~*~*~ Long and personal ramblings to follow… ~*~*~
2013 was a long, strange year. I lost my job in March, and you’d think that the ensuing months of freedom would have been a kind of wonderful sabbatical of reading, writing, drawing, crafting… Instead, deep insecurity; fear of what would happen when the unemployment benefits went away; depression over having lost a job which, while generally dead-end, still had its perks, and over what I still feel was a betrayal; and the knowledge that we were only managing on the pittance from Unemployment because of my cashed-in 401K (a finite amount of money) – all left me with what I’ve been calling “oatmeal for brains”. Read I did, but – as is pretty clear from my poor neglected blog here – I haven’t written much. On my book, the thing I’ve always wished for a few consecutive months to work on free and clear to finish, I’ve managed less than a hundred words. Oh, and I made one teddy bear. (I’m still working on those drawings!)
Part of it, the oatmeal-producing depression, was that in the nine remaining months of 2013 I sent out dozens – scores – of resumes. I started out just applying for jobs I, you know, actually wanted; there was one position with a charitable organization I wanted more than I could say. I did get a phone interview with that one, early on; it was supposed to last 15-20 minutes. It lasted five. I went back to sleeping and reading. Other than one other interview in which I was completely put off not only by the fact that the job was not quite full time but by an interruption from the boss who sounded like someone I didn’t want to have to deal with … oh, and two temp agencies which have been completely useless… there has been absolutely no response to any application.
I thought I was more saleable than that.
Not that I wanted to be “sold”. There’s a commercial where a young man makes a remark about working in a “cube farm”, and that phrase has always induced a little hysteria in me. Terror hysteria, not laughter hysteria. It encapsulates everything I most fear in a job. And I do mean “fear” literally; my biggest dread has been that I would end up in a job that sucked my soul away even more quickly than the last one.
But there’s a mortgage to pay, and a mother and a dog to feed.
When emergency unemployment benefits kicked in, I had to report to the local DOL office – basically, I guess, as a formality to prove I really was trying to find a job, and that I was employable. While I was there the agent recommended I sit down with someone to overhaul my resume, and forty-five minutes later I had a sheet filled with pencil-marked edits that both horrified me (my resume was that bad??) and gave me a little hope (this will be better…)
The oatmeal set in again, and I kept putting off revising the thing, just applying along with the version already saved.
Then one day I got a letter from the DOL which I should have been expecting if I’d been paying attention to the news, but I guess I hadn’t, so I was shocked: though I had understood that the emergency unemployment benefits I was receiving would extend to March, Congress (for which read *&$! Republicans) had seen to it that all emergency unemployment benefits terminated on December 28. I got this letter the Friday (and how does everyone always finagle it that such news arrives on a Friday, when you can’t do anything about it for two days?) before Christmas (at which point I had already spent all the money I was going to spend for presents, which I would NOT have spent if I had known it was going away so soon, thanks very much, oh and merry *&#@ Christmas to you too). That weekend I finally sat down and reworked my resume, and sent it out to 36 jobs.
By the next Wednesday I had three responses – more than I’d had in the previous nine months, if you don’t count the temp agencies (which I don’t). So – wow. If you need a job go have Christopher from the DOL take a look at your resume.
One of those resulted in an interview which I stupidly asked to postpone because it snowed a fair amount that morning and I – having barely left the house in nine months – was kind of afraid to drive, to be honest; with one thing and another I never got to reschedule. (Not for lack of trying.)
One of those was from a company whose website left me completely in the dark about what the company actually does. The job was listed as customer service, but I had a strong suspicion that that was being used as the code for “sales”, which I’ve often seen. I’m a terrible salesperson. (I take “no” for an answer, and I loathe people who don’t.) I had strong misgivings about the whole thing – especially when their confirmation email gave two different addresses (the heading listed “Grand Avenue”, but the body of the email read something like “Here is our address to enter into your GPS” and it said Grandview Avenue. Both are valid addresses. The website has another address altogether. I called to clarify; no answer. I ended up calling someplace in New York, and that wasn’t too reassuring either. And did I mention the typos on the website?
But, still, I went – and it was a little bizarre. There was one other car in the parking lot. The office I was to report to was on the second floor, and my impression was that there wasn’t a soul to be found on the the ground floor. I found the right door, and marched on it – to discover that I had walked into a room empty of everything except a desk, a couple of chairs, and in those chairs a very young man apparently interviewing another applicant. I was asked to wait in the “lobby”, which translated to “the corridor where we have placed a few chairs and a table and some reading matter which will give you even less of an idea about what we do than our website”. Okay. I was early, so I was willing to sit and wait.
I’ve never seen The Shining – but somehow that long, long corridor reminded me of it anyway. I had the same impression as I’d gotten from the rest of the building, that – apart from one room over to my left and the folks in room 213, who left a few minutes after I got there – there was no one else in the place. It was creepifying, and at the same time I had to resist an urge to go snooping around. I sat there, and looked at the pamphlet on that table, and read about very young people making obscene amounts of money through undisclosed methods, and told the sinking feeling in my stomach that yes, I know, it almost definitely was some kind of sales gig, but we were going to go through with the interview because we had no blessed choice, so shut up.
That room I mentioned, off to my left as I sat there? Almost the only sign of habitation in the place? That was the last straw. I don’t know what they were doing there, but it sounded like a Hooters on a Friday night with a game on. (Not that I’ve ever been in a Hooters at any point, never mind Friday night.) There was cheering and yelling and whooping and hollering, and – as time passed – shouted exclamations like “DAMN YEAH!” How … professional. The only explanation I could come up with was that someone was giving a presentation of some sort – a woman’s voice could now and then be heard under all the ruckus, and it seemed like the rest of the mob were cheering her – and maybe she’d had a really good sales week or something. I don’t know. I don’t really care – and if I had cared I wasn’t given any chance to find out. After I’d been sitting there for about fifteen minutes, and they got louder and louder, and I promised myself – and that sinking feeling – that if my interviewer didn’t return exactly on time I’d leave. I think it was when the profanities started coming from the door, about a minute before my interview was scheduled for, that I threw in the towel. I left.
So that left the third interview, which I was hopeful about because it was for a place about five minutes away. Unfortunately, it has seemed like jobs have been either/or: either nearby, or something I might enjoy, never both. Long story, finally, short: I had a second interview last week – in which I learned that the office is, wait for it: a “cube farm” (the phrase was actually used, and not by me), I was offered the job, and I start tomorrow.
It’s going to be extremely strange. I’ve been just about nocturnal at times over the past nine months; fortunately not right now, but I am very used to staying up as late as I darn well want. More importantly, I’m a little worried about the dog. She was not easy to housetrain (that is, bladder functions were fine, but it took her months to realize that bowel functions were to be outside too – sorry, TMI), and my solution has been to keep her with me 24/7. So going from 24/7 to about 15.5/5 is going to be … a challenge. She doesn’t listen to Mom; she’s apparently a one-person dog, and that’s me. I foresee extreme separation anxiety and backsliding, and I don’t know what to do about it. I’d like to come home for lunch every day, but I don’t know how feasible that will be, and in any case, she won’t know when I’m coming back. Most importantly, though, there’s my mother. She’s 86. Her mind is – mostly – fine, but she does forget things. Which mainly means that she declines to use the stove, so that she doesn’t forget and leave a burner on, which is a good thing … She does, however, tend to think she can do more than she can, and this leads to falls. I nag her constantly to make sure she has a one of the cordless phones on her where she can get at it no matter what … but … remember the forgetting thing? So, yeah, I’m not too thrilled about leaving for eight + hours a day.
But I, we, need the money.
Ah, hell. Maybe it won’t be so bad.
Who knows, maybe going back to work will mean I’ll actually write more. If not … sorry about the continued neglect of the blog.