Jobless and Less http://www.joblessandless.com The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged Thu, 31 Mar 2016 21:18:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.9 Viagra For Sale http://www.joblessandless.com/2016/03/viagra-for-sale/ Thu, 31 Mar 2016 21:18:56 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3236 Viagra For Sale is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

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Viagra For Sale is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Viagra For Sale

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Mission Accomplished http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/05/mission-accomplished/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/05/mission-accomplished/#comments Wed, 25 May 2011 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3223 Mission Accomplished is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Mission Accomplished is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged Mission accomplished. Those two words stick in my head lately, as I speak to the world from the bow of my aircraft carrier, the USS Kitchen Table. Navy SEALs, with an assist from the CIA, recently killed public enemy number […]]]>
Mission Accomplished is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Mission accomplished Mission Accomplished

Where can I get me a big boat for my next press conference?

Mission accomplished. Those two words stick in my head lately, as I speak to the world from the bow of my aircraft carrier, the USS Kitchen Table. Navy SEALs, with an assist from the CIA, recently killed public enemy number one. They put a bullet through his head and dumped his body in the North Arabian Sea. A chapter in the ongoing war against terrorism ends. Many many more remain. In other national news, this once-unemployed blogger announces his full-time employment—the death of his own biggest enemy. It remains unclear what the revelers in Times Square were celebrating that night a few weeks back.

It’s been a wild and wacky ride. I lost my last full-time job on October 31, 2008. I started Jobless and Less a few weeks later and blogged my way into the hearts and minds, or at least the bowels, of a nation. Many of my loyal readers were also unemployed, or identified with the condition of unemployment. It was—and still is—a common problem; the country’s current unemployment rate hovers around 9%. I hope that I helped a few of these readers, not to find a job (though I tried that too in a few cases), but to get through another soul-sucking, mind-numbing, gut-wrenching day. Finding work is a thankless job, without the benefit of a paycheck or even a pat on the back. It’s a grind. But the occasional chuckle or smile can brighten an afternoon just a little. And I benefited more than anyone.

On a personal level, the site gave me a reason to get up and go through it all, again and again and again. It was a way of rewarding myself for enduring another day of disappointment… a cookie for the unemployed soul. What better way to overcome being ignored than to make people pay attention? The site gave me some control in a situation where I seemed to have none. It gave me an outlet to express my frustrations, big and small. And it gave me voice.

On a professional level, the site helped me become more employable. It served as a tool to teach myself new skills and refine old skills, from Search Engine Marketing to Social Media to website and project management. I grew as a marketer, and I grew as a writer. A website about being unemployed, ironically enough, made me a better employee.

Having a full-time job is a lot harder than I remember it. The days can be long. The work is often taxing, particularly as I dust off the little-used parts of my brain. But I enjoy being engaged. And my bank account enjoys receiving paychecks. And wifey enjoys having a gainfully employed husband. And the cats enjoy, well, sleeping. What did you expect? They’re cats.

I work on websites and related projects for a huge media company, also known as the man. They control TV and radio stations, not to mention web properties of all shapes and sizes. The position came out of a friendship I developed during a freelance project last year. One day I was meeting a someone for coffee. The next day I had a job. Who knows what the future will bring?

So what happens to Jobless and Less? Do I end it right here and ride off into the sunset? Do I continue to post sporadically, as the mood hits me? Do I steer the discussion off in another direction? Or do I continue to ask questions until I actually stumble upon my point? I don’t have the answer.

There’s plenty more to write about, but fewer hours to write. And I don’t own a horse, or a sunset. Maybe these are all signs that I need to keep writing. I already have the site, even if the name no longer makes sense. One mission ends, and another begins. I just need to figure out what the new mission is.

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Meetup needs to let up with the spam http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/02/meetup-needs-to-let-up-with-the-spam/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/02/meetup-needs-to-let-up-with-the-spam/#comments Mon, 28 Feb 2011 13:20:30 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3218 Meetup needs to let up with the spam is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Meetup needs to let up with the spam is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged I’m a big fan of Meetup.com. It’s the Justin Bieber to my inner 12-year-old girl, without the incredibly bad hair. There aren’t too many websites and/or online services I appreciate more. Gmail is one. […]]]>
Meetup needs to let up with the spam is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

screw meetup 300x221 Meetup needs to let up with the spamI’m a big fan of Meetup.com. It’s the Justin Bieber to my inner 12-year-old girl, without the incredibly bad hair. There aren’t too many websites and/or online services I appreciate more. Gmail is one. Facebook is an another. And Fred’s Potato Chip and Plumbing Supply Emporium is still another. Where else can you get Old Bay crab chips and the Waste King Legend 8000TC 1 horsepower disposer in one online shopping cart, besides Amazon? That’s right, nowhere. And the site’s emoticons are second to none. Long live Fred!

Meetup is a worldwide network of local groups organized around a wide variety of topics. The site helps individuals set up these groups, and helps others join them. The groups then get together to discuss their topic of choice, whether it be sewing or shuffleboard or Canadian teen idols. Meetup is an online vehicle for person-to-person meetings, pushing people away from their computers and toward each other. It connects people in a meaningful way, unlike many social networking tools.

I started using the site to connect with other online marketing types about three years ago. I attended various meetups in an official capacity, representing my previous employer. The meetings kept me abreast of all the happenings in the industry and put me in touch with a few of the movers and shakers. I kept at it after the layoff. The people in these groups have ins at good companies and the potential to help me find gainful employment. And they knew things… lots and lots of things. And not just things, but stuff… and whatnot, the grand poobah of all vague descriptive terms. As any two-bit unemployment site that isn’t Jobless and Less will tell you, networking is key to finding a job. My participation led to some interviews and freelance projects. Whereas, online job boards just gave me a raging case of carpal tunnel syndrome.

I still belong to multiple Meetup groups and attend events every so often. Here’s a selection of my favorites…

The SEMPO and WordPress meetups are particularly productive. The SEMPO group, an offshoot of the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, brings in experts to discuss the fast-moving field of Search Engine Marketing. The group for WordPress, the popular content management system I use for Jobless and Less, covers issues related to the software. Maybe you sense a theme here… a geeky, nerdy, online marketing-focused, career-related theme. And wouldn’t you know it, the settings in my Meetup account follow suit.

I don’t spend much time on the Meetup site each day. Trolling for new groups isn’t terribly helpful or informative. And the limited online social functions aren’t among the site’s strengths. Besides, the site is set to notify me of any new group that fits my location and interests. Far be it from me to do work I don’t have to. Here’s a sampling of the kinds of groups I’ve asked Meetup to ping me about…

  • Weblogger
  • WordPress
  • Search Engine Optimization
  • Website Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing

Alas, though the Meetup concept is slick, the execution is often clumsy. I receive five or more notifications for new groups each day. Maybe 20% of these groups are remotely relevant, or even within the parameters I set up. The rest are either ridiculous or hilarious or both. I began saving my favorites a couple months ago to share with the world. The folder now contains 121 emails. Many more were deleted. Here are the best of the worst, as I received them…

  • Bronx Ladies Who Lunch: This group is a social network for ladies 25 to 35 to get together and create lasting friendships. The point of the group is to support and uplift each other. There will be many events that will make this mission possible. Our outings will center on the Bronx but there will be events city-wide.
    [Don’t be fooled by the lunch that I got, I’m still Normy from the block. So it needs a little work. J-Lo has been too busy crying to return my calls.]
  • Flexyn: Flexyn stands for Fly, Sexy and Fun. And that’s just what our group is about. Being Fly, Living Sexy enjoying life to the fullest and having Fun. Whether single, dating or married, our get togethers will encourage all to live life to the fullest. Responsible and safe fun is what we’re all about. Networking, parties, events and trips are our focus. We will constantly have something fun planned. Some type of wonderful activity for people to come together and have a blast.
    [Well, I am fly, sexy and fun. They got that right. And I do enjoy making up words out of other words to describe myself. Unguatam, for example, stands for Unemployed Guy Hates Spam. It’s also the name of the tiny banana republic I plan to start when I become the next George Clooney.]
  • Drum Circle International House: International House is a residential facility in Morningside Heights/Harlem NY for over 700 graduate students from all over the world studying in a very diverse array of fields. The facility has a modern gymnasium where we conduct a drum circle every Friday 8pm-10pm. We have just started the endeavor with two drums and any additional drums/instruments would be great.
    [Shooting hippies is indeed one of my favorite activities. So maybe Meetup got this one right too.]
  • Women 24 and Over and Colored Men: I decided to start this group as a result of being involved with an interracial meetup that was, ironically, too exclusive. Realizing that changing the mentality and make up of the group would be too time consuming, and probably even unrealistic, I’ve started my own group. This network has been designed for women who are interested in Colored Men. When I say colored, I’m referring to a broad spectrum of individuals from dark-skinned to light-skinned, Black, African, Asian, Latino, Middle Eastern, Indian, bi-racial and multiracial men. We value and would like to develop a network of open minded, respectful, and sociable members who welcome and are interested in interracial dating.
    [This group managed to include everyone except me. It’s so nice to be discriminated against in my own inbox.]
  • Daddyhunt NYC: Daddyhunt is a community of over 200,ooo hot gay men of all ages. We bring together older men, masculine guys and the guys who love them in a dating and socializing environment that is supportive and attitude-free. We welcome Dads, Older Bros, Bears and hunters of all ages. NYC/Metropolitan members are welcome to attend our premiere Meetup event on December 15th.
    [And to think I first thought this was a group that got together to play cruel tricks on orphans. Boy was I embarrassed at that first meeting.]
  • Argentine Tango Beginners: FREE for 4 men only!! We have the women already!
    [All this time I thought it only took two to tango. Who knew?]

How can a site that touts its personalization, in an age of hyper-social media, be so misguided? I expect this from the the big job sites, which continue to insist that I become a nursing assistant in New Jersey. But I thought Justin, I mean Meetup, knew me better than that. The site just spams the crap out of me, over and over, day after day. It was funny at first… look at all those cute, funny, totally irrelevant emails from that site that doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Now it’s just annoying. So this once-satisfied user is blocking all new groups until Meetup gets its floppy hair out of its eyes and fixes this problem.

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Yet another unemployed guy… how did this happen? http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/02/yet-another-unemployed-guy-how-did-this-happen/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/02/yet-another-unemployed-guy-how-did-this-happen/#comments Thu, 24 Feb 2011 04:46:47 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3219 Yet another unemployed guy… how did this happen? is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Yet another unemployed guy… how did this happen? is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged I don’t like guests. I’m not very hospitable, and a terrible host besides. Our apartment is in a perpetual transitional state. Ripping and packing up 1500 CDs is the current project, but there’s always […]]]>
Yet another unemployed guy… how did this happen? is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

I don’t like guests. I’m not very hospitable, and a terrible host besides. Our apartment is in a perpetual transitional state. Ripping and packing up 1500 CDs is the current project, but there’s always something. And if that weren’t enough, the cats are trained to annoy guests with their cuteness and persistent affection. Yet people still visit for some reason. It must be the scenic walk up Roosevelt Ave; the allure of slush and garbage can be intoxicating. Maybe they just come to see wifey.

I don’t really like guests on Jobless and Less either. The site wouldn’t really be about MY experiences with unemployment and under-employment if other people did all the writing. But I’m not fundamentally against guest writers. Rumor has it that other people have interesting unemployment experiences and opinions about them.

It’s been almost two years since Ben Breier—the last guest poster—shared his tales of interviewing woe. I’ve since been solicited often, though nobody ever seems to quite get it. The world just doesn’t need another post about how to write a resume or what to say in an interview. The topics have been amply covered, elsewhere, by people who actually have jobs. Why would anyone trust advice on finding work from a site run by someone who can’t find work? It’s much more fun and interesting to laugh at my repeated failures.

An aspiring contributor does occasionally get it. Charlie Johnson emailed me this past week with a link to his video. He’s a clever lad, who has been unemployed since November. Months can seem like years to a recent college grad itching to put his education and skills to work.

I know the feeling. At 23, I was impatient about my job situation too. When I failed to nail down a coveted blacksmith position at the town stables, I became a cobbler. Shoes for farmers and tradesmen would have to suffice. Then came the Great War and the Roaring Twenties, and my skills were suddenly outdated. (“Suddenly” took 15 years in my youth.) I thought my career was over, but the end of my career was just getting started.

Charlie is much younger than I am. He still has skills and experience and drive. He also has initiative and chutzpah, and a fierce jump cut to rival any Hollywood director. So I’m letting him tell his story, his way. Enjoy. Let this be a reminder that smart and creative people everywhere are struggling through this terrible job market.

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Re-unemployment: back in or out of the saddle again http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/01/re-unemployment-back-in-or-out-of-the-saddle-again/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/01/re-unemployment-back-in-or-out-of-the-saddle-again/#comments Thu, 27 Jan 2011 21:29:25 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3209 Re-unemployment: back in or out of the saddle again is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Re-unemployment: back in or out of the saddle again is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged I’m back in the saddle again or, um, out of it. I can’t keep track anymore. My full-time freelance assignment ended this past Friday, and I’m unemployed again. Or am I still self-employed […]]]>
Re-unemployment: back in or out of the saddle again is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Red Dead Redemption Re unemployment: back in or out of the saddle again

Hire me or I'll shoot, but I mean that in the nicest possible way. (courtesy of wikipedia.com)

I’m back in the saddle again or, um, out of it. I can’t keep track anymore. My full-time freelance assignment ended this past Friday, and I’m unemployed again. Or am I still self-employed but without a full-time project? Is there a difference? Does it really matter? Can I go on asking questions like the annoying five-year-old who lived up the block from me when I was a kid? Do you really want me to answer that question? Or that one? Or that one?

It feels like I fell off the proverbial horse, which then kicked me as it trotted away. So let’s go with “out of it,” a phrase that seems to fit like a lasso around my neck. The current job market is similar to the Wild West… catch as catch can, every person for themselves. And sporadic unemployment might be the new reality. Maybe the only solution is to quit looking for full-time work and devote my life to mastering Red Dead Redemption; I’ve already got the horse metaphor thing down. And besides, John Marston, the video game’s main character, is essentially me a hundred years ago.

John is a former outlaw in the early 20th Century Mexican boarder region whose family is held hostage by the government. To secure their freedom, he must act as a bounty hunter and bring the members of his former gang to justice. And he must kick lots of ass.

I like to wear black sometimes, and stole a candy bar from a 7-11 when I was 14. That’s right, straight up gansta, yo. Jackson Heights feels like it borders on the third world. Wifey is a hostage of government largess, paying taxes to avoid charges of tax evasion and maintain her freedom from the tax-collecting man who wants to give her cheaper healthcare and a couple dollars for retirement. The nerve! I hunt for a job, so that she may one day have a little more freedom from the tyranny of the working life. And I, like John Marston, kick lots of ass.

We are brothers from another mother, and another time and dimension. We even look alike, in a ruggedly handsome, don’t-take-no-guff sort of way. Since our experiences and circumstances are so similar, maybe his approach to life could help me in re-unemployment.

Whenever John—himself forced into freelancing by the government—finds himself unemployed, he seeks out potential employers in need of his services. They might be a town sheriff looking to capture some criminals, or a local rancher who needs help rustling some cattle. John always gets hired, and he always gets paid. If anyone or anything gets in his way, he shoots them. The human bodies he then loots; the animal bodies he skins. And the proceeds he spends on supplies or new houses, or gambles away.

My situation is basically the same, albeit a tad more nuanced. The projects that kept me off the streets and in the black for much of 2010 are over. More work could be pending, should the client sign on and the company ask me back. Neither is guaranteed. Some other freelance work is coming, theoretically, and two more inquiries came through this week. What materializes and how much I get paid remain to be seen. But to maximize my chances, I need to remain forceful and aggressively follow up on any opportunities. When I get work, I need to be resourceful in handling it. Then again, maybe the lesson here is to spend more time at the horse track.

As John succeeds, he gets hired for increasingly challenging and better-paying projects. Lassoing wild horses leads to collaborative missions with gravediggers and snake oil salesmen. His freelance projects even take him south of the border to Mexico, to rescue senoritas or hunt down the perfect burrito or something. I’m not that far into the game yet, so I don’t know exactly what happens. John eventually nabs the villains and gets his family back, reaching his larger goal. Then zombies come and ruin it all again. You’ll have to ask wifey—video game player extraordinaire—about the specifics.

Most of my freelance projects only use some of my skills. And that’s fine. I still do the best I can. A job well done sometimes leads to more and better work. But sometimes it just leads to a paycheck. One day I’ll have the perfect job, or at least one that draws on more of my skills. One day I’ll get paid like the marketing gangster I am. But today—two years and three months after losing my last full-time job—isn’t that day. Today I’m just trying to get my foot back in the stirrup before the horse rides away.

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Dressing for a job interview in a bathroom stall http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/01/dressing-for-a-job-interview-in-a-bathroom-stall/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2011/01/dressing-for-a-job-interview-in-a-bathroom-stall/#comments Sun, 09 Jan 2011 15:20:57 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3201 Dressing for a job interview in a bathroom stall is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Dressing for a job interview in a bathroom stall is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged I’ve been looking for full-time work for about two years. My resume is up to date, and can be tweaked at a moment’s notice. My answers to commonly asked questions sit on the […]]]>
Dressing for a job interview in a bathroom stall is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

cirque du soleil Dressing for a job interview in a bathroom stall

Yeah, but can you do this in a bathroom stall, poised over a toilet? (courtesy of connect.in.com)

I’ve been looking for full-time work for about two years. My resume is up to date, and can be tweaked at a moment’s notice. My answers to commonly asked questions sit on the tip of my tongue. And my sincere smile and confident demeanor can be summoned like a spell. This job seeker is ready to interview. But sometimes the hardest part of a job interview has precious little to do with the actual meeting and everything to do with looking the part.

I’ve been freelancing for a company on-site for much of 2010. The dress code is lax—not record-company, I-can’t-believe-your-parents-let-you-out-of-the-house lax—but lax. Jeans and a t-shirt may be fine for work, but they don’t cut it for a job interview. And, of course, most interviews happen during business hours. So the aspiring full-time employee, with dreams of job security and a regular paycheck, has a choice to make. Does he wear a spiffy wool suit to work, sweating on the subway platform, itching all day and enduring the inevitable “got an interview?” question over and over? Or does he bring the suit and change in a bathroom stall? I opted for plan B one fine day this past fall.

My suits and dress shirts and ties are relatively clean and wrinkle-free, not too mention chic and stylish and a whole bunch of other adjectives I found in GQ. And the company that interviewed me is four blocks away from my freelance gig. So I packed up my outfit in a suit bag and lugged it to the office on the subway the morning of. A half hour before the appointed time, I slipped into the bathroom with my clothes. That’s when the fun began.

The bathroom has two stalls, one large and one small. The large one dwarfs some Manhattan apartments. Being wheelchair-accessible, it’s plenty roomy for changing clothes. It even has a hook, which many men’s bathroom stalls don’t for some reason. Maybe I’m just not frequenting the right stalls in the right public bathrooms; maybe I’ve said too much. The large stall was occupied, by someone who sounded (and smelled) like he needed a doctor. So into the small one I went, breathing through my mouth.

The small stall is roughly two feet by four feet in size, and only slightly bigger than some Manhattan apartments. The toilet takes up most of the space, and, like most public toilets, doesn’t have a lid. The stall door won’t close or latch unless the occupant lifts it forcefully with the top of his foot. There is no hook. Though I must admit, the royal blue that adorns the stall walls did have a soothing effect. It lent an air of class to the occasion… low class.

I draped my suit bag over the stall door and stacked the contents of my pockets on the toilet paper dispenser. One false move would land my phone, wallet and keys in the toilet. I turned gently and unzipped the bag. It fell, and I caught it as it hit the floor. No harm done. Holding the bag up with one hand, I took out my shoes with the other. Then I jammed the hanger hooks over the top of the door. The suit bag now hung at a 45-degree angle from the door, making the stall almost two-dimensional.

I replaced my t-shirt with an undershirt and dress shirt and draped the tie around my neck. I sat down on the toilet, took off my jeans and changed my shoes and socks. My performance avoiding the floor with my bare feet would’ve impressed even a Cirque du Soleil recruiter. Clad in a half-buttoned dress shirt, untied dress shoes and tighty whities, I was the picture of hirability. What sane hiring manager wouldn’t employ me on the spot? I considered embracing the look for the interview and going forward in life.

But my discarded sneakers prevented me from actually moving my feet. So I bent over to slide them out of the way, narrowly missing the wall with my head and the toilet bowl water with my tie. A discerning interviewer would probably notice a forehead bruise and wet tie. And any on-the-fly explanation probably wouldn’t, um, fly. Though my headbutting, urinating bum story definitely has potential. We’ll just file that one away for a rainy day.

Catastrophe avoided, I moved on to the pants, which presented an exciting new problem. How does one put on slacks in a bathroom stall without dragging them across the floor? I sat back down, draping them across my lap left to right. I inserted my right foot, pulling my leg all the way through from the bottom of the pants. Then I did the same with my left and stood, cuffs hiked up around my kneecaps. From there, it was all buttoning and tucking and tying and adjusting. Within five minutes, I looked like a million bucks, or at least $12.98.

My acrobatics in the bathroom stall that day would’ve earned me a 10 from the American judge in Olympic competition (9.5 from the East Germans, damn Commies). It could’ve even landed me a sideshow gig the next time Cirque du Soleil plays the Port Authority bus station. At the very least, my amazing display of logistics should’ve got me that full-time job. Alas, the interview just didn’t seem like the place to tout my newfound skills. Nor did I have the foresight to set up a video camera and capture my accomplishment. I didn’t get the job. As they say, hindsight is 20/20.

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The rejection letter… a children’s story http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/11/the-rejection-letter-a-childrens-story/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/11/the-rejection-letter-a-childrens-story/#comments Mon, 29 Nov 2010 13:34:12 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3197 The rejection letter… a children’s story is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

The rejection letter… a children’s story is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged Sit down, boys and girls, and let me tell you a story. It’s about someone you know, or at least someone like someone you know. Let’s call him “Our Hero.” “Superman” is already taken. He lives […]]]>
The rejection letter… a children’s story is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Sit down, boys and girls, and let me tell you a story. It’s about someone you know, or at least someone like someone you know. Let’s call him “Our Hero.” “Superman” is already taken. He lives in the big city. He likes cookies. He dresses in grownup clothes. He rides the subway. He sits at a desk. And he works… for now.

His job is freelance. Many mommies and daddies have jobs like this. If he works, he gets paid. If he doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid. The job doesn’t come with health insurance, which is what he needs to see a doctor when his tummy hurts. And it doesn’t come with a 401K, which makes him think he won’t have to work when he’s old. A freelance job, and the paycheck, can go away at any time. Our Hero wants a full-time job instead. But he likes money and needs more of it now. So he works. And he works. And he works.

One day he’s sitting at his smaaaaall desk in a BIIIIIIIIIG office when his computer makes a noise. “PLUNK!” He has a new email. It’s from someone he doesn’t know. The sender works in the Human Resources department at a company he’s heard of. His mommy always told him to never talk to strangers. Taking candy is fine. Email is okay too, because people who email can be trusted. The sender found Our Hero’s resume on LinkedIn. She wants to hire someone like him. The job is full-time. She sends him a description.

The job is perfect for him. He has every skill the company wants, and some more that they need. He even had the same title at his last full-time job. And that company was just like this company. Ms. HR thinks Our Hero could be a good fit. She wants to talk. They arrange to meet. He’s happy.

The first round of interviews goes well. He meets Ms. HR in person. She is a nice lady with brown hair and a big smile. They get along well. He also meets the person who would be his boss. She is also a nice lady. She is younger than Our Hero, and very smart. They also get along well.

The second round of interviews goes well too. He gets to meet the two men who run the company. They ask lots of good questions. They are very interested in what Our Hero has to say. He asks lots of questions too. He is very interested in what they have to say. The meetings go well.

Ms. HR says that she will call next week. Our Hero has a good feeling. This could be the one. This could be his next job. He tries not to get excited. He thinks about other things, poopy things, such as bills and Republicans. This makes him sad, and then angry. He waits for his phone to ring. What sound does the phone make? No not, “Ring-a-ding ding-y-dong, ring-a-dong ding ding dong.” Our Hero’s phone goes “Bzzzzzz, Bzzzzzz,” like a bumblebee with hiccups. It’s set on vibrate.

Ms. HR doesn’t call, and doesn’t call some more. Our Hero calls her and leaves a message. She doesn’t call back, and doesn’t call back some more. He calls her again a week later and leaves another message. Nothing. Our Hero gives up. He’s sad. The biggest cookie in the WHOOOOOOLE world couldn’t make him happy again.

He calls one last time a week later. “Three is a charm,” his mommy always says. He receives an email later that day. What sound does his computer make? That’s right, “PLUNK!” It’s from Ms. HR. This is what it says…

Dear Nrom,

Thank you for your interest in the XXXXX XXXXX position at XXXXX Company.

Although your experience and accomplishments are excellent, we filled the position with another candidate whose experience and background seemed better matched to our current needs. We invite you to visit our website for continued employment opportunities.

Your interest in XXXXX Company is appreciated. We wish you success in your job search.

Best,

Ms. HR

Our Hero calls his mommy to make sure he’s been spelling his name right all these years. He has. Our Hero tells himself not to take it personally. He does.

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High school reunions come and go, but Saved by the Bell is forever http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/11/high-school-reunions-come-and-go-but-saved-by-the-bell-is-forever/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/11/high-school-reunions-come-and-go-but-saved-by-the-bell-is-forever/#comments Tue, 16 Nov 2010 12:59:34 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3191 High school reunions come and go, but Saved by the Bell is forever is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

High school reunions come and go, but Saved by the Bell is forever is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged Has it really been that long since high school? Am I really that old? I still kind of feel the same, at least after ten hours of sleep and […]]]>
High school reunions come and go, but Saved by the Bell is forever is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

SavedByTheBell pic 253x300 High school reunions come and go, but Saved by the Bell is forever

No Slater, I just want to be friends! (courtesy of www.almightydad.com)

Has it really been that long since high school? Am I really that old? I still kind of feel the same, at least after ten hours of sleep and a couple cups of coffee. I still look about the same, when I wear my mullet wig and sing Def Leppard songs into my hairbrush in the mirror. But it has been that long, and I am that old. That’s why I was in MD a few weeks back for my 20th high school reunion.

That Saturday afternoon, I sat on my dad’s couch watching the Disney Channel and killing time before the the big event. Who could’ve guessed Saved By The Bell would spawn a whole network of beautiful teens running around sanitized, microcosmic worlds making bad jokes? Screech would be so proud, Mr. Belding too. In one episode, restaurant advertising mascots – a hot dog, salad bowl and baked potato, to be specific – have a “food fight.” Get it… food fight? They’re food, and they’re fighting. I stuck my finger in my eye, repeatedly, to stop the pain.

The episode also involves a ping-pong tournament at a school for wizards, located right in the heart of NYC. Given that television is always factually accurate, I was surprised to have never heard of this place. It must be one of those newfangled magnet schools, or magic’s answer to Bronx Science. Regardless, if you ever see a kid in funky glasses and a cloak getting into hijinks and ballyhoo near your apartment, discreetly walk the other way. That kid is a wizard in training. And he might cast a spell that forces you to go back inside and waste your Saturday afternoon.

Next up was the first Harry Potter movie, which had me saying “Harry Potter” to myself in a faux British accent for the next week. Wifey was lucky I wasn’t around enough for her to hear it; she might’ve lost her s**t. All the new Hogwarts students are wide-eyed at this enchanted world where staircases move, pictures talk, feasts appear on tables and magic is everywhere. Two decades ago, about to embark on our lives after high school, we were excited too. The sun is coming up behind the bleachers in my senior class picture, which someone posted on Facebook. We’re laughing and talking and posing. My eyes are closed.

My teen years don’t seem quite as absurd as those of these characters. We wore ridiculous clothes and hairstyles and attempted to woo members of the opposite sex. We told stupid jokes and laughed until tears dripped from our eyes and soda from our noses. We played sports and worked degrading after-school jobs in food service. But it all seemed pretty normal at the time. That’s what teenagers do, or did. And then the ’80s, and the next 20 years, disappeared. Now we’re all older than we ever imagined we could be. And teenagers are these strange, magical beings who are decidedly unfunny.

I carpooled to reunion with a good friend, who, unfortunately, is also unemployed. We’ve both had tenuous job situations these last couple years. He’s had more luck getting interviews; I’ve had more luck getting freelance work. We help each other out, critiquing resumes and websites, exchanging job leads and listening to complaints about how much this whole situation really sucks. Neither of us is where we want to be. But both of us are getting by.

He had a more positive outlook going in. Maybe he just knew that he could get loaded because I was driving. My feelings were a little mixed. Many people I like – or liked once upon a time – would be there, including some who remain good friends to this day. But I’d have to explain, over and over, who I am after 20 years of life. And I didn’t know what to say. Would the truth – or some version of the truth – cut it? Maybe a story of international intrigue and espionage was the way to go. A reunion elevator pitch that summed up things up in pithy little bullet points would’ve come in handy either way.

It didn’t matter anyway. No one seemed to care that much about the specifics; and those who did already knew my tale of woe. The music was so loud that involved conversation was near impossible anyway. My Norm spiel came to me two seconds into my first conversation. It included phrases such as “freelance marketing professional” and “billionaire playboy.” I sprinkled in a few names of current and former employers and exotic locations to add some flavor. Then I flashed a business card showing my face Photoshopped on the Monopoly guy’s body. And that was that. The conversation turned to my classmate, who is a real estate lawyer in Florida, a state hit hard by the economy. She deals with foreclosures day in and day out, which is depressing but also fascinating. My first reunion conversation, and I didn’t even have to feign interest. Personal human suffering caused by a floundering economy is a personal hobby of mine.

Subsequent conversations tended to be similar. Some lasted longer than others. Some meandered and explored a little more. But most were standard and perfunctory, progressing through the five basic stages of reunion discourse…

  1. Pleasantries
  2. My story
  3. Their story
  4. Awkward lull
  5. Excuse to go talk to someone else

I remembered everyone’s name, except for one person’s; I didn’t know him that well. A stolen glance at his name tag saved me from obvious embarrassment. Everyone looked about the same, or at least recognizable. No one had lost a limb or gained 400 pounds. People didn’t even seem “puffy,” which is how wifey describes the look of someone moving into middle age. A few people have fancy jobs, but most have turned out kind of like me.

Life is hard, but I’m working through it. We all are. And things aren’t really that bad. Sometimes we just need the opportunity to step back and take stock. I’m lucky in many respects. The conversations I didn’t want to have that night seemed innocuous by the end. It would’ve been nice to pick up where we left off 20 years ago. But that wasn’t possible. We aren’t those people anymore. The jokes aren’t as funny now as they were then. We don’t wear those costumes anymore. The magic years are gone. But the present is where I want to be, even with all its difficulties.

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Ground Zero for the American Dream http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/10/ground-zero-fo-the-american-dream/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/10/ground-zero-fo-the-american-dream/#comments Sat, 09 Oct 2010 10:30:36 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3189 Ground Zero for the American Dream is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Ground Zero for the American Dream is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged I hate a lot of stuff, or at least it can appear that way to the reader passing through. My cousin suggested over dinner a few weeks back that I change the blog’s name to Hate […]]]>
Ground Zero for the American Dream is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Jackson Heights 2 300x200 Ground Zero for the American Dream

Where did all the white people go? (courtesy of Wikipedia)

I hate a lot of stuff, or at least it can appear that way to the reader passing through. My cousin suggested over dinner a few weeks back that I change the blog’s name to Hate Less and Less. The suggestion didn’t quite make sense; he’s not too bright. But the spirit of the comment resonated with me. Some vitriol comes through in these here pages from time to time.

I never thought of it as hate so much as annoyance. Things irk me. Hard as it is to believe, I’m not perfect… far from it. But I’m basically a nice guy with a positive outlook. I don’t walk the sidewalks scowling at old ladies and kicking small children. Nor do I lambaste random strangers and give them wedgies as they pass by. I could; the world is filled with easy targets and people wearing underwear. But I don’t.

A protracted job search would wear on most people. The daily grind of looking for something so elusive can be overwhelming. Just ask one of the millions who’ve seen their unemployment outlast their unemployment insurance. I’ve managed to supplement government help with freelance and temp work, when I can get it. That’s kept me going. All things considered, I’ve fared pretty well. But maintaining a good attitude is a struggle.

Life is hard for everyone sometimes. But I don’t hate anybody for my problems. What good would it do anyway? It’s not their fault. Besides, there’s already plenty of real hate to overshadow whatever inspires me to hold forth with precise and fluid prose in the hallowed pages of this irreverent and insightful blog. A quick scroll through the TV news channels reveals as much. It’s all talk of mosques and immigration… how foreigners are coming to take our freedoms and our jobs and make us worship Allah and speak Mexican. Election season promises to dial up the hate even more; what better way to show leadership potential than to trash the little guy? I can hardly wait.

A lot of this hate is aimed at my neighbors. Jackson Heights is one of the most diverse neighborhoods in the country, with 100+ different languages spoken, including English, thanks to Wifey and me. The array of cultures is amazing, with every continent represented, including Antarctica. My downstairs neighbors are penguins. I take credit for adding Wasp to this extensive and varied list. Most Saturdays find me strolling the shopping streets in crisp white boating pants, with a popped collar and an Izod sweater tied loosely around my neck, tossing dollar bills over my shoulder as I spew random stock market and nautical terms, such as Dow Jones, capital gains, starboard and, uh, sailboat. I’m proud of my heritage.

Not surprisingly, many of my neighbors are undocumented and/or practice Islam. I don’t know most of them personally. But I see them in line at the store and the bank. I sit next to them in restaurants. I stand behind them on the subway platform. I bump into them on the sidewalk. They’re pretty and ugly. They’re nice and mean. They’re rich and poor. They’re hardworking and lazy. They’re generous and stingy. Every adjective – positive and negative – applies on some level, as it does to every group of people. The people we hate are the same as us. They are us.

So why do we Americans hate ourselves? Where does this self-loathing come from? I wish I knew, so I could give the nation a giant lollipop to allay our national crying fit. There are so many real issues to address, such as the stagnant economy that keeps so many of us un- and under-employed. Instead we go on hating the new guy because he’s different, as we have since the birth of the nation. He threatens to upset the status quo, and slightly change our glorious way of life. And that scares us. We hate because we’re afraid.

I’m scared too. But rather than hate, let me put forth something that I like. I like my neighborhood – Jackson Heights. I like that it’s a true melting pot, in a country that embraces the term yet so rarely achieves the true meaning. I like that it offers an opportunity to people not afforded one before. I like that Jackson Heights is Ground Zero for the American Dream. People from all over the world come here for a chance, and they get it. To hate that is to hate America.

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Jobless and Less, but would prefer more http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/08/jobless-and-less-but-would-prefer-more/ http://www.joblessandless.com/2010/08/jobless-and-less-but-would-prefer-more/#comments Fri, 13 Aug 2010 15:53:20 +0000 http://www.joblessandless.com/?p=3187 Jobless and Less, but would prefer more is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Jobless and Less, but would prefer more is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged Look at me, mom. I’m on TV… again. Okay, so it’s TV via the web. And I’m not the main focus of the segment; that honor goes to Ellen Reeves, author of “Can I Wear […]]]>
Jobless and Less, but would prefer more is a post from: Jobless and Less: The Blog for the Employmentally Challenged

Look at me, mom. I’m on TV… again. Okay, so it’s TV via the web. And I’m not the main focus of the segment; that honor goes to Ellen Reeves, author of “Can I Wear My Nose Ring to the Interview? A Crash Course in Finding, Landing and Keeping Your First Real Job.” But that is me (the devastatingly handsome, not-looking-a-day-over-27, Skyped-in guy on the left). And that is Katie Couric. Maybe you’ve heard of her, or recognize the face. I didn’t, until someone over at CBS contacted the Jobless and Less press department, prompting the VP, Communications to task a Research Assistant with exploring Ms. Couric’s alleged celebrity. She checked out. So I accepted their request to participate in a piece entitled…

Jobless in America

Luckily for them, I’m both jobless and in America. Strange coincidence, wouldn’t you say? I’d like to rectify the “jobless” part (I rather enjoy the “in America” part). Maybe some plight exposure would help. It certainly couldn’t hurt. Or could it? That was one of my questions… does having an unemployment blog, which sets me up as an expert in being unemployed, create a negative impression among potential employers? I’ve been unemployed quite awhile now, freelance assignments notwithstanding. There is the ever-so-slight possibility that I’m doing something wrong. Take a moment to digest the realization that I’m fallible. I’ll wait.

Ms. Reeves informs me that my blog is, in fact, a good thing. Employers will see it as showing initiative and a willingness to learn new skills. They’ll also recognize my attempts to stay active and help other people. The success I’ve had attracting visitors and press will probably help too. Now if only someone would hire me, or knight me. That would be cool. But I’d prefer a job. Or a million dollars, I’d take that… just sayin’.

The Katie Couric segment has already led to one positive development. Ms. Reeves is going to help me reinvent myself, hopefully change me from an unemployment expert/online marketing guru into a job-having expert/online marketing guru. This may involve some or all of the following…

  • Hair and wardrobe changes
  • Resume revamping
  • Fantasy job description (Maybe I’ll finally get to be a warlock with a cloak of invisibility.)
  • Elevator pitch improvement

This is actually a good opportunity, and despite my usual irreverence, I will take it seriously. Stay tuned, fair readers, for more in the continuing saga that is my unemployment. And enjoy the video segment. Ms. Reeves and the Wall Street Journal guy both know what they’re talking about. May they teach you something, or, at least, confirm what you already know.

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