Tag Archives: Unemployment

Am I Really Going to Miss This Job?

Unemployment Line ComicWell, it’s official.  No one is reading my blog.  It’s my own fault, I know that, but it is depressing to finally have to accept the fact that no one is reading it anymore.  Spoiler alert…if you don’t post on a blog for almost a year, people will lose interest.

I’m averaging about three views per day now.  I used to average 20 or 30.  Okay, so that’s not very much either, but at least it was more than three.  I started a full time job in April of 2012, and pretty much stopped posting.  I couldn’t find the time, or so I told myself.  The blog was kept afloat by a story I wrote back on June 24, 2011, and another I wrote in 2009, which I reposted on July 20, 2011.  People think I’m an expert on who invented the light bulb, and how to back up a boat trailer.  I’m an expert on neither.

I started that job, by the way, on April Fool’s day.  That should have been a sign.  On Friday, June 6th, the first “wave” of us is being laid off.  I’ve already signed the severance agreement.  The company is closing their Albuquerque office which has been here for over 20 years under three different entities and employed over 750 people.  We’re being sent on our way with a few weeks of severance and the daunting task of finding a job in a stagnant economy all at the same time.  And in my case, even more daunting, because I’m in that dreaded over 50 age group, way over 50 in fact.  How far over 50 are you?  I’m so far over 50 that my high school is having a combined 45th reunion this summer.  They may have other reasons for doing it, but I think it’s a matter of getting enough live members of the classes of 1971, 1970, 1969, and 1968 to get the group rate at the motel. 

So it’s starting to sink in, this week, this Monday morning, that in five short days I won’t have anywhere to get up at 4:30 to go.  Worse, in a few short weeks, I won’t have any steady income.  What the hell am I thinking?  I literally hated this job.  Hated getting up at 4:30 and coming in here every day, and yes, I didn’t miss a day in over two years.  I didn’t get any training other than a few days sitting with someone that was doing the job I would be inheriting.  I was expected to do things I had no experience doing, and received little if any help while I stumbled through trying to learn what to do next.  I jokingly called it “training by osmosis.”  The supervisors, however, clearly expected me to be immediately up to speed, and couldn’t fathom how I didn’t understand some complex process after being shown how to do it at least once.

 I was afraid to take time off, because I had no way of getting the work done that was due during the week if I wasn’t there.   It was up to me to find someone to do the work for me while I was out.  I kid you not.   So I haven’t taken a vacation now, of any sort, in more than four years.  I firmly believe a person needs to get out of town once in a while.  You sure as rain need to get away from the salt mine for at least a week once a year.  Go somewhere.  Relax.  Do something fun.

 I started as a temporary employee, and they dragged that out for months after my contract ran out, before they decided to put me on full-time.  And I made the mistake of accepting the position.  I had a choice… maybe.  Of course I did, but I just would have had to look for a job sooner.  They knew back when I was offered the job, that this place had no future.  It wasn’t going to be here by the end of 2014 when their lease was up.  But they didn’t say anything to me about that.  I had to find that out by myself.

I’ve spent the last three months training my replacements.  Yes, replacements.  They have assigned two people to continue doing the work I was doing.  I don’t know what that says, exactly, but I know I felt like I was buried in deliverables and work volume every week.  But the final insult: This company I worked for actually believed that people who were being laid-off would facilitate a smooth transition to their relocated offices, and do all the necessary on-job training to accommodate that, totally invisible to the customer.  But you know what; the employees did take ownership, and created that smooth transition, almost across the board.  I don’t know if it was fear of losing the severance, (some employees will get up to 6 months), or some kind of blind loyalty for a company some had worked for, for over 30 years.  But it wasn’t even the same company; it had been acquired twice during that period.  No, I’m pretty sure we all did it for fear of being fired and losing that few weeks of severance, and the ability to qualify for unemployment insurance.  The only ones that left found other employment, and opted for job security over the few weeks of paid hiatus. 

The supervisors are still expecting us to work up to the final second of the final day of the final work week.  Walking around making sure we’re busy.  My supervisor is acting like he’s up for promotion, but he’s being laid off just like the rest of us.  Me, I’m busy doing nothing and have been doing nothing for the past several weeks.  It makes for very long and very boring days, only five more to go, but I have no loyalty to this company and I’ve already done more than my share as I see it.

What it really came down to, is I wasn’t cut out for this job.  I never fully grasped it.  I never felt like I got control of it.  Come to think of it, I’ve never been cut out for any of the jobs I’ve had over the years; I’ve just done them to survive.  None of them were jobs I dreamed of having when I was younger.  But you wake up one morning and realize you have more years behind you than you have in front of you, and it’s an alarming realization.  Oh my god, what have I really done, what do I do now?  

Soon I’ll have more “free” time to write blogs, but I guess no one will be left to read them.  And that’s not really okay, because I wanted to be Freshly Pressed.  Because it works like Oprah’s Book Club; if you get Freshly Pressed, hundreds of people are drawn to your blog and sign up, just like you became an instant best-selling author if Oprah told people to read your book.  You get to pretend like you’re a successful blogger, but I guess if you’re really any good, you should be able to do that by yourself.  WTF.


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Unemployment Rate Falls

I overslept this morning.  That isn’t amazing in itself.   I can easily sleep half the day away if I don’t force myself out of the bed.  Once I’m up though, sitting on the edge of the bed at least, I’m good .  But the oversleeping this morning seemed to have a disquieting efffect.  I was incoherent when my wife woke me to tell me she was leaving for work.  Again, a common occurrence for one who has been woken from a deep sleep, dreaming of something better than what they will probably face today.  One of those, “where am I” moments that I truly don’t like.  And a feeling of distress.  Something not being right.

The headline: “Unemployment rate falls, lowest in nearly 3 years,” screamed out as the featured story on my Yahoo page while I checked my email for responses to my recent blast of online job applications. “A burst of hiring in December pushed the U.S. unemployment rate to its lowest level in nearly three years, giving the economy a boost at the end of 2011,” was the lead.  The unemployment rate has dropped to 8.5 percent just in time for the election, or so it seems.  Except, as the article points out, when Barack Obama took office, the unemployment rate was only 7.8.  “Only 7.8” percent was not a good unemployment rate either.

And I can’t get an interview.  I’m not over-educated, or over-experienced in any one field, but I am now “old” in many respects.  Age discrimination aside, even though they can’t ask me how old I am in a job interview, they can eliminate me from consideration by asking when I graduated from high school.  Just like they figure out at the grocery store if I’m old enough to buy the booze they’re too young to ring up.  Do I think they eliminate me from consideration when I say 1971?  Absolutely.  During the one and only interview I’ve had since I moved here, for an outside sales job, the Regional Sales Manager who was clearly in his thirties, said I was “dating” myself when I started talking about the Bell System breakup of the 80’s.  He said he was very young when that happened, but he, unlike many others, remembered it.  I think I “dated” myself when I walked into the interview with gray streaks in my hair and a goatee that has gone mostly white and a double-breasted suit I haven’t worn in 25 years.

The truth is I have little or no outside sales experience, so I was surprised that I even got the interview.  Didn’t really want the job anyway, didn’t think I would get it, but thought I might practice up on my interview skills since it’s been a while.  I can’t really see me selling sandpaper to body shops.  But then it was a job, and I need one of those.

The job application process has changed drastically over the years too.  You can’t really check the newspaper for job openings anymore or “hit the streets” looking for opportunities.  You go instead to the thousands of job board sites and search for job openings in your area, and then you spend an hour or more filling out an online job application and, of course, the now famous personality test.  “Do you think you are good looking?”  Hell yes, thanks for asking.  But then they also want to know if you think you’re handsome, attractive, beautiful or someone that would make a train take a dirt road, in subsequent questions, all designed to “trip” you up.  The instructions say that you should answer the questions truthfully, not how you WANT to think of yourself.  Does anybody do that?  Yep, I’m so ugly, when I was younger, my mother had to tie a pork chop around my neck so the dog would play with me.

What really sets me off when filling out these online job applications is that the first thing they ask you to do is upload your resume or copy and paste it to a box.  Then the next ten pages of the online application asks you to regurgitate the entire resume information into their specific boxes.  It infuriates me.  I have to tab back and forth from the Word document and the online application to give them the information I uploaded ten minutes ago.  And I was already eliminated from consideration when I put 1971 in the box three pages ago when it asked when I graduated from high school.  And what’s this “Degree” or “Significant Course Work” in relation to high school?  Do you choose a course of study in high school now?  Something other than reading, righting and rithmetic?  I put “General”.  I’m probably eliminated then, if I haven’t already been with “1971.”  But the worse thing that happens during the online job application process is the computer will freeze up after you’ve been entering information for 45 minutes and you have to start all over again.

When you’re old like me, shouldn’t you have developed some contacts over the years?  Someone you worked with back in the day that you can call and say, “Hey (insert name), I’ve moved back to town and I’m looking for a job.  Got anything with Xyz Company?”  That’s the company where your good friend is now CEO and knows you would be a perfect fit for that Director of Marketing they’re looking for.  Or how about that night janitor position they haven’t been able to fill.

Time to stop feeling sorry for myself and get back to the process, I guess.  Checking the boxes next to “hard working,” “attractive,” “funny,” “outside-of-the-box thinker,” “dedicated,” “team player,” “good looking,” “leader,” “problem solver,” “handsome,” “smart.”  Here’s one:  “Have you ever thought about stealing more than $5  from your employer?”  WTF.  Is anyone going to answer in the affirmative to that question?  If I only thought about stealing $4.95, is that okay?  Later in the same personality test, they up it to $10 and ask the same questions.

I think that’s why I overslept this morning, woke up disquieted and with that feeling of distress.  I have to fill out more job applications and wonder whether I have ever just thought about embezzling $4.95 from any of my last employers without being caught.


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