Archive for looking for work

Okay Universe. We Need to Talk.

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/01/2013 by Angel D. Vargas

Fair warning to you all, I’ve not written a blog entry in a long time. This is a rant. It’s long, it’s full of vitriol, swearing, and colorful political commentary. Kids should not read this.

Depressed people shouldn’t either.

The rest of you voyeurs, thrill seekers, indignant crusaders and general rabble-rousing types should read on. You know who you are.

 

Okay. So here it is. I’ve tried faxing and emailing every iteration of a resume and a cover letter you can think of, essentially kissing invisible people’s asses. I’ve tried working with employment agencies with names that sound like the names of gay porn movies aka “Manpower” and “Steadfast.” I’ve tried mental health counseling, talking with friends and loved ones, and I’ve even tried to use a little something called family connections. I’ve done all this not just to land a job, but to land enjoyable employment that can become a gainful, secure career.

I’ve gotten almost no bites whatsoever. In the nearly three and a half years I’ve been living in New York City, the closest thing I’ve got to a job is a minimum wage senior bookseller position, where I have yet to even see a pay raise though I essentially do the better parts of a former department manager’s job. I’ve had promising interviews, even to the point where I was told I would be offered training and an eventual position, only to be shunted aside and left to wait until training was nothing but a pipe dream. Nepetism, among other things, has kept me from utilizing yet another family connection to a potential rockstar dream job as a company proposal writer.

Then, there’s the Individual training grant I’ve been trying to get my hands on for work as a Certified Nursing assistant.

Get this. In the system to which I pay taxes, it’s essential for those with intelligence and a penchant for being able to pay rent AND eat a decent meal each day to use their brains in order to land more solid employment. Better still, it is supposedly easy to land a job when the requirements are more or less commensurate with one’s employment experience.

But there’s more. If one desires¬† a change in career, but doesn’t yet have the financial means to pay for yet another two years of schooling, one might wish to find something known as an individual training grant. Such things exist in New York City, and certain work programs offer a means to attempt to attain them. The training grant offers you access to training courses that can earn you the education and skill set to land a much more fulfilling and financially sound employment opportunity.

Sounds good, right? There’s a catch, of course. The instant one tries to apply for these grants, even for training in jobs where there don’t appear to be enough qualified individuals to fill the positions out there, one is hit with someone’s fubar interpretation of a “skills assessment.” The idea is to determine what level a participant has achieved in several key skills pertaining to the desired occupation. There are not supposed to be right or wrong answers on this multiple choice test because it is assumed that when one doesn’t know something, it’s because they need the training to learn it. This logic would be the reason one might be hauling one’s tired, overworked, underpaid ass to an institution filled with men who use toothpaste as underarm deodorant, right?

I failed my one and only assessment. Then I was told I could take the test again. After breathing a small sigh of relief and recovering from my rather spectacular humiliation (I’ve never before failed any sort of multiple choice test) I was told I needed to wait a month in order to let my name be flushed from the computer data banks like a piece of crap down the pipes of a toilet and into the Hudson River.

Well, slap me silly and call me Tza Tza, I almost pissed myself when I heard that thoroughly encouraging news.

But I waited patiently, hoping against hope that this bass ackward system might actually be made to work in my favor. I spent a month looking up information on CNA skills, trying to find cliff notes for this “assessment,” but to no true avail, for I could not remember the random-assed questions that were hurled at me by a computerized proctor without an ounce of humor.

The month passed in a haze of unavoidable financial crises, moving my girlfriend into her first apartment, more unlucky financial disasters, the decline of my current employment situation, and my own desperate search for a means to get the fuck out of my parents’ small midtown apartment.

I found no answers. But I waited, for I was handed a business card by the person at a company with whom I had a somewhat lukewarm conversation regarding my original skills assessment.

“A business card?” you ask .. or at least you should if you haven’t cracked the hell up or shot yourself in the head yet. “But wait a minute, sir. That means you have someone’s name, an address, a phone number, a fax number, and an email address. What seems to be amiss? Just connect with that person and get the ball rolling!”

This person is about as easy to reach as the top of Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s head, and that’s if my feet are glued to the floor and I am Verne fucking Troyer! The organization for which she works runs like an underfunded homeless shelter without the carnival atmosphere, and it’s just as fucking organized.

This is the point where I stand in a quiet, rural field underneath the stars of the Milky Way and have frank (and somewhat drunken) conversation with the universe .. or at least I would if I could afford to travel to such a field, lay a tent down for the night, and wander barefoot through the wet, fall grass in my favorite old Aikido uniform pants and a sleeveless red tee shirt. I might be carrying a djembe in my hands if these hands didn’t feel cracked and broken, and if I felt a spark of desire to even play. You see, my rhythm feels off, oh great mystery that is life. I can’t even enjoy that part of my existence anymore.

I might have to sell that drum to pay my next credit card bill.

I can afford six pack of smirnoff. The cherry lime flavor. Sweet.

But let’s not forget two things. One, I have an awesome girlfriend, I mean AWESOME!

Two, I can write. Of course, I’m still working on my first novel.

Dear Universe,

What the fuck do you want from me? My first born manchild? The blood of seventeen Vestal Virgins covered in olive oil? A bloody Mary and a pack of cigarettes? How ’bout a bloody cigarette and a pack of Hungry Maries? I read Hunger Games, it fucking sucks! Tell that slacker to get a real job! Fifty Shades of Grey? Try Fifty Shades of the color of Shit. I can write better than that clown!

Okay. I’m over that. Really. It’s okay that I get passed over for all the hotel doormen and concierge jobs to which hundreds of invisible applicants (all of whom MUST be better looking than a young Harrison Ford and smarter than motherfucking Einstein) MUST be applying because our economy “just isn’t what it was.” It’s just dandy that nearly every head hunter and temp agency I’ve talked to in the last three years has told me that because of my “unique” background as a mental health worker in Minnesota where licensing WASN’T required at the time I got my extensive experience, that they can’t help me land a job as more than a minimum wage factory worker. It’s grand that the most memorable comment I’ve had in all the job interviews I’ve had in the last three years was this:

“Sorry, sir, but the economy is just in the crapper.”

I’ve said that to myself in all sorts of accents. Try it. These are the apparent benefits of a classical (and insanely expensive) education ūüôā

And it’s fan-fucking-tastic that each job I’ve held since college has paid me less and less per hour, but has expected more and more miracles to come flying out of my rectum. If I’d been trained to walk on water, you think I’d be wasting my time making cardboard boxes and mopping Hobo Joe’s crap off the floor of my bookstore?

It’s ok. really. Like I said. I’m over it all. These are just the thoughts that run through my brain when I feel like my time and money are no longer even remotely connected.

 

 

 

Advice on Dreams..

Posted in Drum Roll, Please...., The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/15/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Sometimes, it’s easy to believe that I will be forever young.

I never thought I would find myself giving advice to young people.

I had a job interview today for a place right across the street from me. ¬†I had to wonder what it would be like since I hadn’t had a job interview in almost 4 months, and I had not had a job in fourteen months.

Fourteen.

It was hard to be late for the interview since I live right across the street.  I had fun strolling in with my dress pants and purple striped shirt (sharp dressed men never lose), and I thought I would have some fun checking out my competition.

All of them were either sitting or standing in the middle of the store in a living room -like setting, surrounded by books. ¬†They had all been waiting since about 2:00 pm for a group interview that was supposed to start at 2:30. ¬†I had to wonder why. ¬†I’d read an article on Yahoo.com just a few days ago that suggested that interviewers don’t like when interviewees show up more than ten minutes early. ¬†According to the article, interviewers then get the impression that they are rushed, and that you are desperate.

The person who wrote that article never had to deal with the pains of public transportation. ¬†Even in New York City, you’ve got to plan as though one train or bus will get you there too early, but ¬†the following one will get you to your destination just about five minutes too late. ¬†That seems to be the norm EVERYWHERE in the country that has public transportation. ¬†You plan accordingly if you’re a strap hanger like me. The interviewers are just going to have to deal, especially if your interview is taking place in the winter or in the summer, and you don’t feel like waiting outside in the elements..

I was thinking about all of this as I stared at the other applicants, all of whom were beginning to show signs of impatience. ¬†And then I realized that strolling in “with two minutes to spare” from my apartment across the street was only the beginning of what set me apart from them.

I am older than anyone in the group by at least ten years. ¬†I wrote that in the present tense because it’s not like they’ve all aged twelve years each since we last saw one another. ¬†Funny how those kinds of things come up in writing.

But I digress.

It didn’t take me long to strike up a conversation with a young Asian man who was standing next to me. ¬†It was clear to me that he was losing his patience. ¬†Much like many other people in college, he was trying to determine the course of the rest of his life. ¬†And, much like the rest of us, he had been looking for work for a very long time.

“I need this job,” he said.

For a moment, as I stared at him and I peered at the other young people with whom I was situated, I had to wonder if I was making a mistake. ¬†I had forgotten, of course, of the retailers’ penchant for the group interview. ¬†This occurs when a group of people are called in to meet with a mysterious store manager or human resources person. ¬†They are herded through one area where they are “registered” or branded like sheep. Then they are corralled into another area where they all wait their turn to bleat their answers in unison to some basic questions.

My ex used to write about this for job fairs when she began her career as a teacher. ¬†She used to preface each of the aforementioned steps with increasingly bored or frustrated versions of the word “Moo…”

She was absolutely right..

I looked around again at where I was and who I was with, and I realized that I too needed a job; that I was one of the 99 percent.  And I simply refused to leave (as though anyone was actually trying to get me to leave in the first place).  Way to take that stand!

But as my conversation with the younger man continued, not only was he smart enough to claim I looked more like a 20 year old than the 32 year old that I am, he reminded me of what awaits anyone who is about to enter “the real world.”

It was once thought that there were certain areas of study that college students should stay away from if they wanted to garner “gainful” employment in the job market. ¬†Philosophy majors could go on to think deep thoughts about being unemployed. ¬†Sociology majors might become social studies teachers. ¬†You only became a psych major if you wanted to be an underpaid social worker or you really needed to figure out what Freud and Skinner had to say about you and your “issues.” ¬† Conversely, at least when I was attending college, there were certain majors that were considered “cash cows.” ¬†You were going to do alright if you were a math major as you could probably get some wild, completely esoteric papers published before you learned to use your riding crop to turn your future college calculus students into your little bitches. ¬†And if you were a computer science major, the sky was the limit, especially in the heyday of Silicon Valley.

Now I could sit here and compare and contrast my own lifestyle to that of all of my friends who graduated from the same college with different majors. ¬†But as I stood there today talking to this bespectacled Asian student, I listened to his concerns about “looking professional,” and I wanted to shake my head. ¬†But then he mentioned the word that has been the bane of my existence for the last fourteen months. He mentioned the “economy.”

“With the economy as bad as it is, it isn’t like I can do what I want to do with my life.”

And that was when I got on my soap box…

Me- “With the economy the way it is, now is the best time to follow your dreams.”

Asian guy – “Why is that?”

Me – ¬†“Because you’ve got nothing left to lose at this point. ¬†Why not go for yours?”

Asian guy – “What do you do?”

Me- “I write things that will scare you and your children. ¬†It took me ten years to get to the point where I gave myself permission to pursue a dream. ¬†This economy has utterly convinced me that life is too short to put that off. ¬†Don’t listen to what unhappy older people tell you about the real world! ¬†If you don’t have dreams, you don’t have a soul..”

I meant every word.  Still do..

Of course, when you venture out into it, the real world sort of makes you wonder if you can survive the Blitzkrieg. ¬†You have to learn to balance your checkbook, make sure you can pay back your student loans if you have them, pay your bills, your rent, etc. ¬†If you’re in a relationship at all, other things may or may not have to be considered in your long term plans. ¬†But all too often, we’re told if we work hard in school and graduate, everything will sort of fall into place. ¬†But how does one bear witness to that when one wants to balance living in the real world with the fulfillment of one’s dreams?

Ten years of holding one strange job after another has caused me to conclude that all the work in the world is absolutely MEANINGLESS without a dream to pursue.   People who tell you that you should be okay for the rest of your life holding down some boring ass nine to five job without having other dreams are people who gave up their own.  Sometimes, they feel like they had no choice because they had kids too early.  Other times, they had people around them who were less than encouraging.

But what happens to people who don’t pursue their dreams?

They grow older, less happy, and then they may tell others to live life like they did.

That’s not the kind of person that I want to be.

My dad often talks this way, and then follows it with a private conversation over a beer or two about how much he might have given up because he had kids too early. ¬†He forgets that he’s having these conversations with his oldest son. ¬†I love my dad. In many ways, he is what is best in men. ¬† But I WON’T live a life that causes me to have conversations like that with my own kids. ¬†I am going to pursue my dreams.

So I told this young Asian man the same thing I’ll tell anyone who ever asks me about the pursuit of their own aspirations. It’s going to sound a lot like the advice a friend of mine just posted the other night.

Just shut up and do it.

I went on to kill in the interview. ¬†We’ll see where this goes. ¬†They want me to come back on Tuesday at 10 AM with a social security card and a state issued I.D. ¬†My own personal battle was won today. ¬†Now it’s time to continue to the fight for my own soul. ¬†It’s time to renew the pursuit of my own dreams.

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