Say hello to Daddy Warbucks, only with hair

"Are you talkin' to ME?..."

Had an odd thing happen just a few minutes ago, as I was leaving a local drugstore, on my way back from taping something at ETV.

As I crossed the parking lot, I heard a small voice pipe up behind me, “Do you know where there are any jobs?”

Hearing no one respond, I turned and found a cute, petite, college-age (this was near USC) girl hurrying to catch up with me.

Once it was established she was addressing me, I asked, in order to have something to say, “What sort of job?” I was prepared for her to say almost anything, but not what she said: “Administrative.” Something ran through my head that the HR director at The State once told me about how young people today have unrealistic expectations of starting at the top.

I must have looked questioning, because she added, by way of explication, “You know, office work…”

“Well,” I told her, slowly, “I don’t know of anything at the moment…” searching my brain, thinking Wouldn’t it be cool to be able to live up to this girl’s unlikely expectation of me and actually connect this question with an actual job I’ve heard about, but came up dry.

Not wanting to leave it at that, I said, “Would you like to give me a card, so that if I hear of anything…?” with the alarm bells going off in my head as I realized how much that sounded like You wanna give me your phone number?, or how much it might sound like it to someone of her age and experience in life, but it was completely innocent, just what I’d ask of anyone else who told me he or she was job-hunting…

She, continuing to move on past me as I arrived at my car — I realized that we had kept moving the whole time — patted her pocket sort of nervously as though she would normally have cards, but had none today, and said, “No, I don’t have any cards on me…”

And I said, “Well, good luck!” And that was that.

She was bold as brass, which I suppose will stand her in good stead at some point. But what did I look like to her? Like Daddy Warbucks with hair, I suppose.

I didn’t have the heart to call after her and say, Honey, you just don’t know… it took me a year to find a job for myself

Why spoil her illusions, especially when they are so flattering to me? She looked at me and thought me a powerful and magnanimous man, able to scatter jobs across the pavement like so many doubloons from a Mardi Gras float. Why spoil that, indeed?

8 thoughts on “Say hello to Daddy Warbucks, only with hair

  1. Kathryn Fenner

    They used to say to expect one month of job search time for every $10K in salary. Doubt that hold true in terms of the actual numbers any more, but it is still probably true that the less you make, the quicker you are to find a job. Being at the bottom of the career ladder has that advantage.

    and she apparently has easily marketable skillz (of the office/admin variety), not dime-a-dozen, drug on the market (what does that mean anyway) writerly ones…

  2. Kiki

    Don’t you think by “administrative” she meant like an administrative assistant, the new term for secretary?

  3. Brad

    Oh… I don’t know. Back when I had one, we called her a “secretary.”

    Then when I lost her, I was told “Nobody has one any more.” So I didn’t know I had to learn a new term…

    So wait… you’re saying that everybody but me still has a secretary, but they’re calling it something ELSE so that I won’t know about it?


  4. Mabilene

    Brad — are you the missing link in the “Houston Chronicle” capers which Cotton Boll Conspiracy (no real name volunteered) and I have been discussing?

    Tsk, tsk. And here I had convinced myself that you were one of the few good guys in the inner circle of the plague that is South Carolina — after I originally pegged you as epitomizing the smut.

    5:55P 09.03.10


    Best ban me now. It will only accelerate…

  5. Brad

    Well, before I ban you, maybe you should share with me a clue as to what on Earth you are talking about. I figured you and Cotton Boll knew, so I didn’t need to know…

  6. Herbie

    Mabilene’s comment makes no sense to me either. I’d like
    what he/she is having. Yeah—that would be grand…

  7. scout

    You probably just looked like a person who had a job in an office because you were wearing a suit. Why that would make you the knower of jobs I don’t know though. Maybe she thinks administrative is a synonym for clerical, possibly because of “administrative assistant.” The state of common language usage (or misusage) makes me sad. Has it always been this way and it’s my perceptions/awareness of it that has changed…or is it getting worse? I wonder these thiings.

  8. Kathryn Fenner

    @ scout– I think the beauty and strength of English have always been in its fluidity. It has readily incorporated other languages.

    I immediately thought administrative meant “office work.” In the paper toady, they were talking about temp work and how there’s a dearth of openings for “administrative” as in managerial positions. And yes, Brad looks like someone who would know about such jobs–in fact, most of our fellow Rotarians do.

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