OK, you guys know I don't usually do the normal blog and tell y'all about my day, or what I ate for lunch, or what kind of, I don't know, Jello pudding pops I like the best. But a personal experience of mine must be shared. In this... my 600th post spectacular.
This concerns a dream I had early this morning. As dreams go, it actually wasn't completely nonsensical; and, oddly enough, it's actually a follow-up dream. Ever had one of those? A few weeks ago, I dreamt about wandering through a building near Metro Center, while (for some reason) trying to cut over to the Red Line, and encountering a job fair. I hazily recall giving out a few resumes and talking with some besuited young white guy lower-management types.
So in this dream last night, I'm walking through the same building on my way to an Orioles game. I'm trying to cut over to the Red Line again, which, for some reason, in my dream, goes all the way to Camden Yards.
But this time, the exits are all locked; they're closed off and have police tape all over the handles. (Clearly the heightened security has cut off my illicit short-cut.) I'm about to try to back out undetected when a security guard spots me. He follows me and tells me to come with him to talk to the CEO of the company. I try to back away, figuring that if I don't come with him, they don't know who I am and I can't get in trouble. But eventually he somehow convinces me to come with him. He leads me into the elevator and we head to the top floor, where I meet the CEO, who looks and talks kind of like an older Barack Obama. His office has a view of the Red Line train (which looks like a bullet train with a red stripe on it).
The amiable CEO chats with me for a while, and it becomes evident that he's seen my resume (from the previous dream) and is interested in hiring me at his firm, which creates and designs advertising. The CEO talks about how they want someone creative who's a good writer and has an eye for design.
There's a pneumatic tube in his office, like the ones you see at a bank drive-through. Whoosh, in comes a canister. Surprisingly, it contains a job offer to work at the company, with a specific dollar figure attached (I remember it: $85,623), a significant raise over what I make now.
So, I walk around the office, which is colorful and bright. I meet some interesting people who currently work there. I made a note in my notebook to ask them about vacation time, and whether they would be flexible. I had some reservations about going into advertising, so I resolved in my mind to consider the offer for a couple days. That way I could consult with my wife, and also see if I could get my current company to match or beat the offer. Either way, this was a win-win situation.
And the best part was: somebody actually was excited about hiring me for my creativity. They had recognized my talent and intelligence, sought me out specifically, and made me an incredible offer. This offer gave me the chance to escape the repressive yoke of my current job, where I dwell in a lonely, quiet cube, nobody talks to anybody, and management essentially makes up reasons to give us below-average raises.
It gave me this incredible, unusual (for me) feeling of euphoria and self-worth, which even lasted a good five seconds after I woke up. At which point I realized that I was lying in bed, and that none of that had actually happened. There was no great offer at a fun workplace; there was no chance to make more money; there was no chance to escape the job I found to be dull and without recognition. It was 5:10 a.m. I would still have to drive out to motherfucking Reston in a few hours for a meeting with a sneering co-worker.
I was so angry/sad I couldn't get back to sleep. They were showing Canadian Bacon on cable, so I watched that for a hour or so to cheer myself up. Sometimes it's a mystery to me where a dream springs from in our sub-conscious. But I immediately knew exactly what this one was about.
A few weeks ago I had been combing through the classifieds looking for a new job. I was looking for something that would get me closer to home, but also that would get me away from working on a military contract, which I still have some qualms about. People like lobbyists and politicians come to Washington all the time to work for causes they believe in; why couldn't I? Unfortunately, a vast majority of the jobs listed were for military contracts or required security clearances. Nothing inspired me to think the grass would be greener at any of those jobs.
But then, one particular technical job caught my eye. It was essentially a position as a Web Technician for a "non-profit conservation organization" called NatureServe. It seemed to have everything I was looking for. I don't talk about it much, but environmental causes are important to me (Bush lost me right away in early 2001 when he pulled out of the Kyoto protocol). And although it's not my full-time job, I've done enough website work part-time on the side that I could certainly see myself crossing over to doing that full-time (and whatever I didn't know, I could learn). Best of all, the job was on Wilson Blvd. in Rosslyn; if I wanted to, I could even ride my bike there from my Fort Strong apartment.
So I spent some time re-crafting a custom resume and drafting a special cover letter to let them know I really wanted the job, and that I could bring special skills to the table: design, writing, and a strong techincal background. I e-mailed and snail-mailed the package just to be sure they got it. And, like so many times before, heard nothing. Not even an acknowledgement they received it.
It would have been nice to at least talk to them, and see if I was a fit, I thought. I mentioned to my wife my disappointment that they hadn't contacted me, and she asked a very good question:
"They're not affiliate with the Nature Conservancy, are they?"
Uhh, I don't think so, I said. But I wasn't sure. I went back to the website and checked, and sure enough... they are. I couldn't believe that hadn't even occured to me. My supposed "dream job" would have been with the same crooked organization the Post exposed over a year ago as aiding in a series of improper land grabs and loans. I even posted about them!
My heart sank when I found that out. Even if they had called me back, upon learning that little piece of information, I don't think I would have been able to accept a position there.
That revelation seemed to sap my will to look for a job. My efforts to use my talents to help the world rather than harm it had fallen by the wayside. If my only hope for working for a cause in which I believe was with a corrupt organization, what hope was there of doing any good in Washington? I was, once again, powerless to do anything to help, in the Most Powerful City in the World.
After getting a couple more hours of sleep, I woke myself up for the meeting, came into work tired and grouchy, and found out the co-worker had decided to postpone it to 4 p.m. this afternoon. I meet with him in three minutes. And so life goes on.
John F. Kennedy once said he wanted to be an idealist with no illusions.
At this point, I'd settle for illusion.