This post is the first of a series, entitled, “Jobs That I Have Had.”
Not long after my 25th birthday I packed up my Mercury Topaz and drove from Farmington, Utah to Washington, D.C. I headed out for D.C. because, to paraphrase George Bailey, I was incredibly anxious to shake the dust of the crummy little state of Utah off my feet and go see the world. As I think about it now, the reasons why I chose to go to D.C. instead of New York or Chicago or Los Angeles weren’t as well considered as they should have been for such a momentous decision. These reasons boiled down to 1. I’d fallen in love with the place during a visit there as an 8 year-old and 2. Ryan and his wife, Macy, lived there. So I headed to D.C. with maybe a thousand dollars in the bank, no job, and the conviction that before long I’d be the only one in the whole office with the guts to stand up to the Senator and urge him to remember why he’d run for office in the first place.
The night Ryan – who had joined me in Nashville – and I arrived in D.C. we joined his wife, Macy and some visitors – Macy’s mom, sometime DDDT commenter Erin, and Erin’s mom – for dinner at a restaurant in Virginia. Towards the end of our dinner the waiter solemnly informed us that the D.C. sniper had just shot and killed someone several blocks from where we were eating. As we exited the restaurant Ryan and I were astounded to see all four women scatter like a handful of marbles hitting the floor, at which point they starting sprinting in a random pattern of zigs and zags and jukes and feints that would have gotten at least one of them selected in the late rounds of the NFL draft.
They’re zigging and zagging! What’s a military-trained sniper to do but admit defeat and wait for less agile quarry?
They recognized that the Snipe, as we later came to call him, had the ability to kill them in cold blood, buy they could at least refuse to make it easy for him. I like to think that the snipe had us in his sights that night, but was unable to pull the trigger because he was doubled over with laughter at the sight of four women conducting evasive maneuvers in a parking lot. I feel confident, though, that had Erin gone down in a hail of sniper fire that her husband, Massey, would eventually have recovered thanks in no small part to the healing power of dance.
We are going to get you through this, Massey.
Unbowed by the Snipe and the fact I found DC’s roads so confusing that any trip in in a car ended with me calling Macy or Ryan and having them talk me back to my apartment, I began a rather unfocused search for a job. I didn’t at that time own a computer, so I’d ride into the Georgetown Law School with Ryan every day, where I’d use his ID to gain access to the student computer labs. Before long, though, I decided it was small-minded to limit myself to the computer lab and I began to embrace the entire Georgetown student experience. I got to know the lunch ladies in the cafeteria, I began attending the many interesting classes and debates and speeches, and I even managed to get myself quoted in the student paper. I feel confident that had I stuck around a little longer I would have been elected class president.
The job search ground along. I interviewed at the office of a certain songwriting U.S. Senator from the state of Utah. The first question posed to me was, “Tell me, what do you most admire about Senator X?” I don’t remember how I answered, but I know it wasn’t convincing, and it was all downhill from there. Since work on the Hill didn’t seem to be for me, I decided to look into the CIA. My initial visit to the CIA’s website showed that CIA recruiters would be present at the career fair of a local university the very next day. I awoke early, put on my ill-fitting suit, and went to meet my destiny.
The campus of this university was beautiful, but something about it seemed . . . a little off. Perhaps I was unfairly comparing it to the all of the familiar sights and faces of my beloved Georgetown. Or maybe I was just nervous because I felt like an interloper for hijacking the career fair of a school that I didn’t attend. Regardless, I followed the signs to the large conference room where the career fair was being held. After entering the room and seeing a couple hundred people, my sense that something was amiss grew, although I still wasn’t able to determine why.
I marched right up to the lady manning the CIA booth, stuck out my hand, introduced myself, and told her I wanted to become an agent. She said, “You don’t go to this school, do you?” I felt the cold pinprick of panic in my stomach, and considered lying. She worked for the CIA, though, and besides, the resume in my hand would reveal the truth soon enough. “No, I don’t. How did you know? “Because this is Gallaudet University. For the deaf.” I addressed her in a whisper, “Ohhhh. Wow. I didn’t realize that.” She responded, in a mock stage whisper, “You don’t have to whisper. They’re deaf. They can’t hear you.”
Gallaudet Univeristy: You Would Not Believe How Quiet Our Career Fairs Are
After a month or so of this, I began to run out of cash. My friend – if I can truly call him that – Peter heard of my distress and told me he could help me. This help took the form of part-time employment at a company called Federal News Service. It’s difficult for me to describe how terrible this job was, but I will do my best in next week’s installment.