In another life, I might have been a chef. I would have skipped paying thousands of dollars to go to culinary school, and instead started as a bus person, and then a prep cook, a line cook, a sous. It would be a paycheck-to-paycheck existence, but I would know how to eat well, would know which seasonal ingredients were worth buying, and how certain spices can elevate specific dishes. I would drink Micheladas with the kitchen staff after work. Perhaps I’d try to join the food truck scene in Los Angeles.
In another life, I might have worked for a hot, new tech company. I would have worked as a project manager and made friends with the engineers. I would file bugs in a system and prioritize the ones that needed to be addressed first. On Fridays we would leave work early and go bowling, or get drinks, or eat barbecue. We would come in sometimes on the weekends to do “hack-a-thons” or simply finish something we didn’t get done despite all the late nights we spent at the office. I would have an unbelievable health care plan, a 401(k) with a match, a generous amount of vacation days, stock options. If the company didn’t work out, a few of us might band together and start our own company, funded by our savings, which we had because of our six-figure salaries funded by venture capital money.
In another life, I might have worked in early childhood education. I would have volunteered at the Boys & Girls Club of America in high school, earned a teaching credential, focused on a “play-based curriculum” where children are encouraged to explore and figure out what they are interested in. The job might be at a daycare center rather than a school. I’d get paid $36,000, which would be just enough for me not to regularly stress out about bills, but the benefits would be pretty good. During the holidays, the parents of the children would give me Starbucks gift cards.
In another life, I would appreciate the job I have now, where the pay is okay, and my coworkers are nice, and my desk is near a window. I would appreciate being able to leave at a decent hour to go home and watch episodes of “New Girl” on Netflix. I wouldn’t lie in bed at night imagining another life.
B. Benson is an office drone.