The Weather

My First Attempt at Networking—Is This Right?

Dear Justin,

My fiancée’s cousin gave me your email and said it’d be perfectly acceptable for me to contact you in light of my objective, which I will detail below. But first, apparently you went to college with my fiancée’s cousin. I hear you knew him as Otter. Did that nickname have something to do with a super ability to shed liquids? Is that too personal? What kind of humor is appropriate in this situation?

Anyways, yeah, hi.

I want you to know I’m totally normal and reliable and just another member of the rat race, trying to find my own slice of the cheese, trying to make a living the best way I can while also following my passions, trying to get my habanero hot sauce plant off the ground here in LA. But I know you know what I’m saying, because the word on the street is you make a good living bottling and selling habanero hot sauce along the Eastern Seaboard.

I’m sure you also know, Justin, that making the sauce is the easy part. You, however, have done the impossible and have turned the spice into cash, which is most admirable. Yet, despite the quality of my spice, my story is not as savory.

Since we’re basically colleagues, Jay, I’ll level with you: My plant’s not doing so well monetarily. Not that I care, but it’s gotten so bad that my fiancée’s family has stopped asking me about my business venture. Gone are my fireside rhapsodies at family gathering, which I once loved so well! And why? Because apparently they think “making a living” is synonymous with navigating some capitalist system! They’ve begun to roll their eyes at me and to say stuff to my fiancée like, “Whatever happened to that other boy? The one you dated in high school?”

Alas, I’m desperate, but in the face of all this, I try; last night I stayed home to tinker with my sauce recipe while my fiancée went out to dinner with Otter and her parents. I spiced it. I de-spiced it. I dipped a chip. I dosed a taco. And when they got home later, I gave them all a taste. Yet after all that, Otter still suggested I divert the plant’s resources to bottling other people’s sauce. They all thought this was just brilliant, and he even went so far as to suggest that you, Jayson, would be “a good contact for me.” But I don’t know what that means. Can you please tell me what it means?

Later that night, when my fiancée and I were in bed, both of us drifting off into sweet sleep, your name came up again. My fiancée says it means you and I might be able to “help each other out,” but just between you and me, I think that’s silly. You seem to be doing fine, and I’m not looking for help, merely recognition. She says it would be rude for me to ask outright for a job, even though I know I can do this shit pretty well. She says it would be “weird” if I just said it like that.

(Unless you really are looking for someone, in which case, well then, holy effing shit! Plus, if you would be able to pay me?! Well, son of a bitch! I’ve never had a job that paid before! … On second thought, my fiancée says I shouldn’t speak so earnestly about getting paid. In fact, she says I should get back to you only after I’ve considered all job offerings currently flooding my inbox—which I can do in no time. And what is the expected salary and health coverage?)

Otter told my fiancée that, best-case scenario, you may need someone in Los Angeles to bottle your sauce, and I can get a job that way? I asked her why bottlers within your own professional circle wouldn’t be sufficient, but she says if I email you now and mention my name, three months from now, or a year from now, or ten years from now, you may choose me over all the other successful habanero-hot-sauce-bottlers out there; because, even though she insists that my sauce is just as good as, “if not better than,” yours, my bottles at the very least make perishables less perishable—and what more could anyone ask for?

My fiancée says her cousin said you said you’re gonna make the move out west any day now. Can you confirm this? Or maybe you know someone in need of bottling back here in Los Angeles? Someone other than the hot-sauce people I know along the Pacific coast, who never did call or respond to similar emails.

Though after emailing you, at least my odds of gaining employment are no worse than they were last week. My fiancée’s cousin says you are nice and you will email me back to say some nice things that are totally reasonable and respectful? She says you absolutely will not email me back the textual equivalent of laughing in my face?

In conclusion, I think I’m supposed to ask you to drink coffee with me, and we’ll drink that coffee while I ask you more questions about our profession? I will pay for your coffee, Jason.


Otter’s Cousin’s Fiancé


Attached: My resume just says what I have already told you, so here is a list of things about me: I am a five-foot, eleven-inch Cancer with blood type O+. Oh, and also, I know I am ten years older than you, and I didn’t go to culinary school like you did (I studied print journalism in the nineties), and it is true that my bottling plant is really, technically, my kitchen, and that I am not “licensed” by the Dept. of Public Health to handle food-products for capital gain, but everything I bottle is totally fine.

Chris Black lives with his wife in Los Angeles. He is a former associate editor at Black Clock and wrote feature articles on rubber duck races, birds of prey, and other mountain topics for The Vail Trail weekly.