Employment Opportunities


August 04, 1991|By Dave Barry

Pay attention, recent college graduates, because today's topic is: How To Get a Job Even Though We're in a Recession and the Only Practical Skill You Learned in College Is How to Make Collect Phone Calls.

First you must face harsh reality: The economy is bad.

Audience: How bad is it?

L * It's so bad that organized crime had to lay off 10 judges.

* It's so bad that oysters are producing fake pearls.

Audience: Boo.

Thank you. But seriously, recent graduates, the employment market is tough. The only sector of the economy showing any actual job growth is the Resume Handling Sector, which hires beefy workers to unload the tons of new resumes that arrive at major corporations each day on enormous barges. It's hard, heavy work, and to make the time pass more quickly, the workers often sing the traditional "Resume Handling Song":

Got a great big load o' resumes

From recent graduators

Got to take dem off de barge

An' put dem in de 'cinerator

That's right, recent graduates: Large corporations now meet roughly 27 percent of their industrial steam requirements with boilers fueled by your resumes. So don't think you're not making a difference! Of course you'd probably prefer to make some actual money, which is why I'm here to offer you some Practical Job-Hunting Tips.

The first one is: Don't get down on yourself. Sure, it can be depressing to realize that prospective employers find you about as desirable as a jar full of lung flukes. Sure, it's hard to accept the fact that, after spending years studying to take on challenging careers such as architect, or communications professional, or marketing executive, the only actual position you've been offered is drinking fountain gum remover.

But before you get too depressed, let me tell you a little story about a fellow I'll call "Bob." Like you, Bob was a bright young graduate; and, like you, he couldn't find a job. Things got so bad that Bob wound up living in an appliance carton, but he never lost faith in himself. One day, while he was collecting used cigar butts for food, he came across a discarded newspaper that happened to be open to the classified section, and there was an ad placed by a company looking for somebody with exactly Bob's qualifications. And then he looked up and saw that he was standing right in front of that company's employment office. And then he was hit by a truck. The point being that his carton is vacant if you need it.

So hang in there, recent graduates. Remember the old saying: "It's always darkest just before you step on the cat." Believe me, I know what it feels like to be unemployed. I myself became unemployed within hours after I got my first major job. I am not making this up. I was hired to drive a delivery truck for a furniture store in Armonk, N.Y., and everything went really well until I made my first actual delivery. The back of the truck had a rigid, custom-made, expensive cover, which I failed to attach properly, so that when I drove across the Tappan Zee Bridge, a playful gust of wind plucked the cover off the truck and sent it soaring dramatically into the Hudson River. Unfortunately, because of poor design, the cover was not equipped with an emergency flotation device, and the furniture store had this really strict rule under which truck drivers had to return with the entire truck, so I became unemployed.

An ironic sidelight is that some friends of mine, Clint and Betty Collins, once lost a large part of their household on the Tappan Zee Bridge. I am not making this up, either. They were moving to Boston, and the tractor-trailer containing all their stuff was crossing the bridge during high winds, and the entire trailer got blown off the bridge. So Clint, who was already in his new home, was having his morning coffee when he got a phone call from the moving company informing him that there had been a slight problem, and that the delivery of his household goods might possibly be delayed inasmuch as they were, at that moment, drifting downstream toward Manhattan.

"That was the earliest in the day that I ever had a martini," recalls Clint.

And so, recent graduates, we see that our second practical tip is: Never take a job wherein you have to drive furniture across the Tappan Zee Bridge. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that it's inside the Bermuda Triangle and being attacked by UFO aliens armed with Anti-Furniture-Truck Rays. Speaking of which, I see that I'm almost "outer space" here . . .

Audience: Boo.

Thank you. So let me just say, in closing, to you young graduates: Don't worry. You'll get a job some day. Everybody eventually gets a job, even people with absolutely no useful skills or knowledge. Believe me, I know.

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