Often I thank the powers that be for my determination to research, firmly haggle, ask to speak to managers or someone who can really help me, and pretty much make a pest out of myself in order to keep change in my sad little pocketbook. I am thankful because, through so much financial struggle, I have held on to my online service (my ability to blog and search for work) and my ability to watch all manner of greatness, or crap, on cable television. I happen to have a weird triple bundle of services that actually saves me money as opposed to getting rid of one service or the other. I finally realized that when it was wearily pointed out to me by a very tired voice at the other end of the line, during one of my fact-finding missions. Thus, I am able to turn to a cable on-demand diversion to accompany a meal or help lull me to sleep. No matter how hard I try to find something else, I gravitate toward “White Collar” from the USA network. I hate it when those reruns go away. Yesterday, the reason for this finally struck me.
Ever since childhood, characters like Neal Caffery, the suave, extremely personable, former(?) thief with the quick agile mind, have fascinated me. There was my love of “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” mostly to watch the genius of the intelligent spy, Illya Kuryakin (not the debonair Napoleon Solo.) Then came Mr. Spock, the Vulcan first officer in “Star Trek” who could mentally MacGyver the perfect plan to get out of any scrape with the instant analyzation of a confluence of facts that only he could notice. Now I am enamored of “White Collar,” and not just because of this show’s loving visual tribute to New York City, or Caffery’s ability to make a suit look as casually easy as a classic pair of jeans — or that he could bring back the fedora single-handedly. No, it’s his ability to think on his feet. He has an innate ability to read people, get around what they want and on to what he wants, without them minding his masterly use of pure charm. Unlike the universal disdain for dumping the entire bottle of perfume on at one time, a truckload of charm masterly summoned up with your needs in mind, is a balm to the ego, and rarely feels like too much. Captain Kirk could do that sometimes, but his anger got in the way — a lot. I like Jason Bourne, of “The Bourne Conspiracy,” too, but his knowledge of the right thing to do, also lacks the people skills that I’ve come to value with maturity. It’s actually Neal Caffery who can get most jobs done. And, of course, therein lies the rub. One recent episode showed us how Neal managed to get a specific job working for a high-powered businessman, in order to facilitate a long con. His memory of specifically researched facts, his skill at artfully dodging the unexpected, and his ability to recall and use unrelated facts, at just the moment they become related, explains the most important elements that are needed during job interviews. There are fields that are so specialized that the best resumé wins in the absence of egregious people skills, but if you are unfortunate enough to have none of this education or to have been forced out of your previous field by innovation or a cheaper workforce elsewhere, you may have already availed yourself of job services that hammer home research, memory, and exemplary people skills, as what you need to get the job. Above all else you have to be a good “fit” and prove your ability to be pleasant while you find your way in a job, with little or no supervision. With so many applications filled out for every single job, employers can afford to hold out for a Neal Caffery or the applicant closest to him. Why wouldn’t they? I want him, too, and I can’t even offer him a job!
A lot of the out of work have actually made jobs for themselves by lecturing and giving seminars about this very subject. I say good for them. It’s not their fault that I get depressed every time I hear that my basic personality type is the opposite of what I need to become gainfully employed. One such lecturer actually had a look of disbelief and disdain at an audience member, who questioned how she could manufacture this other perfectly calibrated personality. He sneered at her, “Well, you better get one fast if you want a job!” My sister finally had to tell me that maybe I don’t want to subject myself to these lectures any more. That the deer-in-headlights, sinking feeling I always had after attending one, didn’t seem to be doing me any good. And she’s right. I’ve internalized the important points. Now it’s time to figure out how to do it.
What I need is for there to be a Neal Caffery cult to kidnap me, lock me in a room for however long it takes, and hammer all these abilities into me until I can wander back out as one of the brightest, quickest, most desirable fedora wearers the world has ever seen. So far, the only time I feel even vaguely like that is when I’m sitting at a keyboard, or when I’m designing something in knit or crochet. Yeah, I know. Whoop-de-doo.