The Cover Letter I’ve Always Wanted to Write

Dear Prospective Employer,

I am not particularly good at following directions.

Or perhaps I should say: it’s not that I’m bad at following directions. It’s that I tend to follow them too seriously.

I mention this because my professors seem to think that these introductory letters shouldn’t be about what I’ve done; they should be about who I am. Right about here, I’m supposed to say that if you’d like to know more about my experiences – about the time I spent as the Rocky Mountain Newsmultimedia man-about-town in Beijing for the Olympics; or the summer I produced radio stories for CBS News; or the months covering pro baseball for the Washington Examiner – well, you should just turn to my résumé.

This, instead, is what my professors would like me to tell you:

I am a 6’5’’ Jewish kid from Bethesda, Md. I have the wingspan of someone who is 6’9’’. To answer your questions in advance: I do not play basketball, and I do not know what the weather is like up here.

After a lifetime of air guitaring, I started playing for real three years ago, though
I haven’t given up on the occasional air soloing. I put Old Bay and garlic into nearly everything I cook. Two years ago, I spent the better part of a month training for a pizza eating competition that was later canceled when the restaurant ran out of oven space to cook the needed amount of pizzas. One year, I ordered the ESPN Full Court package, watched hundreds of college basketball games, developed an encyclopedic knowledge of every NCAA Tournament team, and still finished in the bottom third in my office pool.

I’m not particularly fashion-conscious, though I am the proud owner of a yellow, pinstriped jacket that I’ve worn to every University of Missouri football game since my sophomore year. I’ve never used the afro pick that came with the jacket.

I come from a large, lovable family of well-to-do Washingtonians who, for lack of a better term, are crazy. My grandparents used to paint their lawn green in the winter. We used to have a nanny who walked her pet guinea pig outside on a leash. My father has been known to bring back stacks of Waffle House waffles as his “personal item” on flights.

Which brings me to the jewel of my family: my mother.

My mother once wrote an essay explaining that her favorite Jewish moment involved the time Noah led the Jews out of Egypt. Once, upon my return from a semester abroad in Spain, she waited for me at the airport with a sign for me that read, “Hola, Dan, mí puta grande,” mistakenly believing that the words were a standard Spanish greeting. Recently, my mother fulfilled her lifelong dream of riding around on a fire truck dressed as Mrs. Claus. She is also a lover of animals, which is why this elephant currently resides on the front steps of my house.

I’ll cut this letter short now; I wouldn’t want to spoil any stories for future psychiatric visits. I do hope this letter gives you a more personal look into who I really am. And if for whatever reason any of this makes me more desirable as a candidate for this job, then I must say: journalism is clearly in worse shape than I’d ever imagined.

Sincerely yours,