Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Why do you want this job?

Why do you want this job?”
Well Chuck, do you mind if I speak candidly, about exactly why I am sitting here before you?  By now, you probably have a good sense of my ostensible persona. Up until this point I have pandered my answers to your liken, but I feel I need to be completely honest when answering this question.  If you really want to understand me as a person, and the pain that is associated with the dichotomy of thought I am feeling then I hope you embrace what I am about to describe to you.  Know that that this is my last attempt at abstraction.  This is merely an effort to describe who I was, what I want to be, and how that will benefit your company. 
When I was in grade school there was this awesome substitute teacher named Mr. Quill.  He was a wide-eyed, jubilant man with an insatiable desire to have fun and make kids laugh.  He was as much a novelty as his quirky last name suggested.  Out of the entire, substitute-teacher-pool the students prayed to get Mr. Q.  Like all substitutes, he never required us to do any real work but he always leveled with us in a way that we respected him for.  He usually led off class with a goofy joke, followed by a brief attempt at doing the “assigned” busy work before he would just say ‘screw it, push your desks aside, we’re playing a game”.  
 Mr. Q was somewhat of a celebrity in the local performing arts scene.  He was a staple member on the prominent improve team in town called Comedy Sports.  He always incorporated a level of goofiness from the stage into his teaching persona.  As an 8-year old I hoped to one day have the same type of energy and enthusiasm for living that Mr. Q had as a middle-aged man. 
 As I aged, Mr. Quill continued to substitute teach in my classes a couple times per year.  Around my Junior year of high school I noticed a sharp change in his demeanor.  His tone became more desperate, his pitch more monotone; it was like he had lost his will to entertain, to create, and essentially to live.  Soon he became a shadow of himself, exhibiting little enthusiasm while he hid behind his computer for most of the period and forced us to do the type of busy work he once despised.  Students resisted this change.  Every class had a few who couldn’t help but point out to Quill that he was no longer who we thought he was. 
“Hey aren’t you a comedian, tell us a joke funny guy” is what they would say to him in a condescending voice. 
                Quill would just shake his head, sink his shoulders, and disappear deeper into the abyss of his once vibrant mind.  He would sit behind his computer while he sporadically typed in a manic fashion.  I assume he was working on a novel that he had ambitions of finishing before waking up on the wrong side of 25.  The weight between his waist and sternum constantly reminding him of an adulthood filled with overconsumption.  His aging face and smokers cough were evidence of a lifetime riddled with unchecked impulses for “living in the moment”.             
It was not until I started searching for jobs in the business world and thus having to deal with the reality of adulthood, that I understood what happened to Mr. Q.  He was dealing with the realization of being creatively exhausted and irrelevant. 
I can take one of two paths as I transition into adulthood.  I can either be a speculator/distributor of someone else’s value or I can be a creator of my own value.  However, there is a third option, which is a combination of both roles. This is the most dangerous path because the two ideas are so conflicting in and of themselves.  This is exactly what Mr. Q attempted to do.
He was using the guaranteed income of a substitute-teaching gig to supplement his creative aspirations.  He probably figured he would do the teaching thing while he tried to launch his writing/acting/comedy career.  Slowly he realized that he was never going to make it.  He was never going to make a living in a creative capacity.  Yet, everyone at his rational career (students and peers) already had this expectation of him to constantly be creative and funny.  In a way, we were all rooting for him to reach his creative potential but it never happened.  Can you imagine what it must be like to be expected to play that role all the time? Can you imagine trying to earn a paycheck based on your personality and ability to make someone laugh?  This must be the loneliest place a human being can be.  A human life trapped inside a character-- typecast for eternity. 
So, what does any of this have to do with me being here?  If life operated in a vacuum, there would be no reason to be afraid of anything. No risk too dodgy. No desire too selfish. No deprecating thoughts that could inhibit and destroy the mind.  In this vacuum accomplishment is limitless and creative thought is infinite.  However, I do not operate in a vacuum. I live in the real world.  A world that is dictated by dollars and cents, haves and have-nots, successes and failures.  And the barometer for success is always money.         
When I went to college 5 years ago, I thought a business degree was the next logical step.  A proverbial security blanket in case I didn’t achieve wild creative success or start a retail phenomenon equivalent to silly-bands.  But that turned out to be an ideal fantasy.  A myth buried inside my head.  For 23 years I have lived my life with a complete sense of wonderment, and curiosity.  I have woken up in foreign places, said things I shouldn’t have, used and abused substances/friendships/relationships all in the name of “finding myself”. I have taken a lot of risks in effort to find my creative self but it's easy to be idealistic and socially rogue when I don't have any adult responsibilities like paying bills.  I need to let go of my childish ways and start living with some foresight because the future scares the shit out of me.  My youth and my careless approach to life have been catalysts for creative output and I feel that as soon as I commit to an "adult" life, the rigid domains of reality will limit my ability to find joy the way I once did....but its something I have to do.     
Have you ever loved something and then slowly watched it slip away because of factors you felt you had no control over?  I’m talking about a pain where the lingering sense of loss presents itself in subtle, yet myriad ways.  It’s the feeling you get when you brush your teeth in the morning and see your youth fading away in the mirror day after day. It’s the look of terror in my parents eyes as they watch the news and begin to realize that the “American Standard of Living” that they once thought was infinite, is actually eroding.  The best parallel I can think of is the thought of treading water in the middle of the Atlantic ocean—delaying the inevitable.
I know that I cannot commit my life to working in a creative capacity while the jaws of reality nip at my heels and because of this, I am here to take the brunt of the pain now, rather than deal with a lifetime of depression due to a lack in myself.  I want to avoid what Mr. Q went through at all cost.
As I see it this job provides structure, vertical promotion opportunities, and most importantly a consistent paycheck.   I need to be “Jared the Insurance Salesman” from 9-5 and Jared the human being after hours.  This separation is key for my peace of mind.  Someone with creative aspirations is never off the clock.  Their workday is not finite because as an “artist” their job becomes all encompassing.  It must be impossible to approach ANY situation--social or even in solitude, without thinking about how they must produce something.  Eventually their minds eat them alive. I am here to plug-in and bury my idealistic vision of myself for my own safety and well-being.  I am leaving that part of me in the past and opting into a life of certainty. 
However, this does not mean I am completely done making irrational decisions.  Someday I may use my savings that is earning minimal interest in a CD to buy a boat.  I may assume the role of a boat owner.  I will wear retro fitted caps and measure my relative bravado against other men in terms of horsepower and hyperbolic fish stories.  I might even play the lottery on a weekly basis and internally romanticize about the things I might do if money were no longer a problem.  But this is a different type of irrational behavior in terms of my worth to you as an asset to this company.    My temporary lapses in frugality will only further insure my dependency on the paycheck that this job will provide me. 
The dark truth is that I am a coward. I do not have the balls to commit to a life of uncertainty and make an attempt at creating value.  But I know that my commitment to working here is not selfish--it is actually the most selfless thing I can do.  People say that “surviving” is just a euphemism for slowly dying, but people who are “living” are simply selfishly desiring.  This type of creed works for some people and I have the utmost respect for them, but I am too cowardly to make that commitment.  My dream is to give my son a chance to pickup where I am going to leave off.  I hope that I can provide him with a life of consistency and stability that will allow him to grow into what I could not be.  To give him the bravery and encouragement necessary to find success in making the “unknown” work for him.  
By the time I was 12 I realized my athletic limitations were going to prevent me from ever playing in the NFL and some 12 years later I am realizing that I will never be a creator of my own value.  I don’t think there is a better counter weight to that realization than being a salesman who insures someone else’s value. I am here not because I want to be, but because I have to be; and in that desperation, you will find an employee that is so unequivocally dedicated and addicted to the idea of stability and the importance of success that I will make the best “Yes”-man-employee this side of the Mississippi. 

….Soo what do you think Chuck….am I fit to sell insurance?