When I first moved to Boston, I made the exquisitely poor decision of including my experience as a founding member of the Bard College Cheerleading Squad on my resume. I then spent six months sitting on the couch and wondering why potential employers weren’t knocking down my door (or looking me in the eye during the few interviews I actually got). When you are past the age of fourteen, including cheerleading on your resume (even if it was funny, see, because my college was so not a cheerleading-type college, haha) is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot…and then having your other foot wrest the gun away from you and shoot you in the face. It means I spent a winter eating Ramen, sleeping in a hooded sweatshirt under four blankets to keep down heating costs, and considering toothpaste a vanity purchase. All this, so that potential employers could be aware that in college, I had a sense of irony and owned pompoms. Possibly that resume was an accurate depiction of my character, but accuracy doesn’t pay the rent or keep you in toothpaste.
When I applied for my current job, I think leaving the skill of ‘decision-making’ off of my resume (among other edits) was a good decision. Probably one of the better decisions I have made. Really, I excel at making decisions; it’s just they’re usually bad. Although if I make them quickly, shouldn’t I at least get points for speed? Accuracy is overrated. (I should probably not have listed that as a bullet-point on my resume either, but by the time I realized that, I had already gotten it all printed out, so it was too late. If need be, I figure I can always white it out, and in doing so, showcase my liquid paper skillz—and add to each copy a unique, personal touch).
Certainly there are those who make decisions which seem good at the time, but which are eventually proven to have been mistakes. That is not really what I struggle with. My problem lies in the fact that many of the choices I make do not look good at the time, before the time, after the time, at the time but on drugs, or at the time but from a different dimension. They are impossible to defend. No lawyer would take their case. They don’t even deserve plea-bargains.
I flew to Minneapolis for a week recently, and I brought my laptop so that I would have internet access in my hotel room. This laptop was huge and heavy; an ancient piece of equipment I inherited as a second or third degree hand-me-down. I say ‘was’, because said laptop is no longer with us, and it is due in part (or in full) to the latest in a series of life episodes I have entitled, ‘Seriously, What Were You Thinking?’ On the flight there, I carried the laptop in my carry-on backpack, but, shamed by the guard who had examined it at security with his nose wrinkled as though it were a dead mackerel or my tennis shoes, I decided to pack it in the suitcase I was checking for the flight back.
Of course, when we were reunited at Logan airport, it was done for. Little laptop, you didn’t deserve that. You may have been a bit archaic, a tad behind the times. Your spell-check program may have dated itself by asking, “You wrote ‘Old’. May we suggest ‘Olde’?” So what if Goody Paperclip the Office Assistant was burned at the stake by the rest of Microsoft Office under suspicion of being a practicing Witch? I didn’t miss him all that much. The keyboard’s having ‘F’ key and not an ‘S’ key was a little tirefome at firft, but I got ufed to it, and even became rather fond of it.
Another problem with having a history of bad decision-making is that word tends to spread. I offer a coworker my arm to cross a busy intersection and nearly get us both run over one little time, and suddenly word spreads throughout the office that I’m ‘unreliable’. I ask directions from a stranger on a front porch only to realize it’s a stuffed scarecrow posed in a chair, and suddenly I’m ‘in need of psychological evaluation’ and ‘a ditz’. It seems a little unfair to me.
At least, if nothing else, I am learning from my poor choices. Particularly I am learning to hide them and pretend they never occured. At least, now that I have written this column, I’ve realized that probably that’s what I should have done here. So, you can go ahead and forget everything I just said, if you don’t mind. Especially that thing about asking directions from a scarecrow. That totally never happened.