Dear potential employers: I am awkward

8 November 2009


It has come to my attention that when I interview there is, well, an issue. No calamity or whiff of disaster, to be sure – but something’s just not quite right. In an effort to improve communication – and incidentally my chances of continuing to eat on a semi-regular basis – I want to confront this problem head-on. Honesty is in all of our interests.

I am awkward. There’s no use hiding from it;  I couldn’t if I tried. Awkwardness – sometimes called the “silent killer” because it doesn’t actually cause physical harm – is an epidemic that has been excluded from our national debate for far too long. To ignore it is to empower the disease and allow it to ruin the lives of ordinary, hard-working Americans like you and me.  Especially me.

There are many different types of awkward. Seasonal awkwardness is often associated with allergies to pollen, pet dander and human interaction and tends to spike in the spring and summer months when everyone is really happy and irritating. Stress-induced awkwardness comes at times like Christmas, your birthday, and the hazardous ordeal that is Bastille Day. Acute awkwardness can occur as a result of singular events over which you have little or no control, like when your leg gets humped by one of the Queen’s corgis at Ascot or you arrive at a book club only to discover it’s hosted by Heidi Pratt.

As it happened, it WAS a gun in his pocket

But there is a condition still more serious. It is chronic awkwardness. Some fifty million Americans are sufferers, making it the most dangerous crisis to American health care since polio or restless leg. Chronically awkward people find almost every social situation perilous and struggle to get through the day without performing an inadvertent racial slur or sexual advance on a high-ranking military officer. Chronic awkwardness can cause profuse sweating, vomiting on others, inappropriate secretions, dramatic and unsightly skin conditions, faceplanting, and even social coma.

Sometimes even everyday situations like a trip to the corner store can be nearly impossible to a sufferer. The temptation to knock down a display case while swordfighting with squeegees, making inappropriate gestures with bottles of soda or tennis balls or replying to the shopkeeper in an exaggerated Indian accent can be too great for an awkward person’s sense of judgment. The long-winded, frantic and breathless apologies that follow are inevitably more awkward than the initial faux pas, and prompt renewed bursts of maniacal laughter as an awkward man or woman insists that they really had not intended to shoplift a bungee cable to use as a replacement belt after theirs was taken by a carjacker in the process of going to Safeway for some cottage cheese. (It is well known in the community that not only are awkward people the number one consumers of cottage cheese, but they are our primary means of subsistence.)

But why am I coming forward now?  In a word, money.  I’m poor.  I’m so poor I’m po’.  I sold the last two letters to buy more cottage cheese.  And everytime I go to an interview people look at me like I have two heads when in the middle of answering a question about writing press releases I slowly place my finger all the way into my nose.  One woman actually shrieked when, halfway through describing my publishing experience, I started rocking back and forth and singing “On Eagle’s Wings.”  What right does she have to judge me?  Would you judge an AIDS patient?

All right – a cancer patient, then.  It’s the same principle.

But it’s not just my po’verty I’m concerned about.  It’s getting that syndrome bling.  Big money goes into research to solve pressing health problems like AIDS, cancer and thin eyelashes.  If we have a chance to help all of those potential awkward people out there – to get jobs, loans, and desperately-needed haircuts – then those of us who might be called “high-functioning awkwards” have a duty to help.

The key?  A foundation.  All the best disorders have one; we need one too if we’re to be taken seriously by the government-nonprofit-health care triangle.  The Institute for the Study of Awkwardness and Awkward-Related Disorders will not just be a clearinghouse for information and research: it will also be a tool awkward people can use to find jobs, schools and communities prepared to cater to our needs.  Equal opportunities must include thirty year-olds who play hackey sack indoors if it is to mean anything at all.


Your new Something Assistant

You might now be thinking: I see that this is a problem, that it needs to be fixed.  But what can I do?  This brings me back to the beginning, because you can strike a blow against awkwardness by hiring me.  Realizing this dream will take hard work and an apartment capable of supporting an office/spare bedroom/beer pong table. It will also take a visionary with a salary of no less than six figures. While that may still be far off, you – and only you – can get the ball rolling.

So when I walk into your office, head hunched like a linebacker, hair in my eyes and tie stuck to my ass, remember that the awkward are people too – gloriously funny people. We have much to give. And you can be part of that.

I look forward to working with you.

Yours &c.

Peter Wahlberg

P.S. I’ll hand you a handkerchief just before we start. Take it. Trust me. It’ll make sense in about fifteen minutes.

2 Responses to “Dear potential employers: I am awkward”

  1. getbradstanleypublished Says:

    I’d recommend moving to Silicon Valley, where the more socially awkward you are – the more people assume you are brilliant.

    Did that guy just tell me the plot of King Kong when I asked if it was raining out? He must be brilliant.

  2. sapphicowl Says:

    You sold the last two letters to pay for cottage cheese…haha. But in all seriousness, why would you include a picture of Admiral Mullen of all people in your article on awkwardness?

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