i dream of being possible

Too much honesty

Partially related to all the recent discussions and thoughts I’ve had about the overall notion/idea of professionalism and libraries and that whole racket we call ‘being a good productive cog in the capitalist machinery’.

One thing that has got me in trouble more than a few times in my work life, thus far, has been being too honest.

It started way back when I was working at a cafe, gosh, when I was 18, and got in trouble for my boss over giving honest assessments of the sandwiches we had just started to sell (if memory serves, they weren’t very good and I told people that). Apparently encouraging people to eat shitty food is better than telling the truth.

Since that point, being honest has continued to bite me in the ass and cost me opportunities. I think the next major incident was when I was in an interview and was (not joking) actually asked what race I was because I looked ~exotic~. My response was “Um, you aren’t allowed to ask me that question.” Didn’t get the job.

Next… was probably after I had broken my hand and finally finished phsyiotherapy, but my hand was still not all that great (indeed, it actually sustained some permanent loss of mobility). I told my interviewer about this. Didn’t get that job either.

Other jobs I didn’t get were because of being asked that ridiculous question “How are you at multitasking?”. This question, let me tell you, annoys me because there is some evidence that multitasking is a myth.

Even if multitasking is something people do, it isn’t something I do. So when asked the question, I usually respond “I suck at multitasking, but I make up for it by being very efficient and prioritizing my time.” Which amuses me, because according to the linked article above… People who think they are multitasking are just switching between tasks very very quickly. But, may the ancestors help you, if you dare mention that to a potential employer.

Nowadays, I’m a little better at understanding what kind of honesty people find desirable and what kind of honesty doesn’t get you a call back after an interview.1 However, after 30 years of trying (and largely failing) to figure out where the line is between them, I’m ready to throw in the towel. I’m out. I’ll be as honest as will allow me to respect myself and I’ll be honest in the only way that actually makes sense to me.

At this point, looking back with that 20/20 hindsight, I sincerely doubt that this will make a significant impact on my professional life. What it will do, however, is decrease a lot of the anxiety I have about these situations. I seriously think I spend more time trying to toe a line I can’t even see than actually makes any real sense when I still regularly fail to stay on the right side.

(It will not surprise me if I end up working at Starbucks next year. Which, to be brutally honest, I wouldn’t mind. At least I’d have health benefits.)

  1. But really and truly. I’m only incrementally better. shrugs