The Void: Jobless Blues
Copyright © by Dan Schneider, 10/9/04
Iíve been unemployed over a year now. Fortunately, my wife secured work a few months back & we are doing ok. Still, there is a great deal of frustration & anger. I get sick & tired of people euphemizing how terrible things are economically. It doesnít matter if corporate profits are up if there are no jobs- especially decent, if not good- 1s being created.
Hereís my situation. In 2002 I was basically forced to seek other employment after being retaliated against my then-employer AT&T for whistleblowing about their worse than Worldcom scams. Luckily, I got a civil service job with Hennepin County in Minnesota. Unfortunately, I was let go from that job after about 8 months because I had gotten on the shitlist of a superior who didnít like the fact that I suggested many ways to improve their wasteful & unethical practices- at the behest of a direct superior. When time to trim budgets came- guess what? I was trimmed. I did some temp work until I left Minnesota late last year, then applied around a few months to civil service jobs in the Texas area where we moved. When Jessica got a job I decided Iíd concentrate on finishing my 4 book memoir series. Recently finishing that Iíve been decidedly frustrated in my renewed job search.
When I 1st moved to Minnesota from New York City in 1991 (during Bush 1ís Depression) I had minimal job experience & skills. But, in a metro area of about 1.5 million there were about 20-30 pages of want ads in the Sunday Minneapolis Star-Tribune. I applied around, & when interviewed there were still interviewers who conversed with you, rather than reading form questions off cue cards, & maybe 8-10 people being interviewed for the job. 13 years later (during Bush 2ís Depression) old fashioned Personnel Departments have become Human Resource Departments; which is now a science- resulting in people hiring for jobs they are clueless of in businesses they have a vague idea about. They have no ability to judge character, & stuff your replies into computers. Not to mention that there are now 20-50 applicants for every position. In the local paper there are literally only 3-5 pages of want ads in a metro area that is almost identical in size to the Twin Cities. All this for jobs that pay perhaps $10/hr, with meager benefits.
Temp work is worse. I really donít wanna go back to phone work, but may have no choice. I got onto a hiring list for AT&T Wireless (a separate company from AT&T) few weeks back, but have yet to be called. I call up on jobs that I applied to & many wonít tell any information about the company nor job. Yet, these companies want loyalty & gray subservience. The truth is I both want to work & not work. I want to work so I can put Minnesota behind me & get on to that part of my life when I can get my memoirs published, & push their sales, so hopefully Iíll be able to support myself & Jess with just writing. Itís an utter waste of my talent to merely be a file clerk, phone rep, or the like. Just the other day I applied for a parttime job at a supermarket, with a sign in its window. When I went in I was told the manager wasnít there but to apply online- for a lousy parttime job at a supermarket! This isnít rocket science! To be subject to the gross idiocies of day-to-day life frustrates. I want to be able to write poems, essays, non-fiction books on issues I bring unique perspectives to, etc. I can only do that if I can write fulltime. Thinking of all the college tenured professors who cannot write a damn, yet have all the time in the world galls.
I think, 2-3 years ago things were ok- not great, but ok, & in 2-3 years thingsíll be ok again. But, this time, I wanna get out of the cycle- remove myself from the vagaries of morons & self-serving hypocrites. To do so requires power- & this is why I did not waste my time the bulk of this year, & completed all my memoirs. This is no self-reflexive whine. I am not some deluded toenail-sucking depressive who thinks heís the next Van Gogh. Just read the poems, memoirs, etc. Imagine Wallace Stevens cleaning toilets to scrape by, or Albert Einstein on an ice cream truck route soliciting sweaty children for quarters.Regardless, life has taught me the shark philosophy- just keep moving & things will happen. The sooner this is behind me the sooner Iíll have the time to have some small effect with my writing. Powerlessness is the worst aspect of things- to be dependent upon some 23 year old HR moron whose idea of discernment derives from video game kills troubles. Hopefully Iíll 1 day be able to write A few years ago, when I was.... & laugh. But now, it merely galls. My work experience is vast, my attendance impeccable, my abilities nonpareil, yet Iím told daily Iím not worth a damn. While I know thatís bullshit the fact that othersí opinions do affect your ability to improve your lot leaves me sad, for most people lack vision, drive, & discernment. If they did youíd be reading this in a book, not my website right now. But, if you are reading this in a book, years from now, let me say- do not waver. Sometimes excellence is rewarded. Time does tell. What it says is why we keep going.
Return to Bylines