I do feel sorry for Kristy and Katie, twins from the Midwest who’ve lived difficult and unrewarding lives in New York for a year. College graduates and aspiring journalists, the ladies describe their year-long job search to The New York Times:
SEVENTEEN months out of Rutgers University, they live in an unwelcome continuum of mass rejection. Between them, Kristy and Katie Barry, identical twins who grew up in Ohio, have applied for some 150 jobs: a magazine for diabetics, a Web site about board games and a commercial for green tea-flavored gum; fact-checking at Scholastic Books, copy editing for the celebrity baby section of People.com, road-tripping for College Sports Television.
The story — by N.R. Kleinfield — goes on to list the pair’s travails. Highlights include:
- Eating too many canned beans.
- Busking for business cards — networking! — not money.
- Having their mom tell them she’s embarrassed by them.
Like I said, I am sympathetic to the ladies: It sucks to tend bar and be broke and eat beans and wonder if things will work out. (Hint: They will or they won’t.) But I’m still annoyed.
After all, aside from a select few — the rich, the lucky, the talented, or a combination thereof — most everyone’s first year in New York is less than glamorous, not the “lush time of stimulating work, picturesque travel and a rich social orbit” the twins say they expected. (Our fist months, my wife and I lived in relative squalor at the asthma-causing confluence of the BQE, the JMZ, and the Williamsburg Bridge. Years ago, a friend of mine sold rugs from a basement for a woman he describes as Bette Midler, if Bette lived in a swamp and Bette ate only Chinese food and brownies. This last year, a good buddy survived a year in New York on under $8,000. None of us were the subjects of Times profiles.)
It’s tempting in such economic times to extrude BIG THINGS from individual stories. The truth is that in New York, 24-year-olds — even good-looking blond ones with decent credentials — will always have to sell beer for a while. The trick is for the young to stay strong and for all the privileged college grads among us to keep some perspective.
In the end, wouldn’t it be more useful to know more about Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan coffee vendor who’s alleged to have turned from pro-American immigrant to bomb-making hater? How was his first year in New York? Did he eat too many beans, and was his mom embarrassed?