04 August 2011

The Best Tool for the Job

It seems like, after thirty-five years of practice, razor manufacturers should have been able to make the best possible razor for someone who shaves their specifically grown face exactly like I do. I am not like everyone for whom they are making their razors. I am a specialist; a virtuoso. I specialize in my own face. I have been practicing it for thirty-five years, give or take a few when I disposed myself to allow the beard to grow untrammeled. My trammeling of facial hair is a task that I proposed, as a young man, to be good at. I got good at it, had a preferred set of best tools for the job, and went on with my life. Shortly thereafter, the razor-makers stopped making my razor and shoved me onto a different set. Not the best, but nobody made the best any more. So life has gone ever since. I have yet to have found a set of blades that shaves me as well as that twin-blade, double-edged, Teflon-coated safety razor did, when wielded well, which I felt was my responsibility as the wielder. No greater number of blades, nor greater flexibility of steel, nor even spring-loading of pivoting head is enough to make up for me determining and elucting (From eluctor, l, to struggle, the same root as ineluctable, which is inevitable or unavoidable, to eluct is to make a choice and struggle to make it bear fruit, as in the choice to practice to become a better musician, or orator, or human being. It is a word I have made up myself from latin antecedents, and I propose to continue using it as I see fit.) to learn to shave myself in the best possible way. As I mentioned, I have become a virtuoso. Like all virtuosi, I have found the best tools for the job. Just as Pinchas Zukerman has a particular Guarnerius that he plays, with a specific Lucchi that is peculiar to it, I have tools that I use for shaving my face. I can shave very well with other tools, just as Mr. Zukerman plays a mean Bach no matter which fiddle and bow he is presented with, but my favorite is best. It would be good if somebody still made it.

Which brings me to another idea. I am in the midst of being a little bit fed up with the way of the world. I'm not ready to bow out (I doubt that will ever be an option for me; I love my life, and my mate, far too much for that), but I can see a truly ineluctable problem. Let me explicate:

I am an extraordinary chef. I served an apprenticeship back in the mid eighties, and have much experience. I am of the “Toque Blanc” school, which differs from the “Cordon Bleu” in ways that I will not describe just now, except to say that it is not a merely political or social designation. It has meaning. I am one of the best working chefs of my generation, I do not hesitate to say. In addition to that, I am a trained musician, with skill and experience in reading, writing, and arranging, years of live and studio time, and a canny research scientist and writer, capable of generating questions of depth and clarity, and determining a most economical and direct elucidation. Finally, I am a truly gifted educator, with an ability to teach difficult concepts to under-prepared students that is uncanny. I do other things, as well, being a person of some fifty years on earth who has been interested in and motivated toward many activities, each of which, needing its own skill set, has required of me a certain degree of competence. (Let me also mention, here, that I am very well educated and read, with Bachelor's degrees in Zoology and Mathematics, and Master's in Entomology and Science Education.) I work hard to be good at the things I do. I work hard to make sure that the people who employ me in any activity are rewarded beyond any compensation for their perspicacity in choosing me to do the job that needs to be done.


As of this moment, and for much of the last year, I am and have been unemployed. I am a great employee. I do good work, I do it fast, and I do it at low cost to my employer. Somehow, due to the needs of the many, which are those to whom this world caters, I have been deemed largely unemployable.

It seems like, in the past thirty-five years, I should have been able to find that perfect job wherein I could have put all my skills to use doing great work for some grateful employer. That situation may not exist. However, there is a situation that exists anywhere there are people and jobs. There are jobs that need a virtuoso. Jobs that require someone who is great at making good decisions that are best for the company. Jobs that need a man who can work hard in a hostile, stressful, unforgiving environment, teaching the skills that are necessary for success to the people who really need them in order to succeed. Jobs that require both thinking on one's feet and the ability to research and figure out the best course of action for the future. Jobs that require communication and dedication and loyalty and hard work. I am a virtuoso at those jobs. They were created with my skills in mind; I am the correct toolset to get them done, the best tool for the job. It does not matter that most jobs can fit anybody that conforms to a certain norm. There are jobs that are perfect for me. So, why don't I have one of them?

It comes down to statistics. Most companies don't seem to care about making a great product. They care about making a lot of dollars. And that's okay. Statistically, a company can sell the greatest number of razors, made in the most inexpensive way possible (not cheapest, but least expensively based on economy of scale), when making them for them most statistically normal group of people. The product won't be great. It will be very good and will shave most people about as well as they care to be shaved. A virtuoso company can use pretty much any average employees to create great stuff. And I, a virtuoso shaver, can use any razor to get a great shave. But where, oh where is the company that wants a virtuoso employee to make the best stuff possible? I am that tool. I am that guy. I am more than a little fed up with a world that glorifies not being a virtuoso employee. I am not a regular, ordinary every-day guy. I'm the best tool for the job, and I'm still here, ready to do it. Where is the company that wants me?

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