City life: Looking for a job
My transgressions were of a lesser nature than Lucifer: I once took off all of my clothes at a sedate Telegraph Hill party in San Francisco merely to see what would happen.
I refused to sign the Loyalty Oath, required of all California teachers. But perhaps more damning to employment personnel is the Aquarian’s desire for freedom.
City Life: Looking for a job
By Dennis Cutshaw
I was born under the sign of Aquarius, which gives me license to behave, dress, and in general carry on in society beyond any accepted guidelines of common sense, or common decency for that matter. These personal characteristics of an Aquarian are perhaps not desirable in today’s highly competitive job market. No, these lovely attributes are best kept under wraps, hidden from view, yes, but there they sit, smoldering, just waiting until circumstance fans the embers into flames.
Although an Aquarian by birth, born under the sign of the water bearer—the carrier of mystical truth, cutting-edge ideas, non-conformity, and utopian idealism—I see myself more as a “fallen” Aquarian—somewhat like Lucifer, once a good angel who took it upon himself to save mankind and for his trouble was booted out of heaven.
My transgressions were of a lesser nature than Lucifer: I once took off all of my clothes at a sedate Telegraph Hill party in San Francisco merely to see what would happen. Another time, when in a teaching position, I refused to sign the Loyalty Oath, required of all California teachers. But perhaps more damning to employment personnel is the Aquarian’s desire for freedom. In my case this has meant no identifiable “career” but a series of jobs that I could generally leave at will, and had flexible hours. This included a six-month stint as an engine boy on a Norwegian freighter after I had graduated from college. Writing newspaper articles for my hometown newspaper while wandering through Africa. Deep--sea diver. Gardener. Peace Corps volunteer—this job was an Aquarian’s dream: There was so much free time I was able to read every book in the huge foot locker issued to volunteers.
And so. Like my alter-ego, Lucifer, I find myself earthbound—scrambling along on the lower depths of the material plain, no longer flitting about plucking harp strings with my aerie brethren.
No, I am stuck here on planet Earth, standing in supermarket lines, breathing polluted air, contemplating my declining bank balance, and questioning why I, a card-carrying Aquarian, whose true profession is staring off into space, has to apply for a, quote, “real” job. (Actually I did have a “real” job once—when I was six I had a lemonade stand—but it’s been pretty much downhill since then.)
Reluctantly, I went through the “help wanted” section of the newspaper. A retirement home in San Luis Obispo needed a person to head up landscaping maintenance. I drove over and was interviewed by a nice fellow who took me on a tour of the grounds, which turned out to be a forbidding expanse of massive neglect: overgrown shrubs, weeds galore, broken watering systems—it went on and on—and the size of this retirement community was huge; it seemed less a small community and more like a neglected Third World country—Transylvania comes to mind. And, at seven dollars an hour, I didn’t think there were enough hours in a year to get the job done, let alone energy in my body. I felt a sigh of relief when I was not offered the position.
Next, I applied for a job at Gottschalk’s department store. A woman interviewed me this time—even nicer than the first fellow. She offered me a bowl of hard candy and asked me if I’d had any marketing experience. I mentioned my lemonade business but she didn’t seem overly impressed. Then she asked me what kind of a job I’d like. I said, “I’d like your job.” The reason I said this was because a friend of mine once said that to an interviewer and got the job because they liked his chutzpah. However, my chutzpah was not admired and no job was forthcoming.
Looking back at my job history, my longest “career” was as an environmental-friendly gardener. I used no power tools. I had an old-fashioned push lawn mower, I swept up with a broom, I pruned and edged with hand clippers—no “mow, blow, and go” for me! And, I got around town by bicycle, pulling a five-foot-long cart loaded up with my tools and two dogs. My partner, Nattalia, once drove by me in her BMW and shouted out: “Dennis! You’re single-handedly turning Morro Bay into a, Third World country!”
I didn’t care, I was living by my Aquarian principles: simply, frugally, and for the good of all. The end came for me one day when I had compromised these principles. I purchased an electric mower to speed up my mowing chores, and the gods did not take kindly to this: One day I was hurrying along and reached down to adjust the mower and inadvertently lopped off the end of a finger. This, to me, was a sure sign from heaven to finally become a writer full-time, before I lost any more body parts. It seemed like all my dreams would be realized. I did not know at that time that staring at a blank piece of paper was harder and more terrifying than manual labor—and way less remunerative.
So maybe I do have a job—I write various things and take them to my writing group and read them and my highly talented fellow writers and my teacher generally praise what I write and then for some reason tell me to “re-write” it, whatever that means…but someday I hope to be able to do this, to attain the unattainable, the exalted professional title—no, not Writer—RE-WRITER!§
Dennis Cutshaw Re-Writes from his home in Morro Bay.