On Jobs and Delusions
We used to care what you thought about us. We went to interviews, nervously trying to win your approval. You told us no and we said thanks. Thanks for considering us. Let us know if you think we’d be suitable for anything in the future.
Some of you never called. We still think of you with hope from time to time. We wish we’d moved on, but we haven’t.
Some of you did call. Well, you emailed (that’s almost as good, right?) with news of a new position. Ecstatic, our hopes floating in a world of imagined stability, we wrote new letters, we lined up references (again). We waited with bated breath, thinking this is it! You didn’t get back to us right away, but we remained patient — any day could have been the day our lives changed, solidified in course.
We wanted this. We wanted predictability, a regular schedule with a steady paycheck and weekends off. We wanted a job we could convince ourselves we loved, tell ourselves our work mattered. That this sense of purpose could be paired with paid vacation and sick days is still something that blows our little minds.
After a few weeks of waiting, we forced ourselves to forget about what could have been. We applied for jobs that were less enticing. The people at those interviews told us they didn’t really know what the job description was or when they were hiring. They just wanted to see what was out there. They never got back to us either.
It was around this time that a few things occurred to us.
We despise multi-tasking. To be honest, we’re not even sure what you mean by this. Are you asking if we can watch the latest Art Thoughtz on YouTube while texting our mother and having a conversation with our roommate? Oh, and pizza’s in the oven, cover letter is half-finished (eclipsed by the vid) and we just had to listen to this new Panda Bear singleitjustcameoutandit’samazing!
Yeah, we can do that. But do you really want us to manage our work as thoughtlessly as we manage our social lives? We just turned nine words into one and that text we sent our mom had the word fuck in it. Wait. What? Fuck! How do we unsend that shit?!?
Yes, we can conceive of multiple projects happening at the same time, with coinciding deadlines. We were able to handle this in middle school, we did it in high school and, more intensely, as undergraduates. Some of us even did it in grad school. We also juggled internships and paid work, often while we were in school meeting deadlines, studying for final exams or writing research papers. That’s time-management, not multi-tasking. Please don’t ask any more gross questions like can you multi-task.
We also hate it when you say you want a self-starter or a self-directed crackerjack. It’s all the same imaginary word-junk. If we were self-starters, we wouldn’t be applying for these jobs with you. We’d be self-starting food carts or farms or underground music venues. We’d be mending shirts and relations with American Indians. We’d be brewing beer and finding doctors and dentists who’d barter for their services. We’d be discovering something as useful as electricity or inventing something as revolutionary as the internet. We’d be making flying cars powered by greenhouse gasses or finding ways to collect and use that mass of plastic floating in the ocean.
And that realization brought us to a new one. We don’t think those jobs we applied for way-back-when were the best we can do after all. We don’t need your approval. We’ll bag groceries at a co-op or wait tables in some locavore restaurant where you’re probably one of the customers. We’ll eat well, keep fit and save tips until we have enough for a scrap of land to grow food and a few apple trees. We’ll live simply, get to know our neighbors and let our dreams run wild. We’ll make meaning where you left us with none.
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