I wake up every day gasping for air as if had been drowning in a dream. I never remember the dream. I feel the stale air rush into my lungs as I jolt up so I’m sitting. Today feels like a Tuesday. Every day feels like a Tuesday. The weekend is a fleeting memory and Friday is a fiction a world away. I hate Tuesdays. Especially today.

Today I got canned. My law firm was either merging or getting bought out or dissolving. I never got a straight answer. It doesn’t really matter. Anyway, the answer would be painfully boring. All I knew was that I wasn’t allowed to show up to work on Monday. It’s a great feeling if it’s your choice. Not so when you still have $117,000 in student loans to pay back from law school and you’ve just moved here from 1,200 miles away. It’s more like a ping-pong paddle straight to the nose. You see it coming, your brain recognizes what it is, but it can’t actually be what’s happening, can it? Yes. Yes it can.

Nothing can really prepare you for something like that. Up until that time I thought I had pretty much done everything right. I graduated college with honors and got into a top-tier law school. There, I published a paper on human rights using a cost-benefit analysis (don’t ask), got a prestigious summer internship – which I then parlayed into a better one the following summer – and then leveraged that into my firm job in D.C. doing high-profile contract litigation work. Some would say I bootstrapped my way in; I called it crafty. More importantly, I was somebody by 26, making more than my parents ever did. I had my own office, went to happy hour on the company card, learned how to golf (adequately), and met some of the biggest politicians and lobbyists in the District. I kicked ass and took names – when I felt like it – but usually I just had my secretary do it for me. Oh, did I mention I had a secretary? That was pretty cool. She would bring me coffee in the morning. Coffee always tastes better when someone brings it to you.

Besides all that, I was pretty good at what I did too (I could explain it, but you’d probably get bored. Notice a pattern? It really is interesting though, I swear.), at least I thought I was. It’s funny – and by funny, I mean depressing – how I could spend 18 hours a day, 6 days a week busting my ass for them, and they just let me go. They dumped me, just like Joanna Hoffenmeyer did, and I’m in 7th grade all over again.

Only this time I could buy booze. That was comforting. Though two months severance only gets you so much Johnnie Walker Blue.

When I woke up from that episode about 5 weeks later, I got up, groggy and damp, and dove right into the job search. I called, e-mailed, texted, facebooked, linkedin-ed. I even sent out paper letters. Paper. Nothing. “Not qualified.” “Not enough experience.” “No response.” “We don’t like you.” That one didn’t hurt as bad as one may think. At least they were honest. Hell, I don’t even like me. It’s one thing to convince someone to sleep with you, that’s free. It’s a whole other thing to convince a bunch of grownups that they should have to pay you week after week to ask too many questions and write docs that’ll just need to be rewritten by the paralegal anyway. Looking for work is a lonely place.

It’s an odd and jealous relationship one has with “to whom it may concern.” S/he knows I’m lying, knows I’m not that interested in the finer points of the Uniform Commercial Code, and knows I’m cheating before they ever even get to know me. Yet I expect that they’ll somehow eat up all the shit I’ve spent 48 minutes laying down at their feet and be so enthralled that they’ll come knocking down my door. I know it’s bullshit. They know it’s bullshit. I know that they know it’s bullshit. And they know that I know that they don’t care that it’s bullshit.  And somehow this is the best system we’ve come up with? Cesar Chavez is rolling over in his grave. I should have been a farmer too.

On my frequent breaks from that hell, I drink. A lot. I also end up trolling around on Craigslist to pass the time. It’s meditative in a way. Craigslist is a lonely man’s paradise. The country is at your fingertips, neatly arranged in rows and columns, masterfully assembled in Internet 1.0 splendor.

-Homemade Dog Food (Woodbridge) – check.

-Gone with the Wind Memorabilia (Herndon) – check.

-1253 SF Loft in Columbia Heights for $388k (Not Actually Columbia Heights) – check. -Wanted: Zombie Sketch Artist (WDC) – check.

-Casual Encounters (W4M) – double check.

Wait A Minute!?!?! Zombie Sketch Artist? WTF man. That’s pretty funny; should I flag as miscategorized? Inappropriate? Anyway, here it is:

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Wanted: Zombie sketch artist for Metropolitan Police Department. Must have 3-5 years experience creating likenesses of the undead. Flexible work schedule, exciting workplace. Team oriented a must, as is a strong stomach. Willingness to “get hands dirty” a plus, as is an open attitude toward submitting to yet-unproven vaccines. Some travel required, expenses will not be covered.
[We are an equal opportunity employer and the mildly un-dead are encouraged to apply. However, the ADA does not currently recognize The Affliction for disability status, and health benefits are contingent on a thorough physical exam. Employment subject to collective bargaining agreement. This is a 13-month term position, subject to annual renewal.]

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It was 2:21 on a Tuesday and I gave the number a call just to see what would happen. This is going to be interesting.

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