Alright. My new resolution not to hold grudges? Here was the test.
I applied, interviewed and got a job as part executive assistant, part writer for an educational video company (his advertisement actually called for “50% writer, 50% executive assistant, 100% MUSE”) When I interviewed, the man, my would-be boss, who shall remain nameless, already seemed very proud of himself. That’s fine. I accept that. I noticed a degree from USC on the wall. He was impressed with my Groundlings training, wanted to know how far I had gotten. He bragged about how he had taught his son life lessons with improv instead of football. Alright, whatever, that’s fine, I suppose. I laughed at his jokes, no matter how stupid. He talked about how he ONLY wanted to hire women because they were so much easier to work with. I listened to him preen himself on how funny he is and lament how people don’t know how to work hard anymore, which reminded me of an aristocrat saying with a longing sigh “It’s so hard to find good help, these days.” But I agreed enthusiastically. I said that he can and should call my references to check my work ethic. Fine. He gave me the job. . . . but said it wouldn’t start for a few months. I agreed and left happily, feeling renewed and satisfied that I had done well for myself.
So I emailed him a few days later, asking if we could come to a written agreement of some kind, you know, just to see how serious he was. Well, obviously not that serious because he said that if I should get other “opportunities,” that I should take them. I thought “Aw shit, this means he probably won’t contact me later. . . oh well.” I left it alone. But then 20 minutes later he sent me another email. Not even a full sentence. “Or you could do some temp office work.” That’s it. I talked about it with both my parents. They both agreed that I should hold out for the “real” job, the one, in fact, that I was “hired” for. I wrote him a polite email saying that I appreciated his offer very very much, but that I would prefer to wait for the job that he posted.
Okay. At this point, I admit, instead I should have asked for clarification on what a “temp” job meant to him. What it means to ME, and the rest of the world, I think, is that you do grunt work on a TEMPorary basis and then they get rid of you. I thought, well, he’s already hired me for a position that I actually want. . . why would I take something else when he already thinks me good enough for a writing position? Now. I’m not above grunt work. Not at all. God. Both my parents are actors, the biggest lesson EVER EVER EVER is “paying your dues.” Especially creatively. I get that. I respect that. I have done it many times. But I didn’t assess this situation as “paying my dues.”
Not only was I wrong, but Mr. USC felt that instead of professionally letting me know that I had misinterpreted his partial-sentence, he would write me a series of emails telling me how “untested, shallow and inexperienced” I am. He also started listing “lessons” that I should learn, kindly numbering each one “Axiom #1, Axiom #2,” etc. Also, FYI, there are “good writers” who would kill for a chance to get their “foot in the door,” who usually have to get day jobs (THE HORROR) and don’t make a living off of the measly existence that they squeeze out of their written words. Also, he spelled “misconseption” wrong.
Okay. Breathe. Breathe. It’s fine. I had a wonderful Fourth of July with my family. Why let this (no insult, see?) person try and ruin it? No grudges. No grudges. This man has every right to his opinion. If his feelings were hurt by me turning down his temp position, then he has a right to them.
Well I have a right to my fucking feelings, too. And this is what I would LOVE to write back to him. But I won’t. Because I will be above this. I promised myself.
Dear Mr. USC,
Before I say anything else, I would like to offer my most profuse apologies for insulting your kind and generous offer to be your personal gopher and ass-wiper. Clearly, it is only my extreme naivety that would allow for me to interpret such an opportunity as beneath me. You are right. I should have LEAPED at the chance to kiss your shiny boot. Instead of politely and professionally (none of that, yuck!) declining as I had, I should have offered to bring a collar and a leash as well! What a fool I am!
But thank the snowy top of Mount Olympus I have you in my life to show me the way of The Writer. You, who have an office in a storage shed behind the railroad tracks next to a mechanic’s shop. You, who has a Pantheon of Real Writers at your fingertips, but who was humble enough to post a cryptic advertisement on CRAIGSLIST to find someone as unworthy and shallow as me to fill the Muse-shaped void in your educational video world! What a guy! I put this to you, good sir, where on God’s green earth would I be if not for your guidance and encouragement? Why, I would be eating my fingernails for breakfast! I would be licking dew off pine cones for beverage! If I hadn’t been so fortunate as to stumble upon your kind wisdom, I might NEVER understand what it’s like to be an artist! I wouldn’t know a real opportunity for career advancement from Adam if not for your educated advice!
And so while this Muse faux pas might have soured our professional relationship, I want you to know that I will treasure your Axioms in my heart for always. I will tattoo them on my chest. I will paint your words on wings and wear them day in and day out, to remind myself of my grievous error. I must have done something just awful to upset the Furies. The Greek tragedies of old appear as light-hearted humor compared to my baleful tale of misery. Medea? What a whiner. Odysseus? His woes are but a PITTANCE compared to my burden that I must carry, knowing that I troubled your lofty brow with my ignorance and bad manners. Please, just please know that this great disappointment, to not be able to pour your coffee in the morning, will be enough punishment for me. I can only prostrate myself in front of you and the Almighty Zeus and hope that someday, some lifetime, you will find this unworthy woman acceptable for mingling with the rest of the mortals.
Yours sincerely and eternally,
Ahh! That feels better :) Next, please.