When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them I’m a writer. Or, if I’m feeling particularly fancy or wearing a beret at the time, an author. But there was a time not so long ago when I didn’t feel qualified enough to say that I was a writer, even though I was in fact writing a book at the time–it just wasn’t published yet.
At the time, what I did for a living was a hodgepodge of random part-time jobs, some of which I liked and some of which I very much did not like. But this is hard to put into words, especially when you are a so-called Adult Who Should Have A Career By Now, and so every time I was forced to answer this question, I became the human equivalent of this:
Which brings me to the awkwardness. A few years ago, during this confusing time of a million jobs, my friend (who is a lawyer) asked me to write her a letter of recommendation for a job she was applying for. (Why she asked this of me, I don’t know, as I’m guessing all of her other letters came from important people like professors or former employers, whereas I’m sure I was ultimately labeled as “well-meaning court jester”.) I needed to get my letter notarized, and to do this I needed a notary public. Not wanting to visit any of those sketchy storefronts with neon NOTARY PUBLIC signs (which I would actually kind of like to add to my kitchen decor), I went to my local bank.
So I sat down with a rather attractive banker guy, and while he did his notarizing thing, he started to make small talk. This is a natural instinct; I don’t blame him for it. But what he didn’t realize is that he had just locked himself into a cage match with the most awkward small talker in town, and the round was about to begin.
Now, I don’t know if I was thrown because he really was more good-looking than he had a right to be (I don’t recall ever seeing any Hot Shirtless Bankers calendars in my life), or if the smell of mortgage lending in the air got my heart all aflutter, but when he arrived at the inevitable question of “Where do you work?” my brain-computer crashed even harder than usual.
I muttered something unintelligible.
“What?” he said.
“Oh, you know,” I said, waving my hand in the air and making, I am positive, the weirdest face in recorded human history. “All over.”
He then proceeded to make the second-weirdest face in recorded human history, because what I had basically just insinuated was that I was a prostitute, and my little hand-wave was surely gesturing toward my favorite, tried-and-true street corner. The poor thing had no idea what to say after that, so I took my newly notarized letter, thanked him for his time, and scampered out the door to go drown myself in a pool of quesadillas, ice cream, and embarrassment.
Moral of the story? Lie and tell ’em you’re a graphic designer.