Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hunting for that Elusive Job (and Ruminations on Life)

         I'm not sure I know anyone who enjoys job hunting. I personally don't enjoy it. I guess the one upside is that it gives you the opportunity to decide who you're going to be. So far I've been a few things and I often wonder where my life would be now if I was still one of those things, or if I had never been one of those things. In my mind, each decision you make in life leads to a new path for your life to take. And in some parallel universe where you didn't make that choice, or you chose a different path, your life is completely different from what it is today.
        For example, imagine if I had never quit my job as a tele-interviewer (which is kind of like being a tele-marketer, but you're trying to get people to participate in a survey rather than trying to get them to buy something). Imagine if I was still working that job, rather than the one I have now. If I had settled for that rather than moving on to new things. I would still feel like I was at a standstill, still feeling like I wasn't going anywhere or doing something I loved. It's nothing against that sort of work - I'm sure there must be someone out there who maybe enjoys getting sworn at by complete strangers over the phone - but it just seems like the type of job that was created by someone who never actually had to test it out and see if it was effective or not, because if they had, they might have realized that for every interview you get, you probably get at least 50 rejections. And that's a lot of rejection for anyone to face in an 8-hour shift. It's tiring. It's exhausting. And it's frustrating. It's the type of job created following the notion that if you were to have a million chimps typing away on a million typewriters (for a million years!), one of them would eventually spit the words of William Shakespeare out of that archaic machine and onto a piece of 20lb bond paper.
        There are plenty of routes I could have gone in life, and plenty of things I could have been right now - I could have become an archivist, a graduate student (which could have lead to being a research assistant or again being a teacher's assistant), a canvasser for charity, a graphic designer, a civil servant, etc. But I am where I am now, and the choices I have made have brought me here. I can either like it or lump it, because if job hunting has taught me anything, it's that you never have to settle. You can usually always change what you don't like about your life. There are always new opportunities out there if you look for them. I guess that's the upside to job hunting.

Friday, April 5, 2013

The Printshop Girl

She was a printshop girl. It sounded to her like one of those old fashioned and now somewhat archaic job designations like librarian, secretary, or archivist. A job nobody has anymore, as least not in the traditional sense. Librarians these days don't file and catalogue books on little notecards that take up drawers upon drawers of space. They don't sit with spectacled faces and hair tied up tight in a bun, shushing noisy people like they used to, at least in the movies. Now they catalogue everything on a digital database that only takes up as much physical space as a computer on a desk does. And now they sit at a service desk behind a computer screen, checking out books like a cashier ringing through a customer at some retail store. Likewise, printshop girls for the most part no longer print with large printing presses with roll on inks, nor do they mix ink colours to get just the right tone and shade. Rather, they use those newfangled but wholly unromantic Xerox machines with screens that have so many buttons and so many possible settings that it takes at least a week of training to master. Still, even though it wasn't as romantic as the old fashioned type of printing, she still liked to romanticize her self-ascribed job title. Printshop girl. Technically she was a "front counter customer service representative" at a printshop, but she liked to think of herself as a printshop girl instead. Like saying secretary rather than a "administrative assistant" - outdated and politically incorrect, but evoking the romantic idea of a 1940's secretary in an old hollywood film noir picture, or the sexy secretary of adolescent boys' fantasies. She liked to ruminate on things like this, and she thought - there's something about job titles like "administrative assistant." They are devoid of romance and there's something sexless about them. Perhaps they are meant to be gender neutral and more politically correct - but in being such, they also lose something. Rather than inspiring the imagination - whether that of a young woman on a job hunt, or that of a young man fantasizing - they inspire a feeling of boredom because they sound so technical and formal. Let's be honest - no little girl ever dreamt of becoming an "administrative assistant," but there are probably at least a few weird ones who at some point dreamt of being a secretary. Likewise, there have probably never been any little girls who dreamt of working at, say, a Staples store with aisles of office supplies up the yin-yang, but there are probably at least a few who dreamt of working in a printshop. A small little printshop run by a handful of people, rather than a dozen disinterested and likely underpaid employees wearing matching uniforms, wandering from aisle to aisle aimlessly.