28 Jan
Red Vines, arm candy, and good old American guts

The continuing saga of one girl’s plight with unemployment…(read vol I,  vol IIvol IIIvol IVvol V vol VIvol VIIvol. VIIIvol IXvol Xvol XI, vol XII and vol XIII)

Confession. Diving with sharks scares me. Being broke scares me. Moving to Texas scares me. But really what scares me the most is being offered another corporate job that steers me away from what I love.

From March 2010 to New Years 2011 I racked up a grand total of zero job interviews. I sent my resume out, and had a piddly phone interview with a chick who was so scatterbrained she actually made me feel like I could ace a math and physics test and work for NASA and handle Martha Stewart’s calendar of events sweat free, all at the same time. Suddenly in the first weeks of 2011 I’ve gotten called for three actual interviews. That’s super positive in the sense that it maybe possibly means the economy is growing some balls. Granted one job didn’t pay as much as my unemployment checks and also didn’t cover the gas I would be burning driving from Venice to Agoura Hills. As I drove and drove and drove to meet this potential Agoura Hills employer, I got impatient and panicky. That’s a problem because what the hell else do I have to do at 11am on a weekday? I’ll tell you what I have to do: write.

Hit the Jump to continue Bureaucracy for Breakfast vol. XIV: Elevator speeches vs DIY style…

“Now, I could maybe, possibly be projecting here but watching this guy filled me with numb terror. Corporate terror…”

Not only was the thought of the gas mileage I was wasting pushing my panic button, but as I bumper-carred it down the 405 and then the 110 and the who knows what else concrete freeways leading me to a job that would entail me filling some dude’s dog bowls with (no doubt) organic dog food and picking his kids up from a (no doubt) progressive, private school, I kept thinking I should really have my ass parked at the office/coffee shop, writing. I scribbled some notes on gum wrappers and whatever else would pass as paper as I inched along the freeway, risking little wrecks here and there as is my custom, and soldiered on with the commute.

Luckily the Agoura Hills stranger didn’t end up being the Agoura Hills mass murderer. I did kind of wonder, since the path to his house led me past horse stables and feed stores into the big, bad hills of Agoura, and he seemed to mention his “amazing wife” and his “amazing kids” a little too often when we spoke. He’d also warned me via phone earlier that morning, “I haven’t showered and I look like shit.” That’s the kind of thing one of two types of people enjoy sharing with strangers: rich eccentric folks and/or psychos.

Obviously I lived to tell the tale but like I said the job didn’t pay enough to even cover the gas mileage so I decided to stick to my unemployment checks and keep trying. After scanning my legit job sites I hop on Craigslist to see what’s cooking over there. Since the economy is supposedly growing I see more things in the Film/TV section like: “Arm candy wanted” and “Adult ent co seeks models” and “ISO GoGo dancers”. Hooray. This isn’t even the personals section. It’s Film/TV jobs.

I also interviewed for a gig at a certain Podunk late-late-night show. Translation: the show sucks and no one watches it except meth heads and people who enjoy staring at a glowing television at one in the morning. Now, the job sounded kind of cool and the guy seemed super nice on the phone and who am I to judge, so I made the Venice to Burbank commute with a positive attitude. The idea of a steady paycheck and health insurance settled around me like a lukewarm Epsom salt-soaked bath.

When I pulled into the studio and found the trailer-slash-office, I was greeted by not one but three wide-eyed, nervous, uber-eager female interns wearing slightly ill-fitting outfits from Forever 21 and H&M. I know because I’ve been those girls in those outfits. A lot.

DIY or die

I waited on a couch and surveyed the room. I noticed a little kitchen with one of those big plastic jars of Red Vines perched on the counter. No doubt a bundle of plastic sporks lurked in one of the drawers. Those Red Vines jars have a special place in my heart because they’re a staple of every craft services table I’ve ever grazed at, yet this particular Red Vines jar took on a different tone, and here’s why. A slightly schlubby male employee trudged up to the Red Vines, took out a few, shoved them into his mouth, started chewing and trudged back to his cubicle. The fluorescent lights enveloped him in a dull green aura. This wouldn’t be a big deal, except for the fact that he slackily accosted the Red Vines five separate times in the ten minutes I waited for my interview. His routine depressed me. Now, I could maybe, possibly be projecting here but watching this guy filled me with numb terror. Corporate terror. The big clock on the wall stared down at me.

In the actual interview the dude told me, “the pay is shit,” which was super-duper encouraging. I mean, Obama and CNN and Rachel Maddow in her very un-journalistic, snarky, “nanny nanny boo boo” tone keep saying the economy looks perky, yet from my perspective there may be more jobs, but all of those new jobs are about ten steps back from the gig I got laid off from. So my question is: Is this truly a miracle of job growth suddenly, or are people simply grabbing jobs they’re overqualified for, that pay less, and that are a mildly satisfying compromise to what they were doing in cities they don’t want to be living in? I want the economy to get back on track, I want people to get off unemployment and have health insurance again… but I’m just skeptical about what that really means.

I was talking to a lawyer friend of mine recently who said he’d been on at least fifteen interviews since his firm had massive layoffs two years ago and sent him packing to a coffee shop office, and he hadn’t gotten a bite. So he’s doing it DIY style, and he’s built a pretty healthy client list all on his own. Now he can wear his earrings and have his hair longish and let his tattoo peek out and still get paid. Not a bad path to follow. I’m all for the DIY route these days; fluorescent lights and sporks can suck it! Unless they pay really well and give me health insurance… then I dunno. That would be a great problem to have.

“Who knows? Maybe fine-tuning an elevator speech will unlock my soul and my bank account’s potential…”

As for the Red Vines job, I didn’t get it. I’m OK with that because here I sit with time to write, and to listen to the two people next to me at the coffee shop studying and discussing existentialism, nihilism, and “death and suicide”. Neat. Ah the carefree days of grad school when you could discuss philosophy whilst pretending your student loans weren’t strapping on the ammo and preparing for ambush in the trenches just up ahead. I also just joined a Meetup.com group called “Westside Unemployment Appreciation Team”. I love that it’s called a team. I was super excited until I got an email about the first team meeting which read: “This week’s topic is ‘Creating and Fine Tuning Your Elevator Speech.’” I don’t know what’s scarier: another three-hour meditation class with Chataranga in his lace bellbottoms or finding out what the hell an “elevator speech” is, and then taking the time to fine tune it. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to meet the team; I am. Why the hell not? But I can tell you that when I don’t know what something is or don’t believe it exists, I immediately turn to the mighty Lord Google. Days have passed and I have not Googled elevator speech. I don’t wanna know.

Maybe when the team explains it I can tune out and instead visualize making things happen DIY style, without the help of Red Vines, Craigslist and sporks. Who knows? Maybe fine-tuning an elevator speech will unlock my soul and my bank account’s potential. But my gefilte fish eating great-grandfather fled Russia and landed in freaking Galveston, TX of all places back in the day. In the motherland he was a blacksmith. In Texas, he was nothing. So he started walking the streets with a cart, picking up scraps of metal, and selling them. After a lot of sweat and probably a lot of nasty looks, he turned that into a honest to god steel company. Now, I know getting laid off and living off EDD checks ain’t the same as fleeing the Cossacks with your life on the line. I also know that steel is about as opposite of writing as you can get. But still.

So for now, DIY sounds like the team I wanna play on. I can handle nasty looks. Sporks, boredom and a lukewarm embrace? I’m not ready to settle.

Follow The Elf on Twitter @TheElf26

No Responses to “Bureaucracy for Breakfast vol. XIV: Elevator Speeches vs. DIY Style”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Dina Gachman, Santiago Winters. Santiago Winters said: Checkout: Bureaucracy for Breakfast vol. XIV: Elevator Speeches vs. DIY Style http://bit.ly/f9vkVM […]

  2. Robyn VanTol says:

    I just keep picturing a sweaty man with really chubby fingers digging into the red vines plastic container. Ick.

  3. Erik Holland says:

    Thanks for the blog, and putting me on your list!

    LOL…The mighty lord Google

    I hate to say it, but I know what an elevator speech is..

    Don’t settle–keep writing!

    NadDada Mayor from Reno

  4. […] IV, vol V,  vol VI, vol VII, vol. VIII, vol IX, vol X,  vol XI, vol XII,  vol XIII, vol XIV, vol XV , vol XVI and vol […]

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