugly stuff to come out but it only made it worse. It only became more humiliating.

No one gets anywhere in this world by sitting down, I thought. I do not belong in some hallway outside the executive’s office like some trashy secretary. I have a brain and a great wardrobe and if I have to leave for them to really appreciate me, so be it! At least I will have my dignity back.

I marched right into the Big Cheese’s office and gave him my notice.

He said, “OK. Can you write me a help wanted ad for the newspaper?”

Well, I never! At least I have my self-respect. At least I have the courage to put myself out there on the edge, to take risks, to do what it takes to really get somewhere in this world.

So what if I won’t be able to afford to get that chemical peel the doctor recommended for young, smooth-looking skin? So what if I have to wait until next year to get cross-country ski gear and won’t be able to go out to sushi anymore? I don’t really need any more expensive clothes or a new computer or organic veggies in my fridge or to have my door fixed since Psycho Dog tore it to shreds during a panic attack. I can live with a door that’s scratched to hell as long as I have my dignity.

I just have to remember not to answer that ad I wrote. Now that would be really humiliating.

[The Princess is now available to write screenplays and novels. E-mail your Hollywood contact info to her at]

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