Gurowski asked “where is this bog? I wish to earn some money: I wish to dig peat.” – “Oh no indeed sir, you cannot do this kind of degrading work.” — “I cannot be degraded. I am Gurowski.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals, February, 1861
As a 50-year-old unmarried man who lives in his mother’s basement, my expenses are very low. All I need is a few dollars every few weeks for a five pound bag of rice, and a few hundred dollars every few months to have my bike repaired. Living cheaply allows me to write full time – novels nobody reads and blog entries maybe a few hundred people will read — but it won’t replace a MacBook, which I destroyed by pouring a cup of coffee into the keyboard, or a nicely spec’d out i7 desktop computer, which was incinerated by a power surge. For the past two years, I’ve been using a 10-year-old Dell Precision workstation, and an 8-year-old Lenovo Thinkpad. After my Dell workstation finally died, however, I decided I needed to buy a new computer. Lenovo Thinkpads never die but the one I have is so slow it barely runs Twitter.
In other words, it was time to look for a job.
Looking for employment when you’ve been out of work for an extended period of time can be difficult. I haven’t had a real job since 2011, when the poorly managed database company I worked for went out of business. My resume, to put it mildly, has “gaps.” Something about the whole concept of a “resume” has always bothered me anyway. In the United States, or any capitalist country, employers always collude against workers. You submit a “resume” and the names and addresses of “references.” Your potential employer can then decide if your “qualifications” are good enough for him to expropriate the surplus value of your labor power. The references will vouchsafe that you’re not any kind of rebel, union organizer, or general, all around malcontent. Potential employers always consider gaps in a resume to be a “red flag,” and trying to explain them to an HR Department is always a losing game.
“So Mr. Rogouski, your resume says that from May 2011 to July 2016, you were not employed.”
“Yes, I lived in my mother’s basement and wrote bad fiction about destroying capitalism.”
There’s also the idea that I don’t really want another serious, career type job. I’m a writer. Whether or not I can make a living doing it doesn’t matter. It’s what I am. It’s all I want to do. Any employment I take is likely to be something I resent. “Day jobs” not only keep you from writing, they’re a reminder that you’re not very good. At age 50, I should know better. I should realize that I’m never going to make any money writing novels, give it up, and find a real career. Well, maybe I should have done that at age 30. At age 50, the future is pretty clear. I’m never going to get married. I’m never going to have a real career. I’m going to grow old (er) and ugly (er) alone and in great poverty. To be honest, that’s OK. Most people have to struggle to be married to someone they don’t like, raise kids they hate, and pretend to like some kind of a phony job so they can buy things they can’t afford with money they don’t have to impress people they don’t like. Nevertheless, being in perfect health also means that, barring either suicide or a nuclear holocaust, I’m going to be around for the next few decades. In addition to needing to buy a new computer, I still have to eat and keep a roof over my head.
So I wrote out a resume, and a cover letter, both of which list my “objective.”
Dear Human Resources Asshole:
I am a lazy malcontent who lives in his mother’s basement who needs a few thousand dollars he doesn’t have the guts to steal. I have huge gaps in my resume, so I’m looking for one of those jobs where they’ll hire any loser who can pass the drug test, give him some bullshit work to do, and pay him money.
Stanley W. Rogouski
My resume, not surprisingly, got no responses. I even applied for one of those Amazon warehouse slave jobs, the kind that actually kill healthy young men in their 20s, but they never got back to me. I suppose I failed the “online personality assessment survey.” I did, however, manage to find a job that doesn’t require a resume, an online personality assessment survey, references or even a drug test (the one test I can usually pass). Noticing an ad on Craigslist for a “Part Time Dishwasher” at a restaurant a scant three blocks from my mother’s basement, I took a shower, put on my best dirty T-shirt, and walked over to their kitchen to apply. After a one hour tryout, they hired me, not for a part time job, but for a full time job. That meant 4 days a week from 12 Noon to Twelve Midnight of backbreaking, unskilled manual labor.
It was just what I wanted.