Adventures in unemployment

Bob Mackey

Attention liberal arts majors: If you’re anything like me, you’re probably very hungry right now. I, too, am aboard the liberal arts boxcar, riding the rails of a train bound for Poorsville. And while I could eat this nearby cat, we’ve simply been through too much together for me to skin and cook him. Also, I see what we feed him, and that’s one food chain I don’t want to be part of.

It’d be easy to run with the overused statement of “Haw! You’re a (liberal arts) major? Have fun serving coffee for the rest of your life!” These words flow from the mouths of idiots almost as often as tobacco juice runs down the bottom of hillbilly chins. But this is not the matter at hand.

What most people don’t know is this trite statement is entirely untrue. I have a liberal arts degree, and coffee houses want no part of me. Neither do the dozen jobs or half-dozen temp agencies I’ve applied to.

By being overqualified for crappy jobs and underqualified for the good ones, I have found myself stuck in an Unemployment Black Hole. No manager is going to hire someone who lives in a place where no light or hope can escape.

Luckily, I have three writing gigs that make up about 5 percent of my needed income, along with thousands of dollars of credit and a golden shovel I can use to dig myself further into debt. With some careful juggling and modest panhandling, I may make it until the end of August, when Kent State will pay my tuition and give me a stipend, which will ensure that I will be rolling in grilled cheese sandwiches for at least a year. What a scam!

This isn’t just a sob story though — it’s a cautionary tale. If you’re a liberal arts major, be aware that you’ve already bought into the pyramid scheme that is college. Right now, I’m on phase two: indentured servitude (i.e. graduate school). And just as in the mafia, the only way out is a pair of concrete boots, though this may just be for those majoring in masonry.

Consider your bachelor’s degree a stay of execution. Any college with the faintest traces of honesty should hand out a timer that reads, “This much time left until you’re completely screwed,” along with your degree on graduation day. Otherwise, graduates will find themselves despondently walking out of failed McDonald’s interviews after being asked, “Can you make it to work every day from your ivory tower, egghead?”

I’m not trying to bring anyone down, even though I have every right to. Case in point – while most businesses never contacted me to show their disinterest, Target chose to tell me in writing that I was not fit to work in a store where my duties would involve running a conveyor belt and a small laser.

Though I guess the fact that I’m writing about it now shows that my skills are in vastly different areas.

Nuts to them, anyway.

Bob Mackey is a graduate student in English and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater in need of 95 percent more income. Contact him at [email protected].