Opinion: On Jobs and Writing

office lobby


I found myself at a publishing company’s lobby, just in time for a job interview. The interviewer was purposely making me wait to either show ersatz importance or to, more likely, cut me down a few. I spent an hour thumbing through a magazine (there was a decent dangkal of ’em on the table), ruminating on the written words with sheer incredulity.

Seeing no car magazine and skipping the FHM, because I thought that it should only be read alone behind locked doors, I grabbed a Cosmopolitan. I thought that it will all about makeup, flowers, unicorns and other girl-related pooh-bah. Instead the article I was reading contained to so much lasciviousness that I probably would have been made less impure had I looked at Angel Locsin’s glossies instead.

Trying to avoid saliva oozing from my agape piehole, I averted my gaze from the text and looked up to see the women traversing the corridor. Nope, need a tissue right now. These were some pretty ladies, dressed up to the nines and with posh, Dasma-village accents turned up to 11.  And they work here. And come to think of it, one of them probably penned that piece in Cosmo.

Damn, I want to work here, too.

A few weeks later I found myself, past the lobby this time, in a conference room, ready to be interrogated. I was shocked to find three people walk in, thankfully without thumbscrews in hand. The person who I will be directly answerable in the unlikely chance that I hoodwink them for the job was très hot. Her right-hand man was larger than life, a man befitting his surname. And the person who was the former editorial assistant had previously written that the styling of the second-generation Hyundai Elantra was “a slight step back compared to its predecessor”. Through what sort of bifocals is that assertion true?

But I wasn’t there to trade verbal fisticuffs. A job opening in a top-tier car magazine does not come up often. Though the previous paragraph will definitely spoil my chances.

I have three interests in life – cars, books, and car books. The problem is, you can’t buy off-the-shelf the things that I want to read, like say, a step-by-step guide to turbocharging evert Elantras. You see the output here in the website. What you don’t see is the anguish of finding the right words to fill up the articles. Night after night, the blinking cursor taunts me as I wring my temporal lobes dry.

I wish I can write like how I can drive. I can have full-fledged arguments with my passenger and the pissant blathering through my BB 9700 while hurling invectives at the Sentra who just cut into my lane, all while slaloming around other motorists in any of Metro Manila’s circumferential roads. In comparison, putting digit to keyboard is a monumental struggle.

Writing is a pleasure, much like how constipation is. But when you finally push the crap out, you can’t help but stand and admire your output before flushing it – este, publishing it. The thing is, there hasn’t been an update in kuhol.net for a month. My colon is an exclamation point right about now.

Others use writing as a stress reliever. Many years ago, I tried doing the same, but the same people I was pissing about read my garbage and went ape.  And besides, who wants to read my frustrations on why people think that tuning Elantras is an exercise in folly when they themselves go through problems of their own?

I treat this writing hobby of mine (and yes, it’s a hobby – I don’t earn anything from this, thus partially explaining the job application) like a game that challenges one’s mental faculties. Every night I play a game of Chess Titans, and even with a middling difficulty setting find it excruciating to defeat the computer. After that, I open the site, my mind haggard from the latest loss to Black, and ending up not writing at all.

Blogging to me is just another game that I play on my PC – a single-player, open-ended role-playing game. Words, phrases and thoughts are the bricks you join together in Tetris. The cars I write about are esoteric, virtual concepts like the cars you race with in Gran Turismo, because half the time I just find articles in the ‘net and, to not be accused of being a plagiarist,  rewrite them for the site. Which apparently, gleaning from my experience applying for a car mag, is the base skillset required for a motoring journalist.

I’m flattered that certain established scribes of the industry decided to take a second glance on my writing samples. Even though I don’t qualify being their gofer editorial assistant, at least I can say that I’ve tried, and maybe I was an asshole during the panel interview. Excuse me, but the second-gen Elantra’s looks are not a step backward.

I’ll continue regurgitating equal measures of the dictionary and Car and Driver. I can pretend to be Brock Yates and Jeremy Clarkson for a bit longer. But I haven’t yet disclosed my real reason for wanting to be a car journo.

I once participated in Tuason Racing School’s Top Driver Challenge and was able to reach the final round, which was an autocross.  After our runs, in which I promptly lost, the emcee of the event, who happened to be none other than James Deakin, took the TRS-prepped Ford Focus TDCi out for a spin at the course. He was faster than all of the Top Driver competitors, and did it with one hand on his wireless microphone. I’m guessing you get such skill flogging different types of cars that you don’t own on a daily basis.

Maybe what I really want to be is a race car driver. You don’t see that job posting in Manila Bulletin often.

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