The Day I Had to Grow Up

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It was on Monday. 

Not a Monday long ago, in a far off land then I can only remember when I close my eyes. But just this past Monday, when I looked down at my phone as I was complaining about having to sit in British Literature for the next three hours. My ‘The Office’ ringtone was blaring, and I looked down at my phone to see the number to the human resources office from my favorite internship, and one of the leading news stations in Florida, calling me.  

Why are they calling me?

They say that I applied for an entry-level job, while still having a year left of college, and they asked me to come in for an interview. Trying to get my voice to stop shaking, I agreed and was interviewed the next day.

Well, after an hour and  a half of talking with the hiring manager about life, experiences and the future, after being told ‘not to be disappointed if I don’t get a call’ and that I ‘shouldn’t give up and keep applying,’ I got the call the next day.

“So Markella, we were wondering: Do you still want the job?”

“Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” I wanted to scream into my phone. 

 

 

I have worked for the past 7 years for this kind of start. They are an amazing news station, Imageemploying only the best. The job is for a Studio Camera Operator, and I will do everything in my power to be the best, for them.

But this also comes with some very strange life changes. I had to grow up. I had never quit a job before, and I had two previous to getting this new job.

I hate to disappoint people. I’d pretty much rather work at a job I absolutely hated than quit something. I even wrote a paper for my Freelance Journalism class entitled “I Don’t Quit.” 

ImageI have worked at the same tiny italian restaurant for the past five years. I basically lived there at one point, when I was closing, and then opening, closing and then opening. I started when I was 16 years old, and I just sat around with my size 5 non-slip shoes and wanted to be like them. To be old and independent and a server. They couldn’t even get my name right! I know Markella is an unusual name, and most people pause before saying it, or just call me “she” or “her” or “hey you!” so they don’t embarrass themselves. They called me “Mrs. Smith” for the first 6 months I worked there, because I have a reputation of looking like Angelina Jolie (I don’t see it, but apparently everyone else does.) (Hey, I won’t argue!) Besides all that nonsense, they became my family. 

ImageThey were there when I graduated high school. When I was in the hospital. For many birthdays and celebrations and holidays. We even arranged our own “Christmas/Holiday Party.” My boss, a 40+ year old Moroccan man, treated me as if I were his own daughter, giving me advice, talking to me about life, and helping me through struggles. And because of this, I was offered an assistant manager position more than once, in which I declined because I didn’t want to work at a restaurant forever. And I didn’t want to be that. It’s not for me.

ImageSo yesterday, after I quit my job at the fitness company, I had to quit Rotelli. I knew my boss wouldn’t be angry, but maybe disappointed and sad.  

I walked in the side, self-proclaimed “employee only” door, and was greeted by hugs, and congratulations. I looked for my boss around the restaurant and couldn’t find him. I hadn’t been there in 2 weeks, and I felt strange being there, and knowing I was about to not be an employee. Image

He finally came in the back door and I asked to speak with him. I told him about my dreams, and my accomplishments and how amazing this opportunity was. And though he stared out the window a couple minutes as I was dumping the news on him… he still congratulated me. He told me that I was intelligent, and beautiful, and a hard worker and I will go anywhere I want to go. He told me that I was the best employee, and he can’t find many like me, and that I should go and peruse my dreams to the fullest. 

My heart ached to be growing up and over that place. 

We were such a strange combination. Guatemalan, to Haitian, to Moroccan, to plain ol’ Imagewhite folks. We laughed everyday, got annoyed with each other, and said some harsh things every once and a while, but we were still a family. 

It pained me to know that was a significant day in my life. It was the day I grew up. The day all my teenage years came crashing down around me, and I had to wave good-bye and walk through the next open door. 

And though I probably have only missed a handful of Tuesday nights since I started in 2008, this Tuesday will be my last. 

And I’ll probably cry. But I know that I’m growing up, finally and all at once. Teenage Markella is being left behind, and a new person is about to break free. 

I couldn’t be more excited to meet her.

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