The Mindful Bard – Overqualifieder

Book: Overqualifieder
Author: Joey Comeau

“Also worth noting: b) every one of these letters was actually sent to a company, and not one of them ever replied. It breaks my heart.”
– Joey Comeau

Almost as soul-crushing as a real job is the process of looking for a real job, which is why Overqualifieder and its predecessor, Overqualified, are so satisfying on so many levels.

These aren’t just job application cover letters; they’re also confessions from a psychopath who just can’t seem to keep his crimes secret, even in the straitened context of the job application cover letter. Sexist, misogynist, perverted, violent, entitled Joey just can’t seem to get a job. His dad tells him it’s because he’s not a gay cripple.

The above quote comes as a bit of surprise, because one might expect a police cruiser to arrive at the Comeau residence after certain of these missives? for example, the one wherein he confesses to threatening his roommate with death, or the one that suggests that more geriatric clients be created by pushing healthy elderly people from speeding cars.

I loved Comeau’s preceding book Overqualified so much that I recommended it in the Mindful Bard, and when ECW announced that Overqualifieder was soon to hit the stores I had to have look. It was every bit as juicy, brilliantly easing our existential angst while mocking the hands that could feed us but probably won’t. The second book shows the same refreshing disregard for all that counts as success in this vale of tears.

Whereas the first book actually masked a novel about the author’s life story, providing a detailed background as to why he’s as messed up as he is, Overqualifieder paints a detailed character sketch of someone who glides easily between naiveté and sociopathy, inadvertently evoking the dark side of every disappointed job hunter. It also helps us feel less like losers. How, for example, could you sink lower than this:

“I drink to ignore my problems. I spend more time with my computer than with my friends. I am angry and lonely, but I can wash dishes just fine. I’m being honest. Please don’t be an asshole about this.

Yours, Joey Comeau.”

Yes, it’s a light piece of sophisticated entertainment, but it has a deeper meaning in today’s world. The power that these companies wield deserves our mockery and defiance. What if, instead of groveling at their feet, we blatantly lie? Or confess to horribly violent crimes we’ve committed?or would like to? What if we bare our souls, or show our true feelings, as if it isn’t a CEO before us but rather a parish priest?

The author is proactive in finding solutions to the catastrophes that have befallen him. A guy who lost his job after going postal and killing his family has set up a post office in his basement, and now he wants a job with the company from whom he’s bought the equipment.

One of the best letters is an application for a job as Environmental Art Designer. Joey happily claims to know about the field well, having worked for a company that contributed generously to global warming. In the letter he explains how the recruiter kept him from fleeing the job:

He sat on the edge of my couch, drinking a glass of water, and he said that we were creating an atmosphere that would retain the radiation reflecting off the surface of the earth. We were melting the edges of the ice caps, cooling down the northern seas. We were slowing the Gulf Stream, dramatically changing the way the environment behaved. He grabbed my shoulder and said, ’Isn’t art supposed to move you? Isn’t it supposed to shake you by the hair and say, “Aren’t you afraid?”’

The cherry on top is the occasional uplifting poetry, for example, “For life is a grey slug lifting weights to impress a lady unicorn,” in a letter to Amazon.

Serendipity.

Overqualifieder manifests four of The Mindful Bard’s criteria for books well worth reading.

– It’s authentic, original, and delightful.
– It provides respite from a cruel world, a respite enabling me to renew myself for a return to mindful artistic endeavor.

– It displays an engagement with and compassionate response to suffering.

– It makes me appreciate that life is a complex and rare phenomena, making living a unique opportunity.

Wanda also writes the blog The Mindful Bard:The Care and Feeding of the Creative Self.

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