I was minding my own business this morning exploring lofty intellectual trains of thought and fascinating artistic paths leading my imagination to the most verdant pastures, mitigating against the April snow and sub-zero temperatures of the bovine city, when the little alarm (well-named) on my computer rang, informing me that I had mail and I had better attend to it right away, this being the age of frantic impatience after all.
It was from the thing – I really don’t know what to call it so let’s go with thing – called LinkedIn which I seem to participate in although I have no clear idea of why I do or what it even is.
The thing was asking me to “recommend” an acquaintance of mine whom I have never actually met but who is a theatre director and producer, who was charitable enough to produce a play of mine in a non-bovine city far away from here about a decade ago. To recommend him for what, exactly, is still a mystery, to me, at least.
Well, OK. Fair enough. He directed and produced my play, he is obviously a visionary, a genius, probably, and a decent fellow to put meat on my table once upon a time. (Note to self: send him another play!) So I had no trouble recommending or endorsing him, but of course you can’t just do that, you have to jump through the hoops of the thing and these hoops were not intended to accommodate the recommendation of a playwright for a director.
In fact, responding to the drop-down menuized categories with insane questions like “Did you answer to this person?” or conversely “Did this person answer to you?” made me realize just how far outside of the mainstream we are, my director friend and I, and so what the hell was I doing wasting my time going through this process anyway?
The simple answer to that is that I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by not recommending him. How terrible and bleak would that be if the thing sent him a message saying “Eugene Stickland has declined your recommendation request.” I don’t want to cause him that kind of anguish.
So I muddled through, and now I’m sure when he sees my ringing recommendation, which I managed to convey in spite of the thing’s bland categories, not because of them, he will be filled with a rush of pure joy and contentment and may even ask me for another one of my plays.
“Good old Eugene,” he may well think to himself, “I really ought to do another one of his plays!”
Well, never mind that the categories and questions of the thing make it seem like we were stock boys at Wal-Mart together in our awkward teen years. Or intermediate clerks in an insurance company, glue-sticking riders into policies in a windowless office – which you can probably tell I actually did once in my life, until I developed a case of shingles and was advised by my doctor to get out of the insurance game, to get out of the basement, to put down the glue stick, which I did, and the rest as they say is history . . .
Well, whatever. I’m sure many of my readers, especially those in the arts, can relate to that feeling of outsiderness as you search for some kind of connection from your own life to the categories and experiences that appear in these drop down menus. It’s probably not overstating the case to say that at such times, we realize we don’t really belong anywhere, there is no category for us, there is no experience the thing can drop down on us that even vaguely resembles our own experience on this planet.
Once more, out of step, out of rhythm, marching to the beat of your own damned drum.
But lest we forget, this is a good thing.
When you find they have a category for you, it’s probably time to change it up and move on.
Thanks for reading!