Category Archives: employment

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

I’m now entering what Sir Alex Ferguson, one time manager of Manchester United Football Club once famously described as “Squeaky bum time”. You see, ever since early February, when my hours were cut in half, I’ve been living on borrowed financial time. When working 40 hours a week I was earning enough to cover my bills and leave a bit over, sometimes, at the end of the month. Not so now. I did a quick calculation and as things stand at present, I will have to move out at the end of April.

I’m applying for jobs like crazy to no avail, I’ve sold my wedding and eternity rings, cashed in all my change and cut my spending to a bare minimum. I’m living off what I have in the fridge and pantry and with the exception of essentials, only  buy food for the kids. All this is not really going to help, but what are my options? I will have to find some way of paying for a storage unit and keeping gas in the car, but how long can I keep that up? My job contract runs through August, but if I’m living in the car – which is a very real possibility – how long can I keep it? If I lose the job, the situation becomes exponentially worse, and I don’t see someone like me lasting long on the streets.

I’m 52 and in fairly reasonable health, but without my meds, I’m sure to go into a tailspin. Those of you who knew me at school will attest to the fact that the un-medicated NWSD is not the kind of person who can cope, even when well fed and housed.To make matters worse, it means that I will lose contact with the kids. I can’t spend time with them if all I have is the car and nowhere to take them. I won’t have access to laundry or washing facilities, and having worked downtown, I know how quickly people deteriorate without access to basic services.

Unless I can find a job by the end of March, I am royally fucked. Seriously, this is an existential crisis that shows no sign of resolving itself in any kind of positive way. I don’t have a social network on which I can fall back, and I’m by no means certain that my sweetie will be willing to take me in until I can get a decent paying job and get a place of my own again. I would hope that she would, but if she took me in and I didn’t find a job before the money ran out, there’s no way she could support both of us on her wages.

Just writing this is making me depressed, so I am going to sign off now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under employment, family, mental health, unemployment

Ain’t That A Kick In The Head.

For the last couple of months I’ve been gainfully employed at a downtown insurance company. I work in the Agent Communications department, where I turn templates of articles into web pages for the Agent News bulletin, copy edit and proofread articles, upload videos, and update the homepage amongst other things. The job is more engaging and informative than you might imagine. Like most people, I regarded insurance as both essential and incredibly boring, but as a result of reading many  articles and transcribing interviews, I’ve learned that there is much in the industry that goes unnoticed. Fear not, I’m not going to bore you.

The office is on the 16th floor and surpasses many of my previous places of employment by having windows. In the interest of ergonomics I have an adjustable desk that gives me the option of standing, should I so desire. Being a lazy bastard I never understood why someone would stand when they could sit, but having tried it, I really appreciate the option. Standing also affords me the opportunity of admiring the view: If I look straight ahead, I can see the Sound and the various vessels plying their trade. To  my left I can see what was once the tallest building on the west coast and the baseball stadium. Between these lies a view of the dockside cranes and docked container ships. Funnily, though, I have yet to see any containers being loaded or unloaded.

I’ve enjoyed the routine of the commute, dressing in something other than tee shirt and jeans and being around other people, particularly people who are interesting, intelligent and who actually talk – I think I mentioned during the entire 12 months at my previous job, there were two co workers who NEVER talked to me. Not one word, despite seeing them on a daily basis.

The swag has been much better as well. My last place had nothing better than cheap shopping bags that were one grade above disposable and crappy earbuds with the acoustic quality of  a soup can telephone. Not long after I joined the department, a major relocation took place – we all had to move to different cubicles to allow for the arrival of staff from two other floors undergoing refurbishment. This also meant the loss of some storage space. Our location was occupied previously by the Marketing team, who simply abandoned all their stuff when they were laid off.  As a result, in the space of a week I scored two portable speakers, one of which is Bluetooth enabled, a tote bag with a built-in speaker (yes, that’s a thing), a picnic cooler in the style of a backpack, an official U.S. Men’s Olmpic ice hockey team shirt, a scarf, a travel mug, a signed photo of Kelsey Keller and good quality earbuds.  Not bad, eh? Mind you, our unofficial family motto is “If ever you are offered something for nothing, take it. And what you can’t carry, you drag”, so none of you should be surprised by my eagerness to haul away as much buckshee merch as possible.

Now for the flip side. Early last week I received an email from the agency that found me the job which opened with the greeting”All is fine!” It informed me that due to a reduction in  funding  for support staff in the 2017 budget, starting in mid January my hours would be cut by 50 percent. This is some strange meaning of “fine” that I’ve never heard before.  You can imagine my consternation. Rather than walking away, I agreed to stay on for the remainder of my contract, as any money is better than none.

Not all was lost, though. My supervisor offered me the option of working from home, which would save me the expense of commuting and also the need to wear trousers during the day. Of course, I accepted her offer, although the cut in hours felt more like being laid off than anything else. You can imagine my distress at the change in circumstances as I really enjoy the environment in the office. My colleagues are all very charming people, the free coffee is drinkable and there is a genuine sense of teamwork.

My first day working from home is election day, and that’s probably a good thing, as I don’t fancy having to dodge flying bricks, automatic gunfire and Molotov cocktails as Trump’s supporters react to the inevitable defeat of their beloved Fuehrer.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for post – apocalyptic urban hellscapes as long as they’re in the movies and not a part of my commute.

Of course, my changed circumstances do have an upside: I can start looking for another job while working, and my supervisor has told me that she understands absolutely if I need time to attend interviews, etc. Twenty hours a week doesn’t even cover the rent, but at least I have some forewarning, my resume is up to date and the received wisdom is that it’s easier to find a job when you have a job.  I just hope I remember to put trousers on before I head off to an interview.

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Filed under employment, Politics, unemployment

Welcome To The Working Week.

As my regular readers ( both of them) will know, I have been out of work since being laid off in February. It was a crappy, pointless, boring job that didn’t even cover my costs, so to some extent I wasn’t too bothered, but the lack of money was a pain. Of course, after a couple of days recovering and catching up on sleep I began the slog of looking for another job. What? You thought I spent the entire time drinking cheap beer, playing video games and jerking off to online porn? No bloody way. I don’t drink cheap beer.

The modern job search has it’s advantages – there are plenty of websites that list huge numbers of jobs, resumes can be emailed,  application forms can be autofilled and job descriptions copied and pasted into Word. It’s all a hell of a lot easier than looking through the paper and mailing out printed applications.

Despite all my effort, interviews were few and far between. I think that this may have been due to my somewhat unconventional employment history. You see, for many years I was a stay at home Dad, with a period of being a Realtor thrown in. Going to business school didn’t do me much good on the career front either, as most jobs for which I am qualified required three to five years of industry experience.

Do you know how frustrating it is to apply for a job which you know damn well you could do if just given the opportunity? It would turn the Dalai Lama into the Incredible Hulk in about a week.

The thing I disliked the most was the telephone interview. At the best of times it is difficult for me to judge how people are reacting ( see “I’m Coming Out”). On the phone this is impossible, so very few of these calls turned into in-person interviews. A couple did, however. One in particular seemed like a gift from on high. I was an Executive Assistant position for a commercial Realtor. The interview lasted a full hour, and we seemed to get on really well. She was a woman for whom it would have been a pleasure to work – funny, easy going, sharp as a needle. I had the exact skill set needed and felt really confident that I was in with a very good chance. When the call didn’t materialise on the Tuesday following the interview I knew it wasn’t to be. This was confirmed the following day when I got a call to say that I’d missed out by the narrowest of margins and that the other person had accepted the position.

I’m not a malicious person, but I found myself wishing physical harm on the person who beat me, so down was I about missing out on what was essentially my dream job. So, back to the grind it was. This went on for a few more weeks until I got another phone interview. I only found out about the job because it was forwarded to me by an agent at a placement agency who had trawled my resume from the online pool. I gave it my best shot, but didn’t get my hopes up. Surprisingly I was invited in for an interview with the woman who had talked with me over the phone and another person. This meant two 30 minute sessions, so as you can imagine, I was running on fumes by the time it was over.

I felt fairly confident, and even said so to my sweetie afterwards, but the score is Hope 0, Experience 6.8 million, so I didn’t think too much of it, especially as they said that they had some other people to interview and would be making a decision some time the following week (the interview was on a Thursday). Imagine my surprise on the following Monday morning when I learned via email that I’d been offered the job. Of course, I accepted on the spot. The next two days were a flurry of form filling, clothes sorting and housework as I prepared for my change of pace.

The downside of all this was that I had to drop out of our planned trip to San Francisco to celebrate my Sweetie’s birthday. A real disappointment, as you can imagine. She had to go on her own, but considering the circumstances, it was a price worth paying. Tomorrow is the big day. I jump back into the routine of the commute and the stress of learning a new job from scratch and proving that I can get up to speed quickly. I will admit to more than a little apprehension about the new job, as I will have to get to know a whole new set of coworkers and potential friends. Mind you, look on the downside – they have to get to know me!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Career Opportunities.

One of the long running themes of this blog has been my lack of gainful employment and the search thereof. Well, things have changed. About three weeks ago I was looking through Craig’s List on one of my regular job hunting days and found a few positions worth wasting electrons on and duly applied. Imagine my surprise when later that day I received a call asking if I’d be interested in an interview which we set up for two days later. The interview went well, I thought as I turned on the charm and put on my best accent, but even so, it came as a bit of a shock to be offered the job that very same day and started the following Tuesday immediately after Martin Luther King Day.

How big is your office? How many people are you managing? What are your team members like?    I hear you say. Well, don’t. To be honest it’s a pretty basic job with a paycheque to match, but at least it has a good health plan and a reasonable amount of PTO. The other pluses are that it is just a 15 minute walk from the boat so I don’t have to worry about commuting or being late, and as I work 7:30 – 4:00 I am home at a reasonable hour, although having to get up at 4:45 is a bit of a pain. I don’t mind getting up that early for the football, but it is taking me quite a while to get used to doing so on a daily basis. The funny thing is that the 6:20 boat is the same one I used to get when I worked in the city many years ago, but seeing as I can get up later than in those days and can get to bed by 10.pm it isn’t as bad as it could be.

You may be wondering why I accepted such a low level position when I have the paper qualifications for something much better. Well, it’s all that was available. I’ve been trying for a hell of a long time to get some sort of job, but to no avail. At least now that I have a job it will be easier to get another one, although I will have to put in a few months at least here before I start looking round for something else.  Another thing is that a job doesn’t just provide a paycheque. It also provides an identity, a community and an underlying organising principle: I’ve had too long being on my own in the house with no real schedule once the morning is through, and it is rather pleasing to be able to wear a nicely ironed work shirt and Dockers again after all these years. Yes, I know it’s not much but at least it gets me out of the house and among other people.

Spending too much time alone in your own head can be both debilitating and self destructive: there were days when if I didn’t go to the gym I’d have no contact with another living soul and wouldn’t even step out of the front door, so being on a regular schedule has been good for me. The people in the office, whilst rather quiet are all pretty friendly, at least the ones who have spoken to me, and it makes a difference not to have a constant background noise burrowing into one’s brain.   Having said that, though, construction on a new hotel is underway just  a block to the south and they are in the middle of sinking the piles for the building at a rate of anything up to 10 a day. The effect is rather like having a hangover without the benefit of the previous night’s revelry, or for the more erudite among you it is like being on the set of  Ace In The Hole. 

If there is another down side it is that by the time I get home I have barely the time, let alone the energy to do any housework so my home is slowly degenerating into the state usually associated with single guys. I do get some time at the weekends, but seeing as most of them are spent either at my Sweetie’s house or with the kids even they don’t give me a lot of time. Still, it beats the alternative.

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