Small world: Is there anyone in St. Louis I haven't met?
by Becky Rickard
Would somebody please tell me where in St. Louis does a native St. Louisan go to meet new people? It's a simple question with an intricate response. Actually, the most common response to that question is, "Ummmm, I don't know."
I know we are all only separated by degrees, six to be exact, but this is getting ridiculous. What is it with St. Louis? Why does everyone know everyone? And what chemical do they put in our drinking water that increases the capacity of the typical St. Louisan's memory?
St. Louis has an incestuous smog that blankets the city with whispering nods of approval or stern glances of disapproval. If you think I'm exaggerating, take a group of your friends to a typical St. Louis bar or social gathering and try to meet somebody new. I'll bet a large amount of money that if you can actually meet people whom you don't already know, someone in your group knows them and knows at least half of the skeletons locked in their closets.
I believe we, as a whole and as individuals, should be held accountable for our actions, but why does a person's high school reputation seem to follow him or her everywhere? I realize that high schools are a great deal of interest to people in St. Louis, and I, too, am guilty of asking that inane question. However, I'd like to think that the things I did at age 16 or 17 do not ultimately define who I am at age 24 or at age 44. I'm not necessarily ashamed of the person I was back then but . . . let's get real people!
High school is the designated time for a major identity crisis. People take on many different types of behaviors to decide who they really are. Should it matter that I didn't know to match my belt and shoes when I was in high school? I finally learned the science of matching colors, fabrics, accessories, and leathers in college. Should it matter that I was a late-80s-early-90s hair band junkie? I've learned to stop subjecting innocent bystanders to such ear pain by blaring Def Leppard and White Lion in my car on my daily commute home from work.
To take this a step further, I'd like to discuss getting your first job out of college. It is not easy getting a job after you graduate. The phrase "It's not what you know but whom you know" was coined for a reason and I'm convinced that phrase originated in St. Louis. Like most people, I used my small and pathetic network to get my first job. I got a few months of experience under my belt and decided to leave since my network at the company was slowly dwindling also. I decided to let my resume and interviews do my talking for the next job. Believe it or not, I got the job. I thought this would wipe the slate clean, and I could get a brand new start. Yeah, right!
After a few weeks on the job, I noticed that many of the workers had the same last names, looked alike, and had pictures of each other on their desks. I walked into a corporate pool of nepotism, and I mean that in the best way possible because I love this job.
The St. Louis incestuous smog has its good and bad points. It's great for getting jobs and improving your career. It's really bad if you are single and want to meet new people. I don't plan on moving any time soon, especially since I found this job. However, I am combing the airport for new arrivals that look like out-of-towners that need new friends.
And that's my view from the outside in.