It is almost noon and I am standing in line at a job fair at a local university.
The scholars of yore would tell me I should use the Latin and refer to it as my Alma Mater because that adds some gravitas and a double dose of respect.
But it doesn’t really feel that way to me, so I don’t care if I use such a term.
What I really want to do is follow the sign towards the Bat Cave because this isn’t really happening to me. I am not really in between positions and fighting for a chance to reignite my career.
Part of me thinks it is possible that this is just a dream because twenty some-odd years after I graduated campus no longer looks quite right.
They have madeÂ improvementsÂ and much that was once familiar is gone. Just walking around feels different because everywhere I go I see the tops of heads because the eyeballs that are attached to said heads are focused on electronic devices.
It makes me think of my own children and the way they use their devices. I make a mental note to make sure my kids know how to carry on a conversation without their electronic security blankets.
A buddy of mine is walking the floor with me too. We are in agreement about feeling a bit of culture shock.
He asks me if I am going to blog about it and I nod my head, “I might.”
Someone behind us in line makes what sounds like a crack about dumb dad bloggers and silly storytellers or at least that is what I think I hear.
I really don’t know if I did and part of me feels a tinge of disgust at the flash of self-importance.
“We were walking down Michigan Avenue. It was bright and sunny. She was holding my hand and she never let go. Even after that car jumped the curb and pinned her against the building she never stopped holding my hand.
I tried to pull it off of her. Tried to push it. Did everything that I could do but it didnâ€™t matter, cuz she died anyway.” Sometimes You Have To Forgive Yourself
Dumb Dad Bloggers & Silly Storytellers
Something is always going on inside my head.
It is a noisy and chaotic place.
The line I am standing in hasn’t moved and I am losing patience. I don’t know if this company is looking for candidates with experience or wants the next set of fresh meat.
Students push by me and say “excuse me sir” and I wonder if I really look that old to them now. Can’t say it would surprise me because they look like babies to me.
At almost 46 I am finally old enough to be their father and not have people ask if the kid was a surprise.
There is a brunette smiling at me and I stop thinking about the age difference and start wondering if maybe I really do look younger.
Some people say they think I have to be in my late thirties, maybe she does too.
And then reality strikes and I realize she is smiling because she is one of the company reps, it is her job to be friendly to the people that reach the beginning of the line.
This time I am certain that dumb dad bloggers and silly storytellers is coming from inside my own head.
She answers a few questions and asks some of her own and then our moment is gone. She is not a hiring manager, her role is simply to man the booth and answer questions.
What Do I Want?
After a few hours my friend and I go grab lunch at the student union.
While he heads back to the counter to grab more napkins and plastic silverware I run down a mental checklist of who I saw and what I did.
Most of my time was spent in the aisles not talking to people.
I am not interested in most of these positions. I don’t want to lock myself into staying in town because even though it is home it hasn’t been good to me for a long time.
My gut says it is time to go and my actions reflect it.
But the truth is that the majority of my interviews haven’t been for positions around here. That says something about the economic conditions.
Inside my head I hear my grandfather tell me you can always find work in Chicago.
“I tried Grandpa and I came close. Company even flew me out for a final interview but I didn’t get the job, fact is they didn’t even fill the position.”
Grandpa is dead, gone almost nine years.
Come to think of it, my nineteenth wedding anniversary marked five years since grandma died.
None of this is relevant to the job search other than I would like to talk to them. I told you it gets noisy inside my head.
If they were here I would tell them that my old life is dying or maybe it’s already dead. I’d tell them I know intellectually this is a short moment in time but that emotionally it is choking me.
I can hear them asking me what I want and feel them pushing me to continue to go with my gut. I mutter something about following my heart and a giggle escapes my lips.
Pretty soon I am going to look like the crazy man in the suit who talks to himself.
The Hero Of The Day
There is a new voice inside my head pushing me to the hero of my story. I am silently arguing with him, saying it has been too much for too long.
He tells me to STFU and deal with reality.
That is never a good way to encourage me to do what you want. I do as I do and act as I act.
“But what about your children? How are you going to provide for them?”
“Dad is going to save the day. He is going to be the goddamn hero they need as well as the one he needs.”
I run through another mental checklist of challenges and accomplishments. There are a few blank spots for check marks for goals that haven’t been met yet but the majority of them have a big black check mark next to them.
There is a whisper inside my head asking me how I know I won’t fail…again.
It is answered by another saying you can’t fail unless you quit and you don’t quit.
What Is Next?
My buddy is back with the plastic silverware and napkins. He tells me I look like hell and I ask him if he wants me to use the Spork to carve a tattoo on the side of his head.
When he says why I tell him that college students are dumb and I am going to convince them it is tribal artwork.
“I’ll make enough to cover the rent and then some.”
He laughs and says if anyone can come up with a convincing silly story it is me. I smile and tell him that dumb dad bloggers are silly storytellers.
He says he is not quite sure what that means and I say it means I am going to the hero of my story.