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NOVEMBER 1998 | VOL. 2, NO. 6


In Renaissance's first excursion into the serial world, we meet Kurt Smith, consultant. The following is his story - the first in a five part series. Sit back and enjoy.


Part II


JON MICHAEL WARSHAWSKY is a contributing writer to Renaissance Online Magazine. "Carpe Per Diem" and Kurt Smith are products of the author's imagination.




Carpe Per Diem (Part 1): introduction | one | two

Wisdom at the Mormon Temples

"Watch out for universities that have buildings with tons of ivy on the walls; they've usually been around too long."
- Kurt Smith: Quotes from a Paper Napkin Under a Corona

By the end of the summer of 1990, I had accumulated enough credits in several related fields of attempted study that it was clearly time to move on and seek a career. This was due to the coincident need of an income, on my part, and the university's equally pressing need to restore my dormitory room to some semblance of acceptability for whatever hapless freshman would inherit it when I finally left. While the 72 bucks a month I was earning working for the college newspaper was nothing to sneeze at, I felt confident that with a classical education, the proper attitude, some effort, a ton of luck and a very expensive suit I could hope to increase my income in the near future. What I really liked most was writing for the paper, but what I really needed was a career.

I considered myself something of a Renaissance man at the Yukon University of Iowa, someone who had not limited himself to one field. In point of fact I was one of few YUI grads who had explored seven or eight majors during my secondary education, completing at least one course in almost all of these. It had definitely been a voyage of discovery, and while the less imaginative of my peers had sailed the straight course through college, I had learned to tack.

I hadn't interviewed much, because the career center was located at the other end of campus in the woods. You didn't have to walk anywhere near it to register for classes, see the nurse, go to the rec center or stop by the library to visit the girls who were studying, so the place honestly didn't excite me to any great extent.

By graduation, however, I knew I had to find a career.

I had two weeks before final exams, the time of the semester where everyone waxes nostalgic for classes that they hated the week before. After a year and a summer of economics, accounting and other courses that were about as interesting as lint, I wasn't really a hell of a lot closer to knowing what I wanted to do. My grades were solid. College was an exercise in applied irrelevance. If anyone knew more than I did about widgets and about the ABC Company's processes for producing reengineered, environmentally sound widgets, and about the XYZ Corporation's sinister plan for a hostile leveraged buyout of their global widget operations, they certainly didn't frequent the same bars I did. I had even completed an advanced zoology course to complement my business education. Exam week wasn't a life event for me, so I continued to stumble through the halls of the Gordon S. Gekko School of Business Administration with a great transcript and a well-formed vision of my future, based on my usual four-day planning horizon.

On my way to the bathroom, I almost ran into Doc Rowland, the old and feebleminded management professor who was also my academic advisor. Doc Rowland hadn't missed a semester since the Battle of the Bulge, and almost every university event began by paying homage to this senior educator. By chance, he was assigned as my advisor when I had enrolled as a freshman five years before. To tell you the truth, probably no other faculty member knew me as well as old Doc Rowland, and I would be holding back if I did not admit that meant something to me.

"Well hello, Roy," he said, clapping me on the shoulder. "So, I suppose you're about ready for exams."

"It's Kurt, sir."

"Kurt, I'm sorry. So many classes. Have I ever had you in a class before?"

We walked into the men's room and I dropped my books next to the sink. I always had big pink soap stains on the back of my textbooks.

"Yes sir," I said, moving up to the urinal and unzipping. "I've taken all four classes you teach at YUI."

"All four? You're about to graduate, right?"

He took the urinal immediately to the right of mine, loosened his belt and unzipped his suit pants.

"Yes sir," I said, trying like hell to stare in the other direction. YUI is one of those older schools built before air conditioning, handicapped access and dividers between urinals came into vogue. "BA in Management."

I was having a hell of a time getting started. You were really standing right next to the guy. He was probably a hundred and six years old and I wondered how long he was going to be there. It turned out to be a while. It might be a full minute before I could get anything started, and even then I figured Doc Rowland wouldn't be going anywhere soon.

"So, have you been spending a lot of time over at the career center?"

Nothing. Usually I was in and out of the bathroom in thirty seconds.

"The career center - yes sir," I said. "Very helpful facility. Definitely, it's very helpful when it comes to careers."

Both urinals were still drier than a Mormon temple.

"Well, with your background I have no doubt you'll find what you're looking for. There are lot of companies in Iowa looking for your skills."

"I'm still kind of exploring what's out there."

Unbelievable. Four inches away from Doc Rowland and I was suffering the worst case of stage fright in my life. Defeated, I tucked in and zipped up my trousers. No sign of action to the right, either.

"Well, you might consider consulting."


"Management consulting. It's a growing market, you know. We've had a few young men go to Anders & Yount Consulting."

"Aren't they a tax outfit?"

Doc Rowland was still standing there, almost like we were in a meeting or something.

"That's Anders & Yount. Anders & Yount Consulting is a different group."


"Sharp guy like you ought to consider it," he said with a knowing wink.

"I'll think about it."

I walked back over to the sink and picked up my books.

"I'll see you in class," he said.

"Yes sir."

I headed back to Room 151, the auditorium where Doc Rowland taught his Advanced Concepts in Bleeding Edge Management class and sank into the old wooden desk. My books slid off the desk and hit me in the gut.

"Damned soap dispenser in the bathroom," I explained to the sour, fat girl sitting next to me. She always had this scowl on her face. She hated being there and wanted everyone to know it. I always ended up sitting next to her, so everyone thought I was kind of cheerful in comparison.

We all waited ten minutes. Doc Rowland either wasn't going to show or he was later than usual. I had been shifting around in the hard wood chair like a madman. My ill-fated visit to the men's room had only made things worse.

"I'll be right back," I told the sour girl.

I heaved myself out of the wooden chair and trotted down to the men's room with a renewed sense of urgency.

"Hello, Roy, forget something?"

Doc Rowland was washing his hands.

"No sir," I said, pulling into the first stall and bolting the door. "Start without me. I'll be right there."

Carpe Per Diem (Part 1): introduction | one | two


Copyright ©1998 Jon Michael Warshawsky. Reprinted by permission of the author.