Rejections never resonate with me. It's autumn of my senior year, and I just got word on my first job application. "Thanks for applying," they write, "but we're looking for someone with more experience." The writing is terse and impersonal, the signature fake -- a stamp. I compose a lengthy email to company x:

I understand your concerns, but they're unfounded. You have no idea what a good mailroom boy I'd make. I wasn't actually an English major in college, as my resume suggests -- sorry for the typo, ha-ha! I was actually Finance. Thanks for understanding.

No response, so I call. The woman on the other end is obliging, but she doesn't listen to my points. "Pretty please," I say.

"We've already filled the position."

"With a cherry."

For most of my dating career, I have known the significance of an unreturned phone call. But I thought, perhaps foolhardily, that persistence was still worth a damn. Many call back eventually, if they're nice. Sometimes they discover how funny I am -- and charming and intelligent. Other times their minds are set. But it's always worth a last ditch call.

The mailroom people rejected me.

I cursed company x on my favorite voodoo apparatus, Georgette. I prayed for poor sales and eventual bankruptcy. "Bring back cholera," I told Georgette. "Cholera for every employee of company x!" I drank myself oblivious and wallowed in my unemployment. Saw visions of food stamps and soup lines. Saw myself in rags, begging outside of Wawa.

"Spare change for a Penn Alum?"

"I'm not giving you crack money."

"But I'm hung-"

"Sure, street rat."

Three weeks later, I'm back in one piece. I've mailed another dozen applications, and it won't matter how any of them respond. I'll call the central office either way. I'm not desperate -- I'd actually love time off after graduation -- but I can't get a handle on the idea of first rejections. How do they know I'm unqualified from a paper application? How does she know I'm a dweeb from the way I acted at the bar? Shit, we were both tanked.

So I didn't get the mailroom gig, no biggie. There are a lot more mailrooms in New York City and, dammit, I'm gonna get me one. If I don't, that won't be terrible either. I'll spend a few months in Buenos Aires, maybe a year in Paris.

See if French girls return my calls.


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