I sip café au lait out of the giant bowl-sized mug, its logo glaring at me, taunting me. It reads “Brookline High School Class of 2000” on it. I love this mug. It’s all I have to remind me that I graduated.
Well that and this worthless piece of paper they call a diploma.
The symbolism of the diploma is the culmination of years of work and study. “This man did it,” it says to all who look. “This man studied hard for four years (or perhaps more if he’s a dipshit or slacker) and completed everything this place of learning asked of him. Value him. Praise him. He earned it.”
For those first few weeks after walking away with this flimsy excuse for proof of education, it really feels that way. It feels like I actually accomplished something. Praise is showered down upon me like manna from heaven.
But just like manna, it gets old quickly. That piece of paper starts gathering dust while proudly displayed on on the mantle or the wall where no one who cares can see it framed in wood and glass that’s worth more than the paltry education that earned it in the first place.
Maybe I apply for a few jobs, finding people don’t actually care about my GPA or the skills I’ve learned.
“Can you work a lathe?” they ask. “Do you know how to use spreadsheets?” they question. “Can you lift 75 pounds with ease?” they inquire. These are the questions my high school diploma earns me in job interviews.
Just like with the mana, God’s up there annoyed that I’ve taken my education for granted, so in come the poisoned pigeons in the form of the promise of college.
Several years of study in such esoteric topics such as “The Sociological Impact of Humpback Whales on the Psyche of the American Public” and “62 Ways to Write the Same 6 Pages Over and Over in Order to Ingratiate Yourself to a Pompous, Overeducated, Unemployable Waste of a Ph.D” later I appear on the other end knowing exactly how to function in academia, but with no serviceable skills.
Had I wanted to, I could’ve spent my college years studying “How to Build a Bong like MacGyver” or “How to Hide a Hangover” or “How to Sexually Assault a Woman and Convince Her She’s at Fault” and still come out with the exact same degree. Why didn’t I? Why didn’t I spend my time screwing around and enjoying myself instead of actually trying to get an education?
God’s now laughing at me, as my second paper airplane with fancy seals and stamps sits useless on my resume. “Serves you right for rejecting me,” he booms.
“Can you work for less than minimum wage?” they ask me. “What can you bring to this company that every other schmuck can’t?” they query. “Why should I hire you for a lot more than I can hire the GED recipient who has spent the last decade working this type of job while you were busy wasting time?” they demand. They don’t actually say that, but I’m lucky enough to have taken enough Psychology classes in college to be able to read between the lines. Too bad psychology won’t get me hired.
I am a big ball of infinitely unemployable mass produced gunk. I spent twenty years as a contestant on the big game show called Education and all I won were these nifty parting gifts, As Seen on TV. And that’s not all! Thirty grand in debt and the scorn and disappointment of friends and family come complete in this wonderful package!
But hey, at least I have a nice mug and something to hang on my walls. That’s gotta be worth something, right?