Life After Dropping Out of College

My favorite probinsyana, Annabs of Suburbia, has written a wonderful guide on job hunting, an article that has inspired me to expound on it. Couple of weeks back, I was trying to write something about the UP Manila shitstorm but was too angry to finish it, but the gist of it was this: There is life after dropping out of college. I’ll not get into why people are forced to drop out, just thinking about it makes my blood pressure rise.

Anyway. So you’ve dropped out of college. Cue the dreaded question: What now? You have two options, a. find a job, or b. find a job. (Of course, this won’t apply to everybody since not all of us have to quit college because of financial difficulties, but I digress.) At any rate, finding something with which to support yourself is the next logical step.
Handicap, Schmandicap
First, remember that you are already at a disadvantage. The lack of a college diploma is a handicap with which you will have to contend. It will sit next to you at every other job interview and will poke at you incessantly while you’re filling out an application. BUT (there’s a big but in all of that) that handicap also makes you more persistent and relatively more street smart. Enter pointless anecdote:
In 2005, my friends had just finished college and they’ve asked me to be their Makati tour guide, so to speak. At the end of that day, I was the only one who walked out of a company’s doors with a job offer in hand. My friends were not by any chance idiots, it was only that I a. had work experience and b. knew how to use my skills to my advantage.
Therefore, the first thing you’ll need when Job Hunting Without a Diploma are skills. Sit down, get a pen and paper ready. What are your skills? List everything you ever received a “Best in” ribbon for. Debating skills can translate to good communication skills. Those Photoshop skills can translate into good design skills. A drafting class in high school translated to a draftsman’s job for me. Good English language skills got me a job in a call center then a video game website.
Next, you will need experience. This will come with time. Every little job you get adds to your experience, and subsequently, they all add to your skill set as well. I’ve been a tutor, a drug store clerk, a liquor store clerk, a data encoder, a draftsman, a tech support agent, a marketing agent, a creative writer, and a freelance writer. In between those are bouts of being a bum and looking for a job, of course. What sort of skills have I developed from teaching squalling children to staying at home and writing in my pajamas? A lot. Your job now can teach you a number of things you will have use for in the future, say, how to deal with people too drunk to count their money or how to find creative ways to teach a kid.
Experience will also help you “level up.” (Pro-tip: You don’t have to list all of your work experience in your resume. Sometimes, listing only the pertinent ones – pertinent to the company to which you are applying – saves time for you and the HR people. You don’t want to spend several uncomfortable minutes explaining why you left that company notorious for pushing out pornographic content, do you?) Working at a bad job or for a bad company can help you weed out the things you never want to do again. After working at a call center, I realized that I never wanted to do that ever again. The Universe, who for most of the time is a motherfucking bitch, will somehow help you find your place under the sun.
To Recap
So, handicap schmandicap, skills, and experience. There are several unquantifiable things you will need in your Job Hunting Kit, including 2 cups of diskarte, 3 cups of confidence (don’t go over, don’t go without), and a dash of luck. You will eventually develop a thick carapace to deal with rejection from assholes, but in the meantime, take a few tons of kakapalan ng mukha with you. Eventually, you will learn to shrug off comments and ads that discriminate against undergrads. Take my word for it, you don’t want to work there. Always be willing to learn and eventually you’d have leveled up enough that the piece of paper won’t matter – or at least you’d have amassed enough money to go back to school.

Volks Chronicles: Failure to Launch

So last Saturday, Remi, Mabie, and I were dipped in shit and rolled in breadcrumbs.

The plan was simple. We were to pick up the Volkswagen from Kuya Nards’ shop and drive it back to good old Quezon City. It’s simple enough, but if you’ve been following this series of posts, then you know that going from Point A to Point B is never simple. The simple enough plan turned into an unfortunate series of events that turned our Saturday into something Lemony Snicket may come up with.

Faint of heart, turn away now.

11:00 AM. Remi and I arrive at Kuya Nards’ shop and wait for Mabie.
11:30 AM. Mabie arrives, and we were off to the nearest gas station for gas.
11.50 AM. As we were pulling out of the gas station, a cab stops in front of us and thus I step on the clutch and brake. As the cab drove off, I release the clutch too soon and we stall. The car refuses to start.
12.00 PM. Helpful kuyas pushed us back into the gas station. I texted Kuya Nards and he told me to wait for the electrician.
12.10 PM. The electrician arrives and adjusted the contacts on the battery. The car started up fine.
12.30 PM. We were driving northbound along Buendia. I drove like an old lady. I popped the clutch a LOT. Seriously, if the car could scream for a better driver, it would have. (In my defense, I was driving as carefully as I could. Among the three of us, I’m the most inexperienced behind the wheel plus two of the most important people in the world for me were in the car.)
12.45 PM. Do you know the Buendia-SLEX intersection? I stalled there more times than I can count. I was getting frustrated and thus I asked Mabie to switch with me. (Quoth Mabie, “At this rate, we’ll get there by five.” Famous last words.)
12.50 PM. We were stalled in the middle of the intersection. The car was having trouble starting by this time. A traffic enforcer strolled over to us to ask what the problem was. The car started. Then I noticed the handbrake. It was up. (This Tanga Moment was brought to you by none other than Rio.)
1.15 PM. We were golden again. Mabie was behind the wheel, we were starting to hate the numerous intersections of Gil Puyat Avenue, and it seemed like it was getting harder and harder to revive the car after dying on us. I asked Mabie to pull over just after the gate of Dasmarinas Village and I tried to contact Kuya Nards again. All of his mechanics are out, and we decided to wing it anyway.
1.35 PM. We were cruising on EDSA. No hiccups, no stalls. Just cruising on EDSA.
2.00 PM. We took a right into White Plains and we were still moving when the car died. I couldn’t think of a reason why a car would do this save for spite.
2.20 PM. Stalled just before the stoplight at White Plains. Trying to start the car. An enforcer walks toward us and asks us what the problem was. The good enforcers volunteer to push the car to the safety of the curb.
3.00 PM. The mechanics aren’t back yet and the car was simply refusing to start. We kept trying anyway. We tried many, many times until it finally did fire up. I took the driver’s seat (Me: Are you sure guys? Both answer in the affirmative.) I successfully take the U-turn, but again popped the clutch when the light changed to green.
3.30 PM. The enforcers again push the car to the safety of a curb, this time on the shoulder right near the Latter Day Saints’ church. Still no mechanics. The car was refusing to start. Kuya Nards suggested that I hit the battery contacts myself. I do as instructed, but it was no dice. (Note: It started to drizzle and we all flashbacked to September 7, 2009, also known as Muntik Na Tayong Mamatay Day. We laughed at the absurdity of it all. Did the universe feel that our friendship needed to be reaffirmed?)
4.00 PM. MMDA tow truck pulls up right beside us.
5.00 PM. We were back at Buendia, having talked the tow people to get us back. (See Mabie’s Famous Last Words. We got there by 5 all right. We just didn’t get to the right Point B.)
5.30 PM. We were on the LRT, heading for Roosevelt. At this point, I had exactly 30 pesos in my pocket, having paid the tow people all the money I had left.
6.00 PM. Roosevelt station, LRT. We get off the train and take a cab back to the condo. Traffic was heavy, but workable.
6.30 PM. I noticed that the cab driver was popping the clutch. It was a No-Judgment Day, and seriously, I have fallen off the driving high horse and had been trampled underfoot by that time so I didn’t say anything. There were no problems, except that the cab driver was having trouble with dealing with Heavy Traffic + Incline + Gitgitan. There was a loud BAG! and a sudden jerk. Remi, who was riding shotgun, turned and said what everybody was thinking, “Did we just hit somebody?” Yes, yes in fact we did and the other guy’s getting out of his car right now.
6.35 PM. The cab driver was young, and he seemed like a sensible person. But at that moment, he panicked. We hastily paid him the fare and got out. The cabbie drove off and I caught sight of his bumper. It had a nasty gash.

It was 7 o’clock when we finally got to the condo and collapsed on the couch. At 1 AM, the day was officially over and we decided it was safe to leave the house. Remi and I brought Mabie home. On the drive back, a Volkswagen Beetle overtook us on EDSA. I laughed. Yes, Universe, I got the point. The Universe drove the point home with a semi-totalled Fortuner. Glass was strewn all over the street, and the Fortuner’s passenger side was crumpled in where it had hit a 16-wheeler.

At the end of the LONG day, it felt like I was dropkicked in the face. I was tired, broke, and my back was killing me, but I felt lucky. So incredibly lucky. Why? We didn’t stall on EDSA, we didn’t get hit by any ten ton trucks or buses, we received help, and while technically we did get in a car accident, no one was hurt. We got home in one piece, we didn’t have a meltdown, and we celebrated our small victories with burgers, because fuck you bad day. There’s nothing like transfat to improve one’s mood.

Also, at the end of the long day, I had two of my most favorite people beside me. They didn’t suggest that I send my car to the scrap heap and they rode in a vehicle while it was being towed for me. For that, I consider myself to be extremely lucky.

Additional Notes:
Bad Vibes Check – This is also known as a BV Check. This is similar to a stress check and should be done to avoid any sudden FOs (Friendship Overs). When the Universe is conspiring to make your life a living hell, it is important to periodically check on your Long-Day-Bus seatmates. Are you okay? Do you want coffee? Are we still friends? As soon as we get out of this curb, I’ll buy you anything you want.

Famous Last Words – In hindsight and in case magdilang anghel, it is important to specifically indicate both time and supposed destination. (From Mabie: yes. be specific. cos when i said i wanted to brush up on my parking, i did not mean for us to sit parked on various curbs and intersections for hours on end.)

No-Judgment Day – When among friends, it’s important to set days when no judging is to be done. This is to ensure that both sanities and friendships are left intact.

In my family, there was an instance when a cousin was renamed because he was sickly as a child. Maybe I need to rename the car (or have it exorcised for good measure).