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Get a job

by Debbie Carini

One of my husband’s favorite expressions is “get a job.” He often utilizes it in response to simple questions such as “what should I do this weekend?” When I mentioned this to him, he claimed that it wasn’t so; but I liken it to me, telling my son, “I don’t snore,” when he swears a death rasp (that he identifies as his mother—how I don’t know) wafts through the house in the wee hours of the morning.

“Get a job,” has taken on a whole new meaning in our house this summer as our freshly-minted college graduate has returned to the nest sans employment (though certainly not for lack of trying). As I write this, my daughter is on a cross-country quest to secure a steady paycheck.

Last week, we shopped for appropriate interview clothes (funky for the music company; more stylish for the major entertainment corporation), and I couldn’t help but reminisce about my own early days of job seeking.

My very-first-ever job interview was at the Upland Library for a “junior librarian” position that was offered to local high school students. I thought I met all the qualifications: bookish, nerdy, always available on Friday and Saturday evenings but, alas, my participation on the badminton team kept me from working weekday afternoon hours and thus I was removed from consideration. (I finally did end up with a post at a fast food restaurant, possibly because I bore a striking resemblance to the company mascot—a freckle-faced, red-headed girl named Wendy).

As I neared the end of college in the early 1980s, the look for potential junior executives was heavily-padded shoulders and alarmingly high hair (think Melanie Griffith in the movie Working Girl before the makeover that attracts the attention of Harrison Ford).

Not wanting to look like an inverted triangle (I only stand 5’2” and some of those shoulder pads produced a wing span equal to that height), I opted to wear a slim knit dress in variegated sherbet shades of yellow, orange and pink on my first interview for a position as an advertising copywriter at a bank.

I walked into the proverbially-paneled, corner-windowed-office and sat opposite the cruise-ship-sized desk of a man who looked a lot like Rich “Uncle” Pennybags, the round old guy in a top hat who serves as the mascot of the board game Monopoly. I was nervous, and deeply hoping the process wouldn’t include a pop-quiz on balancing a checkbook. I smiled through the marble-based pen set at my interviewer, eager to present my portfolio of interesting and topical stories from the school newspaper, of which I was an editor.

He leaned forward and, with what I can only now describe as a lascivious leer, said, “You look just like a popsicle in that dress.”

I don’t remember much after that except I think I hooked my purse on the chair as I was hurriedly leaving and probably dragged it 4 feet before I was free to run away and not pursue some sort of case with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in 1975, had a backlog of more than 100,000 charges to be investigated.

I eventually got a job, and so will my daughter, but as we continued to peruse the racks for the perfect outfit, I steered her away from the pastel palette and whispered a word-to-the-wise, I warned her, “better to look like a librarian than a frozen Bomb Pop!”

 

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