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I should have run to the store and bought a lottery ticket yesterday; the drawing was last night, and my odds of winning seemed higher than usual because Fate, who likes to flirt but rarely delivers, was blowing me kisses like crazy. I never made it to the store, though, so I will have to be content to just go to my new job on Monday and call it good. The company I interviewed with last week called, and I accepted. I will be making almost 9 thousand more a year than I was at my last job.

Then my 6 year old came home with a perfect school conduct report – no trips to the office, no shoes thrown, no bites, no kicks, no nothing. This is the first one ever he has brought home that did not contain at least one distressing incident.

Enjoy the sun, but watch for gathering clouds )
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My first week of job hunting is drawing to a close. I had an interview today, and it went well. They usually do. I am very good at interviewing; too bad it doesn't pay so well. The job is for a compliance and licensing position with an insurance company in The Woodlands, about 20 miles from where I live. Anything less than 25 miles from me meets my commute requirements. In a lot of ways, the commute is more important to me than the compensation is. It is a growing company, despite the down economy. It comes with full benefits and a 401K. I would answer to a nice woman (Really. I met her. She’s nice.) as opposed to a sexist jerk.

I won’t get my hopes up. I'll just wait and see. I'm good at waiting, and sometimes at seeing, too.

The Week In Review )
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All day Friday, I waited for Mike to tell my not to come in on Monday. The man never spoke a word to me. Never acted like anything was up. For some reason, he never liked speaking to me. I specifically told The Owner in the letter that I wrote to him that I would stick around until Mike let me go. Which he didn’t. He just hired someone else, and acted all surprised when I walked in the office on Monday. What a dolt.*

On the upside, I did get to see my replacement – about half my age, half a foot taller, and slender, and pretty. I thought she had too much product in her hair, making it look like it would be sticky and gloppy to touch, but what do I know? Maybe that’s just her style.

Jeesh! Do I have to do everything around here, including fill out my own termination paperwork? )
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Knowing I am about to get fired is at once liberating and annoying. On one hand, I'm happy that I won't have to quit, and looking for work while you already have one is awkward. The whole thing about wearing a nice suit to your office-casual workplace "just because you felt like dressing up" one day and then claiming you might be gone a little longer at lunch since you have a doctor's appointment" is always suspicious. As it is, I can send out resumes guild free, and I won't bother hiding where I’m going should an interview come up (which it is hasn't yet).

I just hate not knowing when my last day will be. I mean, I think it will be this Friday, but then another candidate came in today which makes me believe Mike has not picked my replacement yet. Maybe the gorgeous brunette last week turned him down (for a girl who looked like that, I think he's a fool for not paying her whatever she asked). A woman called and asked for his line this morning, and I heard him giving her directions when I put her through to him. I had to step out and get something out of my car, and I saw Dave outside smoking, so I stepped over to kvetch a bit.

Two great assets )
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I emailed the owner of the company a letter on Friday, letting him know that I was aware of my impending termination, of the steps I was taking to make the transition easier on my replacement (I bear her no ill will, only pity), and of some other issues, such as the fact that I may have made more than my fair share of mistakes in September due to what is going on with my son. I do not care what Mike thinks of me, but I respect The Owner and I do care what he thinks.

He stopped by my desk and told me that he got my letter and is sorry "that things are moving in that direction." He said he never had the impression that I was not doing my job, and that he was sorry about the situation between Mike and me.

"You can use me as a job reference," he said, "Have them call my cell direct."

For the entire time I've worked here, I have been told not to give out his cell phone number; that anyone who needed it already had it.

I feel strangely vindicated.


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I woke up extra early this morning, for the first time in almost 4 month. I drank some diet Mountain Dew in an attempt to float my eyes open, dressed in the clothes I'd pressed the night before, and woke my sleeping Sweat Pea and got him dressed to go to his babysitter's.

I interviewed last Thursday. He made me an offer on Friday. My first offer in three and a half months. There is a great recession going on with what is projected to be a slow and painful recovery period that we are just now (maybe) entering. What could I do? I accepted it.

The new job pays less than the old one, which paid less than the one before. In fact, it puts me back about 10 years as far as compensation goes. That part has me feeling a little melancholy. I don't know how I feel about the job itself yet. My feelings about the company are neutral, which I suppose is better than walking into a building with a feeling of dread. Everyone seems nice enough. Kind of average. Not too scary.

I'm in a cubicle again. Like my last one, it has crown molding, but not as wide as the crown molding in my old cubicle. In all my years in cubicles, it strikes me as funny to get two in a row at two different companies to have this bit of structural flair at the top of the wall of a cubicle. It's an unexpected visual luxury in a place where it seems oddly inappropriate, like walking into a McDonald's and seeing they have marble floors.

It has one huge advantage over my old job, and the one before: I'm not on the road so much. As the crow flies, it's about 12 miles from my house. Since I am not a crow and don't have wings, it's 19. Since I have to swing by the babysitter's house, on some days it's 24. Still, that's half of what I was driving before. There are some good jobs deep in the heart of Houston I could have applied for, but didn't. That drive liked to have killed me. When I took it, I thought I could handle it. I couldn't. All the miles and miles and miles that I drove – between 80 and 100 a day depending on whether I dropped off my son and picked him up or my husband did – in the slow crawl of Houston traffic was isolating and exhausting.

We'll see how this goes.

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I went on an interview yesterday for a company that had placed an ad on Craig's List. The job is for a start up company and it would start out as part time (30 hours a week) with a fairly low rate of pay, but has the potential to grow into something a lot more substantial if the company takes off the way they hope it will. I applied because it was close to home and it would leave me time to work on the home-based business I am considering starting (I'm not ready to give details on that yet so don't ask).

"You're one of 15 interviews we're doing today," I was told. "We got over 500 responses to that ad, and then we had to take it down so they would stop coming in."

That's 500 applicants to a part-time, low paying administrative position. I'm flattered that my resume made the cut, and alarmed at how much competition there is for this kind of work.

Keep in mind that Houston's unemployment rate, at 8.5%*, is about 2% less than the national average. I can't imagine how many responses such a job would get in some place like Modesto, California or Detroit, Michigan, where the unemployment rates are close to 17%.

According to economists in Washington, D.C., the economy is recovering, but it is a "jobless" recovery. I have news for them: a recovery without jobs only counts as a recovery for those people who are working. For those searching for work, it's just a continuation of the economic misery.

Looks like it's going to be a hard-candy Christmas for a lot of people out there this year. In light of that, I hope the other 14 people who interviewed that day showed up wearing sweat pants and smelled like they hadn't showed all week. Probably not, but a girl can dream.



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*per the US Dept of Labor as of October 2009.

Reminder: It's not too late! If you want a Christmas card from me, leave me your address here. You don't have to send one in return and you don't have to have ever commented before. I just like mailing them out.
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My former co-worker, Yvette, was happy to hear that I got my unemployment. Her case is still pending, but she was fired two weeks after I was. She has been accused of falsifying her time records, so her case is almost defiantly going to involve a denial she will have to appeal. To get the ball rolling, she has already filed a complaint with the EEOC for wrongful termination.

Death and Dollars )
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I just checked the mail, and in it found a letter from the Texas Workforce Commission. I opened it with a feeling of dread.

I had to read it three times before it sunk in.

My unemployment claim has been accepted. Reason for decision: "Our investigation found that your employer discharged you from your last work for a reason that is not misconduct connected with the work."

I checked the balance of my state-issued debit card just to confirm that, yes, there is money in there and I can buy groceries.

Sweet!


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I got a call from Yvette, my former coworker at Big Death, yesterday. She, too, is still out of work. She, too, has not had her unemployment benefits from the state either confirmed or denied. While I'm well into the acceptance stage of grief over the loss of my job (I'm not grieving the job so much as the paycheck it represented), she is stuck in the anger stage. She has every right to be angry – they accused her of lying and stealing by claiming she did not work through the lunches that she actually did work through and claiming them on her time sheet. She worked for 15 years at the job she left before she came to work at Big Death, with nary a black mark on her employment record. Being fired and being called a liar and a thief has her blood boiling.

Goliath had it coming. )
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Almost every place I have worked, I have run into a woman like Big Death's Dixie. Her face is different, her name is different, but she is – in essence – the same woman. At Big Death, Dixie was 50ish with an out of date haircut and jowls. At the technology company where I used to work, her name was Candace and she was in her early 20s; she was briefly a manager over me before it became clear that she'd lied about her credentials and got laid off. At the toll road authority she was in her 40s and her name was Becky; she was the administrative assistant in the personnel department. Because I did not have to work directly with Becky she and I got along quite well, but she made life a living hell for my friend Joy, who had to work closely with her.

A Dixie is always charming, but rarely pretty. In fact, two out the three Dixies I've known have been on the plain side, but they made up for their lack of attractiveness by having 10 times the moxie of everyone else around them. A Dixie can kiss up to management in a way that is almost pornographic in how far she is willing to take it. When a Dixie decides she doesn't like you she will talk to your manager with a sad, serious expression and will explain with great earnestness how she has tried to work with you – tried, tried, tried! – but that despite her best efforts you just won't get with the program. You are the problem, a Dixie will make it clear. Every little mistake you have made will be magnified and every quirk you have will be presented as a character flaw.

There Ain't No Good In an Evil-Hearted Woman )
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"Great, did you see that the unemployment rate is over 10%? If you add in the people who've given up looking and the ones who've taken jobs at Starbucks, it's 17%."

"I'm sorry, hon."

"I've sent out almost 30 resumes! The response is kind of underwhelming. Listen: do you hear the silence? That's my cell phone not ringing with job offers."

"Keep plugging away, honey. Something will come up."

"Ha. I guess there's always Starbucks. Unfortunately, I don't even think that would cover childcare."

"Hey, look at the bright side: at least you'd be working with people your own age with college degrees."

He's not wrong.


* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * # * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *
ninanevermore: (Ghosts)
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It took more than two weeks before the box from Big Death arrived at my house. Not the one containing my dead brother in law – that one showed up the following Thursday. This Halloween I will have an honest-to-goodness dead guy in my living room. For once, Pete is not causing any problems and has behaved himself admirably since he showed up. He's on a book shelf by the mantle, looking benign in a simple white cardboard box that weighs a lot more than it looks like it should.

But the box I am talking about, the one I was anticipating so much, was the copy-paper box filled with the contents of my cubicle from when I worked at Big Death. I was hoping they remembered to pack my soul in it. I seem to recall in the new-hire paperwork I signed two years ago that upon leaving the company, I would have my soul returned to me unless I stayed for a decade or more, in which case my soul would be discarded since the ability to work there for that length of time would indicate that I didn't need a soul, anyway.

A Shabby Little Spirit )
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I went to see my friend Astro Joe perform with his friend Benny Rod at a area wine bar the week I after I got laid off. Joe and Benny met up when I used to frequent the open mike at my favorite but now defunct coffee house, and now they collaborate together as a musical act they call Rod Garcia, because while they can both sing and play various instruments, they aren't real creative when it comes to names.

Say Howdy! )
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From the age of 10, my middle brother always knew he wanted to be a civil engineer, just like my father. He never waivered in this, got his engineering degree, and now works for the same company that employed my father for the last 25 years of his career, doing pretty much the same job as his old man. His dream was pretty straight forward and it was a practical sort of dream to have. In fact, it's the best sort of dream to have: one that guarantees a steady paycheck. He is a boring, lackluster sort of guy, and was blessed to have a boring, lackluster sort of dream. We should all be so lucky.

When I was 10, I told everyone I wanted to be a writer. It's all I ever wanted to be. Growing up, I never waivered in this, at least until enough people told me I should waiver, because writing will not pay the bills in most cases. In a stab at being pragmatic, I got my degree in journalism, because journalism is a pragmatic sort of writing. But I never wanted to be a journalist, and have never worked in the field. Just like my civil engineer of a brother cannot do the job of a computer engineer or an electrical engineer, a reporter is not the same as a poet or a novelist. They all use words, but not in the same way. So with a B.A. that did not translate into useful employment skills except for the field it relates to, I fell into administrative work. Not as an administrative assistant, which is what they call secretaries these days, but administering things like documents, licensing, due diligence, and the like.

Taking a look at my résumé, it occurs to me that it is an outstanding artistic achievement: it is a lie composed entirely of facts. It says what I can do and what I've done, but skillfully hides who I am. If I were to write my real résumé, it would look something like this:

On the upside, even this résumé would still get offers for opportunities to sell insurance, I bet. )
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Dear Job Candidate,

I came across your resume on INeedAJob.com, and I think you have potential! Your ability to post a resume on a job site indicates that you might have a pulse, and are therefore qualified to work as a direct sales representative for our company!!!

Does the idea of being your own boss, setting your own schedule, and making up to $280,000 or more each year sound appealing to you? If so, then we need to talk!

DeNi-Allclaims Insurance is currently seeking motivated sales people to help grow our organization.

DeNi-Allclaims is a career-driven company that offers an excellent product line, proven marketing systems and extensive training. We choose the best products with the best values to give our clients a number of choices that fit their individual needs (by which we mean, the one that costs the most they can possibly afford).

At DeNi-Allclaims, you are in business for yourself, but never by yourself. Isn't that a relief to you, at home alone scanning the internet for any and all job opportunities?

Our compensation program includes bonuses and commissions, including lifetime residuals for producers who meet vesting requirements, lead allowances and daily advances on select products. Many DeNi-Allclaims agents and managers enjoy substantial incomes. In case you aren't that bright (and many in sales aren't!), "substantial income" means "lots and lots of money!!!"

If you are interested in an agent or management opportunity, please contact me at ###-###-#### to schedule an interview! After all, you're unemployed -- what else do you have to do besides waste your time showing up to a group interview for a job that doesn't exactly promise to pay you anything, even if you get it?

I look forward to meeting with you in the near future!

Best Regards,

Joe B. Sincere, Jr.


Why, why, why do I make my resumes searchable, when I know that doing so is only going to clog up my spam filter and is not likely to result in any actual viable job offers?

Because hope springs eternal, I guess.


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When Big Death issued me my employee badge, they also slipped a cloak of evil over my shoulders. I barely noticed it at the time, but it was definitely there. I mostly become aware of it because I sometimes wear short sleeves, and it itched wherever it touched my bare skin.

For a lot of the people around me, the cloak allowed them to adopt a sort of cognitive disconnect about Big Death, what it does, and how it operates. These are mostly good people who all sound like cult members gushing about all the good that Big Death does, while ignoring all the bad. When the scandals happen, they always chalk it up to an isolated incident.

"We help people," they say, "Our business is helping people in their hour of need. What we do is so important." They are sincere and earnest; the cloak protects them by shielding them from the truth, and they need it.

The Good, The Bad, and The Just Here For A Paycheck )
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Just yesterday I got an email from my friend the Cajun Queen, giving me her new address in New England so I can send her a Christmas card. Needless to say, I'd emailed her to ask for it some weeks ago. I asked if she had a new email address that she checks more than once a month that I should know about. She replied, no, she just hadn't been checking her email lately. It seems she'd been looking for a job last year and, despite sending out 100 resumes, she did not receive a single offer. This put her in such a funk that she stopped checking her messages all together.

Don't call us, we'll call you (if we feel like it). )
ninanevermore: (Default)
Today on my drive into work I was thinking about how long it’s been since I wrote the words “Today on my drive into work.” It’s been over 4 months.

The drive is almost identical to my old drive, just a few miles more. The Corporation is the largest organization I’ve ever worked for. When I worked as a temp after my college graduation I worked at a few large companies, but never for them. It’s official, though: I have now a badge and everything.

How come no matter where I work, I’m always on the 8th floor? )
ninanevermore: (Ferris Wheel)
"I got the job," I told the Carney.

He looked up from the cigarette he was lighting. "Congratulations," he said after he took a deep drag.

"Thanks."

Careful what you ask for )

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