People are finding the jobless rate so discouraging that my response to the recent re-election of President Obama is to get a job. It’s patriotic. There are many among my dependents who earnestly wish that I had responded in this manner to the resignation of President Nixon. Lest you think, though, that this radical employment response is politically motivated, getting a job is also my response to Hurricane Sandy and the introduction of the iPad Mini. Also to the recent announcement that the Dodgers have paid a $25.7 million dollar fee to acquire the right to negotiate with South Korean pitcher Ryu Hyun-jin (What if he says no?).
I don’t require a great deal of motivation for this questunlike my father, who was motivated by the Great Depression. When the Great Depression hit, he felt motivated to bring telephone service to southcentral Utah. Presumably, so people could more conveniently complain about itthe Depression, I mean. In these modern times, cornering a regional market in communications requires dressing up in a tie and courting sweetheart deals with State Officials, Asian Technology Moguls, and Bain Capital. In those days, it required oiling your boots and stringing wire through the woods and over the mountains.
Which he did.Then his young wife died. (At first he thought that the flutter in her heart was the result of his gallantry and good looks. It wasn’t.) Sevier County (he was fond of introducing himself as one of the “Sevier Paynes”) was by then as full of telephones as the Vermillion Reservoir was full of muskrats, so what next?
He got a letter from a buddy who had fled to California. This was the buddy with whom, as a young teen, he had run away from home to work in Northern Utah as a scab during a railroad union strike. The buddy’s name was Floyd Gottfredson, who drew things. Floyd told my dad that he should come down to the coast and work for Floyd’s boss, a very nice young guy named Walt Disney. Well, what the heck? In those days, what qualified you for most jobs were a certain basic mechanical aptitude, a healthy curiosity, and a willingness to work. Dad had those, so Walt Disney hired him. Dad was with Walt Disney from “Flowers and Trees,” which was the first thing any humans had ever seen on a movie screen in color, through “Fantasia.” He shot every frame of the first full-length animated feature film, “Snow White” and he knew Mickey Mouse personally. He courted my mom in the company car, a tiny Austin with a picture of Mickey emblazoned on the side. If he hadn’t dramatically out-played his supervisor at the studio in a spirited polo match, he’d probably be working there still. (Except he’s deceased and hanging out with his former employer in a better place than Disneyland.)
He worked then for Technicolor, and with the outbreak of World War II he began installing radios in warplanes for the government. The only job I remember, the one he worked while I was growing up, was as the coordinator of the East Los Angeles Welfare Region for the church. It was a funny job, one he loved, wherein he held long conversations in the car with guys like Harold B. Lee and bought ranches and orange groves and built canneries and did all this major wheeler-dealer stuff and made people in Babylon think he was really something
[Interruption with an indulgent personal anecdote: I served in the mission offices in South Australia as a young elder, doing all the jobs that weren’t comprehended in the regular callings, things like running the printing press, buying supplies, mowing the lawn (in the flower beds we had these huge gila-monster-type lizards whom I befriendedI think I befriended them, it’s always difficult to know what a reptile has on its mind), and writing the mission song. I also arranged for all the transportation for missionaries, including homeward-bound flights of astronomical distances and equally astronomical ticket prices. Whether or not a missionary flew home on Qantas or Pan Am depended entirely on how I was feeling on a particular morning as I strolled between their respective offices in downtown Adelaide. Each airline had a guy assigned especially to me, and when I walked in the front door, he’d spring out of his chair to greet me. Nice guys, both of them. In ten months I spent a jillion bucks between them. Then for my final six months I was released into the wine country to knock on a few thousand more doors. Flocks of parrots exploded in pink clouds from spreading gum trees. A kookaburra woke us every morning. I know what a billabong is. Emus walked around.
My own travel home was arranged by my mission office successor, over whom I had no influence whatever. He sent me on Qantas, which was fine with me. When my two companions and I arrived in Honolulu very early in the morning of the second day of travel, a guy from Pan Am elbowed his way through a massive crowd of military personnel who were waiting to go through customs. He bee-lined for us, asking the much more executive-looking Elder Burk if he was Elder Payne. Elder Burk, with characteristic honesty, pointed to me, whereupon the guy, greeting me in the manner that Paris greeted Lindbergh, grabbed me by the arm and shepherded us past all the soldiers who were merely risking their lives daily in Viet Nam in the service of their country, with a running monologue, “We know you’re only here until this evening, but we’ve arranged a room for you at the Reef Hotel in case you want to freshen up or rest. There’s a car waiting for you to use throughout the day. Please let us know if there’s anything at all we can do for you while you’re here…” This very nice guy, not understanding one whit how the Kingdom of God operates, was confident that someone who had wielded such economic power at age 20 was destined for a permanent position at church headquarters coordinating expensive travel for missionaries throughout the world. Why would he think otherwise? It was kind of funny.]
but the final monthly paycheck for this enviably powerful executive, my dad, was seven hundred dollars. That’s what he was paid, plus some really good insurance, a modest new car every two years, and all the food and Wrangler jeans we might need from the Bishop’s Storehouse (it’s Lee jeans nowdon’t ask me how I know). I was raised on Deseret Brand. After he retired, he sold Mason shoes door-to-door (he sold more than anybody else in the United States in his eighties) and volunteered at the Council Scout Office because he loved work.
All because of the Great Depression, although I think he would have been just as motivated by a merely Good Depression.
So, deeply engaged as I am in a serious job hunt, I’m learning a lot of tips that I will now share with you. There are two keys to getting good employment. Neither of them are a basic mechanical aptitude, a healthy curiosity, a willingness to work, or a buddy who draws mice. The first key is called
KEY NUMBER ONE: Be imaginative. Employers want people with imagination. List your skills and then extrapolate your head off. I act. I make music. What possible need could there be in the corporate world of regular paychecks and insurance benefits for an actor and music maker? Extrapolate. Imaginatively.With bullet pointsCEOs love bullet points.
Here’s an example (I’m serious).
The keys to effective acting are:
- The ability to learn and understand the shape, scope, and purpose of a production.
- The ability to make yourself authentically at home in someone else’s world.
- A sensitivity and adaptability to nuances in the responses of a respected audience.
- The willingness and skill to submit ego to the spirit of collaboration.
- Above all, a keenly nurtured sense of empathy.
(I warned you that this would sound serious. Imagination can be serious.)
Keys to the effective making of music are:
- The discipline to master a tool or set of tools.
- The ability to think abstractly.
- Knowing that the most effective communication is heart-to-heart.
Take the words “acting” and “music” out of the above descriptions and you’re left with a list of skills that I am told are valued highly in the corporate world. Then you must summarize boldly, imaginatively, presumptuously, extrapolatingly.
I’m a master communicator and a consummate collaborator. Proven.Clouds of witnesses.Details on demand.
Pretty good extrapolating huh?Try it. So much for “actor” and “music maker.”I will now give you an example of what can be done with “writer.” I write. I know hundreds of words. So, here:
I have written 133 monthly columns for the astoundingly transcendent Meridian Magazine (providing that this one gets past the editors). These columns demonstrate a singular capacity for raising punctuation to a high level of communicative power. Each has a practical “behavioral objective” or even “spiritual epiphany” made palatable by a great deal of artfully-honed preliminary goofing around.
I have been the principal script writer for children’s musical audio-adventures wherein the doctrinal and emotional foundation character is a dog, thus legitimizing the spiritual aspirations of pets (and, by further extrapolation, livestock) everywhere.
I have co-written plays in which the protagonists do things like take second honeymoons to the Tiki Inn in Salina, Utah, or fly in self-built airplanes that tend to disintegrate at awkward heights, or fall in love with the Angel of Death, or well, let’s leave it at that.
I have written historical novels about the 1857 Utah War and the 1776 Dominquez-Escalante Expedition, the publication of which changed the world-views of probably dozens of fourth-graders, while other authors wasted their gifts on the rise of Abraham Lincoln and the creation of the United States of America, two other things that happened in those years.
Which, um, goes to show that maybe some things are harder to extrapolate than others. So let’s move on to
KEY NUMBER TWO: One word”Network.” The people at LDS Employment Services tell me that this is really Key Number One, but I think extrapolating is easier than networking so I put extrapolating first. For you to implement the networking tool in the absolute most optimal manner possible is well within reach. Merely write a column for Meridian Magazine. It’s easy. Even I can do it. And who will read it? According to my Editors, all right-thinking inhabitants of earth and beyond, however far the tentacles of digital will reach, including those six new planets I read about this morning that hover near Star #HD 40307.(In late October NASA and the European Space Agency conducted a successful test of “interplanetary internet.” Think of the tax dollars they could have saved if they’d merely asked the Meridian Editors about the scope of Backstage Graffiti readership!)
You can in no other way make your availability known to more Human Resource Department heads, as well as Alien Resource Department heads and perhaps even Crystalline Entity Resource Department headsexcept that, of course, some of these hirers will not have what we on earth think of, rather provincially, as “heads.”
You also might ask around in your stake. If you find something there instead of near Star #HD 40307, it will probably cost you a lot less to commute.
[Important Forgotten Extrapolation: If you’ve ever been a theatrical producer, you also want to extrapolate topotential employers that you can operate, and probably own, a DeWalt cordless drill.]
Happy job-hunting! Next month will be tips on filling out W-4 forms (which are required of all new employeesthe IRS reaches even farther than Meridian Magazine), if I have filled out any by then.