Thursday, June 19, 2008

I Don't Think Any Of These Would Even Get Me On "Stupid Human Tricks"

Being in the throes of a job search, I've spent a lot of time focusing on what my "marketable skills" are. Things that use impressive-sounding words like "communication campaign management" and "brand marketing." Things that look good on resumes and sound good in interviews, but are ultimately meaningless without some real roll-up-your-sleeves, get-your-hands-dirty abilities to go along with them.

Danelle and I don't talk about our marketable skills with each other much. They're typically not very romantic, fun or all that interesting outside of professional settings. We enjoy our UNMARKETABLE skills much more. The things you can't really quantify, transfer or develop. The things they don't teach in business school. The things nobody will ever pay you to do, but that you're darn glad you can.

Danelle has a terrific one -- she gets good parking spaces. No matter how crowded the lot, something desirable is conveniently available when she drives by. The skill fades a little when she's a passenger, but doesn't dissipate completely. We've gotten to the point that we just call unexpectedly good parking spots "Danelle spots" and accept that that's what they are.

I've got three that I can think of, one being the ability to order something good in a restaurant I've never been to before. Not just in a self-fulfilling, I-have-to-eat-it-so-I-might-as-well-act-like-I-like-it way. My prowess is generally validated by my dining companions' vocal approval of my selections. Danelle, alas, is not blessed with this gift and generally ends up bemoaning the fact that she didn't order whatever I did. She used to just eat off my plate, but we've matured beyond that. Now she waits for me to offer.

I used to be pretty OCD about ordering in restaurants, to the point of having to order last because I'd get upset if someone else ordered the same item I did. I finally had to get over it after going out to enough meals with my old friend and co-worker Lynn Rosen because she was my polar opposite. She could never decide what to order, and needed to hear what everyone else was having before choosing something. At least our idiosyncracies complemented each other.

Another is that I can tell you the co-stars and usually a few of the supporting cast from a ton of movies I've never seen. It's not something I research or study -- I don't know if I pick it up from commercials or what. And I don't know why it stays in my head when I can't even remember to tell Danelle when her best friend calls. But for whatever reason it does.

"Do you remember French Kiss?"

"Um...Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline, right?"

"Right. Did you like it?"

"Dunno. Never saw it."

My final such skill is really more of a blessing -- I can sleep. Anywhere, anytime, I can just sleep. I've slept in moving cars during hurricanes. I sleep regularly on airplanes. I can fall asleep when Danelle has the light, television and her laptop all on in the bedroom at night.

If I'm not asleep within 10 minutes of going to bed, I get frustrated and complain about how much trouble I'm having getting to sleep. This infuriates Danelle (and probably many of you) to no end, since she typically plans on being in bed for well over an hour before drifting off if she's lucky. Frankly, I have no idea how she can function on how little sleep she gets. If I go more than a few nights without my standard seven hours, it's not going to end well.

None of these things will likely come up in my next interview, but I'll probably get more out of that last one in particular over the course of my life than my expertise in "promotion and media placement." No matter what my LinkedIn profile says.

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