April 12, 2010

This is not what I signed up for...

There exists an air of arrogance within the engineering discipline. A sense of entitlement and self-righteousness that might be all too expectantly acceptable. I mean, who else can spend the time learning a whole other language and then using it to come up with the most intricate solutions to solve some of the world's most pressing problems. Like cleaning water. Or making electricity. Doctors and lawyers memorize Latin terminology and ... business grads? Well, they are all just capitalistic pigs with hearts of stone.

So, become an engineer. Or try to anyways. You can become a steward of society. Really, it's like the ultimate thankless service industry job. God knows that there is money in it, too. And for one year now, I have held my engineering degree while working as a box cutter, getting paid box cutter salaries.

In all honesty, it's not a bad job. Especially for a student working part-time, earning habit money and having few other expenses. At work, all you have to do is deal with a couple of ungracious or effing rude customers that come through the store from time to time and try to get along with your co-workers. The hardest part of that is getting over the condescending attitude of people that look down on box-cutters and realize that you are going to get paid well below your Earning Potential that you have hoped to be enjoying by now. Then again, living the good life of having minimal responsibilities & being accountable only to yourself is nothing to sneeze at. There's casual weekday drinking, affording to go out to shows, going on vacations, and the like. It's not all bad not having to worry about the pressures of a high-expectation engineering job.

But I hate it. It's a time-consumer and a head-do-er-inner. Every day that I cannot find a job I am actually interested in, is another day that I am not developing and using the skills that I went to school for, and not working towards that ever-important salary-booster called a P.Eng. I feel like it's eating into the best years of my life (although I know that in all honesty that those were between 1992 and 1996). In addition, this company - like many others - thrives on environmental devastation and corporate greed. It breaks your back and it eats your soul. Although, they did pay for me to get my teeth cleaned...

Everyone should have to go through it though. The service industry is atrocious and everywhere. Working in it gives the consumer a much better perspective of the hard work that goes into whatever commodity it is that's being sold. It also gives a person a reality check. Without it, you don't have as much of a clue about how nasty day-to-day interactions with some people can get. It makes you actually look at the cashier at the supermarket in the eye and say "thank-you" with a little bit more sincerity than you would otherwise. It will make you neater - no matter how neat you think you are, and it will help you watch exactly what kind and how big of a consumer you are. Especially when making service industry wages.

This wages thing blows my mind. To think that so much disparity exists between the different kinds of rich and the different kinds of poor in this world is just: GAH! We are all just people born into circumstance, after all. Next round you could be living in subsidized Projects Housing in Harlem or the slums of Bangladesh (surely, not only India and Africa have slums, hey?) Then there's the opposite extreme where even Edmonton Police are making upwards of $85K after only 5 years of service. "And then she became a cop." "Shut the fuck up!" I think in my next life I am going to become a successful rock star. But engineers really do alright too. Even Civil Grads, with no real experience! And ol' recession-proof Alberta, with all of it's Oilsands and industry needs these grads to help run projects!!! But I still can't get a job I want. Bastards!

Then again, I know I am not alone. At least one other engineer and one geophysicist I know are not working. Another mate with credits from NAIT, UofA, and GMCC is working at the bottle depot with no real aspirations to focus on a career in any of the areas he spent time studying in! Then the real motivated ones had jobs set before they were even graduated! I don't know how, aside from their good fortune, and to some extent, willingness to relocate.

If I go anywhere, it will have to be for something worth while. "Like a girl?!" "No, Ryan, not a girl." Well, we'll see. But a sweet gig where providing/treating water to people who would really appreciate it, or anything related to the environment would sure be sweet. If I could get a sweet deal like that, I wouldn't even care if my salary was double of what it was now, rather than triple, as it very well COULD be. Half it and send me to a well in Kenya, I would also be thrilled. And I'd probably be blogging about something more important like poverty, water resources , disparity & conflict or something!

My issues with not getting the work I want could be psychological. In that I am psychotic. I am complacent and apathetic and idiotic for not trying harder to get any fucking job that will help me use my degree. That, or perhaps employers just don't like me. Real possibility. What can a guy do?!

As intermediate box cutter, I am taking it for what it's worth as yet another stepping stone in character development. God knows I'm not enough of a character YET! There is nothing glamorous or prestigious about this job that gives me anything more than just that. One of the things that comes with a sweet-ass environmental engineering job (aside from the money & independent that it brings), is confidence in having/building relationships. A guy can feel a hell of a lot better about himself knowing that the girl that he is after won't laugh at him for being, say, a box cutter. Even with the prestige of an engineering job, I feel that the humility of the box cutter's realism will earn him bonus points with her. "Real Workin' Man" points, where blackberrying and e-mailing and sitting in the cushy office chair are out of the equation completely. One might even go as far as to call it "honest work". Then with that non-box cutter job and a real engineering job - she will immediately think to herself: "Oooh - Brains And Money. But when was the last time he washed that shirt?"

Alright, this is gonna have to do as I have to finish my 2nd beer and have to get up for work in just over 4 hours. I wonder what the Jobs section will look like in The Journal tomorrow...

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