My eyes shrunk back into their sockets to the size of slits. I tried to sit up straight. I stretched my spine from tip to tip. Surely, a succession of zzzzzs were going to escape from my mouth like some kind of garish cartoon, before my forehead hit the conference table. I didn’t want to make it so obvious that my boss was lulling me to sleep with the skill and mastery of Ferris Bueller’s economics teacher.
“This is Samson Cotran’s last day. We have nothing but well wishes for him as he moves on to greener pastures…”
In retrospect, I don’t think my boss actually said greener pastures but that’s what I heard. What’s this? That announcement gave me the perk my coffee missed that morning. Someone was leaving Top Company? How could this be? No one left Top Company – voluntarily. No one left Top Company unless they looked disheveled; like they had cried all night; sat on the floor of a cubicle encumbered by papers, memos, and dinging emails; called their parents and broke the news that they couldn’t hack it; figured out that a work week of 60 + hours was going to rip their body to shreds. I looked over to Samson Cotran and he was smiling, waving even, like a beauty queen on a Thanksgiving float. The other interns gasped and then assumed positions that made them look like the three (not so) wise monkeys. They all view my position as the promise land and didn’t understand. How could someone give up the opportunity that put them on a fast track to an associate position at Top Company?
I didn’t know what I was going to say when I marched up to him. “Why?”
He didn’t say much. He definitely wasn’t trying to go out Jerry Maguire style. He didn’t know that our boss was going to make the announcement. The job was simply too demanding. Instead he wanted to concentrate on his passion – acting. Who would’ve thunk it?
Rewind to 2001. I was late to my Teach for America interview but I got in anyway. I ran around my college campus like a narcissistic jerk alerting everyone that I was moving to Chicago to become a teacher. At the induction ceremony, my interviewer interrupted Wendy Copp’s speech to lean over a couple of rows and say she was glad to see me. She knew I was perfect for TFA the moment she read my application. Weeks later, I was going out – Jerry Maguire style. Days of students running amuck, in a classroom on the West Side of Chicago, finally took its toll. By 6 in the morning on September 11th, I decided that I was leaving TFA. As a native New Yorker the buildings came down around me in more ways than one. It seemed like the world was ending. My father negotiated hours of security checks in order to board a Chicago bound airplane. I sobbed looking out of the car rental’s back window watching the outline of my former Lake Shore Drive apartment, until it was gone.
Back to 2013. I have been conflicted about whether or not I should pull a Samson Cotran. Haven’t I been there before? I’m not so sure if at this moment I would be more like Samson Cotran, or that crying intern trying to dig her way through a tunnel of work. I just know something’s got to give.
I went to Northern Virginia Community College and took a seat in front of the department chair. She informed me that they designed it to screw people like me. She can’t guarantee that she can help me successfully navigate requirements to get the credentials I need to move on to greener pastures. Instead, the powers that be are hoping to funnel those with BAs into master’s programs. Fuck! The last thing I want is another MA. Academia is a business like any other. They want money. They don’t care if students can’t get jobs that are proportional to the student loans they have to pay back. I don’t have the heart to pull a Samson Cotran. I turned thirty something yesterday – again. I don’t know if I’m silly for feeling this way but I think I’m too old to Cotran. I know those moves don’t guarantee a path to happiness. I am leaving my future in the hands of the department chair. She really informed me and I know she will do the best that she can. Who would’ve thunk it? I’m enrolling in community college!