Enter The Andys :: Prepare to be Categorized (Again)


When I was in grade school, there was no one I knew that actually wanted to get crap grades or be seen as an under achiever. Sure, everyone except for the ultra orthodox straight-laced kids messed around sometimes but for the most part everyone worked pretty hard to get decent grades. After all, it was always drilled into your brain that you had to “make something of yourself.”

In High school, you were tracked off to see a “career consular” who could assess your grades, look at your finger-paintings from year 2, check your “permanent record” for all your wrong-doings, evaluate what they decided were your strengths and weaknesses and then guide you onto what they thought was the path you should take for your future. Why anyone trusted these people is a mystery as obviously THEY didn’t do all that well at school if the ended deciding high school kids futures instead of having a real job. I wonder if the were advised by government officials who told them which employment sectors needed more personnel at any given time.

Your final year at school brought difficult choices such as what university to attend, what to major in and whether to live at home or on campus. And by this time all those goody two-shoes that always got extra credit in grade school and were hall monitors in junior high were starting to show small cracks in their ultra clean personalities on their way to becoming the full blown deviants they probably all are today.
At Uni, you were expected to choose a major. Of course many people changed theirs along the way (sometimes several times) but generally people followed through with whatever interest they had or found the easiest on the way to choosing a profession in some way related to that.

So armed with a degree you would head out in to the wilds of the job market. The world was your oyster, or so they said and having a degree in Chemistry from (insert impressive name) University was just enough to maybe get you a job. Well, once upon a time anyway. Times have changed. You can no longer have only one major or just one specialty. Employers of today often skip right past any employment history and look for the And. Yes, you read the correctly. The And.

Enter the Andy’s; This new generation of investment bankers that are also trained in Shiatsu massage, dentists that can work in the field as entomologists, SEO marketing executives that will also train you in scuba diving and skydiving. Employers today want to know that they are hiring someone that can do everything. Parents of Andy’s pity the parents of nandy’s (that is a not andy) and in social situations the andy’s excel, as they have oh-so-much more to talk about. Basically it’s just another term created push an agenda of one-upmanship. It used to be people boasted about all the off the beaten track places they had traveled to. Now it’s how many Ands they have.

According to andism.com, Andism was first conceived in 2003 when they described their customers as Andist. An Andist is someone with a wide range of talents that wants help from the andism.com people with this and this and this… One look at their website though and you would not mistake this as a company with any talent at all. But they did come up with a new catch phrase, another categorization to put yet more pressure on people to be able to do everything right. So good for them.

But I don’t worry if I’ll fit in with the all seeing, all dancing super amazing, way-of-the-future cool people, because lucky for me, I am a DJ and a lawyer and a musician and a writer and a chef. But most of these things I just picked up along the way. I suppose I am also lucky that I went to a very liberal university that allowed students to major in Everything. I really feel bad though, for those people that have just one singular talent. Like a friend of mine that can only compose astounding classical music pieces, or a girl I know that can do nothing more then find a cure for cancer. It must be a drag being them. No-one wanting to talk to you at a party because you haven’t also got a degree in flower arranging as well.

“But isn’t this all a little ridiculous?” I can hear you asking. Why yes, yes it is. But the fact is a lot of employers only want Andys these days. And some universities will not consider an applicant who doesn’t have a lot of Ands. I guess that the chief executives of today believe it will look better if their head of HR is also a hairstylist and a lab technician also. To me, it sounds a bit like the old saying, “a jack of all trades, master of none.”

Now, a Jack-of-all trades could be master of integration, with enough skills from many learned trades that can bring it all together in a practical manner. Many years ago (perhaps when Leonardo DeVinci was still alive) it was a considered a compliment. But over the years the saying has changed, the “master-of-none” was addeded and now it is used to describe someone that knows a little about a lot, but isn’t really all that great at any of them. In fact every language in the world has a saying for this. The Chinese, for example, say “equipped with knives, none are sharp” and the Thai’s saying is “Know like duck” (I seriously have no idea what it means, but I am sure it sounds harsh in Thai.)

To me, the whole “And” thing sounds like it was dreamed up by clever parents with a marketing degree so that they could advertise there kids accomplishments (or lack of) in a way that sounded more exciting than “he has no idea what he wants to do.” But the Andy’s are now moving into our lives more and more. In London, a new Andy location called Verve opened a while back. This place will be teeming with Andys. It is a dog grooming salon, cafe, men and women’s jewelers, art gallery and bar (the food and drink menu is for both dogs and humans.) Kind of disgusting – who would want to eat at a dog/human cafe? Just don’t order the beef stew.

Personally I would rather have my restaurant specialize in human food. I would rather go to a real jewelery store then buy from people too busy with their laundromat and art gallery and as far as the bar, well, I really don’t want to step in dog crap when having a Margarita or have someones dog trying to sniff my crotch. I still think the idea of a specialist is not really a bad thing. After all, you really wouldn’t want your neurosurgeon to be dreaming about flower arranging while you are having a ventricular endoscopy, would you?

Will this whole Andy thing take over? One would hope not. After all, how long can a cafe that sells both pate and dog food stay trendy? What’s next anyway? Will we have grocery stores that also have a print shop and spa built in? Or a cafe that does dentistry and colonics? What about a travel agent/mortuary? It sounds stupid, but so does a dog grooming salon-cafe-jewelers-art gallery-bar.

In the 1968 book by Philip K. Dick “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep”, Rick Deckard was a bounty hunter that was paid to track down and “retire” Andys. These were androids masquerading as human life forms, but the Andys of today seem to be human life forms masquerading as androids. They can do everything AND build a suspension bridge.

So next time you are talking to someone about the things that you are trained to do, and they ask you what your And is, tell them you are also a bounty hunter that hunts down people that come up with yet more stupid terms to categorize humanity.

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