Fier Thy Words

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Don’t Ask Me What I’m Doing After College

by Scott Spinelli (Funny How?)

1/31/08

They say you’re not supposed to talk about two things at a bar: religion and politics. Since I haven’t really been to temple since my bar mitzvah (that’s more than eight years ago for you gentiles out there) and I’m about as politically informed as the eggplant parmigiana in my refrigerator, I’m going to add another no-no:

“So what are your job plans when you graduate?”

I hate that question for a number of reasons, but largely because my response pales in comparison to that of the person asking. People don’t generally ask questions like that, in my experience, because they’re genuinely curious. They ask as a front, so they can tell you how great their job is.

You can almost hear them counting down the seconds before they can finally give up the charade of listening to you, and blurt out their situation.

“Well, I’m not sure, I might go back and live with my – ”

“Wow, really…That’s awesome. Yeah, I’m going to the city to work for JPMorgan. I mean, no big deal really. Entry level sort of thing, I’m starting out at 75 thousand a year, so whatever.”

“Oh, you see, that’s funny because I was offered that exact same position, but turned it down. I accepted something a lot lower-paying, based out of my parents’ house, so…”

I don’t really say that last part, it’s mainly in my head. The truth is most people don’t have any idea about what they’re doing after they graduate. In fact, most of us don’t even know what we’re doing at the moment.

Ask anyone around you, point blank, “What are you doing right now?” You see that glazed-over look in their eyes. Thought so.

Whatever it is I wind up doing in the future, I can almost certainly rest assure it tops some of the “jobs” I’ve had in recent past.

Most recently, I attempted to work at Barnes & Noble. Let me make one thing clear: it’s not as easy as it seems. There are several rounds of interviews, practical demonstrations, take-home exams, strength exercises, proof of family bloodline requirements, etc.

My attempt was foiled almost immediately. In line for the first interview, I heard a simple question asked of the woman being interviewed at the time.

“Who are some of your favorite authors?”

I completely freaked out. All of the sudden, I couldn’t think of any books I had ever read. I had to leave the line and go around the store to find an author I recognized. The only thing I could think of was R.L. Stine. He was the only author I could remember having read more than one book by.

At that moment, I realized the ultimate problem with trying to work at a bookstore, albeit in the café. Those who don’t read will have a problem selling people books.

My shining moment (or gaggle of moments, as it was), came the summer after my freshman year.

If I’m anything, I’m proud of my heritage, at least the Italian side. So, what better way, I figured, to represent my family than to work for a true, homemade Italian pizzeria – Domino’s.

Not looking to make a career out of peddling assorted types of breadsticks, I found myself often messing around to enjoy my time there.

Don’t worry, I didn’t do anything disgusting. I’m talking Disney-type fun.

For instance, at one point during the summer, my manager wanted me to have a name tag in case the regional inspector came to our store. The problem was the only one left was the one her son used. No big deal, right? I guess not, unless you think I look like a “Carlos.” In a week or so, I got fed up with being Spanish. I changed the name tag to Giuseppe. Real Italians selling real Italian cuisine.

One other particularly interesting point of silliness came from a simple jousting session. Another delivery person and I would fight with the instruments used to make the pizza. Call it passion, call it idiocy, but for whatever reason, we got so caught up in the duel, we forgot to cut the pizza. After the delivery was made, a phone call came in to the store.

“Umm, I’m sorry, but the pizza I just ordered wasn’t cut.”

My friend answered, stone-faced.

“Well, do you have a knife?”

That’s the mark of a good job. Does it matter that only a month after that phone call we were both “laid off?” Maybe. Maybe not. What’s truly important is: does the job yield enough stories to make a girl laugh at a bar? If the answer is yes, then stay away from talking about whatever job you have coming up next.

Scott Spinelli’s column appears every Thursday in The Daily Orange. If he could have one superpower, it would be to have that “sore throat” voice constantly.

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January 31, 2008 - Posted by | Spinelli

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