Dear Important Person at Place I’d Like To Work,
I sound like an idiot, but we all knew this email was coming.
I’m going to feign blissful ignorance to the fact that you probably receive a dozen of these emails in a month, and that you’ll probably write back with a generic template response, if you even bother to open this at all.
Because, let’s be honest, I checked my dignity at the door of that Starbucks when I walked in to meet you. So let’s get this show on the road so I can go scream into my pillow.
Thank you for shaking my hand when I walked up and introduced myself. I don’t know if I ever feel more self-consciously adult-like than when people in professional clothes shake my hand and say “Nice to meet you.” (Yesterday I bought my own groceries and made a lasagna with my roommates, and that was a close second.)
Thank you for offering to buy my drink. Actually, I take that back. Do you know what sort of mental agony you put me through by doing this? I mean, of course, I really do appreciate the opportunity to save $2 while living on a college budget. And I have a weakness for certain chivalrous gestures such as these, even though I shouldn’t.
But what’s worse, I hopelessly overanalyze the situation. Is this a test? Because obviously I want you to like me. I’m not going to refuse your offer and insult your ability to pay an extra $2 because you have a disposable income and you can. Or are you challenging me to call you out on this traditionalism? Goading me to prove in this dramatic moment, in front of our bored barista, Jerry, how independent and self-sufficient a woman I am?
Well, joke’s on you, sir, because I have a low tolerance for confrontation and I already had a pretty intense showdown with the dehumidifier this morning. The patriarchy is working for me today.
Thank you for amiably telling me how you got to where you are. I mean this sincerely. I’d love to be there too, if we’re being honest (which we are not. That’s not how this works).
I’m not going to say that though. I’ve got to look interested– politely interested, attentively interested– but not too interested. Not desperate. Maybe I do have some dignity left after all.
Thank you for shaking my hand when I left, holding my nearly full coffee. I threw that into a trashcan two blocks away. I don’t know where your office is, but I hope to God it’s not in one of these tall buildings with the windows looking down on me as I did this. Somewhere up there, an executive in a classic yet cleverly patterned tie watched and shook his head at my sacrilegious attack on the art of networking.
Did you drink any of your coffee? I can’t tell– maybe this is why coffee cups aren’t transparent. Nice thinking, Starbucks.
As I walked toward the CalTrain, I wondered if this was beneficial to you in any way. Maybe my excitement at hearing about your meetings and data entry and editing sessions made you remember what seemed so exciting about this job when you were my age. Maybe I briefly took the cynicism out of the idea of a cubicle farm. Maybe you momentarily found yourself in a Sorkin-esque daydream, the joy of working in this city brought back to you by a naive, shiny person who doesn’t know anything about the real world and is trying to figure it out in hour-long chats at corporate coffee shops.
Or maybe I took you mentally back to college, and you’re wistfully remembering your own senior year, wishing you were back there and could do something differently. Maybe you’re hoping that I really do enjoy it and don’t wish my life away.
Maybe this meeting between two strangers, adorned as it is with corporate formalities, actually does have something real to it.
I don’t know. And of course, that’s not a part of either of our email templates, so I won’t ask. I’ll just vaguely say thank you for all of it, and I hope you enjoy the rest of your year.