The Vent


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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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.

possum

While out walking the dog this morning, a friend drove by in her car and stopped to ask briefly how I was doing. “Life,” I told her, “was sucking.”

“Oh, it can’t be that bad” she said. “You’re so talented!”

yea, well…. so much for “talent,” I say.

Apparently, talent gets you nowhere in this economy, unless you are under 35.

Since my position in the upscale grocery store has been downgraded to part-time (see prior posts regarding talent and movin’ on up) and I am no longer eligible for health benefits, I have upped the job search. I am considering everything from totally career appropriate to “I can absolutely do that!”

In the past 2 weeks I have sent out roughly 12 applications and scored “0” (zero) interviews. This does not exactly surprise me since I have only managed 2 interviews in the past 12 months.

What I am finding interesting is the language used in rejection emails:

  • Although we are unable to further your candidacy for this specific position at this time, we appreciate your interest in …
  • As you may be aware, we had an enormous number of qualified applicants from which to choose and hired one of them today.
  • We found you to be a most talented and interesting person. While we did select another candidate, it was a most difficult decision.
  • Although your experience and background are quite impressive, we did not choose your resume to be included among those who will be interviewed.
  • We will review your pdf based on the requirements of this position’s profile.  If we do not reach out to you for this position, we will keep your resume on file for future opportunities.
  • [resume]  has been reviewed against our job criteria and we did not find a match at this time.

and finally~

  • This email is to let you know that we have closed the position.

I can only think that this repeated rejection and consequent soul-searching is “happening for a reason.” The stars are aligning and will eventually bring forth justice and a new life.

…which brings me to my “southern horoscope”. (Forwarded to me by my dear father-in-law)

According to the occurrence of my birth under the stars of the southern sky, I would be a “Possum”.

POSSUM (Apr 21 – May 21)
When confronted with life’s difficulties, possums have a marked tendency to withdraw and develop a don’t-bother-me-about-it attitude. Sometimes you become so withdrawn, people actually think you’re dead. This strategy is probably not psychologically healthy, but seems to work for you. One day, however, it won’t work and you may find your problems actually running you over.

Enough said.

head in vice

Today is my one year anniversary of “Plan B.” Given where this has taken me: the birth of this blog and my state of mind at the moment, I don’t think it’s going to work. So, I am now back to brainstorming.

Did I learn anything? Yes, most definitely.

I learned a lot about myself:

  1. I am without a doubt a “creative” person.
    One night one of my co-workers remarked to me that she is constantly blown away at how I always come up with lots of ideas. Tons of ideas. Ways of doing things; Ways of re-doing things; Thinking of things to do.
  2. My mundane tolerance is approximately 3 months.
    I cannot “hold my breath” longer than that without getting frustrated. It occurred to me that the only time I have had to take a job that required only that you smile, be nice and wait on people, was when I was in high-school and college. These jobs were only summer-seasonal. I only had to tread water for 3 months while I worked to save money for school. A steady diet of this makes me crazy!
  3. I am a person of character and find it difficult to show up at one of these jobs without my “A” game.
    I always bring my brain to work which makes it exceedingly difficult to function consistently at such a low level – without creative or educational challenges.

I need to make a move before I sink to the depths of depression. There, I said it out loud. Depression.

My friends and co-workers see anger and frustration, but it’s depression for real. I feel terrible about it. I hate being a person who doesn’t laugh as often as they used to, and seems always “on the verge” of tears.

Hopefully, I’ll get through this.

v. rail·road·ed, rail·road·ing, rail·roads
v.tr.
1. To transport by railroad.
2. To supply (an area) with railroads.
3. Informal:

  1. To rush or push (something) through quickly in order to prevent careful consideration and possible criticism or obstruction: railroad a special-interest bill through Congress.
  2. To convict (an accused person) without a fair trial or on trumped-up charges.

If you are unfortunate enough to be blindsided by a train, you undoubtedly did not plan the event. It was not a pleasant occurence. And somebody (usually you) does not make it out unscathed.

Seems I have been so desperate to ‘make a go’ of a new career, that I [obviously] caused my own train wreck.

In my effort to get ahead, I actually got behind… and then worse.

After I finished updating a friend on my most recent round of corporate BS she said to me, “you were railroaded.”

Bingo! Slammed full-on!

Why didn’t I see it coming? I  think it may have been because I really did want to succeed. I believed that this actually could be a new beginning. AND, I wanted to believe what the HR department said the day I signed on board, “with your background and experience, you’ll have no problem moving right on up.”

I believed HR. I believed in myself.

And now I believe– I’ve been RAILROADED.

Here’s the short story. That lateral move I wrote about…. finally took place after 1 1/2 months. I have seen these kids (excuse me, “team-members”)  fly up the ladder in 3 month increments. Moving around from store to store. Moving around from department to department. So, the fact that it took 6 weeks for me to be basically transferred to another department within the same store should have been my first tip off that I was being set up. (see “Cancel That”) THEN, there’s that juvenile job-review (see “Just Like High School”) which put the black mark on my permanent record and is haunting me like the scarlet letter.

So, in all actuality, I should have seen the train coming. The lights were flashing and the gate was down. I was NOT> by any means< TO CROSS THE TRACKS!

But, I did.

My first day in the new department was a disaster. I was met by my new team leader who was apparently recovering from the fact that “someone had just dropped a house on her sister” (“Wizard of OZ”). Our first interaction was for her to insinuate that I was lying to her. This got my hackles up big time.

And it went downhill from there.

I had every right to be angry about her launching into an age-ist tirade while explaining my daily tasks. She was mean, condescending, completely out of line and unprofessional, BUT when I brought this to the attention of management in the form of a well written and  throughly thought out detail of events, instead of a conversation I was met with a “document”.

I gave them the ammunition to shoot me!

This document said  something to the effect that I had “resigned” my position in the new department (I never resigned – I just said I would refuse to work under those conditions), and it was now MY responsibility to find another position within the company – within 2 weeks – or I would be resigning from the company in general.

Did I sign it? Of course I did. There were 3 of them in the office – and one of me.

Was I able to find another position in the company within the two-week grace period? Hell, no! Oh, there are plenty of jobs available, but I’m a marked employee. No one wants me anymore. I’m a whistle-blower. I scream, “play fair or I’m not playing.”

…and now?

I’m crawling from the wreckage.

Today I have to re-group. Re-organize my head. Look in the mirror and see someone else.

I confess, I bought that mantra: “You are what you do.” So, if you are underemployed… or worse yet, unemployed; who are you?

My chosen career: advertising, has taken a huge hit. The 30 years that I put into it are virtually gone. I worked in print, and print is just not where it’s at today. A former colleague remarked at the quality and quantity of true talent now walking the streets. Sad, really.

I continue to fling resumes to undisclosed companies. My goal is one daily. No more than 3. It can be too disheartening when you consider the input vs response ratio. In the past year I had two interviews –neither of which was in advertising.

Yesterday, at the second of my 2 interviews this year, I found myself defending the reason for all my interests.  The prospective employer said they would be hesitant to hire me because it looks like “you’re all over the place.”

OK. Maybe I forgot. Administrative positions require disinterested parties with boring lives. They just want someone to come in; get the job done; and go home.

Maybe I wouldn’t be a good fit.

It has been haunting me though… why was I chosen to come in for an interview if I didn’t look the part on paper? Were they just curious to see what an interesting person looks like?

Me.

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