I spent a little quality time surfing my former associates and “friends” on one of the professional networking sites I belong to. It seems I don’t make good enough use of those tools and don’t leverage myself to the best degree possible.
As I cruised through my past work places, I noticed how many past associates I’d worked with had jobs. They all managed to either retain the jobs they had or get new ones. Most no more than once, but others have hopped a couple of times. They seemed to be moving upward or at least laterally in their careers, and they kept a steady income stream flowing while they migrated from one position to another.
For a moment, I smiled to myself and wondered how they were doing, whether I should reach out to some of them or not, whether they’d be interested in making a renewed connection. Then I started wondering how many of them even remember me, how many could recall my face even if they recalled the name.
And I wondered how I’d answer the “how’s it going for you?” question which would inevitably follow the brief greetings. These are people with whom my only connection was a workplace. It’s unfathomable how fragile that connection is until it’s not there. People you thought you were close to suddenly seem very strange and new – sometimes uninteresting – when removed from the common context (or enemy) of the workplace.
It occurs to me now that they’d snicker behind their hands at me if they could see me. I’m heavier than I’ve ever been. I’m unshaven, wandering around in our home playing “writer” with a freelance authoring gig which isn’t going to sustain me, and I’ve been on unemployment for longer than anyone – me included – ever imagined I’d be. They’d perk their brows and wonder what’s wrong with me that I’m still out of work, haven’t been offered at least a contract position if nothing full-time, when all of them have their secure positions and benefits and paychecks.
I’ve wondered that same thing myself. What IS wrong with me? Why CAN’T I get a job?
I realized, looking over one profile after another, that I don’t have the answer to that question. I do what I think I can to get myself into the best position to be offered a job. I hear all about the “recovery” happening everywhere. I see others getting jobs and they’re not spending literally YEARS out of work. I see them snatched up and employed almost at will, and I sit and wonder: Why can’t I do that? What’s wrong with me that no one seems to want me?
I know my technical savvy’s not what it used to be, and I can’t do much about that right now (money). I can’t change horses mid-stream even though this seems like the perfect opportunity to do so (income requirements – money again). I can’t take a deep pay cut to get a job (guess what? right, money again). So I’m almost trapped into doing what I do for a fixed salary which isn’t a draw to a lot of companies, and can’t do much about that right now.
“Right now” seems to be interminable where my circumstances are concerned.
The story seems to end, if I draw this line of reasoning out, with my wife and kids living in either a homeless shelter or with friends of hers if we can get them there, and with me living in the car trying to find work by pounding the pavement the way things were done in the 60s and 70s. Funny, but I never imagined that would be how things ended for me, but lately, I’m having a harder and harder time getting away from it. My few prospects come far between, and they dry up as quickly as spit on a hot sidewalk. When they evaporate they don’t leave a residue of hopefulness behind; only a stain of disappointment.
But maybe the story doesn’t end there. Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye, and maybe there’s something just around the corner. I can’t tell you what the weather will be like in an hour, never mind my life, so there’s no surprise in recognizing that somewhere beyond my field of vision, which is limited to the end of my nose (for more of us than would admit it), perhaps there’s a change of fortune. Perhaps out there is a chance, MY chance, the one chance I’ve been praying and hoping for.
No, maybe this isn’ t how the story ends. Maybe this story has an epilogue with a happy twist.