Archive for February, 2009

Job Search Express

“I’m so much like you.
Restless and reckless,
I need a clue.
So show me a sign.
I feel like making a move,
Real geographic, a change in mood.
We’ll let go of everything we know.

You and I will ride tonight,
‘Till the past is out of sight.
We don’t have to look back now.
From the dark in to the light,
We can leave it all behind.
We can stand together,
We don’t have to look back now-ow-ow.”

~Puddle of Mud (We Don’t Have to Look Back Now)

This morning I attended a state-run training session for the unemployed entitled “Job Search Express”.

I expected an overview of things like where one should look to find a job, how to create an attention-grabbing resume, and tips on cover letters and interviewing. I figured I would know pretty much everything the instructor had to say but perhaps I would get some new inspiration. I was wrong; the whole thing was a joke.

First we wrote our names on cards to set in front of ourselves around a large U-shaped table set-up. Then we went around the room and introduced ourselves and mentioned what we used to do and what we were looking to do. By the time we got around all 30 of us (an hour later), there were lots of little side conversations. The instructor realised he had lost control of the group and had us take a 20 minute break. After our break, there was universal griping about how the unemployment benefits office/system is run, a debate about our “work search logs” and how frequently can you list the same employer on your log, and the handing out of three pages worth of totally useless q & a (eg, “Do I have a right to be angry? How long will I feel like this?). And that was it. We were free to go. What a waste of two hours!

However, I knew two other people in the room. LD and LT were also let go from the same company I was, and we shared hugs and a few grievances and phone numbers. LT’s doing ok; he’s never been the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s looking for work and enjoying the extra time with his children. LD’s doing even better; she’s working to start her own business, and has found out tons of information about assistance programs and grants. They are both healthy and happy. It was good to see that and to see them.

I’ve been so lost. I was initially so scared about being unemployed that I tried to jump right in to job searching. I failed to realize that I needed time to grieve and do some soul searching. I’ve done next to nothing in the last two weeks, and being sick isn’t the only excuse. I am a procrastinator; actually that is my “biggest weakness” that interviewers ask about. If I have a mile-long to-do list or a series of deadlines, I get down to business and set the cruise control. If I have little to do, I do little.

Today I received my final check from my old employer. Next week I will receive nothing, and the week after I will begin receiving $344 /wk, before taxes. The deadline is now upon me. I’m wide awake and suddenly focusing clearly.

I am better off than most of the other people sitting in that room this morning. I have an education, and I’m not to proud to take something beneath my skill level, providing – and this is what separates new job from old job – there is room and expectation for advancement.

So what are my job prospects?

1) I’ve been communicating with an individual who works for a government office. This is potentially my long-term dream job. However, this individual is unsure that my skill set suits their available openings and is looking into it. She does expect the office to expand within the next year, creating jobs in subject matter I am educated in. Maybe I can’t work there next week or next month, but this woman is really the first person to take notice of me and seems to think that I might be a match for the organization.

2) The local hospital is advertising two positions that interest me. The first is for a histologist, and the position involves performing chemical experiments on tissues and fluids. Cool. I like chemistry. I do not have the requisite certification, but perhaps there is training available. The other position is in billing and only requires a high school diploma. I’m good with computers, good with numbers, and have a willingness to learn about the medical field. I’m going to the hospital tomorrow morning.

3) A major financial corporation has a call center near here and has advertised two positions online. I applied to one but did not receive a response, which thus far has not been unusual. I’m not going to bother with the online application for the second. Instead, I’m going to go directly to that office and show them that I can be the aggressive sales agent they need.

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Tetanus and Whooping Cough

I saw my doctor for a physical last week. I was trying to take advantage of my insurance benefits while I still had them, not because I was ill. The nurse asked me when the last time I had a tetanus shot was, as they are supposed to be readministered every ten years. I couldn’t remember, so she looked it up. The last tetanus shot I had was in 1997, so I told her to go ahead and do it.

When she returned with the needle, she told me there was a second vaccine in the syringe. Pertussus (Whooping Cough) is apparently becoming a local issue. Adults don’t realize the vaccine wears off (like tetanus), then contract it and pass it on to children. Many children are never vaccinated against whooping cough, beacuse the parents choose not to. Children are more vulnerable and more likely to die from this infection than adults, and it is one of the most common vaccine-preventable causes of death in the world.

I said ok.

The nurse told me about the side effects: soreness, redness at the site of injection, may last a couple days. No big deal.

I said ok.

She gave me the shot.

The following day my arm hurt so bad. My entire upper arm was throbbing and shooting needles of pain down to my fingers. I could barely lift my arm. I could not lie on that side of my body (putting pressure on my upper arm). The discomfort was much worse than had been implied.

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention how strongly I react to chemicals in my body. The bottle of Advil says take two; I take one. Three glasses of wine, and I’m definitely not driving anywhere. A small palmfull of chocolate covered coffee beans gives me heart palpitations. I’m sure that I am smaller (probably by 50+ pounds) than the “average” test subject for the FDA.

On Saturday, boyfriend and I went to the high school regional basketball finals. The town he lives in, and the one that I grew up with a connection to, has been undefeated so far this season, usually by a margin of 20 or more points. The town they played in the finals are their number one rivals, the town I currently reside in, and the the only team to ever lose by less than ten points. It promised to be an exciting game.

Boyfriend was sitting to my left, and he kept nudging my left shoulder. It hurt every single time. At halftime I made him switch seats with me, telling him to feel free to bruise up the right arm and make them even.

Sunday, I woke up with a runny nose. Today, I woke up with a runny nose and a cough. Perhaps I contracted a cold/flu in that crowded gym on Saturday. But what if I didn’t?

What if I now have the early symptoms of whooping cough?

Boyfriend’s children are among those never vaccinated. My insurance benefits run out this week. This could be bad. Very bad.

Hey AHA’s

You know who you are.

Do you guys remember a certain restaurant, “WW”, here in town? I suspect none of you have eaten there in a few years.

They used to be a good pub…back before I was even old enough to legally be in there. I did get in a few times though, so I have some idea of what it was like. Then six? seven? years ago, they sold and the new management hired new employees. Things went downhill, frankly, because the service sucked. The wait staff and bartender didn’t seem to care about the customers, and they had a habit of giving “last call” at 9 pm or earlier! Wouldn’t you agree that pub that consistently closes by 9 sounds like a surefire recipe for disaster? The last time I was even in there was a few years ago now, although I can see their sign from my bedroom window.

Fast forward to last fall. The place sold again, and we all had high hopes that there would be improvements and the place would return to its old self. However, the owner sold to a friend, and the friend kept the same crappy staff.

Fast forward again to last Wednesday. I drove by on my way home (maybe sixish?) and the place was dark. Then the following night I went out to a different eating/drinking establishment, and people were talking rumors.

On Wednesday, the owner of the “WW” laid off his entire staff, locked the door, and moved to Florida. Nobody knows if he will return.

Anyone want to buy a cute little pub? I could use a job; I’ll help you run it.

I Had a Dream Last Night:

The company that laid me off called me back.

I showed up for work, and everyone was outraged because there wasn’t much work for them to do either. Nobody would talk to me, and so I spent the morning in the dust collection container, digging around to break up the large chunks (no, this is not a real task).

At lunch time I went to the restroom. Someone was in one of the stalls, but she was too new to know where the light switch was, so she was in the dark. I turned on the light and went into a stall. The girl who laid me off entered the room, looked over the door of the other stall, and started up a conversation with the girl in there. Then she came to my stall and hung over the door and started talking to me, while I’m still trying to do my personal restroom business. I’m very uncomfortable with this, but I can’t really get up, and she’s not moving. I ask if there is some other task I should be working on, and if not, why was I called back in.

She says, “For the summer we’re going to send you to Kipring.”

“Where?”

“Kipring. It’s a little island down the coast.” (No, it is not a real place)

“But R. is my home.” And I start crying. I finish up my business and run out of the room, while she laughs.

Then I woke up. The clock read 3:36, and I never went back to sleep.

Strange Day

Yeah, as if I can call any of them “normal” lately.

I got up at five am (and I’m ready for my nap now!) to spend my morning driving all over creation – 150 miles on my car, and I’m approaching the death of my timing belt. I had two destinations: a government office in second-closest “major” city (scmc) and Hippie College (hc).

I am very familiar with the roads that lead southeast of here for about four hours and the road that leads northeast of here for about two hours, but I’m only familiar with a narrow corridor that includes the towns on or just off these roads. I rarely travel west, although first-closest “major” city is located about an hour west of me, and I would definitely take a job that requires commuting there. But I wasn’t headed there today. I was headed along a reasonably well traveled route to scmc, and then some back roads to hc. And the traffic situation in this state surprised me a bit.

I left my apartment at six, sleepy eyed, but well-dressed, figuring that with morning rush hour traffic I might have trouble getting to my eight am appointment in scmc. Google maps said the trip should take one hour thirty minutes, but that’s not accounting for other cars, or crappy roads, or anything else, so I hoped I was giving myself enough time. There were some cars on the road in my hometown and in the few to the north of me. After all, I do live in a city of 7,000 – someone must get up that early.

I really didn’t see any significant volume of cars headed my direction until about ten minutes from my destination. Apparently, nobody tries this commute on a regular basis. I was early. But that was ok, because the tiny office in the back (separated by a curtain) of a shipping company in front was hard to find. I had my appointment and went right in to pay my $132.50, get fingerprinted for another background check, present two forms of identification, sign my life away, and have my photo taken. This is all for a new required government-issued id card that I have to get before I can renew a certain license. Good thing I had an appointment. The door opens at 8am, and there were three people there ahead of me trying to score a walk-in appointment.

There was only one person running the office, and he mentioned that yesterday there was a five hour wait for the walk ins and he got out of work very late. Really? Sounds like he’s understaffed. Perfect! He would love another set of hands, but he doesn’t make those decisions and I’ll need to call someone in Kentucky. But he said he would ask them on my behalf, and hopefully have better news when I go back there to pick up the card in a couple weeks.

Crazy – I need two separate ten minute appointments to get this card, and the closest place to get one is an hour and a half away.

As I left the office, the next appointment was waiting, and there were now five walk-ins.

I headed down rural roads to hc. These are actual state-maintained numbered routes, but they are bumpy and narrow, and winding, and rural. And there are no other roads. All buildings are located on these roads with nothing in the spaces between, save for trees and the occasional farm. Out of every four buildings I passed (including public buildings like post offices, churches, and corner stores) at least one was a single-wide trailer, and one had a caved in roof, or other symptom of uninhabitable disrepair. It’s depressing. I could never live out there, no matter how central it is to the major cities or my adoptive home town. You can fly through these towns though because there are zero cars on these roads.

I went out to hc because they were holding a job fair today, aimed mostly at their students (conservation, agriculture, etc) but open to the public. It was sad. At least half the tables were empty. The companies didn’t even show up. Of the employers who did show up, they all fell into one of three categories: summer camps (are you kidding me?), landscaping (again, no thanks), and government agencies. I only talked to government agencies: US Fish and Wildlife, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and state parks. There were also representatives from the nearest national park, but I’ve already applied there. Aside from camps and landscapers, there were no other private companies. Hello? Where were the wind turbine manufacturers? Where were the people who run the hydroelectric dams around here? Where was GE? I was totally disappointed. I already know about these government agencies.

This post will be editited, but the library is closing.

I’m back. Basically, I saw no cars on the road because nobody has anywhere to go. There are no jobs in my town, and certainly none in the rural areas. There is still snow on the ground, and our only hope of employment comes with tourist season. I will be unemployed until May.

Oh, and to top off my day, I was just about to take a shower at the gym, when the fire alarm went off. I was then yelled at by the staff for not getting out of the building fast enough. Did they really expect me to go outside into the 35 degree rain completely naked? What the hell?

Then I went home, and the teenagers who have been hanging out in my parking lot recently were closer to the building than normal. I went in the front door, and the hallways reeked like cigarettes, so those damn kids got into the building. I called the police.

Life’s Not All Bad

Seriously.

There is still good stuff happening in the world and in my own world.

It snowed the other day. Not enough to make driving a total disaster, but enough to sit on the evergreen branches and cover the dirty snow that had been sitting for a week. It has been cold since then, so there hasn’t been any melting, and hopefully the cross-country skiing will be good tomorrow. The sun on the pristine snow is blinding, however.

I’ve watched my boyfriend’s son’s basketball team win two games in the last week. Last Friday night, they won with a three point shot with 0.5 seconds left on the clock. I thought that sort of thing only happened in the movies, not for a group of eighth-graders. With that win, they (the fourth ranked team) knocked out the first-ranked team and advanced to the finals. A band friend’s son was the game high scorer, so good news all around (even though he was on the losing team).

Wednesday afternoon was the championship game. “We” lead for nearly all of the game, which enabled some of the weaker players to get in and contribute too. Boyfriend’s son missed much of the season with an injury, but he got the chance to play and scored six points!

And I had fun playing with my Christmas present from my dad – a DSLR. Here are some pictures from the championship game:

  • "We are the champions"
  • “We are the champions”
  • The Trophy! BF's son is #11 (front row)

    The Trophy! BF's son is #11 (front row)

    This individual is an awesome ball handler, and this might be the best picture I took - he has both feet off the ground!

    This individual is an awesome ball handler, and this might be the best picture I took - he has both feet off the ground!

    One Week

    It’s been a week, and I’m still hanging in, sort of.

    Today is payday at old job, and my bank account shows that my direct deposited check is of normal size. This is my check for working last week. There will be three more checks of normal size over the next three Thursdays, and then that’s it. Unemployment benefits in this state could bring in a maximum of $330 a week, which is a frighteningly small number. I hope I get a job soon.

    On the job front, there are a few things out there. All of which will pay less than I was making, but I suppose as long as they pay more than $330 a week, they are still a good deal. There is a lot of competition for the few jobs that are out there. I heard that my former manager just applied to the same bank teller’s job that I was eying. I know I have to compete against other people, but it seems so much more discouraging when these people have names and faces. And much more extensive job histories. What must I do to stand out?

    I haven’t applied to anything in the last couple days, as I’m still trying to sort out my references mess. There are a couple of new people that I’m going to call, when I have the strength. I suppose the two that I’ve been forced to eliminate didn’t care much about me, and therefore would have been lousy references anyway. But I’ve been making use of my time by researching contacts on companies, so I’ll be able to pounce when that is sorted out. Maybe I’ll make those calls tonight. I know I should. I just haven’t been able to.

    I still haven’t been able to sleep. I spend most nights staring at the dark ceiling. A couple of nights I’ve tried turning on the light at 2 or 3 am and reading for a while, but when I begin to feel sleepy and turn off the light, my eyes are wide open again. I’m not eating much either. I still feel so sick that I’m just not hungry. I’ve lost four or five pounds now, but I know it isn’t healthy. The lack of sleep and lack of nutrition are definitely contributing toward my waning energy, motivation, and confidence.

    I took a lesson from my out-of-work-for-the-last-two-months brother last night and went to the bar. I told the bartender to surprize me, because I never know what to order now that I don’t care much for beer. He gave me a fruity drink, which boyfriend made fun of (too pink for him), but I like fruity. I only wish I could have one on some sandy beach looking out at tropical colored water, being fanned with a palm frond by my cabana boy. Bartender warned me that if I continued asking for surprize drinks, they would only get stronger as the night went on. I laughed and mentioned that I only live a few doors down, and it’s not like I have to get up in the morning. I had a total of three drinks and boyfriend (two Guinnesses) and I were home by eight o’clock. As we were leaving, the bartender told me to “enjoy not working tomorrow!” So much for the stong drinks though, I never did feel drunk.