Monday, September 11, 2006

My First Resume

Many folks today are talking about the events of 9/11/01, which is only natural, given that this is the 5th anniversary of those horrific events. But for better or for worse, I'm not going to. I grew up in New York, and although I moved away a long time ago, it will always be home. I have an old childhood friend who worked in one of the Towers who was supposed to get married two days after the attack. She got out alive, but too many others didn't. The wedding went on, but you can imagine what a somber event it was. Because of that (I suppose), the events of 9/11 are still too painful for me to confront head on. I have made a studious point of avoiding the TV today because I know it will be innundated with images from that day.

Instead (as with so very many things in my life), I'm going to go in the opposite direction from the masses; I'm going to tell you a little anecdote from my days in NYC. Folks have asked what path lead me to become an editor, so I'm sharing this bit of personal history. This was step one on my road to editorial fame and fortune:

My First Resume, or
(Good God, y’all – what is it good for…)

I’m not sure which yet, but the world is full of either poetic cosmic signs, or random, meaningless coincidences. Let’s assume for a moment that the poetic-cosmic-sign theory has some validity and I’ll tell you about the first thing I ever did with my resume. This story goes back nearly twenty years now, but I remember the details as vividly as if it happened only two decades ago. It’s one of my best drunken party stories, though, and it’s high time I committed it to paper.

I lived in New York at the time, and when I first began job hunting after graduation, I answered a help wanted ad in the New York Times that brought me to one of the multitude of employment agencies around Fifth Avenue and Fortieth Street.

In the agency’s office, I took a seat, along with fourteen other Recent College Graduates, and waited breathlessly until the powers-that-be called me to meet my “career counselor,” who eventually told me I was not only qualified to interview for a human resources position they were trying to fill for the famed auction house Sotheby’s, but that she could get me into Sotheby’s for an interview that same day.

This, however, turned out to be something of a mixed blessing. The good news was that I had my resume with me: it was concise, impressive, type-set and printed on heavy, tan paper. The problem was that I had folded it up in quarters and stuck it in my jacket’s breast pocket. This, my counselor informed me, was no way to treat a document so sacred as a resume.

Determined to save the day, my career counselor so she photocopied a half dozen copies of my poor, abused resume and then sang Allah’s praises when the creases didn’t show.

With my resume now safely protected from further harm by a manila envelope, I made my way on foot through the streets of New York to my first-ever job interview. Unfortunately, the closer I got to Sotheby’s, the more it became clear if I didn’t find a restroom, and find one soon, I was going to have to skip the interview for reasons of personal hygiene.

Miraculously – and if you’ve ever looked for a public restroom in New York City, you know the order of magnitude of miracle we’re talking about here - I found a fast food restaurant with functioning facilities, went into a stall, threw my pants down around my ankles, and did what I had to do.

Close call averted.

It was only after my great relief that I became aware, with even greater dismay, that something vital was conspicuously absent.

There was not a shred of toilet paper. Anywhere. Not in my stall, not in the adjacent stall; not nowhere. I stood on tiptoe and peered over the divider, confirming with a growing sense of panic that there weren’t even paper towels in the dispenser next to the sink.

I was, if you’ll pardon an unpardonable pun, in deep do-do.

It was at this point that my eyes fell on the manila envelope with my photocopied resumes…

And it really wasn’t a tough decision to make.

I sat back, crumpled and uncrumpled the pages several times to make them as soft as possible - and ended up at my interview with a smile on my face that no one could figure out, and only one copy of my resume. It was folded neatly in quarters.

Did I get the job?

Are you kidding me?

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