Guest Column by Lee McClelland
I am creeping ever closer to my graduation date with no real prospect of a job. What to do in a recession? We are actually out of the “Great Recession,” according to some economists, but I would say with still high rates of unemployment and a stagnant stock market, it’s safe to say that our job market runs afoul without any real job creation occurring, or at least not what has been promised by countless politicians — but I digress.
I have therefore decided on an occupation that requires, according to the Glass Cactus Nightclub of Grapevine, Texas, a high school diploma and one year of experience — a restroom attendant.
Much like the other customer service jobs that I’ve held since I threw my hat in the ring, joining the American workforce at the age of 16, I would be required to maintain a stoic disposition towards the most unsavory characters and their explosive outbursts.
I would have to put up with a lot of — well, I believe you know where I am going with that one. It is most certainly one of the hardest jobs out there, but the work is there for the taking. After all, everybody poops.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of experiencing the awe inspiring statuesque of a tuxedo wearing man (or woman) of the washroom variety, let me fill you in.
Let’s say that you have to relieve yourself. You’re at a fancy restaurant and you excuse yourself from the table. As you stiff arm the bathroom door, you notice a well-dressed gentleperson dawning a pristine towel upon their upraised arm; next to them is a variety of toiletries: cologne, mints, anti-bacterial soap, condoms, combs, toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, mouthwash and a silver dish intended for tips.
You retire to a stall, do the deed and go to wash your hands. The dapper individual greets you while engaging in small talk. “How do you do? Fine weather we’re having. Cologne?” Why yes, you reply, I would like you — washroom wizard — to mask the aura of flatulence that I am currently exuding.
Two sprays of a cheap bathroom cleaner smelling chemical seep into your sports coat. A dollar finds its way into the silver dish while you make your exit. Now you are on the same level as the rest of us.
I am assuming, if you have not already asked yourself this, you are wondering, “Why, strange North Wind columnist, would you want to stand aloof in a bathroom with dirty strangers and dry their hands and supply them with bad cologne and prophylactics?”
The answer is relatively simple. It doesn’t matter what field I go into in the current job market; I am not going to command the salary that I deserve, not when there is high competition for jobs.
Employers are taking advantage of the droves of recent college graduates who are stripping themselves of their graduation robes and seeking gainful employment. With high competition comes lower salaries; this is to be expected. So why not stay in school?
Well, McGruff the Crime Dog, I’ll tell you why you should not opt to wait it out and stay in school. Although I would never dissuade someone from attempting to better themselves by broadening their mind, I would ask them their intentions for doing so. Is it for a higher salary?
You might be a bit disappointed to hear this, but many employers do not want to hire graduates who have master’s and doctoral degrees because they are expected to pay those individuals a higher wage. If there is a larger number of graduates in the job market with master’s degrees, then there is more competition, so landing that dream job could be even harder.
While I toil away in the recess of a toilet somewhere in Hoboken, N.J., or perhaps — if I’m lucky — the Glass Cactus, I will be sitting on a gold mine. I will be able to work in peace knowing that my degree will mature like a fine cheese while I stand in a workplace that smells like Vieux Boulogne.
While the patrons are groaning in pain, I will be awaiting their exit with my tip dish ready with my most pleasant face and the word “cologne” on my lips. Though I may not be respected, at least I’ll be learning how to stomach a raw deal.