In my effort to find employment, I’ve sent resumes to several retailers offering minimum-wage jobs. So far, the only jobs I have been hired for are fixing my dad’s computer when it breaks and walking my neighbor’s dog. The problem is, both of these jobs pay significantly better than what the retailers were offering. How can I get motivated to get a real job, when real jobs don’t pay nearly as well?
— Confused Worker
I am also confused. You say you are seeking a “real job,” but the work that you are attempting to escape is lucrative. Perhaps you are self-aware enough to admit that at this stage of your development, you require structure and the illusory stability that a “real job” may provide. Or perhaps you feel yourself growing complacent and need to have your spirit hobbled by working in a retail environment. Or you are a homebody, or young, or old but immature, and would like to take steps toward independence. This is a noble sentiment, but your framing mindset is misguided.
You do not say if you have a longer-term goal for your life. Perhaps you wish to fight an animal to the death in a sporting event, as was my first ambition as a pupa. Whether you already hold this goal crystallized in your imagination or you are still choosing which animal it should be, approach job opportunities as if someone had asked you, “Will you accept this sum of money to learn _____?” Fill in the blank with the parameters of the work. Will you accept this sum of money to learn how to deal with irate customers? This is a decent skill to have, as humans are miserable and unfortunately, you will be interacting with them for quite some time. Will you accept this sum of money to learn how to run some specialized device? To become familiar with a particular class of retail product? To meet and tolerate other humans, most of whom will be insufferable but a few of whom might be good to know as you collectively attempt to stay a half-step faster than the swiftly-advancing shadow of death?
If you are able to look at job opportunities as opportunities to be paid to learn some skill that you can later build upon or translate into more lucrative work down the line, you will begin to emit a “success pheromone” that will attract better things to your life. It does exist. You humans cannot detect it consciously, and be grateful — it smells like pig butt. But it is good for your careers.
I have trouble sleeping at night. Try as I might, my mattress seems entirely incapable of rendering any sort of comfort. Yet, I am stuck with the blasted thing: I cannot afford another mattress. What do you suggest I do to help myself sleep at night?
— Involuntary Insomniac
If the mattress is the problem, then change it. Flip it around, turn it backwards, or place shirts or towels underneath your sheet to make it even more lumpy. Build it up into a nest rather than allowing it to be some flat thing that nobody likes. There is no prize for keeping your mattress unmolested until you die. Put things on it that are in the negative shape of your body, so you are cradled by these things. I cannot believe how many humans do not understand the importance of sleeping in a cradle position. Did your kinsmen never bend you over stones until you wept with comfort?
But this assumes the mattress is indeed the problem. Perhaps you are retiring with tension, your body unable to disengage from the worries of your day. You do not say whether you have stairs in your warren, but if you do, you should run up and down them twenty times before retiring. If you do not have stairs, you may run in place, but be sure your knees crest your navel. At each step say a nonsense syllable such as “dorp.” Change the syllable each circuit. This will flush out your brain, soften your muscles, and make you deliciously limp so that
you will be unable to prevent yourself from being devoured sleep will beg you to enter it.
As a last resort, hold an egg in your mouth as you go to bed. This will keep your thoughts occupied.
A close companion of mine is a Gaxian, and has given out invitations to, from what I could gather, is his wedding. What is the appropriate behaviour for a Gaxian wedding? Should I bring a gift? Wear any particular clothes? I’d hate to cause offense…
— Nuptials? No Clue
Consider yourself honored to have been invited to your first gaxitan! The gaxitan life-bonding ritual is an elaborate affair, steeped in tradition and often involving the participation of close family and friends. While the full gaxitan is unfortunately difficult to perform here on Earth, as ammonium nitrate can react explosively with your atmosphere, an abbreviated and modified form of the ceremony is often performed by expatriate Gaxians. Of course, depending on the faith and preferences of the six to eleven others being bonded to the prime gaxitanta, human traditions may be incorporated as well. A common one is stomping on a glass! Usually this comes after the gaxitanta has regurgitated the officiant.
It is not required to bring a gift, although again this may be perfectly fine in a blended ceremony. You should be careful to wear waterproof garb and shoes you do not mind burning. (You’ll probably not want to take them home after the bonding, anyhow.) It’s perfectly okay to wear some old grubbies, just enough so you can make it over the obsidian shards and find your seat. After the bonding, which will take place at the midpoint (around the ninth hour), you can leave your shoes off if the sticky ink fluid makes them uncomfortable. (Once the gaxitanta molts her carapace, you’ll be able to make it back out over the shards just fine.) Just take some Dramamine beforehand, bring a scouring pad or old toothbrush, and most of all, have fun!
[Gax is an alien from the planet Gax. Have a question for Gax? Leave a comment on this post.]