Ever felt like you’re running a marathon, without any water stops, without a sports bra, without socks, without a solid breakfast in your tank on a regular workday? I have. More than once. On a day like this, I typically encounter challenges that an athlete might relate to, or the long hours that Henry Hill, played by Ray Liotta, in the classic gangster flick, Goodfellas, endures. He runs on no sleep, anxiety, dopamine igniting stimulants, and he spends his days sprinting from his home to his mistress’ house to wrap up a “business deal,” all the while worrying about the sauce on the stove back home. I can’t relate to hopping around driving high, participating in corrupt activities etc. but I can empathize with the exhausted bloodshot eyes and nutrient depleted complexion.
I was an athlete from my middle school days to my college years. I was a long distance runner, trained to endure elongated discomfort and pain both mentally and physically while simultaneously I had to outperform not only my competitors but also myself. The PR! As my coaches called it, the personal record, always needed to be broken.
As a fulltime waitress and bartender throughout college, I had to balance the same duo: prolonged discomfort with intense aims to outperform (this performance, however, was even more amplified with the reward of money to take home, the more tables/tabs, hours, shifts you picked up, automatically the more money gained). The less time spent taking a break, eating, hydrating, the better.
As a professional, this dynamic of suffering as gaining is no longer required, yet it still happens, and not just to ex-long distance runners and waitresses, to everyone. How can I avoid this familiar scenario? The times when it’s 2 in the afternoon and all I’ve had to drink is a Diet Coke, when I’m shivering from the hours in the AC, thinking about all the email accounts I need to check, when my lipstick from this morning is long gone, my I-pad is on its last leg (I probably fell asleep before I remembered to plug it in the night before), when my hair is flat and my eyes sore, red and cracking from staring at the computer screen and when who knows what other ailment I’m unprepared for. Don’t forget that there may be a meeting scheduled later, where ideally you should be looking your best. Maybe an event you need to drop by on before heading home. How does one get through a day like this without suffering? I’m hoping that by keeping a survival kit on you as you would a briefcase or your laptop, we can avoid these long manic Ray Liotta in Goodfellas days.
How to build a take-along to work survival kit
Before I go into the actual bits and pieces of the kit, think about times when you’ve looked in your bag and thought, “sh*t. Why didn’t I think to pack that this morning?”
Stuff for your survival kit:
1. Disposable tiny toothbrushes like Colgate’s wisps. God forbid no time to brush one morning, but I’m thinking mainly to spruce up after an afternoon coffee (aka coffee breath) and before the end of the day meeting.
2. Eye drops. For the negative effects of too much computer screen time, or for contact lens discomfort.
3. A few Band-aids. For blisters.
4. About four pain relievers like aspirin etc.
5. A more neutral, classic colored lipgloss with a wand. For I forgot to pack the lipstick I picked this morning, but the gloss in my kit matches everything. A wand gloss if it’s in a hot car, won’t melt like lip/chapstick.
6. A sample of perfume. It’s tiny and one spritz will do the trick. I don’t suggest body sprays because they’re big (even the travel size ones), heavier, and not as long lasting.
7. A crunchy granola bar. It’s like camping food; it survives for weeks.
8. A few loose cough/throat drops. Don’t bother to bring a whole bag, a few is all you need for an emergency.
9. A little plastic cup for a stop at the water fountain on a day you’ve forgotten your water bottle. Instead of a sip, you can down your 8 oz.
10. A travel size deodorant for…well you know what for.
11. A travel size bottle of hairspray, a hairband and a small barrette. This way if your hair is being rebellious, you can just make a ponytail and spray down flyaways for a sleek fresh look.
12. A phone/tablet whatever device charger. Spend the money on an extra. It’s worth having it at your disposal instead of having to pack it every morning or simply just hoping the battery will last.
13. Face powder to fight off the afternoon greasy face look that hits everyone after lunch.
14. I’m not even sure I have to write it…enough stuff to last you when that relentless, obnoxious, bitchy monthly visitor arrives without calling ahead.
Anything else you can think of that I haven’t yet? What do you think should be in a Professional’s survival kit?
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