The Public Eye

printed 01/22/2021

As I wade once again through the national hiring pool, following the routine departure of reporters who have a fascination with something called career advancement, I find myself flooded with applications from people whose chances of success are about the same as an underwater shoeshine stand.

True, we do get good resumes among the dozens submitted, but we also receive plenty of applications that begin like this:

“Dear Sir: I’m currently a goat herder-poet in Spitbucket, North Dakota, and wish to utilize my skills at your newspaper. Enclosed is a copy of my work:

I have a sheepdog name of Harry,

I have a goat I’d like to marry.

I have a campfire nice and hot,

We sit by it and smoke pot.

Most applicants, incidentally, want to “utilize” their skills. They don’t want to “use” their skills, “apply” their skills, or “employ” their skills, they want to “utilize” them, which sounds to me like they have various skills hanging on their belts, along with pliers, a hammer, a two-way radio and maybe a Batrope.

My problem is I don’t like to hurt people’s feelings when they haven’t done anything to me, and therefore I hate sending letters of rejection to otherwise harmless individuals.

In this particular circumstance — the job, not the goat-herding poet — I’m not looking for just any reporter, but a City Hall reporter, which means someone with the ability to suppress laughter during official discussions of critical issues.

Official: “I move that we authorize police to ...”

Reporter: “You gotta be kidding! Bwaaa hahahahahahah! Wheeze. Stop it. You’re killing me!”

This is not the way to gain the confidence of elected officials, so I’ve come up with a feelings-sparing way to cut through the stack of resumes:

“Thanks for applying for the position of City Hall reporter. Below is a brief questionnaire that will help you understand who we are and help us understand whether you’d be a good fit. Please answer the following:

1. How do you feel about group steam baths as a team motivator?

2. Do you like gladiator movies?

3. Because we sometimes have people working here with the same first names, we assign nicknames to everyone. We have two available. Which would you prefer — “Ratboy?” Or “Bubbles?”

4. Have you ever been on a date with your first cousin?

5. What’s the last thing you read? How big were the pictures?

6. Have you ever posted a video of yourself doing jumping jacks naked?

7. Are you smarter than everyone else, like the rest of us here?

Please answer all the above and return it to us by the end of the week. Hope to hear from you soon.

This approach seems to have worked well, as the very few applicants who do reply are full-out crazy, and therefore may be ignored completely. The sane but unqualified ones won’t reply, and that is that. Almost.

The only thing I have to do now is respond to their lawyers.

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