Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am the Rat King of a generation that no one will ever remember.

How you ask am I so bold as to declare myself king? Let me tell you a little something about myself before we get into my peers and generation Y. I am a 27 year old white male from an upper middle class family, raised in suburbia USA. Six months before graduating high school I had almost finished my first semester of college, but somehow managed to miss the lifelong distinction of high school honor graduate by .07 GPA. Maybe it was the 6 month stint as the Vice President of the art club my junior year that propelled me into the elite that gained my entry into one of the top state run colleges in the country or maybe it was my 115 .lbs frame that intimidated the acceptance board. Regardless of how I gained entry into this historic institution I wasn’t going to let the opportunity for a great education pass me by, or so I thought. After a year floundering in art school drawing bowls of fruit and the occasional naked man, something told me this wasn’t going to be the yellow brick road to fame and riches. Luckily a friend (who I now hate) introduced me to a fascinating degree that promised the chance to design and build great things around the world; they really need to rewrite the course description. Four years later after completing one of the most time consuming majors NOT known by anyone, I was prepared to hold my head up high with a degree from the top ranked landscape architecture program in the nation. Yes, that is right folks it is a five year college degree and they do rank the schools. To my dismay the week before graduation I discover my transgressions of a vodka filled freshman year still haunted me leaving yet again missing out on the lifelong distinction of being a college honor graduate. Mush closer this time, only missed the cut by .05 GPA.
Ready to conquer the world, despite my lack of honors, I attacked the Chicago landscape architecture scene with tenacity and vigor, armed with the declaration of a top tier education. To my utter dismay I discovered that even the most well versed employer had not only never heard of the landscape architecture school ranking system, but actually were offended that their university didn’t crack the top 20. So after successfully offending future employers across Illinois, I took a position at a little known company making a few dollars more than nothing. Four year and half years and one job later, I find myself sitting on the couch at home (newly laid off) starring a horrible jobless profession in the face. Not a fan of 50 to 60 hour work weeks, or the fear that one day I might be one of my miserable bosses making $75,000 as a fifty two year old vice president, I decided to walk away. Here is where the trouble really starts; no one has a clue what a landscape architect does. Friends and family members to this day ask me ‘why does my grass look brown?’ or ‘what do you call the yellow and purple flower?’ The first few times I would try and humbly explain that I design parks, college campuses, and other ‘stuff like that’, but eventually I grew tired of the puzzled faces and just began making up answers…’you should check to make sure you don’t have Africanized fire ants’ or ‘oh, that is a very rare poisonous flower, if you see one call the CDC immediately’.
So back to why I am the Rat King of this forgetful generation; you are going to forget me in the thirty to forty five seconds. My mother would argue otherwise, but the truth is there is nothing special about me. I am clearly not an honor graduate, my 5’-10” 160lbs frame could be hidden by a small shrub, and there aren’t a lot of government subsidized programs for white guys with parents that make money. Not that I am looking for a hand out, but who is really looking out for little old me? Shit, is it too much to ask to make a few dollars more than a female doing the same job as me? I guess so. So a fifty five year old woman that lives in Florida thinks I am ‘smart enough to do anything I want in this word’ and no one else really gives a shit. Not alternative enough to work at Whole Foods, or pedigreed enough own a board room; I might just be the most forgettable resume on careerbuilder. I can’t even get the pyramid scheme companies to cash my ‘start up’ checks, but I am The Rat King of the generation that no one will ever remember.