I love wandering through bookstores, and anymore it is one of my forms of relaxation. So, while I don't have children, I am perfectly happy to wander the whole of Barnes & Noble, including the children's section. Of late I have been intrigued by how folk and fairy tales, and myths, have been forming the base of children's and young adult novels, and that is not counting adult books too. And, of course, there are now a whole plethora of movies. Though, I often wonder how the sheer amount of re-workings may dilute the culture's knowledge of the stories behind the books and movies.
One of the other reasons for my exploration in the children's section is that occasionally they put collections of folk tales, and fairy tales, there. And I have had some luck in my finds. This time, as I was looking through the section, I was pleased to see that the store had stocked up on young adult collections of Greek, Norse, and Egyptian myths. Hopefully this means that young readers want to learn more about the sources of their favorite series.
In many ways that is the wonder of young minds - they are inquisitive. And if something catches their interest then they want to know more! I can vaguely remember those days, which is what stimulated my interest in folklore. I remember the power and eeriness of Christina Rossetti's "The Goblin Market," and I had access to a sampling of Irish folk tales, with their hints of the Fair Folk. From these my quest was launched, and led me to becoming a storyteller.
At least I am hoping the presence of those young adult collections of myths indicate inquisitive interest in the original stories. Though, truth be told, I suspect that the younger audience stands a greater chance of knowing those myths than adults.
For many adults who watch the fairy tale based T. V. shows and movies, or read the romances and fantasy novels derived from both folk and fairy tales, there is often little realization that the roots are old. That the roots go beyond Disney, or modern scriptwriters. That folk tales are often derived from folk beliefs, that myths are from ancient religions, and even the fairy tales are woven from our cultural history.
"Does it matter?" I know a few who have asked that question.
On the surface, does it really matter that a young woman thought that Shakespeare wrote for television? And that some first graders were terrified of leprechauns because of a horror film?
Granted it might make a few shake their heads. But really - was that young woman's misconception going to change how well she made a living? Or did it matter that little ones were afraid of a make-believe character (even if they probably shouldn't be watching horror films that young)?
Maybe not in the run of every day life.
Yet when stories, or anything else, lose their roots they weaken. Are really lost.
Way too many people, during the hectic days of early adulthood, have no use for the old. Be it family stories, history, or myth. Yet, as they mature some part of them yearns for those roots - and far too often the roots have withered to a shadow of what they were. Maybe it has always been that way - that I don't know.
So I will accept those glimmers of hope that there are inquisitive minds out there that will nourish the roots for years to come.
Once there was a man who had three sons - the youngest being called, Jack, who was considered too weakly to do much. As the farm was poor the eldest went off to a hiring fair. There he met a man who offered him a hundred gold for a year's work, but with one small provision. Whoever complained first would have a strip of hide taken from his back, and would owe a hundred gold. Now the eldest son was good tempered, and could see no danger in the offer, and so....
After being over-worked, starved, and abused the first son, and then the second, came home badly wounded, and with no pay. Then Jack set off for the hiring fair.....
Of course, being Jack, he not only got the gold for himself and his brothers, but left the farmer and his wife wishing they had never met him.
Sprinkled throughout folklore are stories like this, and even more dire warnings from ghost stories. The hiring fair was practiced in many places in earlier times, and existed here in the United States. Young men and women knew that it was a necessary gamble that they put their lives into the hands of unknown employers. And that it also often meant going off to unfamiliar, distant, places; with little, to sometimes no, opportunity to communicate with family.
Now the current job market isn't quite so dangerous. Quite.
Yet there are pitfalls for the unwary. And scavengers. (I won't insult the animal kingdom by making comparisons).
What has started me on this was an experience I recently had. One that reminded me of why I loathed the online job sites, and searches, particularly because they offer the scavengers a plentiful hunting ground.
Last week I received a call from an insurance company recruiter, and as normal I was about to say, "Thanks, but no thanks. Insurance sales is simply not something I ever wished to pursue.”
(Here I should say that I have nothing against insurance companies, or insurance representatives. I know many fine individuals in the field, and know they have become successful via fairness and diligence. Nor do I believe that all insurance companies use similar recruiting strategies.)
However this particular recruiter reassured me that this wasn't about sales. Yes, they were hiring sales agents, but her manager had saved back a few resumes, mine included, to interview for training positions.
Now that was something I would be interested in. Granted I love what I am doing - being a storyteller, and also being a social media specialist, but if the right full-time (or part-time) job came along I know it would be wise to consider it. My own businesses, fortunately, are such that I can set my own hours.
So we set up a interview, and I was reminded to "bring my resume and dress professionally."
I assumed they have many who don't remember such necessities.
So last Friday I arrived at the office - and was met by a young woman in two, overlayed, tee shirts and cut off jeans. She introduced herself as the general manager.
To make a short story even shorter it turned out that it had been a bait and switch - all they were hiring for was sales. "And would have a group interview next week."
Yes, I was annoyed, but mainly at the breadth of this type of activity. The internet does provide opportunity for getting hired - as did the hiring fairs of old, but it also has as many traps.
And time wasters.
I consider myself lucky to have skills from which to build my own business, but before I made the decision to create White Fox Social Media I was amongst the dedicated job hunters (after having been downsized). During the many long hours of searching for a position I noted how the online job search engines perpetrated useless information. The one that still stands out in my mind is the "movie casting company" in Auburn, Ill.
Now Auburn is a lovely little town, but the movie capitol of the world its not. And out of curiosity I did a some research - it turned out that this was a scam that originated in Russia. Not a surprise, but what has been annoying, and morbidly fascinating, is watching this company's listing continually appearing on job listing updates. And even on the state job search.
I have no answers. Search engines cannot weigh the reliability of a listing, but there has got to be a better way.
All I know was that it was some, admittedly cold, comfort that the folktales proved that job hunting has always been a challenge. One that needed to be navigated with wariness.
And I admit that I hope that Jack, that trickster of old, comes along to shake things up a bit.
I am a Springfield, IL based storyteller with a fascination for how folklore travels, and for history.