Sir Alexander Korda's Guide to Full Employment
I Learned to Stop Worrying and Start
The day before I left for Paris, my employers presented me
with a bon-voyage present: a pink slip. They had gathered amongst themselves
and decided it would be wrong to allow me to depart on an European excursion
with the delusion that I would have a job when I returned. Yeah, my former
employers - wonderful, wonderful people.
So, a day later, I found myself thinking about
unemployment as I sat on the balcony outside of my suite of rooms at the Hotel
Home Latin in Paris' bustling Latin Quarter. While sipping a beaujolais from
one of the hotel's elegant plastic cups, I thought, "This makes sense:
vacationing in one of the world's most expensive cities when I don't have a
It wasn't until I returned to the
United States (while reading a copy of Michael Korda's Charmed Lives between
job interviews), that I discovered it did make sense. Charmed Lives is a family
chronicle of Sir Alexander Korda, a Hungarian immigrant who rose from humble
origins to the heights of movie moguldom, founding London Films and becoming a
Knight of the Realm.
Alexander Korda, it
was said, was a man so charming he could talk money out of an empty safe. Here
is what Korda said to do when entering a town penniless and with no prospects
(i.e. unemployed): rent the biggest suite in the best hotel, dine in the finest
restaurants, tip lavishly and travel by limousine; do this and people will give
you money! And people did! During the height of World War II, during the
black-out of London, Korda's hotel suite burned as brightly as an ocean liner
in a vast and darkened sea. Caviar was consumed, champagne flowed, cigars
burned brightly, gay laughter echoed down bleak, empty, war-torn streets.
Sir Alexander Korda helped me realize my
job-hunting strategy was all wrong. People do not give jobs and money to people
who need jobs and money; people give jobs and money to people who have jobs and
money! Therefore, I have thrown out What Color is Your Parachute and am now
using Charmed Lives as my job-hunting manual.
Following the book's advice, I have sublet my cheesy
one-bedroom U-District apartment and am writing this article from the Cascade
Suite of the Olympic Four Seasons Hotel, Seattle's finest! All around is the
hushed silence is the crisp crackling of serious loot! The room-service waiter
has just delivered my afternoon martini. My travel agent has just confirmed my
rooms for my return to the fabulous Hotel Home Latin in Paris. My parents have
just called wondering if I have yet to find work. "Oh, please," I say, laugh
politely and hang up.
rented the most luxurious hotel suite in Seattle, I consult the manual for the
next move in my job search. Of course! Dinner in one of Seattle's finest
restaurants, traveling there by limousine. The limousine service is easy to
take care of; dozens are listed in the Yellow Pages. The "finest" restaurant is
a little trickier. Having foolishly always limited my lifestyle to my income, I
have no clear idea as to what one of Seattle's finest restaurants might be. A
few discreet phone calls and I settled on Palisades as the sort of joint where
one might drop a hundred bucks before hors d'oeuvres are served, virtually
assuring access to bored, half-tanked international financiers!
While refilling my glass from the quaint
cut-glass decanter the room-service waiter has left for me, there is a knock at
the door. It is, I think, someone who wishes to give me money. Actually, it is
a representative from MasterCard, somewhat concerned about my rather extensive,
rather expensive, rather overdue account. I tip him lavishly. He goes away.
I take my glass and wander over to one of my
suite's many floor-to-ceiling leaded glass windows. Any city looks different
when viewed through the windows of a luxury hotel. As seen through the windows
of the Cascade Suite, Seattle looks far different from the crime-ridden,
violence-prone, gun-happy, congested 'burg I have grown used to. Now Seattle
looks as exotic as London or Rome and shimmers with the promise of high
adventure and fabulous wealth always offered up by the mythical Emerald
I raise my glass and toast my new
hero, my mentor, my guide to full employment, Sir Alexander Korda. What color
is my parachute? Green. Very green.
- John Ambrosavage is a
Seattle-based unemployed writer and cartoonist who lives in five-star hotels
and tips lavishly. Send money.
||Contents on this page were published in the April/May, 1994
edition of the Washington Free Press.