Sunday, September 05, 2004

Rationalizing the Great Sellout

By now my suit was seriously wrinkled after riding around D.C jammed into a messenger bag. The ring of yellow-beige sweat around the collar of my shirt looked almost intentional, dyed there by forward-thinking designers targeting the man who is both ambitious and sweaty. My socks were a black cotton-based paste. Had I thrown them at the wall they would have stuck there and slowly climbed down like a pair of office-themed Wacky Wallwalkers.

HR had rescheduled my interview for the following morning at eleven a.m., kindly agreeing not to mention to the hiring managers that I had flown up a full week early in a frenzy of disorganization.

This was a bona-fide second chance, an extra life and health extension gleaming in front of me before I fought the most nefarious of all pit bosses: the flubbed interview for the job I really wanted.

It’s still sort of a mystery to me why I got so excited about this job in the first place. If I got it, I’d be doing business-to-business research for Fortune 500 companies, writing reports about market trends and dividends, world without end amen amen. The reason I’m going after it with such fervor is for the same reason I pursue anything: it is the most ridiculous thing I can think of.

I’ve spent the last god knows how many years craving steady income, some sort of investment in me as a person and faith in my skills. After shifting from temp job to temp job in a career speckled with spotty startup work, earning a little but never enough from my writing, I want something REAL.

I’ve spent years looking at people on their way to work every morning with the loathing that comes from deep, deep jealousy. For longer than I can remember, the world of the employed has felt like the circle of cool kids in high school, all privy to the secrets of life with me on the outside begging for a crumb. I’m 28 and all the friends I look up to have finished their master’s, gotten good jobs, have some savings and a car their parents didn’t pay for…and I want the same thing.

I don’t want to lose my massive, wandering creativity, and I pray to myself every night that getting a job that pays me well and frequently won’t chip it away. Getting what you want can be the perverse punishment for desire. Once dreams turn real, you have to figure out how to handle them.

When I hear Jimi Hendrix crack out the “black panthers’ national anthem,” BKA “Voodoo Child,” and I think to myself, go brother, go! I feel a tiny kinship with that guy doing his thing onstage at Fillmore in ’69—him up there at the top of his game doing exactly what the fuck he does best, and me sitting here in my mother’s hot kitchen way past midnight sharpening my best as well.

One day I am going to be the Jimi Hendrix of the printed word, the Hunter S. of the Internet. I have seen visions of my future and after some long hot work in the Outback, I can tell you now that I am destined for true weirdness on a high scale, I am spending all of my spare energy to go for it. I may never see another dime for what it is I do, but I’ve conducted a careful study of all my more successful friends and idols and here’s what they all do: never, ever stop. When they get tired and just want to curl up under a blanket at midday and watch some Jerry Springer, they sprint that extra mile. I felt it in the bush under the Milky Way at 3 am, covered in guts. I looked up at that shining black sky with a dripping machete in my hand and thought, “once I get back to the States, shit is going to be real, real different.”

It is with that renewed vigor that I rolled up off Jenny Luu’s hardwood floor and prepared for that brand-new second chance, the second-round crack at an air-conditioned direct-deposit kind of life. I slipped into my slimy suit with a nervous confidence, empty-stomached and brain humming with answers and sharp questions. I spit-polished my shoes right at 9:58 and checked my email for one last time before grabbing some breakfast.

And it was right then that I saw the message: the interview, that gleaming second chance was at ten a.m., not eleven. I had two fucking minutes to make it across that snarling city to my precious last chance.

I sprinted down the street like a mad preacher who has seen the secret of the alien holocaust and jumped into the first cab I could find, panting out an address as I helped myself to the driver’s cell phone.

My sweat sodden suit soaked me dry like it was made of Brawny brand Towels. I jittered my way in the door twenty minutes late and started the interview. It took forever for my inner voice to calm those lateness-jangled nerves, but I must have suppressed it okay.

You know how I know I suppressed it okay?

I got the job. Starting September 20th, I am going to be a research associate specializing in business banking. I’m moving to the terrorism target of the planet Earth...


At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...



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