As I stood outside the department store at ten o’clock at night in the cold and wind waiting for a ride from crazy Pam that may never come, I had realized that something had gone terribly wrong.
I had spent the last four years of my life dedicated to the idea that what I was doing would be the most beneficial to my success as a human being. This idea is planted into the heads of the youth much like the mechanical arms in a factory screw on the lids to mass produced mayonnaise. And much like mayonnaise itself, this idea seems like a good one, but then you realize that it is absolutely disgusting on its own. Only after you add the rest of the sandwich does the mayonnaise reach its potential, but more about that later.
The factory starts four years before the initiation. When a young thirteen year old steps into the high school guidance counselor’s office to create their schedule for the year. She shows the student a list of required subjects, English, biology, math, etc. When the student decides that she is going to take three biology classes to fulfill her science requirement, the counselor intercedes by claiming that it will be easier to get into college if she takes a chemistry class. So, the student takes the chemistry class, then barely passes, but the seed is planted. College. Every academic decision after this meeting is based on what is the most beneficial for this seed.
When the time finally comes four short years later to decide where the student would like to attend college, the decision is out of her hands. The process of elimination and rejection is all based around the decisions that she had made the past four years. The decisions she thought would help her seed grow. For instance, her almost failed chemistry class is keeping her from attending the best university in the state (she would have aced biology). Eventually, the final destination is chosen. Eventually, she accepts her fate. Eventually, she becomes excited. Eventually, she begins to believe that this experience will better her and lead her to the life she has always seen in the movies.
When she arrives, she is nervous, scared, unsure, but is eventually thrown into the deep end. She is engulfed and wonders everyday why she chose to do this to herself. After two years, she just keeps thinking that it is almost over. Only one more year until all the stress is gone; one more semester. Finally, it is all over and life can begin.
During those four years, her idea of college being the means to a better end grew into a wonderful plant of dreams, hopes, and plans. She had been told over and over that it would all be worth it. All she needed was to finish, receive her paper, and officially have those two simply letters behind her name. Those letters would get her a good job. Those letters were all that she needed. They could give her anything and everything (especially in a major such as English where you can get a job in anything.)
Mayonnaise. The paper, her letters, her degree is the mayonnaise. The process of college is the factory, beginning as ingredients in high school and being mixed and finished in college, all bottled up at graduation and topped with a lid. Now when she applies for her plethera jobs, she sends out her information, her jar of mayonnaise. Jobs receive this mayonnaise and realize how absolutely revolting it is all on its own. She soon realizes that they are looking for a whole sandwich. What the factory doesn’t tell the mayo is that the rest of the sandwich is found in experience, higher education, and a job; bread, lettuce, and lunchmeat.
I am a jar of mayo.
I am a jar of mayo working at a department store in a new state, two suburbs away from my house, working for minimum wage with more debt than most countries, car-less, friendless, helpless. I am a jar of mayo working in a mayo-less profession trying to become a sandwich. I am twenty-three, with a B.A. in English, enough talent to do any job as well as a professional, and enough determination to make it happen. If only the economy sandwiches hadn’t fallen on the floor and ruined all the mayonnaise.