Sunday, May 07, 2006

Scenes from post-graduate life ca. 1990

Congratulations, graduates!

I graduated from college 16 years ago. W's Daddy was in office, and things were pretty bleak. He hadn't yet started that hoo-ha, let's feel good about ourselves war in the gulf yet, but plenty of people were graduating with seemingly not too bad degrees (various engineering disciplines) from not too bad schools (like Purdue, not too shabby in the technical area), yet getting fuck-all response to their job searches.

I was able to land something using some of the same pestering nerdly skills that had met with a 0% success rate in dealing with the opposite sex. Anyhow, they got sick of me calling and generally annoying them all the time, and gave me a job at what everybody called the 'Naval Air Welfare Center' in Indianapolis. It was about the only place I could think of where you could work in Indianapolis with a Physics degree, seeing as it involved creating and testing devices that could be used to kill people. It was where veterans and college grads with no self-esteem went to die. This dying process could take anywhere from 1 to 40 years, and involved such indignities as

  • sitting in the cafeteria eating horrible, horrible food, listening to your Lovecraft-esque boss talk about his sex life with his wife
  • listening to grown men talk for an hour about the merits of competing brands of lawnmowers
  • listening to increasingly icky guy co-workers make lewd remarks about the women in the cafeteria
  • watching the new boss, who had a body resembling a melted candle, pull a room-temperature (no microwaves available at the time) hot dog from his cooler every day as he ate lunch at his desk
Anyhow, dealing with this day in and day out created a level of angst and dread so intense I had to listen to the Smiths and read Kafka after work to step down from the heights gradually. It really woke me up to the nail-gun-repeatedly-to-the-head banality and tedium that apparently was what really made post-collegiate life so horrifying, and made attending graduate school and working for $4500 a semester seem like I had died and gone to a better place.

So, enjoy your new jobs!


Anonymous said...

Should I be concerned that you've picked up Kafka again?

SDC said...

No, he just kept appearing in magazines and books I've been reading (the Believer, that David Foster Wallace Lobster book, some other magazine talking about the 'Aeroplanes at Brescia' essay he wrote in 1909, so I wanted to go back and read his stuff again.