Sunday, March 06, 2005

Back in the Rat Race

After 97 weeks, I am waking up tomorrow to go to work. I think I'm going to vomit.

When I lost my job in April of 2003, I thought I would take the summer off, and then I would start looking for a job hard-core and be employed by September, October at the latest. I was shocked to discover that companies were not knocking on my door, scrambling for my skills. (I was also shocked to discover that someone high up in my company had black balled me from ever working there again.) For months prior to my lay-off, I had interviewed for several similar jobs at my company, always taken aback (Are people ever taken aback any more??) that I was not chosen. I always marked it up to the fact that after 18 years at this company, I cost too much. I took my lay-off (and my severance) with a good attitude and started taking a much-needed break. Twice I was called out for interviews at my old company because others had not figured out that they were not allowed to higher me. By the time we all figured it out, over a year had past, and nothing could be done about it. So I continued to freelance while looking for work.

Hundreds and hundreds of cover letters and resumes later, I finally had a few interviews here and there. I had 2 promising ones at St. Mary's Medical Center only to discover that they never even called my references. It took them 3 weeks to finally write me with their "thanks, but no thanks." In these 2 years, I never did hear from Wash U or Wash U Medical Center or St. Louis University. Or any institution of higher learning. I rarely, if ever, received thank you's or follow up responses to resumes. It's just not the way things are done in the 21st century. So I plugged along. Despite the lack of money, I secretly was getting very used to staying up late, sleeping late, working at my own pace. I loved lunches out and volunteering at church. And offering people any help and my time. I cannot hide it. I loved it.

And then one day I answered this tiny ad in the paper that has caused me to become one of the employed, and I'm about to choke. I have not filled out papers, insurance etc... for 20 years! I've only had 2 other jobs in my life, teacher and editor. I have not woken up in a timely fashion, gotten dressed for work, or driven in traffic in over 97 weeks. What am I going to do tomorrow? We did a practice run tonight, and I fell asleep in the car on the way home. Only someone's grandmother falls asleep in the car during a 20-minute car ride. I'm the woman who took my kids to day care when they were 8 and 12 weeks (respectively).

I keep thinking about the things I forgot to do while I was taking a break. I forgot to take a vacation. (Not that's irony when you have free time but no money for a vacation.) I meant to call the dentist and be able to go any time. I have a hundred projects that I have meant to do if I ever got the time, but I just never did them. If this job came a few weeks, even a few months after my job loss 2 years ago, I would be giddy with excitement. If I chose to change careers, I would be gleefully getting ready for my new job which starts tomorrow. As it is, I have not one ounce of excitement. Fear, maybe. Resentment. Exhaustion. I'm too old for this shit.

I hope the sun isn't in my eyes driving to work or home. And I hope I can fall asleep tonight at a decent time. Haven't done that in ...oh 97 weeks!


At 8:04 AM, Blogger steve said...

I once got a "thanks but no thanks" notice from Ellicot City, Maryland. It was a pink fill-in-the-blank postcard with the "do not meet minimum qualifications" (BULL SHIT!) box filled in. It arrived at the house postage due. It cost me $.23 to find out I was worthless. I've saved it. I know right where it is. When I need a good slab of humble pie (yes it happens periodically) I pull it out and remember how I felt about two minutes after the mailman pocketed my $.23 and walked down the driveway.

Be patient in traffic. Leave early, stay in the slow lane, smile at the assholes. You'll arrive at your destination relaxed and alive!

At 8:06 AM, Blogger steve said...

p.s. I'm feeling much better and am back at work. I don't blame you entirely.


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