The Shape of Things to Come

First, Dégénération, just to get you in the right mood.

I’ve had a rather bumpy ride, employment wise. Especially since China, I’ve lived in this weird place where I’m overqualified for most work and not qualified enough for the rest. I get by by working for my parents or gigging. Once, in 2008, I took my father’s advice, buckled down, and looked for work.

As a result, I ended up $1400 in debt, still unemployed, after submitting (I counted) 119 applications through the classifieds, through my networks, and through craigslist. This was when we had a “good” economy, remember.

My father told me I just wasn’t looking hard enough, that I frightened employers, and for awhile I believed him. But I don’t think so any more. My cousin recently put up her own story, (link soon to follow), of crushing student debt and the same mantra, a hundred applications and no bites. I have friends who graduated in 2007 or ’08 and are still looking for a post college job, now applying at Taco Bells and skeezy gentleman’s clubs and competing against high school kids. San Luis Obispo has the highest rate of unemployed PhDs in the nation. Jeph Jacques summed it up eloquently when he had Marten say “I make 20k a year and I’m 80k in debt” to a trucker who thought he had it bad.

Just think of all those bright-eyed college kids, graduating into this economy, to find…nothing. We’re not the “boomerang” generation that comes back home after college because we’re Peter Pan, we come back home because there are no jobs with which to pay for apartments with. Mine is supposed to be the idealistic generation, the youth vote that swung Barack Obama into office and the biggest participants in civic society since the Boomers.  Have you ever seen what crushed idealism looks like? It’s dangerous.

I’m starting my own business in part because I’m insane and in part because it honestly seems more secure to me and in part because it’s not like there’s any other options waiting for me. I don’t think everyone has quite this kind of healthy reaction, or the opportunity to make use of it.

So, out of this, I wrote a story. It is dark and bitter, like good chocolate, the darkest and bitterest I’ve done in quite a long time. If I can pare it down, I think it stands a good chance of winning this year’s NightWriters Short Story contest. Generational conflict certainly fits the theme of trust and betrayal, wouldn’t you say?


About R. Jean Mathieu

They say he speaks five languages, was conceived on a chess board, and once seduced a tong boss' daughter and lived to tell the tale. All we know is, he's called Roscoe. You can find more scurrilous lies at and buy his books at View all posts by R. Jean Mathieu

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