“Are You Going To Become A Teacher?”

Today I woke up around 3pm to a phone call from my good friend over at Goosefired. He asked me if I had any interest in making a quick $25.

I told him that I normally charge more than that for personal favors and besides, my neck is really stiff.

He clarified that all I had to do was help him move a table, which I figured I could get up for.

So I dragged my ass out of bed only to realize how odd it was that three people would be needed to move a table. But ramen money is ramen money, so who am I to complain?

As for the table, I’m convinced it was a good 300 pounds. We had traveled pretty far to a nicer part of the city than a college kid would live, and an old lady was there waiting for us to lift this monstrosity.

Luckily we avoided dropping it or knocking anything over – I’m pretty sure her furniture costs more than my tuition.

What I didn’t avoid was that awkward conversation I always have with people I’m forced to interact with – the “what do you study?” and subsequent, “what in the world are you gonna do with that?” conversation.

So I told the lady (who was sweet enough, mind you) that I’m “working” towards a degree in Creative Writing (or “bullshitting” as I phrase it to most) with a minor in Psychology.

“What are you going to do with a degree in Creative Writing?” she asked with a sympathetic look on her face.

I wanted to tell her that I’d use my degree to get a job writing Hallmark cards but make them really fucked up just to see how people would react. You know, like:

“Happy Birthday – You’re officially one year closer to dying!”

But I just gave her the old shrug instead because I’m not that badass (or stupid).

I knew what was coming next though – a suggestion that I become a teacher. Since Creative Writing majors are essentially English majors with more freedom to act like dicks, it’s widely assumed that we’re all either going to live deep in the woods and write short stories by hand, or become teachers.

My concern is that if the average person automatically concludes that my future is as a teacher and that there really aren’t any alternatives, that’s very limiting. Do employers think that way too?

“Yeah, I could do that.” I said with a forced smile.

It’s not that I don’t admire teachers or have any interest in becoming one – I actually like the idea. The problem is the close-mindedness towards the situation (and the assumption that people actually work in a field related to their degree – 5 in 6 don’t).

But when I think about it, I’m pretty sure that upon first arrival the lady thought I was practically homeless seeing as I was wearing basketball shorts and a very well worn shirt that probably smells of beer. So I suppose her drawing that conclusion is better than the alternative.

Either way, I’ve been able to recite these lines for years now because the conversation is always exactly the same.

Maybe I should try a different approach? At the very least I can add “experience relocating furniture” to my resumé.

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19 responses to ““Are You Going To Become A Teacher?”

  • Deeone

    I actually liked the greeting card idea, myself. I’m just saying. Hehe :D

  • Kortnee

    “it’s widely assumed that we’re all either going to live deep in the woods and write short stories by hand”

    Made me laugh incredibly hard. You are awesome.

  • sportsattitudes

    Enjoying the posts, Tom. Great “theme” to this blog. Since my business is partly about helping people get employed (through the written word) I can certainly identify with everything you’re experiencing and writing about. Thanks for following my “work” as well, Bruce.

  • daniellery

    “Creative Writing majors are essentially English majors with more freedom to act like dicks”

    Love this!lol

  • lindseylooo

    I’ve been seriously considering replying to the “are you going to teach” question with some fucked up answers.

    Such as, “Yes, I’ll be devouring small children and killing any sense of hope from September to June!”

    Also, since Texas won’t be hiring teachers ever again, I get the “oh good luck with that!” too. Not to mention my dad was a teacher and all his friends are still teachers. They laugh in my face if I indulge them with, “yes I’ll be teaching.”

    • Tom

      How about, “Yes, with the sole intent of teaching your kids my favorite four letter words.”

      And speaking of not hiring teachers (and in the meantime getting rid of a huge chunk) I’m pretty sure Arizona (where I am) blows Texas away in terms of apathy towards education.

      IMO, teachers are undervalued and under-appreciated (with the exception of those assholes that give out reading assignments during summer).

      • lindseylooo

        If I do teach, I will have to seriously curb my language. And you’ve got me beat with Arizona…I’m just more familiar with the Texas situation.

        My dad’s tactics are, “This is what you should do because it’s all you can do with your degree, but I don’t expect you to succeed because I know everything there is to know about teaching and mwaha you don’t know what’s awaiting you!”

  • Rindo

    I’m sure the ad rags will have “Wanted: Greeting Card Saboteurs” ads somewhere. Come to think of it, a Tee-shirt company may be genuinely interested in caustic quips.

    Despair-wear, anyone? :)

  • Kate McCausland

    I get the same response when I tell people I study philosophy. Critical thinking is apparently useless in today’s job market.

    I would love to have someone tell me to look into teaching, because I usually get told what a good mom I’ll be. *Shudders*

    Great post. Made me lol.

    • Tom

      According to Yahoo answers, your philosophy degree will help you…

      “Sit and philosophize.”

      “Be a minister or a counselor??”

      or my favorite…

      “Go to a mountaintop and grow a long grey beard and wear loincloth and wait for people to trek up to see you and when they get there, say something cryptic.”

      • Kate McCausland

        These answers are awesome.

        Side story: Whenever non-philosophers talk about “philosophizing” with their peers, I’m given this sideways glance as to either confirm or deny if “philosophizing” is a word. Which, by the way it totally is. We pseudo and the big kid philosophers say it all the time.

        The mountaintop quote is great. It’s so Nietzschean.

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