I have been unemployed for a substantial time now, and I can tell you that I am extremely excited to go back to work. Certainly, some of that term of unemployment was intentional. My girlfriend and I both elected to leave our idyllic Tahoe mountain lives in search of a new locale, with pit stops in Colombia and San Diego arraigned for the interim. But once I’d got rid of some guns and we’d decided to move on to the biggest city in the United States, I was all hot and bothered to get me some paychecks back under my belt. I figured that it would take some time, but I was not counting on 6 months (that’s not counting the temporary work I did at an environmental expo). I figured that I had a somewhat solid resume, I had practiced fielding inane interview questions, and I was eager and willing. But as time dragged on, and I was rejected from the few opportunities I was given, I became dejected and depressed.
When I started my quest here in NYC, I actually came quite close, initially, to landing an amazing and challenging job at Columbia University. I was green, at that time, in interviewing, but I think I impressed them with my energy. They also liked my stories about chasing bears in Tahoe. But I didn’t have quite the administrative experience to land the position. I think I would have gotten it had I been more prepared for interviewing, but at that time I was still new to the process.
Another job interview for a law firm, the boss took me out to lunch, and he basically told me he liked me and that I just had to iron out the details with the HR lady. For some reason, she took an immediate disliking to me, probably because I corrected her on an e-mail mistake she had made (she sent me an email intended for her boss in which she was asking him about what he thought of me), and I never heard back from them after sending them my college transcripts, which are admittedly underwhelming—but that was 7 years ago, folks. C’mon.
Another job interview for a bar which has a mechanical bull as it’s (only) feature in drawing drunken crowds (yeah, classy joint right?), the guy asked me about 5 questions, one of which was: “So let’s say you walked out this door right now, and there was a starving cat and a starving dog outside, and you could only choose one to save. Which one would you pick?” Color me confused.
Another interview process was so extensive that I interviewed with 5 different people over the course of a month and a half, and had to do a 15 minute presentation and writing exercise as well. I did alright on the interviews, I think, but at some point in the journey, one of the head haunchesses of the joint determined that she didn’t like me. This point seemed to coincide with when I introduced her to my blog address (with caveat included, mind you). I also misspelled her name in one of my thank-you follow up letters. Not sure which one of those missteps pissed her off, but oh well.
The job which I have finally landed puts me right back squarely into the service industry. But to be honest, after the process of fake ass interviews with fake ass people, I’m more than happy to be working with folk who are down to earth, straight-forward, and hard-working. I’m working for a reputable company that retails products I can stand by because I’ve been shopping there since I was a youngster in San Diego. They treat their employees decent, the people are fun, and best of all—I can wear pretty much whatever I want. So I can put aside those fancy button-downs I’d acquired for job hunting and go back to the kind of “whatever” wear I’d been sporting in the mountains for the last number of years. Sweet.
The hitch? Transportation is going to be a bitch to my starting location in Queens. Especially when I get off at 3 AM and the ‘A’ train runs local. And on top of that, the shifts are 10 hour days, with the shifts changing from late to early throughout the week, such that I will lose sleep. It’s going to be physically taxing.
But you know what? I couldn’t be more thrilled to get back to work. I like working hard. And I see the long train and bus rides as an opportunity to get some reading done.
One of the things that resonated with me in some of the speeches from the recent Democratic National Convention was how they talked about the “dignity” of having a job. And I can say that, yes, no matter how much we might idealize leisure time, the fact is that not having a job (in the absence of a trust fund) sucks. It’s demoralizing. Yes, I know, I’m going to look back and reminisce wistfully about all the free time I’ve had throughout this job hunting process, about all the hours of mahjonng, library books, and running wantonly through the park. But when you don’t want to spend any money, you can’t really enjoy yourself all that much, especially when you don’t even have a space to call your own, and you’re sharing a twin bed. Bitching and whining, I know, I’ll stop.
I’m grateful to be employed. Grateful to be working my touchous (well-shaped from running hills now) off. And to all you folks out there who are currently unemployed and looking desperately for work, I feel you.
End note: Let’s just get Barack Obama into office so that we aren’t losing even more jobs to failed policies, OK?