Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Skill Set

This afternoon, as I maneuvered my car out of a parking lot that looked like a badly played game of Tetris, I reflected on the fact that the one good thing to come out of a miserable summer working for my Dad at a car dealership is that I can get a car out of almost any tight spot. At work we have a tiny parking lot with only about half the number of spaces we need for all of our staff, and street parking is by residential parking permit only. Since the people in the neighborhood will call parking enforcement on your ass, people pack into the lot like sardines, which makes getting out of your space difficult. Somehow I can almost always do it, which is hilarious because I’m notoriously bad at backing up. My parents have actually on occasion come outside when I’m leaving their house, for the express purpose of laughing at me as I back up their (not very long) driveway and almost take out the mailbox. But somehow it works when I’m trying to get out of a tight spot.

That made me think about all the other jobs I’ve had in my life, and the extremely random skills I’ve learned from them.

Radio Shack
I worked at Radio Shack for one year in college, and I wasn’t great at it. I could sell you a TV, but if you were coming in looking for a tiny little part to fix something, you were SOL if you got me as your salesperson.


I can hook up an AV system like nobody’s business.

It all goes back to something my manager told me. He said that when he was trying to connect something, he would pretend he was the TV signal. Stay with me here.

“So I’m the signal, and I’m hanging out in the wire in the wall,” he said. “But that’s pretty boring, so I go out through the coaxial cable…”

It’s crazy, but it makes me think about it linearly so it works. So when I’m hooking up a DVD player, what I’m really doing is thinking, “So I’m a TV signal…”

Waiting Tables

Until this year of teaching, I waited tables longer than I’d ever done anything else in my life. As a job, it had its up and downs, but I definitely learned a lot. I learned to deal with complete f&$@ing idiots on a regular basis. I learned that people are happiest when they can feel superior to someone else. I learned that you really never know who can overhear you, which is a lesson the mayor of Laurel could have used as he sat at a table talking about someone I know very well.

And I learned how to carry three or more glasses at a time without a tray. This is incredibly useful when you’re out at a bar with friends. I can also carry three or four full plates at a time, which is less useful but still comes in handy sometimes.

I can calculate a tip in about four seconds.

I can mix pretty damn good drinks, even though I have to look up the more complicated ones.

Public Relations

I did PR for a bunch of different organizations, in a bunch of different venues. While I didn’t much care for the work, the lessons are invaluable.

I can put a positive spin on anything.

I can translate tech-speak into something an average person can understand.

I can write 3000 words on a concept I don’t really understand myself.

I can speak at length on just about any topic, with no preparation, whether I know anything about the subject at hand or not.

I can be diplomatic even if what I really want to do is hit a person with a shovel.

Plus, it’s uncanny how many skills translate directly from working with high-level executives to working with kindergarteners.

I feel like all I do is learn, honestly. But if there’s one thing this job has taught me, it’s that I could actually do the whole parenting thing.

Frightening, huh?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Excuse me, your sign is dumb.

DC instituted early voting this year, and I voted today for the first time as a District of Columbia resident. I'm not going to launch a political discussion here, and anyone who I've talked to for thirty seconds about the DC mayoral race probably knows who I voted for anyway, but let me tell you who I did NOT vote for.

Carlos Allen.

I submit that being best known for being that other White House party crasher probably isn't going to help your campaign, but that's not why I'm bringing him up. One of his signs is on the corner near my condo, and every time I walk past it, it irks the hell out of me, because one of his slogans is "The First Afro-Latino in history." For one thing, what the hell does THAT have to do with anything? And for another, it doesn't even make sense. He may be the first Afro-Latino candidate for mayor, but that's not what it says. And I think the many citizens of the Dominican Republic, among others, may take issue with the idea that he is the first person in all of recorded human history to be both of African and Latino descent.

On the one hand, I can take solace in the fact that his crazy ass got bounced off of the Democratic ballot. On the other hand, he's apparently now planning to run as an Independent in November, and while he still doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell it means that I'm going to have to look at his stupid signs for another two months.

In other DC politics news, the most annoying person I've ever encountered on the Internet was caught on tape stealing campaign signs, and I rejoiced. I have never met this woman in person, nor do I care to, but every time one of her emails comes over a community listserv, I gag a little. And because I am a bitchy, vindictive person, I thoroughly enjoy seeing hypocrites exposed.