E-mail I just sent to a potential employer


Y’all, I hate applying for jobs. I hate it. There’s something about it, about posturing and spinning and pretending to be important, that I can’t stand. Maybe some deeper underlying psychological issue is at stake here. All I know is, it’s awful.

So, I have real important things happening in my life, and real profound thoughts too, but after about two weeks’ hiatus this is the writing project I’ve worked on for the past hour.

Lyndsey Janelle <lyndseyjanelle[at]gmail.com>
1:44 AM (0 minutes ago)

to commonwealth[at]pavementcoffeehouse.com
Dear Commonwealth:

Today I walked past your store and, having a keen interest in coffeehouses and recently-finished construction projects, looked longingly into the window. Or I tried to, but I was distracted by a fairly small sign that said, “WE’RE HIRING!” It also directed interested parties to “send an email” to this address, which I found to be rather cryptic. What kind of email? Is there a password I am supposed to know and include? I thought about sending a blank email, but I suppose while we’re communicating I’ll tell you why I think you should hire me.
First of all, I can get things done, and I have common sense. So, for instance, (not to criticize necessarily), if you asked me to make sure the world knew you were hiring, I would not print shouty caps on a small piece of paper and tape it in a window. I would at least print shouty caps on a big piece of paper. If nothing else was going on, I might even mount a full-scale advertising campaign by placing an ad on craigslist or using a font that communicated what kinds of people I wanted to hire. But only if I didn’t have better things to do.
That is the second reason you should hire me: I am very efficient. I know when I have better things to do. I know which things are urgent, important, and completely unnecessary. I have found this to be a rare quality in humans – the ability to prioritize, especially under pressure. Perhaps you, too, have trouble finding these kinds of humans.
The third reason you should hire me is that I like being nice to people. I find that I am happier when surrounded by happy people, and so I work proactively to make the people around me happier. Just yesterday I walked down several flights of stairs just to bring my housemate a cup of tea. I would derive unimaginable joy from handing cups of tea to people only feet away for hours at a time. You might think that I am being snarky now. I am not.
Because the fourth reason you should hire me is that I am grossly overqualified, but I still want this job. Having worked in my life at numerous leadership and management positions, creative projects, and important-sounding things, I am now a Master’s student in theology at BU. I want a job that is the opposite of my studies: a job where I do things, concrete things in reality, that are clearly worthwhile. Creating a delicious drink and placing it in the hands of a tired, determined, or celebratory customer fits the bill perfectly. I’d like to be known as the Treat-Bearer.
But the fact that I am overqualified does not disqualify me from possessing a quality level of qualification at barista skills. I make great coffee. I work hard. And, having worked for a year in a food pantry, I am a customer service Hercules. I have wrestled the Cerberus of customers. And I’ve come to appreciate the nice ones more than ever.
Finally, you should hire me because: I am normal-looking at times, but do not worry that I might disturb the urban vibe or get blandness in the coffee; I am also quite capable of cultivating an appropriately quirky appearance. Sadly, I have no tattoos, but I do possess many cardigans, trendy hats, and pairs of glasses. I also have blue eyes and freckles and fancy myself an ideal candidate for some shy plaid-wearing poet boy’s (or girl’s, who’s counting?) unattainable (because they’re so shy) crush. They might buy more coffee as a result.
My resume is attached. Thank you for your time if you’re still reading. I really would, in all sincerity, like to work for Pavement.
All my love,
Lyndsey Graves
PS. I hope I haven’t offended you about the urban vibe. I don’t say any of this as a judgment on your coffeeshop coffeehouse; just making conjectures based on my past encounters with baristas. I’ve honestly never gone inside Pavement. I can’t afford coffee right now. So hire me and share the joy. Thanks.
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future employers STAY OUT

*psst* this is my name if you met me at church and can't remember and we've known each other too long for you to ask again because it's awkward.

*psst* this is my name if you met me at church and can’t remember and we’ve known each other too long for you to ask again because that would be awkward.

In a moment that managed to combine great thoughtlessness with great prescience, my parents gave me a name that sounds like several other names and then they spelled it like they wished we were Welsh. They have apologized for the ensuing confusion.

But really they shouldn’t have. Sure, I have a hard time introducing myself to old people; but my parents had me a little too early to recognize the genius in what they were doing, which was in fact making me extraordinarily Google-able. Once people figure out who I am, that is.

If you Google me, you will quickly find several pages that are actually directly related to me, along with other mentions of less-important Lyndsey Graves-es. It helps that I’m a fairly active participant in the Internet (in fits and bursts, at least).

Having, like most twentysomethings, little else to manage and interface with and delete emails from, I indulged in one such fit; yesterday I joined tumblr (find me so I can follow you!), and today I joined LinkedIn. I only wanted to follow people and save hipstery photographs (tumblr) and use other people for my own professional advancement (LinkedIn).

But that LinkedIn account sent me into a minor identity crisis here at my desk on Tuesday morning. I don’t know how to author one of those! I know how to write a résume – describe my mostly-adequate experience and accomplishments with aggresively grandiose jargon, prioritize experience most relevant to job applied for, and keep it out of the hands of people who actually know me. I also know how to write a blog post – be honest, and always include some run-on sentences (those are especially honest). And my Facebook profile is a hodgepodge of shared social justice articles and all the one-liners I’m going to put in my mockumentary someday.

Inviting my friends and teachers into my fledgling professional life, though – that’s something I’ve hesitated to do, and writing my profile I remembered why. THEY DON’T BELONG THERE, that’s why. Or, to be more accurate, I’d really just rather not have to combine the two. Where my LinkedIn profile says “Young Adult Ministry,” my friends have all heard me say “young adult ministry… whatever that means *snort*”.

The only reason I got an account is because I’m so Google-able. The care and keeping of one’s work life, online-writing-hobby life, and real-world-relationships separately is a quaint but unhelpful notion anymore. A savvy employer will find  me. I won’t get to print my information onto expensive heavy paper and hand in that version of myself. They will see all my snark, earnestness, controversial opinions, and personal celebrations, in descending order by popularity measured in page hits; and that will be the same picture whether they’re at a university, an online writing venue, or whatever coffee shop employs Ph.D.s in theology.

Every little piece of ourselves that we tether onto a corner of the internet becomes a dot that others can connect to form a picture of us – in most cases, an indelible dot. Another quaint but fairy-tale-ish notion from the past? Moving across the country and “starting over”. The activity from your past is recorded; your current whereabouts are in the searchable White Pages; and your online identity is a cloud made of thousands of tiny water droplets – every tweet, every like, every friend and “connection”.

Which makes it all the more difficult, even if you’re doing your best to be intentional about creating that identity. My coworkers are disconcerted that I wore jeans and only jeans in the winter, but have started dressing up in the summer. They need me to stay in one place once they’ve got me figured out. But it’s difficult, impossible even, to project a consistent image across multiple platforms, so they’re going to have to live with the uncertainty of knowing a dynamo like me.

In the end, though, I think I’m hopeful. I may never be able to convince a hiring manager that I’m a straitlaced, whitebread, grown-up individual with absolutely no slightly Communist ideals. But then again maybe all that overblown résume language, when it served to identify me, was actually as bad for my soul as it felt.

Maybe I am glad that where my LinkedIn account says “lead volunteer, Havenplace”, my friends are standing by, perhaps remembering the tears I cried over those kids and the ways I was changed by those kids. Maybe some of my connections will be those kids.

Maybe it is good that my name forces me to stand out a little, and I can choose to rise to that serendipitous, unlooked-for occasion. Maybe, even if I discover that everything I ever posted in my twenties was a gigantic appalling mistake, I’ll not forget that humility is the rarest and most endearing quality an academic – or a human – can ever possess.

Maybe the internet, this weirdly ephemeral medium that once flooded the world with concerns about anonymity, will finally make us better people by exposing us so.

May my own Facebook photos reveal integrity – a life actually lived the way my blog claims I hope for.

And may those two blog posts I tried to hide please dear goodness really stay that way.

subzero windchill, day 1

a proud Atlantan encounters the white, glittery dark side of Syracuse, New York.

Right Now: 14 F. feels like: -4.
know thine enemy.

Leaving my office, my face has I have already learned a lesson from the morning’s trek. My scarf winds around my neck and face five times to cover my nose. For one second I wonder if this will cause the people I encounter on the sidewalk to think I am dorky; then I realize, no, it will cause them to be insanely jealous of me, because they have frostbite and I do not.

Inventory: thermal shirt, other shirt, jacket, knee-length wool coat, tights, jeans, socks, boots, scarf, gloves, hat. I walk outside fairly confident in my armor, and am immediately hit by a blast of wind that causes my eyes to water. This response seems counterproductive, I tell my tear ducts. By no means do I want to be in any way wet right now.

I begin my tromp across the snow. 1.5 miles to go. Throughout my entire journey, I see six people outside, and we are all traveling in the same direction. I think this is so we don’t walk into the wind.

A ways down the road I see two kids, probably five and eight, getting off the bus or something. My first instinct is to run over, scoop them into my arms and tell them not to cry.  I remember that they have encountered many more days like this than I have, and imagine their reaction: “What do you want, lady? It’s a balmy several degrees out.”

There is a young woman taking her dog outside. This snowy situation is an aspect of New York dog ownership I never considered before. I make a mental chart:
Dogs
Cons:
want to go outside
Pros:
adorable
can be disemboweled for warmth

My hat is slipping down and covering the last three square inches of exposed skin on my body. As deliciously cozy as it feels to have warm eyes, I reluctantly concede that I’ll have to prioritize vision over comfort for now. I push my hat up. It slides down. I find a crochet hole to look through.

A bus slows down next to me. I’m pretty sure the bus driver expects me to get on. I don’t look at him or her in case this elicits an awkward shouting/sign language discussion about how much I love walking up enormous snowy hills. The bus pulls away, leaving me to my fate, like when Albert leaves Bruce Wayne. 

I get home and start taking off layers. Now I know what it’s like to be a hermit crab and shed your shell that’s the size of you and get a bigger one that’s the size of a house.

It turns out breath vapor will get your scarf wet 1,000,000,000 times faster than tears.

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