The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

AND NOTHING BUT THE UNTRUTH: A very wise man, who may or may not have been Benjamin Disraeli, depending on which source you want to believe, once said that there were three forms of untruth: lies, damned lies, and statistics. This being a modern age, an age that has seen the advancement of knowledge in every sphere of human activity, modern scientific research now provides a public hungry for inveracity with four basic forms of untruth: lies, damned lies, statistics, and resumes. The search for employment is now the leading cause of what in almost any other set of circumstances would be perjury in the first degree.

Stretching the truth on one’s resume is now as American as your stomach pressing hard against your belt. Most people exercise a little creativity in writing their resumes; they add a little in one place and shave something else off somewhere else. Everyone, it seems, wants to put their best foot forward when applying for a job. It’s just some people’s resumes slip across the fine line between exaggeration and fabrication, and do so at so many different points along that fine line that you have to wonder if some of these people are angling to get the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Not that I mind a little padding here and there. Some people simply do not have the job skills commensurate with the employment they are seeking. Take Vlad Tepes, for example, the Wallachian ruler who served as the basis of Bram Stoker’s classic villain, Dracula. What if he wanted a job on Wall Street? What would he have to put on his resume to make himself look good to the human resources people at the firms he was trying to get into? First off, being undead may be a big turnoff for some of HR professionals, so Vlad might want to leave that off his resume altogether. On the other hand, being the master of the undead has certain advantages. First, the company wouldn’t have to pay Vlad a pension, since he’d never need to retire, being immortal and all, although the HR people might want to tip off the staff in the company lunchroom that as long as Vlad is with the company, the wooden chopsticks and any dish with garlic are definitely off the menu. The company might want to replace these items with plastic forks and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before bringing Vlad on board.

Second, Vlad doesn’t need health benefits or company sponsored life insurance, what with him being dead already, in a manner of speaking. This represents a great savings for the company and the management may want to encourage more of its staff to take up undead status. Of course, there is a disadvantage here: Vlad couldn’t work days, but even that is not really that much of a problem in our 24/7 global workday; he could work the overnight hours, checking out how the Asian markets are doing while the other staff go home to the suburbs for some dinner and a good night’s sleep. Vlad’s somewhat unusual diet may not be a plus, but a diet of fresh blood is no more inherently difficult for a company to provide than halal meals for Muslims, vegetarian meals for Hindus, or kosher meals for the Jewish employees, and if all else fails, the meatpacking district is only a few miles away as the bat flies.

Even if some of these problems are simply the products of Stoker’s fevered imagination, there are still a number of problems in providing a working resume for Vlad. He doesn’t want to come out and lie, but let’s face it, even if you dismiss the whole undead thing as arrant nonsense, the real Vlad has significant problems, and the elimination of Stoker from the equation does little to solve them or help Vlad’s chances of getting a job in management on Wall Street. To begin with, the people of Wallachia had a name for Vlad: the Impaler. Now there are all sorts of colorful royal nicknames: there’s William the Silent and Louis the Fat and Philip the Fair and Richard the Lionhearted. Russia had an Ivan the Terrible and an Ivan the Moneybags as well, and Poland even had a Boleslaw the Bashful, but when his own people call him the Impaler it’s clear to any future employer that Vlad has some serious anger management issues to deal with. In addition to this, there simply isn’t the demand for impalers that there once was, now that Uday Hussein is dead, so a propensity for skewering people is not going to work in Vlad’s favor; the smart resume writer might want to leave this particular job skill off of the resume entirely, unless there is an opening for this sort of thing in the central highlands of New Guinea, but nowadays most cannibals prefer their missionaries slow broiled in a pit with a nice salad on the side; this leaves the essential nutrients in, unlike the shish kebab method these tribes traditionally favored.

Then there is the incident of Vlad nailing the Turkish ambassador’s turban to his head in a fit of pique. Clearly, this is not something anyone would want to put on a resume, displaying, as it does, a certain level of religious intolerance on the one hand and a neurotic need to establish one’s own space no matter what the cost in time and money to others, both of these being things that most companies can do without in today’s modern workplace, especially with Turkey angling to get into the E.U.; the cost in lost business opportunities could be prodigious. And no one will believe that Vlad was only employing a traditional Wallachian folk remedy for a headache, since aspirin is readily available and can help prevent heart attacks as well, which a big nail in one’s skull obviously can't do.

So, by eliminating any mention of vampirism and a paranoid mania for skewering the populations of small cities for fun and profit, the creative resume writer can make Vlad Tepes the perfect candidate for a job in the financial markets, and after that, who knows? Like several other men who’ve made their fortunes, perhaps Vlad will contemplate a return to the public sector where he first made his reputation. He couldn’t try for the presidency, of course; no foreigner can, but he could run for governor in any state he wanted to, climbing to the top of the greasy pole, as Disraeli definitely did call achieving executive authority in a democracy, although Vlad would not be able to use the greasy pole for his favorite diversion. This may keep him from public life; if you can’t impale your enemies on greasy poles whenever you take a notion to then what’s the point of being at the top at all?


  • At 10:42 AM, Blogger Neil said…

    He could always say that he was undead in a "contractor" position, so he wouldn't get all the negative sterotypes of being undead associated with him in the workplace, such as the inability to work anywhere other than his coffin during business hours.


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