Monday, June 18, 2012

Crazy Stupid Job-Hunting


My husband, who works in television news, told me about something he saw on the news a few days ago.

During the filibuster for the Omnibus Budget Bill, a Conservative MP was cornered by a reporter and she said she was going to download a few seasons of Madmen to watch during this session of Parliament.

My husband was astounded that reporter didn't ask her the obvious. "Are you going to download it illegally or legally?"

Jon Stuart surely would have caught that bit for his television show, were he Canadian. Rick Mercer, where are you when we need you?

So I have something in common with one of Harper's troops. I am also going to watch Madmen shortly. Not so much out of boredom or to drown out the sound of  annoying  colleagues. More to drown out my fears about the direction this country is going. And to forget about smug politicians making light of the work they do.

So it goes.

I watched the first few episodes when it first aired, probably on the recommendation of Salon.com.  I liked it, but it hit too close to home, so I stopped watching.

Back in the 70's, fresh out of college with a background in the 'new field' of communications, I thought I might work in advertising.

I sent out many hand-typed letters. And I got a few interviews. One interview I will never forget. It was at an agency around McGill College and the woman who had probably been forced to see me was clearly Nuts herself, a madwoman.

She had madwoman hair, all electrified and she gesticulated madly as she gloomily informed me that were I to get a job at her agency I would start with two years as a receptionist and then move to two years as a secretary. I wouldn't just start as a writer.

(As I walked out, I couldn't help but notice the, ahem, sensual looks of the secretaries. I wondered where the male candidates started out.)

Well, I was naive and idealistic in those days. I actually thought when you applied for a job, say at  the National Film Board, that there was, indeed, a  job that needed to be filled. (What a joke!) If I needed ANYTHING back then, it was a practical strategy to find a job, not dreams. (Like the sympathetic Television Network VP who told me to lie on my resume.)

Or maybe I needed to make the 'right' friends. Back then, I personally despised people I knew who used that particular job-hunting strategy. See what I mean by naive?

I graduated right in time for a recession, like kids are doing today. (But I didn't know it. And I graduated  after the Parti Quebecois got into power, changing the rules of the game in my province. There's a reason all of my classmates moved to Toronto or beyond, many on to  brilliant careers. )

In those day, if I got a nice, mildly encouraging letter back from any company where I had applied, it was a major victory.  It lifted my spirits, just as that interview at the McGill agency crushed my spirits for a time. What a witch! It doesn't hurt to be nice, you know.

One of the nicest letters I got back, I actually recall, was from the National Arts Center where my son's U of Ottawa convocation was held just two weeks ago,

The majority of arts students, it appears, were graduated with degrees in  Communications. I was on the cutting edge back in the late 70's,  the problem was, no one out there had heard of such a field. Ironic, isn't it?

My son, who works as a chef in a high end restaurant, now has a degree in Philosophy with a minor in ethics. He was the only student getting minor in Ethics. Not a popular field these days, for some reason :) I wonder if that Conservative MP might be able to explain to me why.

Yesterday, my daughter in law (still looking for her first job in her field even though she graduated suma cum laude and got an MA in criminology, a burgeoning field we are being told) came by to visit my husband on Father's Day, (for the boy is working) and she invited me to go with her to La Boheme at the National Arts Center, because a co-worker at the bakery she is working at slums as an opera singer.

I was thrilled. I've been wanting to go to an opera for a long time. Back in 2010 this young woman accompanied me to New York where we saw a production of Mrs. Warren's Profession at the American Airlines Theatre  on the Saturday Night and walked through Central Park the next morning, eating lunch at the Boathouse.

And where she took this picture of me in the Buddakan Restaurant, on the Sex and the City Tour. I've heard from people who often attend opera that its the one event patrons still get dressed up for. That's easy for my daughter in law, who always looks like a million dollars, but, as for myself,  I think 2010 was the second to last time I got my hair done. I work at home, as it were. Writing plays like Milk and Water - a discussion of ethics in business and politics in 1927, the era of US Prohibition.