John Boston | A CV that screams: “Don’t hire this guy!”
Some in the Smart Set think Leonardo da Vinci may be the most creative person in history. Leo also invented the world’s first resume.
The word is French and means “summary”. Around 1481, da Vinci (I pronounce it – duhhhhhhh-VIN-kee) produced a summary of his abilities in letter form and presented it to his future employer, Ludovico Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan. The Italian nobleman will become Leonardo’s patron, instructing him to draw The Last Supper.
Two coats, no primer, like the old joke says.
In the early 20th century, resumes included information such as your height, weight, marital status, and religion. In my life, I have filled millions. On several, under “ethnicity”, in thick worked letters, I printed: “CHASSEUR / CUEILLEUR”.
I mean – who’s going to check?
The very first recommendation letter I ever collected was from my best friend, Phil Lanier. Or, as my schizophrenic mother addressed him: “That lousy Phil Lanier… ”I sort of worked for Phil. He was the editor of Signal Sports and I was his stringer lackey. Pancakes. It was 50 years ago, this fall. At the same time, I was the news director for NBC at the first Santa Clarita TV station, Call Letters – VCCT.
Viet Cong cable TV.
The brass didn’t like me to call their primitive medium, “Viet Cong Cable Television”, especially on the air. Ruth Newhall, editor-in-chief of The Mighty Signal, didn’t like me, period. She rarely passed up the opportunity to remind me that she didn’t love me because I would sort of rewrite the Signal stories and our brain dead hayseed newscasters were reading them on the (insert low bass reverb) –
INHABIT – EVENING NEWS FROM SANTA CLARITA !!!
Pity. The Signal was then a tri-weekly, so NBC-VCCT only had decent news shows on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Tuesdays and Thursdays? I just promise our viewers to tune in tomorrow for the latest updates.
Of course, Ruth hated it. And me. Therefore. When Phil delivered his review, it seemed like I was the obvious choice to replace him as sports writer. I made up a resume (not to mention that I was the accomplished director of the information theft four blocks from the Boulevard) and presented Ruth with insignificant letters of recommendation from the Seeker of SCV County volunteer dogs and a former member of the COC Incentive Team. I even requested written approval from Ruth’s son Tony, who was the editor of The Signal.
Tony said “no”, preceded by swear words.
Phil’s letter was complimentary, but unnecessary. Judge by yourself. Phil wrote: “Walter Stanislav Cieplik Jr. (my birth certificate / slave name then) is an eye-catching dresser, a gifted dancer and doesn’t get in the way… ”
Har dee. Har. Har. Har.
Phil noted: “As a former Soviet nuclear submarine commander, Mr. Cieplik has untested leadership skills although he bends under pressure.” Apparently I also owned a llama. And was adept at keeping it. I don’t remember serving in Mother Russia’s Navy, nor do I remember Phil’s insistence that I was “… a junior addendum taster in a kidney-blackening vodka factory.” .
Or maybe my memory was burnt out from all that inferior potato alcohol and that’s why I can’t remember my days of raising camels in South America.
There’s no way I can convince Ruth Newhall, one of Earth’s smartest, most feared, and vengeful editors, that I could dance. Moreover, it would have given Ruth the opportunity to point out, in her trembling voice, Katherine Hepburn: “Wwwhhhhell… You must certainly Dance better than you write… ”
The silent but implicit “damn you”.
Years and jobs have passed. I have collected humble accomplishments, ignored embarrassing twists and turns between attempts to conquer the world. My helium-filled CV swelled. I put together a really cool one for creative positions, not cowboy type. It was a thick, smooth four-page flyer. On the cover was the headline: “Meet John Boston. Below was the caption: “He Would Like To Help You Make A Few Dollars For Your Business.” In the middle, I stuck a crisp, crisp $ 2 bill.
I suspect most secretaries pocketed the two dollars and canned my resume. Again. This resume opened a few doors that no one wanted to open. I once had a fight with an executive from Universal Pictures over DO NOT hire me. Why? He was a numbers guy. When I get close to the numbers, you can actually hear them crackle, in pain. I shook his hand, thanking him for not hiring me. Strange. He seemed disappointed.
Another time it was a miserable August day in Santa Clarita and I was cleaning a barranca on the tractor. I looked like a crumbled donut soaked in soot, sweat and oil. A woman at the time rushed in with the message that a mega-costume from Beverly Hills wanted to meet me immediately for an interview. I took a frantic wire brush shower, hopped into a monkey costume, asked Future Ex-Mrs. whether thin or thick ties were fashionable like I hadn’t worn in eons, shaved with a hunting knife on the way down to BH as I crossed three mountain ranges in record time.
This guy’s office was on the top floor of a skyscraper and fit for a Bond movie villain. He employed two gorgeous leggy secretaries (four) in an outdoor lounge and rushed out of his office to greet me. I held a goblet of the whiskey he had served me and we chatted amicably. He couldn’t help but compliment me and my resume. Something that I have suspected all my life, he said, “The world will be your oyster,” which is actually a gooey time / space warp continuum of “Where does the oyster end and do I start?” Kind of notion.
I say to myself: “Adios, tractor. Useless Middle Management, here I am!
Then he looked at his watch, apologized for having to take a private jet, and rushed out of his office to a waiting Rolls Royce with me sitting on a leather couch holding whiskey, which I don’t drink, especially at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.
I filled out a job application once. Under “RACE:” I wrote: “Vanguard of a new species …”
I did not get this job.
I didn’t want to either …
John Boston is a local writer. And, a former Russian nuclear-powered crackerjack submarine captain.