Now that the holidays are behind us, my part-time hours (2-days a week) have plummeted to “0″ hours a week. I try to remain optimistic and check the job-board often and have decided to try to claw myself out of this current pit I somehow landed in. Bruised, bloodied and stripped of my dignity, I am still working in a grocery store.

The other day I noticed  they were looking for a signmaker [yes, SIGN-MAKER]… someone who makes those little SIGNS that you see in grocery stores. You know the kind. Computerized bits of non-creative information. Magic-marker, handwritten bits of non-creative information and sometimes… BLACKBOARD illustrations!

I think, this is it! Finally! I can do this. It’s right, directly, squarely, most definitely, up my alley!

They need to see “samples of my work,” they say, “so bring some to the interview.” I agonize over what I will put in my portfolio. I start drawing quick marker illustrations. Then I write out the complete alphabet, and numbers too! Ooh, they might want to see chalk-board art. I take a box of my daughter’s chalk and draw some pictures and text on black paper, just to show what my work might look like on a blackboard. I chose some retail advertising that I designed, and some corproate stuff, too. Plus a bit of interesting food businesses I’ve developed and marketed. I waste HOURS on this project, but I really want the job and I really want the interview to go well, so I do it.

Without going into the particulars of the actual interview, which I believe I aced, the call came in today with the results:

Sorry, we hired someone else.

I interview for a job that I am completely qualified for (overqualified actually– if you count what I did for the past 30 years), but they decide to go with  someone else because: get this, “You didn’t prepare for the interview enough.” To elaborate on that phrase –and I quote, “you didn’t go and talk to the people in the store where you work now who are doing this job.”

So, never mind that I am totally qualified and capable (even passed the on-the-spot “handwriting test“)– because I didn’t get the low-down from people who are mindlessly doing this job in another location, I was cut.

All I can say is it is a darn good thing they aren’t interviewing for a really IMPORTANT position! They should have jumped at the chance to have someone who knows what they are doing.

I’m pretty sure this is the last straw. I’m about to throw in the towel.

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I have this cute little pig-shaped ceramic refrigerator magnet holding my current weekly “shift-schedule” to the freezer door. The past couple times I opened the door, the magnet fell and the poor little pig lost a leg… which reminded me of a joke I heard once…

It goes like this …

One day a man drove by a farm and saw a three-legged pig. The man went up to the farmer and said, “Excuse me sir, but why does that pig only have 3 legs?”

“Well sir,” said the farmer, “that thar pig is very special. One time my wife was cookin’ somethin’ on the stove. She stepped out of the kitchen and burnt the house clear down to the ground. That pig saved me, my wife, and my 2 kids!”

“That’s amazing sir but why does that pig only have three legs? Did he lose one in the fire?” said the man.

“Then there was that time the pig saw a big storm a-comin’ and we didn’t. That pig ran into the house and dragged all of us out to the storm cellar to safety. If it weren’t for that pig we’d all be dead.”

“But still, that doesn’t explain why the pig has only…”

“And I remember the time my youngest son was stuck up in a tree but I was too far away to hear him screamin’. That pig came running towards me and led me di-rectly to my son.”

“Well, that is a miracle but how come that pig only has 3 legs?” the man said quite annoyed at this point.

“Well,” said the farmer, “with a pig that special…

…you can’t eat him all at once.”

###

It’s a good thing I’m such a wealth of talent.

End of story.

“It’s not your fault.”

“It’s never been your fault.”

So goes the text of a rather humorous exchange posted on YouTube that sends my daughter and me into fits of silly laughter every now and then. The visual that goes along with it is of 2 cats trying their best to put paranoia into the mind of their friend — just for yucks.

###

The other day while my daughter and I were out picking up a few things in the grocery store, she turned to me and said,”it’s not your fault, mom.” And then clarified. “it’s not your fault that you work in a grocery store now.”

“I know, it’s never been my fault,” I answered, trying for a chuckle … but it hit too close to home.

Following a decade of disaster, I am trying to remain positive. Seriously. But sometimes I feel like the gods are just not cooperating.

January 1, 2010 I received a phone call from my boss: “We don’t have the budget to put you on the schedule for next week. Sorry.”

True story.

It’s December 31, 2009.

Snow has been quietly falling outside my window for the past hour  –silently erasing the gnarled brown tufts of grass and piles of still unraked leaves. It’s covering up the ugly exposed bits of earth with a clean white blanket and turning it into a brand new winter playground.

Life should be so simple.

Lately when I think of myself, I get the image of a stump-legged pigeon for some reason. You know the one. Still flying in the group; gathering at all the feeding holes; pecking around for crumbs; all the while hobbling around on that stump leg of his.

Guess I’m actually feeling “better” about life lately. This image says to me: you may be down, but you’re not dead. You can still fly if you put your mind to it.

I’ve been inspired by those in my community of creative people who have taken the “lemons” they were given and made “lemonade” with them. They successfully re-invented themselves professionally. They seem to be genuinely happy about the changes in their lives.

Had my creative unemployment actually come with a genuine “pinkslip”, then it probably also would have come with some sort of severance pay and unemployment compensation. In my defense, I think I fell so hard, because I had no buffer. There were only the cryptic, apologetic, emails from former clients and then, the phone stopped ringing.

My first reaction was to reach back into my bag of tricks. I thought I might have a (pardon the pun) “leg-up” on the competition by following a [former] passion – food. If you have followed this blog at all, you have seen that didn’t go where I had hoped it would.

So, I’m going to crawl from the wreckage, again. Take the extra time “offered” to me by not being offered full-time employment, and see what I can muster.

This time I have new parameters:

Raw talent. Non-perishable.

Stay tuned.

…if it just leers back at you with that “Cheshire Cat” grin?

catmoon