January 22, 2009

Happy janitors

Yesterday, I went with some friends to get some Chinese food. There’s a little restaurant at Monroe and Leonard with an unremarkable name, “China City” written in typically unremarkable Chinese-restaurant-block-lettering signage. But the food is hot and the price is right - $5.25. All you can eat buffet. Count me in. Though, as I tried to remind one of them later, “all you can eat” and “all you should eat,” are two very different things. Not that I always take that to heart. Any other day and I, too, would have gone for thirds, fourths, sevenths, whatever. But I’m trying to keep my girlish figure. New Year’s resolution or something.

Who cares about Chinese food, anyway. If you’ve been to China City, you might as well say you’ve been to First Wok and Golden Buffet and China Palace and Kowloon Abacus and everywhere else. They all make the same stuff, an Americanized version of what Americans think Chinese people eat. And, as a friend who used to fix kitchen appliances once told me, they’ve all got cockroaches. Without exception. But I don’t want to ruin your future Moo-shu pork experiences, so I’ll move on.

We talked about career things. Friend A is still in college, seven years in with another to go, and Friend B is learning that what he is doing isn’t what he wants to be doing. He’s looking for something else, with a little more purpose.

My generation is finishing college just in time to see ourselves get laid off. Lots of us are either looking for jobs or sitting in the last-in first-out position. This puts in me in pretty optimistic standing trying to start a career outside of pizza-delivery.

I’m quick to say I haven’t really felt the effects of the recession. But then I realize, oh yeah, I got laid off a year ago. I had just started my career as an associate editor, a step above coffee-getting guy. (Though, had the staff been any bigger, I probably would have started as coffee-getting guy.) And a few days before the Christmas party, the axe fell squarely on me. The pizza gig softened the blow. Living with my parents helped, too. Life said to me, go start over, this is not for you right now anyway. So I delivered pizzas and went to Africa and came home and delivered more pizzas.

As much as I write about the pizza-gig, you would probably think this is somehow central to my identity. But I don’t think it is. If your identity is based around how you spend your time, then I am first and foremost, a Guy Who Sleeps. Second, a Guy Who Delivers Pizza. And Third, a Guy Who Thinks About Sleeping. But if this job somehow goes away soon and I have to earn my money some other way, my “identity” wouldn't fundamentally change. So, I don’t think that’s who I am. I’m more than my job today. I will be more than my job tomorrow. The pizza gig is blog-fodder that happens to pay the bills.

We all live for something. We need significance, to justify our existence, to convince ourselves that we’re not bums. I guess the go-to identity thing for college kids is their career. Most people I know spent/are spending/will spend their college years trying to figure out the whole career thing. I sought my identity in my career for a long time, groaned over my major, dreaded the day I’d finish college without a clue. And here I am, holding my college degree, delivering pizzas. Sometimes it seems humiliating, and I like to be self-deprecating about it. But then I realize it’s not the most important thing about me.

What you do for a career - not terribly important. Sorry. That’s something I never learned in college. I’m inclined to make the most of my college education and its oppressive price tag, that’s why I seek a “real job” somewhere. But when I think about it, I’d be just as useful doing something else that doesn’t seem so glorious. The career is just a detail. That’s why there are happy janitors and sad lawyers. And lots of unhappy, “successful” famous people.

When you center yourself on anything other than what you were made for – careers, relationships, yourself - you’re probably not going to be happy. I ought to draw the theological parallel here that if God made us, and we don’t feel fulfilled, we probably ought to take a good look at Him to find out what we need to fulfill ourselves.


(Some of my inspiration: Reading "The Reason for God" by Tim Keller)

January 20, 2009


I'm looking for a job. Thing is, I don't always want to bank on the thin slice of experience I've got. So I created this résumé:


(I blacked my address here out so no one can contact me and stalk me. Neat, huh?)

Get it? Hope and Change in place of experience?


Oh, I see. You do get it, you just don't think it's that funny. That's okay.

Anyway. Job searching and snarky commentary aside, today was a big day. I'll spare you from having to read another person's thoughts on how important it is to see a black guy become the president. Not that I want to deny the hugeness or awesomeness of it... it's fascinating to see all this happen in my lifetime.

I generally try to stay away from writing politically, or having political conversations because inevitably, I end up being wrong. I wrote a bunch of stuff on my old blog about WMDs and stuff when we were going to war in Iraq. That turned out swimmingly. I've learned that however much I try to cement my political views, they still find a way of evolving. I don't just think I'm wrong. I think everyone's wrong. So I find it's best to stay mum on stuff until it's historical enough to have some consensus. Which doesn't mean I don't have opinions on things, it just means I don't care to share all of them.

So back to Obama. I am doing my best to have my opinions on him shaped not by talk radio, but by what he does as president. It's going to be a bitter, awful four years if I'm shuddering already at the sound of his voice before his first full day in office. And as much fun it is to have things bitter and awful, it's better to give him a fair chance.

And so it is, I've given him my trust. He's the president. He says he's got a plan to fix the economy, I'll hope it works. He says he's cutting my taxes, I'm going to enjoy it. The world says they like him, and I'll hope he keeps us on their good side. He says he's a Christian, I'm going to let his character support it.

I'm going to discard the Chicago politician résumé, the Senatorial voting record résumé, the Reverand Wright résumé, and and focus on the President résumé.

It's hard not to give credence to all of the hope that people have in him. Obama means a lot. He is, if nothing else, a symbol of the change people want and a chance to get things right. There was so much bitterness sent Bush's way. I guess I took offense to it because I voted for the guy. I still see him as a scapegoat for things that aren't his fault. For lots of people, he could do no right. And despite all he did wrong, he did some things right. Obama delivers a chance to get things right for all of those people who stood against Bush. So, now's their chance.

I'll let you know if my résumé gets me work. After all, it worked for Barack.

January 8, 2009

This is pizza delivery, not AAA.

Last night at work, some guy called and asked if I had a "one of those car chargers that jump dead batteries." I knew right where it was going.

I told him I didn't. He asked if anyone else did, and I said No, I didn't think so.

He told me to check.

So I checked. The other driver, Chris, was about to deliver a pizza (after all, that's what we do.) We asked him and he said no.

Phone guy asked me to drive down to him and give him a jump. I asked if he worked here, or if I knew him, because that was the only way any part of this would have seemed rational.

He said, "No, but I order from you religiously."

Now, most people don't realize this, but religiously ordering pizza from a particular establishment does not obligate that establishment to service your automobile.

I wanted to pass the buck. I told him I would ask the manager and I put him on hold.

Me: "Hey, Dave, this guy wants me to come down and give him a jump. Tell me it's illegal or we're liable or something and that I'm not allowed to."
Dave: "Who is it?"
Me: "I don't know him. He doesn't work here. He's just some guy who needs a jump. Just tell me I can't."
Dave: "Okay." He shrugged.

I picked up the phone. "We can't. We're not allowed to. We think it's illegal, and we'd be liable if anything happened." This is actually not far from the truth.

He started to tell me about his day, how he had a waterfall in his basement or something and that no one could fix that either, and some other stuff went wrong too. I don't doubt he might have had a horrible day. I felt for him a little. I told him I was sorry, and wished him luck.

And ten minutes later, my next delivery went right by his house.

So I put my sign in my trunk.