Friday, March 13, 2009

What Have You Done For Me Lately?

I never knew that "What Have You Done For Me Lately" was the name of a song (a Janet Jackson song from 1986, when she hit stardom and her hair was bigger than her entire body) until I watched Eddie Murphy Raw. (TWO Wikipedia links in one very long sentence. What did I do before Wiki existed?!)

In Eddie Murphy Raw, he wears that hideous purple pleather outfit (purple AND pleather!) and is at the top of his game, talking faster than any human being should be able to talk. It's actually really funny, as long as you're not the type of person to take offense to, you know, racism, sexism, or obscenity. Wikipedia tells me that Eddie Murphy Raw contains the F word 223 times in 90 minutes. That's a lot of cursing. (In case you care, the documentary "F*ck" holds the record with 824 utterances of the word in 93 minutes.)

The whole "What Have You Done For Me Lately" thing comes up in Raw because Eddie talks about going into the African bush and finding himself an obedient woman, and how she would become 'corrupted' by the evil forces of feminism in America. Basically, this docile bush b*tch would become a self-centered American b*tch that wants things. The audacity! She would stop doing the laundry, cleaning the house, and waiting on Eddie hand and foot in his hypothetical situation because she would meet some American women that would teach her to ask her man, "what have you done for me lately?"

Yes, I'm a woman, and I realize that this whole bit is very misogynistic. But it's meant to be funny, it's not meant to be a serious reflection of Eddie's actual thoughts towards women (I hope), so I can take it for its worth: comedy.

I started thinking about the phrase "what have you done for me lately?" in the past couple weeks. One of my friends (more like a friend of friend) sent me a message on Facebook, very casual, "we should do lunch," and asked for my e-mail address. I sent off an e-mail and replied to the message with a kind of "sure, let's do it, let me know your schedule."

I thought it was a bit weird because I hadn't talked to this person in a month, since our mutual friend's birthday. That's fine, sure, okay, I can roll with it, right?

Sends back an e-mail with ... an attachment. Of someone's resume. For me to forward to someone at my company. No real plans for any sort of lunch attached.

Two things:

1. I do not recommend people I do not know. I don't recommend very many people that I do know. I'm judgmental and harsh, and have very high standards when it comes to evaluating work performances. I really don't care if they are your favorite person in the world, if they can't get the job done, I will not budge.

2. Why the farce of a social gesture? Why not state your intentions straightaway? Save some time for all involved.

I'll pass on a resume, sure. But I sure as hell will not vouch for some dude that I've never even met. Sorry, no can do.

Early this week, just a week after the resume thing, a friend texts me and asks if she can pass my number along to her friend. He "has some production questions that he thought you might know about."

My friend, in this instance, is reliable and won't be pimping me out to some pissant that would be an ungrateful bastard. So I tell her to send him my e-mail address, since I have not a single spare moment to sit and just talk on the phone (I've discovered that being on the phone during my commute to or from work just clues people in to how much road rage I am developing).

Dude e-mails me, and the "production question" is, essentially, "how do you do it?"

Um ... I don't have eighteen spare hours to explain production in all its intricate glory. There are so many aspects, so many variables, so many things that can (and will) go wrong. How do I even begin??

I take a day writing up an e-mail, essentially writing a line here, a line there, an equation here, a condition there (much like I write my blog posts, which is why they might seem very disjointed), until the e-mail's done. Read it one last time and off it goes.

This is all fine. I understand why I get these queries and requests (I get a lot)- out of this group of people I met at school, only one of whom I consider a life-long friend that I will know forever, I am the only person that graduated and then immediately began working in the field that we all studied and aspired to. I am the only person currently working at a large and reputable company.

(There's another group of people that I know from school, but my ex-boyfriend (who also went to this school) got custody of them in the break-up.)

I graduated from school in the December of 2002. Over six years ago. Many of my friends (including bestie) stayed to get their bachelor's degree (I got my associate's and got out), so they graduated two years after me. I had a two year head start, I ventured out as the guinea pig to test the waters. Intellectually, I understand that.

But I floundered, I struggled, I lost hours and hours of sleep while I tested those waters. I thought I would drown a lot of the time. I did love it some of the time, but even now, I can remember that feeling of hopelessness and total isolation that I used to have. Why didn't I have anyone to latch onto, to make requests to? Why did I, the youngest of my group of school friends, have to be the first lemming to jump off the cliff? And why haven't many of those other lemmings jumped, even now?

As selfish as it is, I can't help but wonder ... what are these friends-of-a-friend going to do for me? What have they done for me lately?


william March 14, 2009 at 9:45 PM  

it's so true. i've done a couple of lectures where i show examples of middle school lesson plans (the audience members are brand new english teachers). weeks later, i would get the most random emails asking me for my materials (not asking for tips, but like hardcore give me your powerpoints and worksheets). and i'm like, i don't know you like that. why would i just hand you over hours of my own labor? sorry, rambling.

i don't think i'm being petty or selfish. i'm just being fair.

and take that person off your facebook.

jeanny March 14, 2009 at 11:11 PM  

EXACTLY. I concur!

Thank you thank you thank you for making me feel like I'm not a crazy and selfish person.

People are so lazy these days!