By Melissa Rodriguez
A plane lands in Orlando at 6:33 a.m., and right outside of the arrivals gate waiting for her friend there is a twenty-two year old woman wearing pearls and a smile holding a sign that reads “Nugget.” She is Catie Rosekelly: twenty-two, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science degree holder, and YMCA employee.
“Alright Nugget. Let’s stop and eat breakfast, and then I can take a nap before I go to work at 11.”
Seven months after graduating from Florida Southern College, Rosekelly works at the Volusia Flagler YMCA in DeLand, Florida, as a lifeguard and front desk receptionist. Two separate jobs, two bosses, one company, one paycheck. Most days she wakes up before some college students even think about going to bed, several hours before sunrise. She drives her 2008 Kia Rio exactly 4.91 miles to the YMCA where she has to open up shop so early risers can exercise. Some days there is a long break between shifts, other days there isn’t. Breaks just long enough to go home, have some lunch, maybe a quick nap, and back to work to lifeguard.
The hours are long. The work is mindless. The pay is terrible. It’s the only position Rosekelly has been able to find, but not for lack of trying. Over the past year and a half she has applied to more than 150 positions, but no luck. Only one position offered to give her an interview. She is only one of three employees that work at the Y that hold a degree. The other two are her boss at the front desk and the Vice President of the branch. The DeLand YMCA employs over 50 people at any given moment.
Fast-forward 20 days.
The highlight of her January is the 15th Annual Lakeland Pigfest, a two-day event full of nothing but barbequed pork. There are more than 50 vendors selling everything from pulled pork eggrolls to pulled pork tacos. No one accepts real cash, only “pig bucks.”
“Heaven has its own currency and it’s pig bucks,” Rosekelly says smiling.
Once we get to Pigfest, she makes a beeline for a tent to exchange her money. It’s about 5:30 in the afternoon and she hasn’t eaten since 3 a.m. in preparation for the ridiculous amounts of pork she is about to consume. Once pigbucks have been acquired, it’s another beeline to Bubba Chuck’s Barbeque tent for pulled pork eggrolls, the one thing she has been looking forward to since last year’s Pigfest ended. Eggrolls must be enjoyed, it’s against the rules of tasty things to eat and enjoy something good. We sit on an empty bit of curb, and no one speaks for a good eight minutes while we all eat our half pound fried pork goodness.
On to the next thing we must eat. After careful deliberation we decide we want to share a pulled pork sandwich, and grab some dump cake from the Campfire USA tent on the way to an empty curb.
“I didn’t get the conference job,” she says during a lull in the conversation. “I can tell you why though. They loved my resume and said I was probably one of the most qualified people for the job. Except that I’m only 22, and therefore I’m not senior enough for a senior position. You know what? Suck it. I’m wise beyond my years.”
The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church has instead offered for her to be a freelance writer, but didn’t give any specifics on the position. Disappointedly, Rosekelly points out that if the position requires traveling, she can’t take it. She can’t jeopardize the two jobs she already has, no matter how much she despises working there. The job search must continue.
“I can probably write a cover letter faster than a pervert can whip out his dick, though,” she says through a mouth full of peach dump cake.
Her best friend, Chelsea almost chokes when she says this.
A mother stops the stroller she is pushing right in front of where we are sitting. Her little boy is struggling to wiggle his way out of the restraints of the stroller. He is definitely a young troublemaker.
“Maybe I don’t want to be a teacher,” Rosekelly says still looking at the little boy. “I just wish the Navy would get back to me faster.”
On top of applying for more than 150 jobs, she is also in the process to become a Naval officer. Her parents couldn’t be prouder, both of them served their time in the Navy, and their two boys are both Marines. Catie is the only one who doesn’t have any military service under her belt.
Working at the Y only has one benefit she can see- the free use of their gym. Her goal is to become fit enough to pass the rigorous physical training aspect of the Naval entrance exam. She’s lost at least 10 pounds from the last time I saw her 20 days ago.
“My life is so boring. I work. I work out. I come home, eat, sleep and do it again.”
After spending four years in a demanding International Baccalaureate program in high school, another four years studying political science at Florida Southern, and balancing various activities on top of her schoolwork, she still hasn’t lost her need to learn. Now she fills her spare time reading as much as she can, both in print and online. The Rosekelly household is full of hundreds and hundreds of well worn-out books the five of them have read over their lifetimes. Not only does she absorb what she learns, like a good student, she writes about it as well. Rosekelly keeps a blog about her life, politics and everything else she loves. She’s also posted her resume online, in hopes that someone will see it and give her a “grown-up” job.
The difference in her life post graduation isn’t as upsetting to her as much as the realization that all the hard work she has put in for the last eight years of her life has only gotten her back in her parents house, working the same job she’s had since she was 15. Hard work that has led her to sleepless nights spent writing a 25-page paper, countless hours spent practicing her trumpet, and too many meetings in one day. Hard work that caused her kidneys to shut down once, due to too much coffee, not enough sleep and stress- the main components of college life.
“My name is Catherine Rosekelly. I’m 22. I like politics. I can cook really well. I’m ordained in the Universal Life Church. I’m poor. I’ve applied to over 150 jobs and I haven’t gotten a single one yet and I’m tired.”