Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Story for Your Job Interview

I, a fiscally impractical person, am blessed to have a wife with a decent job and a knack for balancing budgets. I left professional ministry last October, and have not had a job outside the house since. I write obsessively (roughly 2 to 3 hours per day), but make little to no money at it. I preach at a few churches from time to time, but rarely ask for a fee. As far as I am concerned, at some deep subconscious level, money is something to be spent, but not necessarily made. That unstated ('til now) position makes me, despite my great skills as a father to our son, not exactly the world's easiest husband to deal with.

My wife was going over the budget for the next two months with me, and it became clear that we simply need more income. If only I could make a little bit of money things would go much smoother. Her career is doing as well as it can do - she is an expert in her field, and is in fact speaking this week at the Kentucky Autism Conference. But, while she has been supporting my sorry ass for quite some time, she isn't exactly in a lucrative profession.

So, I'm simply going to have to get a job. I've said that before, but this time I mean it. I'd love to stay home with Adam just a little while longer. He's starting preschool in the Fall. But we have to make it to Fall. So, this week I'm lining up job interviews.

But I'm still suspicious of any activity that actually makes money. While looking through the classifieds, thinking about the distance between who I naturally am and who I'll have to be to survive in the working world, I remembered one of my favorite stories from the life of Thales, who, after Xenophanes, is my favorite pre-Socratic philosopher. I wonder what would happen if I told this story, found in Aristotle's Politics, in a job interview:

When they reproached him [Thales] because his poverty, as though philosophy were no use, it is said that, having observed through his study of the heavenly bodies that there would be a large olive-crop, he raised a little capital while it was still winter, and paid deposits on all the olive presses in Miletus and Chios, hiring them cheaply because no one bid against him. When the appropriate time came there was a sudden rush of requests for the presses; he then hired them out on his own terms and so made a large profit, thus demonstrating that it is easy for philosophers to be rich, if they wish, but that it is not in this that they are interested.

3 comments:

Brian Cubbage said...

Alas, I can't use this in job interviews, because I'm trying to get a job as a philosopher! A profession, by the way, that Thales would have never dreamed could exist, and that Plato probably would have looked upon with revulsion-- though he was of independent means and free to look down his patrician nose and broad shoulders on mere sophists like me.

Liam said...

Hmmm... Who paid Heroditus?

Good luck, Chris.

Brian Cubbage said...

Good question, Liam: Who did pay Herodotus? Or Thucydides, for that matter?

And yes, Chris, seriously, good luck.