Tuesday, January 05, 2016 9:44 AM
I can sight-read music like nobody’s business—and I can do the New York Times crossword puzzle from Monday through Thursday –and last night I was yelling at my TV screen because none of the three Jeopardy contestants knew many answers that were obvious to me. So if I’m so perceptive and clever and well-educated, why the hell am I not a good candidate for a job?
Well, most jobs have the ‘clever’ taken out of them, so you don’t have to rely on a smart-ass like myself to come along. Most jobs require subordination, promptitude, and ‘good social skills’ (which, in my head, I interpret as ‘not being myself’). It figures—in my school days, I succeeded in scholarly stuff but failed at what everyone knew was the real point of school—fitting in—so why should I expect scholarly skills to help in the adult version of school—employment?
Most people have a subconscious acceptance of authority—but I’ve spent a lot of time being a ‘teacher’s aide’-type student, training new employees, editing other peoples’ writing, correcting other people’s mistakes, and practicing autodidacticism—so I’ve never been able to do any more than make a pretense of accepting authority. That’s good enough for reasonable people, but for managers and the like, for whom authority is part of their self-image—my veneer is too thin—they see right through someone who thinks they’re mere mortals—and they see my kind of attitude as a threat to their authority, which in their context, I suppose, I am.
I’ve known for a long time that I would never be happy outside of self-employment—but I’ve never had enough ambition to start my own business—and I’ve never come up with a business idea that I liked well enough to put my whole life’s effort into. To be honest, I’ve become so disenchanted with materialism, capitalism, and business that I couldn’t start my own business without becoming a self-hater. I could work for someone else—I could put up with it for the sake of bringing home some bacon for my family—but I’d have to find someone who really needed a geek—and was willing to put up with the strangeness of a geek.
That’s not an impossible task—but time has passed—and now I’m a damaged, sixty-year-old geek with real issues, so the fit is a lot tighter now—and it’s not as if the job market was suffering any sort of surplus. Plus, my big sell was my computer skills—and I’m obsolete on that subject now. I could learn new computer skills, but I always learned that stuff in the context of doing business—it’s hard to do as a pure learning exercise—and it’s always been my experience that computer skills never match the job requirements—on-the-job computer skills never match up with the tutorial stuff.
I used to be able to go into a job interview with the certain knowledge that the employer would be lucky to have me—whether they knew it or not. Nowadays, I’m not so sure. Job-interviewing is an ungodly ritual . I keep putting it off—you put me in a room with a judgmental so-and-so and I’d take that fucker’s head off, never mind getting hired—I’d be lucky to leave the room without being put in handcuffs.
There was a time when I would have been a valuable addition to any workforce—problem-solving, fact-checking, training, organizing, paperwork—I was a working fool, coming in early, staying late, skipping vacations. I still think of myself that way—but then I remember that my present-day self has trouble getting up in the morning, walking around the block, driving a car, talking to people, and concentrating—I’m not god’s gift to employers any more. And I can’t stand the thought of being one of those employees that people ‘put up’ with, the ones who keep their jobs just because it’s too much hassle to fire them—I always looked down on those people, and I won’t become one of them.
Moreover, it was easier for me to be enthusiastic about my work back before I’d had twenty years to think about how horribly selfish and thoughtless most business-owners and managers are. Presently, I’d have a chip on my shoulder before I even walked into a place of employment. I’ve come to understand why Tolkien was so vehemently opposed to property and ownership—it rots the soul. But then most of the rottenness of my soul comes from idleness. Most people are too busy, too obligated, to sit around—as I have lo these many years—thinking about the way the world works, and how terribly one small part of humanity bullies the rest of it—and, with that condition being unlikely to change, my dwelling on it can only lead to despair and feelings of futility—hence my frustration.
Hmmm, not much of a resume….