Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 111, Pt. II: WTF

Kinda of an inside joke, there...

So I just found out that the person who was hired instead of me has exactly ZERO experience in the business that ... well, basically, that I have been in longer than they have been alive. Not only is this person nowhere as qualified, but she actually listed babysitting as experience on her LinkedIn profile. Which means, as M noted, that every girl at the local high school is probably equally qualified for the gig.

I'm not that happy about this. Unfortunately it plays to my very worst paranoia, too.

Day 111. I'm closing in on four months out here now. The good news is that I've weathered longer layoffs. More good news is that I have a core group of people who are always in my corner. This isn't a large group but it doesn't have to be. I prefer having a handful of people who I know I can count on rather than a bunch of acquaintances who are nowhere to be found when the chips are down. If there isn't already a term for these types of people, I propose something like "Facebook friends."

I'm not going to lie: I'm depressed and discouraged. It's become a kind of cliche to talk about using hard times as a "learning opportunity" -- but precisely what is it I am supposed to learn here?

The first time I had a real unemployment was after I came back from Cali. I rushed into an ill-fitting job and didn't last long. Not long after, everything went to shit in this country. The 9/11 anniversary is impossible to not hear about right now, so I'll make my personal anecdote brief. I heard about the attacks while driving to a job interview. The radio announcers were describing the chaos when the second plane hit. We knew instantly it meant that the past 18 minutes of thinking it was a terrible accident were replaced by the first-ever feeling for most of us that we were under attack.

My jaw dropped as I realized what was happening. I was at a stoplight and looked to see reaction in the cars around me. A woman to my left was applying makeup. She obviously didn't know the whole world had changed in an instant.

I drove on to the interview, and the two people at reception also did not know what was happening. I asked them to turn on a TV and that's how they found out.

I didn't get that job, although I thought I interviewed well.

This jobless period stretched into a 7th month. I had tried hard to deal with the problem; I moved into a smaller apartment. I cut all expenses (which is why on 9/11 I went to a friend's house to watch the news, since my cable subscription had been dropped). I cashed in my retirement savings to pay my bills. A friend knew somebody who could get me a job working at a small pizzeria. I took it.

I made $8.50 an hour, plus tips. And, I got to eat a lot of pizza. It was a strange experience, but at the same time, it felt good to be able to pay my bills. I had a paycheck, albeit a tiny one. My delivery area covered a fairly well-off area in Dallas. On one hand it was pretty hard to see that my pay had decreased by more than $50,000 annually in less than a year. On the other hand I saw people who had money but not much else to be proud of.

My best experience was one Friday night when I made a delivery and a crying girl answered the door. A man appeared immediately and she explained that he had just proposed, and she had accepted, and I was the first person to know about it. That was pretty damn neat.

I'm rambling here. Bear with... I think the point I was getting to was that when I had a long empty stretch then, I finally swallowed my pride and realized that I needed to work, even if it was a job as plain as working at a pizza joint.

The convenience store down the street has a help wanted sign in its window. I'm considering it. Although I really hate the idea of getting shot in an armed robbery at 4 a.m. Or 3 a.m, for that matter. I am officially on the record as being anti-murdered.

So back to the question: what's the lesson life is giving me right now? I am mystified. I've done my share of eating shit. I've suffered the slings and arrows.

It's hard, man. Listen, all of us, all of YOU, have your troubles to deal with. I am not special with my problems. But they're MY problems, and they're kind of kicking my ass right now. I'm definitely pissed, so that becomes fuel to get out of this mess.

But I'm also frustrated and fretful. And that weighs on me like a backpack full of iron. I think of the job-cutting executive director with his $100,000+ salary, or the one who has risen to a top position based on longevity (never working for another company in 30 years) or the babysitter with no experience who has the job I would have gladly taken crap pay to be excellent at... I think of these people and I wonder if they know how scary it is to be me right now.

But then I realize that they couldn't know. Because to know and still be so apathetic would be cruelty, wouldn't it?

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