January 17, 2002

Flaming Ball of Fire

For several months now Rachel’s been looking for a job. It’s been difficult at times, but I’m proud of her because she’s managed to maintain a positive attitude. Her motto: One day at a time. Sometimes when I see her getting discouraged, I remind her that the earth will one day be a flaming ball of fire and that all this will be forgotten.

“How do you always know the right thing to say?” she asks.

“I just know.”

Today she sent me her latest cover letter.

Dear Executive Director:

I am responding to your poorly worded and unclear posting on
the low-paid-jobs-for-losers-who-decided-
thought-they-could-make-a-difference website for the position of Peon in your poorly run and under-funded social service agency. I have enclosed my way over-qualified resume for your consideration.

My employment experience is abundant and varied. I have been underpaid, overworked and unappreciated in a variety of positions including Band-Aid Applier, Finger-in-Dike Holder, and Justifier of Lousy Policies. I have always excelled in situations that require a high degree of denial, a capacity to look the other way in the face of gross malpractice and fraudulence, an ability to accept horrifying working conditions, and a tolerance for seeing zero affect of my efforts to ameliorate people’s lives because, “well, we do the best we can.”

At this time, I am looking for another underpaid, overworked and high-likelihood-of-burnout job and would relish the opportunity to learn more about the available position in your agency. I am particularly intrigued by the prospect of working for another lunatic director with no interpersonal skills, management ability, or capacity for leadership.

I look forward to hearing from you if and when you get your shit together, but will not hold my breath.

Naturally Rachel wrote this by taking her actual cover letter and replacing all the lies with the truth.

The Wizard of Oz pulling levers behind his curtain

Remember the scene in the Wizard of Oz in which the wizard, frantically pulling levers, intones, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”? I’ve long believed that language developed, to a significant degree, so that we could lie to each other.

Certainly this is true of the language of business.

I will refrain from discussing the language of love.