Advice for the Class of 2012: Don’t Fear the Wienermobile

Because you can't drive a hot-dog truck when you're 40.

To the Class of 2012, I have a small, but memorable, piece of advice: If you’re offered the opportunity to travel the country in the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, take it.

Your bourgeois friends will tell you to get an internship at an advertising agency or a TV station, like everyone else. Your parents may respond with the predictable guilt trip that they’re not putting you through college so you can go gallivanting all over god’s green earth in a hot-dog car. Ignore them all. Just get in that giant mobile meat stick, floor it, and don’t look back. I wish I had.

No one came right out and told me NOT to do it, not even my boyfriend. It was me. I was afraid that it was too—take your pick—frivolous, unconventional, futile. I wasn’t even 21 when that application found its way to me at University Park. I kept it tacked to my bulletin board for a whole semester, and contemplated it daily.

Everyone around me was starting to think seriously about their futures then, at least as seriously as anyone can at 20. Most of us had four years (not however long it took) to get a degree and then do something productive and respectable. Nothing about being the captain of the Wienermobile, handing out hot dogs, and calling it an “internship” appeared serious or productive at the time. People would talk. “I thought she was an advertising major. Shouldn’t she be doing something else?” Something normal, like working in an office for the summer, which is what I ended up doing, and it was all so ridiculously normal that my only memories of it are making coffee and volunteering for errands just to stay awake.

Class of 2012, the best life plan is to clear the way for synchronicity. Everything will be as it should: difficult and not what you expected, but you’ll mostly be OK. No matter how frustrating, don’t give up on trying to read the signs, and when something like the application to be the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile intern lands in your dorm mailbox, it’s most certainly a sign, not a coincidence. Keep your regrets ratio low by not trifling with what the universe is sending your way.

A great tragedy of the human condition is that, by the time we’re finally confident enough to take a risk, we have too much responsibility for it not to be selfish. I have a frozen-in-time memory of sitting with my first newborn in a gnarly mauve recliner that we got for free from someone’s basement. She was laid across my lap, carrying on ad nauseam. At the time it seemed she would never go to first grade, and that she and I would be forever rocking and swiveling ourselves in the recycled mauve recliner, trying to get her to stop being so dramatic about every little thing.

She finally did go to first grade, and all of the other grades, and now she’s graduating with you. Dare I make too many suggestions, subtle as they are, and she rolls her eyes, and here we go again with the histrionics, but her posture changes just enough for me to know that she hears me when I say, “Do now what you can only do now. It will be impossible to pick up and drive the Wienermobile to San Diego when you’re 40.”

It was no coincidence that the Wienermobile literally kept showing up on my doorstep. I lived down the street from the Oscar Mayer plant in South Philly, and the Wienermobile was the crazy, happy neighbor for whom all the kids kept a constant lookout. Then it followed me to college and wanted to take me on an adventure; I should’ve placed myself in its capable and trustworthy bun and surrendered to the synchronicity of what that summer had to offer.

Class of 2012, forget about everyone being in love with you; it’s not important. Instead remain open to and comfortable with the uncertainty of what you truly want to be, and consider yourself chosen if the Wienermobile turns out to be your ride.