a breakfast serial

One bite-sized story every morning to uplift, motivate, or provoke thought.

Sherman’s March

< by Zack Mast >

Just after college, when I thought that no company out there could resist an Ivy League grad with a decent GPA and sketch comedy experience, I quickly learned to swallow my pride. For the summer, my most steady employment was serving on a jury for three days. This was 2010, and I desperately wanted to write for Groupon. The hot start-up was hiring staff and freelance writers, so I applied for both and got a rejection within a week.

As it turned out, I was irresistible to a temp agency, based mostly on my ability to type more than 50 w.p.m. and open a file in Excel. They assigned me to a company that needed someone to quickly type a lot of data into spreadsheets, which naturally I was so good at it that the client cut me a deal: they’d hire me full-time if I quit the temp assignment without letting on that I was actually staying. Thus, while still technically an unemployed temp, I landed my first real job.

A month later, though, the agency called me with a new offer to “write correspondence and other things” at a major bank’s headquarters. That seemed exciting, so I left my first real job to become a temp. Obviously that was dumb—I realized that within an hour—and I sent an email the next day pleading for my job back. No positions available. Bridge burned.

After the second day at the bank, I lay in bed for hours, anxious and angry. Screw this, I thought, and I turned on my lamp, pulled out a legal pad, and started scrawling a marketing proposal for the company I quit. I knew nothing about marketing, of course, but neither did they. They took me back. When I told my temp agent that I was leaving the bank, she was furious. “You need to be more professional,” she warned me, lamenting her lost commission as I lit that bridge from under her and used the torch to light my cigar.

A week later, Groupon called — I’d forgotten about the freelance position! I sent in some samples, and they decided to hire me as a staff writer instead. After getting my first real job only to lose it and win it back, I was moving to Chicago to start a career. I like to think that what convinced Groupon to pick up the phone was something cosmic, a test I could only pass that night when I took a risk and set out to change my circumstances. Carpe diem, et cetera, et cetera, ipso facto ad absurdum. Build your own bridges, man, even if you have to burn ‘em first.

1 Comment»

  Larry Who wrote @

As Robin Williams said, “Carpe per diem…seize the check.”

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