Sunday, August 22, 2010

Onward and upward

I'm constantly looking for something better. I suppose it's the human desire for more that drives me, for something that challenges and surprises at every turn. I don't think it's greedy, or at least I hope it's not. I hope it's just me pining to find something that I truly want to do for the rest of my life. Ultimately, I'd love to be a professor of English, a job will allow me to educate while educating myself, constantly changing, looking for and learning things new. I'd also love to live in the Scottish Highlands, own a vintage Jaguar and have a seasoncard for Manchester City, but those are just for fun. I don't know how realistic these things are, or how far away they are if they even are realistic, but this constant desire for upwardness and onwardity makes it hard to be satisfied, no matter how satisfied I am.

It's why I can't stay in a job for very long. And I don't mean that I quit and stomp around lazily, wishing the world would present me with better opportunities. I certainly do the latter, but I work toward it. I am always attempting to get promoted, or move into a job more in my field, in my interest, or just plain more interesting. But that's difficult. Especially in writing, or in radio, or in tv. I've picked a bunch of winners to have as passions--jobs that, more than any other, you are judged less on what you can do than who you know. My last tv job was working as Master Control at a small cable studio--but my younger brother had to get the job for me because he knew people and I didn't, despite the fact that I'd done that kind of work for four years in college.

My most recent attempt to move upward was with Apple. It has always been a dream of mine to work for Apple, whether selling, fixing or desiging their computers. Two out of three of those possibilities are highly improbable, seeing as I know virtually nothing about the computers other than that I quite enjoy using them and prefer them to PCs. But selling I could do, and Apple offered me a position to do just that about a month ago. And after six years of pining and three of trying, I did the impossible and turned them down. They couldn't pay enough, and for probably the first time ever, I didn't make a step toward my constantly changing definition of Satisfaction. It was a hard decision, a lot of weighing of options and discussing with Carly before they called me to schedule a training session and I said, "I'm sorry, I just can't accept the offer." They were not as disheartened as I had hoped. And now, even if a better-paying, more advanced position ever becomes available, I'm sure I've been blacklisted through infinity and beyond.

Did I make the right decision? The hotel industry isn't the place for me, but I keep finding myself in it, trying to weasel my way upward despite my utter indifference to it all. I like people, I love hotels and travel, but it's just not my passion. At all. Computers are a lot closer, but still nowhere near. Plus, the busiest the hotel gets has nothing on how crazy the Apple Store in Shadyside is constantly. The thing I hate most about working at the hotel is the overwhelming crowds with their overwhelmingly stupid questions; that's all working at the Apple Store would be. And yet, there would have been upward mobility, which borders on a narcotic for me. But no. I stayed put. If not a little bit because I like the kickbacks that roll in for me here, from the cash tips to the restaurant gift certificates to just people really honestly enjoying when I help them out.

And now, most recently, the biggest kickback of all. The reason I ultimately decided I should stay at the hotel, just stay put a little bit longer. I figured, of all the places to be, with all the elbows that need to be rubbed, staying here should offer me more opportunities than wearing a blue shirt and selling myself to a cult of personality (as delicious as that Apple-flavored Kool-Aid might taste). So it has.

I'm not talking about Paul McCartney (who just left here) or the cast and crew of One for the Money (who has been here for months). The other weekend, a man was staying here while touring the United States to look at colleges with his daughter. He came to me wanting to know how long it would take to drive to JFK Airport in New York, and whether, with his less-than-reliable rental car, he should make the trip in two legs. We decided that was best and I set him up with a hotel room in Harrisburg for the night, about half-way there. When I gave his information to the agent at the hotel, I finally said to him, noticing his address, "Oh, so you are from Germany!" to which he responded, "You could tell from my outrageous accent!"

"Deine Englisch ist besser als meine Deutsch," I said, and he looked surprised: "Du sprichst Deutsch!" We spoke a bit in German, then I wished him luck with his trip and he left. Excited, as I always am to speak German, especially with someone from Germany, I began telling one of my co-workers how great the man was when he came back. I had forgotten to give him the address of the hotel in Harrisburg, but he also brought with him a piece of paper with his name and email and the website of the school where he teaches, and informed me that I should email him on Monday when he is back in his office, because he was so impressed with my German (particularly, my accent) and he would like to take me on as a teaching assistant, to help his students with economic case-studies in English.

Onward and upward.

For the last week, we've been in touch, trying to hammer out the details to such a deal. He likes me a lot and is trying his best to find a place for not only me, but also Carly, so that we can move to Kaiserslautern, just east of the French border in Rhineland-Pfalz, where my family emigrated from in the late 1600s. I don't know what will happen, if we'll be able to come to a solution that works out. But it's a possibility. It's a start. Moving to Germany would be a far bigger dream coming to fruition than just tooling around with computers. Teaching, in Germany makes that dream even bigger. And I'd get a free Master's of Science out of it too. So there's that. An M.S. in International Finance, in fact; a degree that should, theoretically, help me with the even bigger dreams that I've got.

I think, just maybe, I made the right decision.

And here's to making more.


  1. Sweeeeet, good for you Zerbe!

  2. I meant to tell you about this, but wanted to wait until it was more set in stone (hopefully). The funny thing is, this dude is basically like the German version of you. He works in the economic school at Fachhochschule Kaiserslautern and has written all kinds of papers on risk management, especially to do with banking and the Euro. Weirdest thing ever.

  3. Doors and windows, etc. etc. etc. :D

    Knock em dead, mayng.