Letter from the Editor
by Vinh Bui
The next two letters from the editor will be a little different than our first one. Because Maggie and I are the two Roamanians who are graduating this year, we’ll take turns writing these next couple of editors’ notes. So here goes my solo. *Cue domes to zero, spotlight center stage*
My love story is like anyone else’s. A happenstance meet-cute followed by a deepening of affection: will they? Separation. Won’t they? Reunion. Finally, a ride into the sunset. Of course, I’m talking about the love of my life, pizza.
Before we go on any further, let’s define our terms, namely, what the fuck does love mean? In the words of the great Haruki Murakami,“Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves.” That’s pretty good, albeit a bit of a bummer. I think my dad would agree with James Baldwin that “love is a battle, love is a war.” Not because he isn’t an affectionate guy, but because as a Vietnamese refugee he understands the cost and burden of love.
Personally, I understand love as a state of prolonged reciprocity. You give and you take as much as the object of your love gives and takes.
Which brings me back to pizza. I love pizza because it has given me homes to live in, clothes to wear, and most importantly, a BS in Advertising from the University of Oregon. Not one but two of my college jobs including my current position of Asset Transportation Specialist (i.e. Delivery Boy) at the iconic Track Town Pizza have come from “flingin’ pies”. And because of my definition of love, I must give back an equal share of what ‘za has given me - this letter is my recompense.
When I was 16, I worked under the table at one of those self-service car washes. I cleaned out the big vacuums with a shovel and picked up hypodermic needles around the garbage bins. After that, I found a job moving folding tables and chairs for events like the Wine and Cheese Festival. My coworkers were all twice my age and could carry three times the load that I could. After my first day on the job, I cried big tears of inadequacy.
So my first day working at a pizza place was like a dream. People were friendly, it was indoors, the restaurant always smelled like basil and fennel. Pizza seemed to descend from the heavens into my open arms.
I’ve been asked many times throughout my college career why I have a restaurant job. Why not get a job at the Allen Hall tech desk or at one of the libraries? Why not do something that will look good on a resume? In a moment of perceived sympathy, a fellow student told me that he wished that he had a job. When asked why he wouldn’t go get one, he told me that he was too busy with school and that he, “worked out, like, a lot.”
I think that this is a major problem in the UO Ad program and it doesn’t bode well for the industry either. Some students can’t be picky with the jobs that sustain them. Some can’t afford to buy a camera, an iPad, or even the monthly cost of Adobe Creative Suite.
I swear, I’m not looking for pity or for those with privilege to feel bad about themselves. This is an ode to pizza and all of my beautiful pizza people who work past midnight and then wake up for their 8 A.M. lecture the next day. All I want is for them to get the recognition and opportunities afforded to my friend who is too busy getting swole to find a job because his dad owns a car dealership (I’m just guessing here).
My basic point is this: agencies want to see clean, professional portfolios and robust resumes, but in order to do that, students must have the economic freedom to invest in those things. The jobs that look good on your one-pager usually don’t pay well and classwork alone usually won’t be enough to wow employers. You might be thinking, “well tough tamales, pull yourself up by your Nikes and knock your schoolwork out of the park.” And to that I’d say that students who put themselves through a university get far fewer swings at the ball.
It’s not all bad because there is a very simple solution to this problem. Agencies should ask about what isn’t on a resume. Try to find out what the person had to do to get where they are and value those skills and experiences. That will make students who are also working 25+ hours per week feel like their tremendous efforts aren’t for naught. Interesting people make interesting ads and my band of baristas, bartenders, and delivery boys have some stories to tell.
Even though my love story may be unconventional, my affection for pizza remains unwavering. I’ve paid my rent with ricotta and lived my life with linguica. For that I owe everything to my darling pizza.
I hope you take some time to appreciate whatever you love while flipping through the following Roam submissions. I suggest doing so over a slice.