But what I really want to do is…

9 11 2007

When you ask someone in New York what his or her occupation is, the ensuing response is rarely brief. You almost never get “I’m in sales” or “I’m a dog-walker” or “I’m a part-time transvestite call-girl.” It’s generally a routine that follows this usual course: a one-word answer, vague, followed by a detailed diagram of future plans, sealed with one of the following stock phrases:

  • I just want to get my feet under me.
  • It’s just for the time being.
  • It was the only job hiring.
  • Yeah, but I hate what I’m doing now.
  • But what I really want to do is direct.

I’m certainly guilty of using a number of those stock phrases to describe my current job situation, employed as I currently am in event sales/coordination for a publishing company that’s populated almost entirely by young people who, though they’re treated well, would rather be elsewhere. Some want to be directors. Others, artists. Others, dog-walkers. The especially dumb and masochistic want to be writers.

So the responses are always that we’re in sales, but

There’s a lot that’s admirable in those responses, though. New York, for all its harlequinned gloss and glamour, has the distinct and priceless attribute of endlessly upward movement. Here, eyes and ambition shoot toward the sky, and it’s a fire of dreams (and graffiti and rats and stuff) on the ground.

People here feel like they have to prove something. To themselves, to the buildings, to everybody who’s set foot in this town. Like you owe the city a little bit by living here. I like that feeling a lot.

We’re low on humility and accountability these days, as a generation so characterized by entitlement. It’s refreshing to be in a place where people are reduced to specks and forced to prove they’re anything more.

For more on that entitlement, and why it’s pernicious to tell your kids that they’re special no. matter. what., check back on Monday or Tuesday.

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One response

9 11 2007
Drew

New York City is Nietzsche unbound. Possess and any other mentality and you’ve already been beaten.

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