They say you shouldn’t drive while drunk, nor talk to someone you love when you’re angry, but no one ever talks about when to write, or when not to write for that matter. Currently I would describe my mood as being somewhere between dangerously upset and downright angry, and I feel like writing whilst angry is a great idea. I should say that I waited to write during the initial heat of anger as your reading experience would have been marred somewhat by the myriad expletives I would have likely included in every fucking god damned sentence.
Why am I angry? Well, so many reasons really, but I suppose the heart of the matter lies in why I am currently angry, and why more so than usual. I will explain:
Searching for a job has been less fun in recent years than before banks realized then had less money than they thought they did and had been lending it to people who had even less than that. Now, with the US economy being held afloat by prayer and bravado (along with several hundred billion dollars in loans to other countries keeping the dollar from losing all significance in the international market), and the European collective economy banking on the Euro not defaulting when Greece implodes, it’s been less of a breeze.
To be honest, I haven’t helped matters by studying something vague and well received by the people who read resumes; I studied art and am paying for it with money I don’t have.
Let me start at the beginning. When you are about 18 years old a bottle of whisky made in the same year is worth a lot more than you are even as you clumsily grasp at adulthood with the unpracticed grip of an adolescent. If everything up to this point has gone reasonably well you’re graduating from high school and potentially going on to college where you will be molded into the keen and responsible adult you will need to be in order to get a job and perpetuate the cycle of life under the thumb of capitalism. (I told you I was angry – even hating on our way of life now) The truth is, I had no idea what being an adult meant when I was 18. Houses were to live in, food was to eat, and desk was for studying – that is about as far as my comprehension went at that point – my mind addled by girls and sports and other nonsense that wasn’t going to pay the bills come graduation day at college.
The euphoria of graduating, not once, but twice is great. Endorphins flood your body and you feel like you accomplished something, whether or not you actually did or not. In retrospect, bearing in mind the painful reality check of having to pay rent and being unable to, I should have studied something more sensible – finance or economics come readily to mind – as it seems people who study these things are employed no matter how incredibly dull, unimaginative, gutless, spineless, sheep-like, bound-for-indentured-servitude jackasses they are. (If you studied finance or economics I’m sure you’re wonderful, really, I meant other people…)
It seems to me that there is a tremendous disconnect between the line we are fed about going to college and the reality we face when all is said and done and you pack up your dorm for the last time to become a ‘real’ person.
Joining the workforce in your given field of (minimal) expertise seems to be reserved for those people who fall into either of the following four categories:
Category 1 – The people who were set long before they set foot in college to begin with.
I am talking about the people whose parent(s) work for, own, or are major shareholders in a company (or government) and are in a position to delegate the nuisance of hiring a questionably qualified family member as a stipulation of their contract.
Category 2 – Lucky bastards.
Some people manage, one way or the other, to secure gainful employment in ways we thought were possible only in movies. Some of you will have heard a few of these unlikely stories on television as a famous person is asked to describe how he or she got his or her start. “Well, that’s a funny story,” they will begin, and frankly it is all downhill from there. As much as we all hold out the silent hope we too may one day experience the kind of lucky break where we accidentally make Bill Gates smile because you did a funny looking flip when his driver struck you with his million-dollar car, it is, even in the most imaginative circumstances, a long shot. Hence the title of the Category 2 people: lucky bastards.
Category 3 – People who graduate summa cum laude from Ivy league universities with a double major in fields of knowledge beyond the purview of mere mortal men.
Most of us know, or have heard of someone a lot like this. He or she most likely spoke at your commencement, and was generally regarded on campus as the person most likely to be making a six-figure income straight out of school. Chances are, that’s exactly what they did, along with a slew of other students in the 99th percentile, who now pay others to buy their suits for them because it turns out you can’t be an expert on macro economics and international banking laws as well as possess a fabulous fashion sense. As fantastically qualified as category 2 people are however, they comprise a nigh-insignificant portion of the available applicants for jobs, even amongst other first-time job seekers, which brings us to…
Category 4 – Normal people.
You may have seen some of these in your day – normal people – the ones that look just like the rest of us, walk and talk like we do, and frankly are pretty much all in the same boat. We are the ones who graduated college (or not), had a single major (or not), and span the gamut from very qualified to not that qualified depending on the other factors that only come into play during job interviews if you do not belong to the other three above-mentioned categories.
We seek out jobs by the dozen, going down the list of jobs we’d like to be hired for until we’re a drunken night of swearing and an hour standing on the balcony contemplating how hard the pavement is below away from applying at McDonalds and hoping they’ll take us.
I should clarify that we are not without skills, or that companies aren’t hiring us, it’s that there is a tremendous amount of not hiring being done that outshines the actual hiring that is done. Worse still is the inescapable reality that whilst job hunting the vast majority of applications goes unanswered. In this, the 21st century, where an automated E-mail reply system is the backbone of any HR department, how can it be true that throngs of people sit by their phone/laptop refreshing their inbox every few second hoping for that one, ubiquitously anticipated positive reply that will change their lives, but are left to wallow in their doubt and penniless unemployment that grates at their self confidence? It is a travesty of injustice governed by no written law because might makes right, and in the case of corporate wold inc. vs the little guy, the little guy gets hosed, every time.
So, you’ve established you are in the group least likely to be hired, but the one you are most likely to belong to, and you are asking people around you for help – anything, to get a job that pays the bills. Friends and family, keen to help inundate you with advise, but, unless you skimmed over the 1st category and you actually belong to that crowd, they can do little of substance to help out. Moral support is about as good as it is going to get, and as the job search draws on from days into weeks, and weeks into months, even that can be hard to come by.
You sit in desperation, uncertain of all but the sun coming up on yet another day of misery and unemployment and with a deep sigh that comes from such depths of despair as you have never known, you give up. Broken and defeated you rest your head upon the desk the repo guys will soon take away from under you and then life, (or God, depending on your point of view), having decided your life can be made just a little bit worse, starts to fill your head with crazy ideas.
“I can move to Alaska and hunt bears with nothing but a pocket knife and put videos of my exploits on YouTube and become famous!” an oddly sincere voice in your head will say. “No, no… I can sign up for medical experiments and get paid to have penis enlargement pills tested on me! That’s easy!” another voice will say. Now your mind is in free fall, spiraling out of control as you turn slowly into one of the crazies living in the cardboard box in the park who’s multiple personality disorder and paranoid schizophrenia was so foreign to you until only moments ago. Voices you never knew cared to narrate your life make an impromptu appearance as they add insult to injury by making everybody think you’ve lost your god damned mind. So, as you contemplate contacting the people at Pfizer for a quadruple-strength, suppository version of their latest rock-hard boner-inducing wonder drug, and a little voice in your mind says “what’s the worst that could happen?” you find yourself eating the cigarette you were trying to smoke and blood pours from your nose mixing with the salty tears streaming from your red, sleep-deprived eyes as you reach a new low point in your life and you think it can’t possibly get any worse. With a loud rumbling outside and the crack and flash of thunder your power goes out and you are left sitting still in the darkness.
All kidding aside, job hunting is stressful, time consuming, and more than a little demeaning as the slew of unanswered applications and “thanks, but no thanks” E-mails pile up and you begin to develop a sense of worthlessness that demeans both your potential and your actual skills.
The truth is, there are probably a dozen or more companies, somewhere, that would be happy to have you. They tend not to be the companies you want to work for, nor do they tend to be the best in the business as those companies will tend to attract the category 3 crowd.
Even if your search for work takes you away from your field of expertise and study, as it has with me, there are some skills you are blessed with by virtue of being born a certain place, or having learned a certain thing along the way. Imagine then my surprise when not one, not two, but five English schools in Japan see to think that my level of English proficiency (which the International Baccalaureate people recognize as ‘higher level’) rejected me from teaching people who speak a mix of English ranging from none at all to just a little from bringing to bear my frankly not inconsiderable talents as a native speaker. Was I discouraged by their idiotic refusal to take me on? Yes. Was I angry when I did not get a call back from an employer who was looking for people to do voice-over work without ever having heard me speak? Very. But here’s the thing:
What it comes down to then is not just how much you are willing to lower and debase yourself just to make ends meet (anyone can be a Walmart greeter – I know this to be fact) but also how long you can afford to wait. Whether through a bank loan, crashing on a friend’s couch and eating dry cereal for six months, or moving back in with your parents as a failed and penniless adult, I refuse to allow my positive attitude to be permanently maligned by a malignant world.
It is this very thing, this indomitable positive attitude that would like great on a resume if only companies actually cared about the people filing resumes as opposed to just the words printed on the page. I cannot begin to describe how many dismally negative people permeate every office in which I have ever had the misfortune to set foot, but I can assure you that no matter how hard the companies I am applying to ignore me, the first one that gets its head out of its ass and takes the leap will be gaining a fun and happy guy!