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452 and Counting . . .

October 2011
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The Gospel of John

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Penetrating the Darkness

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This post might seem a bit brutal, but then so is the unemployment situation in this country. If you’re the least bit squeamish about the topic of unemployment, you may want to pass. Otherwise, read on….

As most of you know if you’ve read my previous posts, I am now at the two and a half year mark from when I lost my job that lead into this very long time of unemployment. There are millions and millions and MILLIONS of us who are now considered “long term” unemployed and there doesn’t appear to be any end in sight. And the politicians in Washington D.C. don’t have a clue how to fix it. Does anybody?

I’m a little tired of being unemployed, not to mention broke, too. While I normally have a great (albeit sometimes sardonic) sense of humor, I find no humor in this situation anymore. And yes, I am a Christian and I know that God is still in control, but I am also human and He does understand my frustration level (and if you don’t believe that, just read a few of the Psalms David wrote in the Bible).

Last week one of my favorite humor columnists who writes a weekly syndicated column titled “Work Daze” wrote an article on Human Resources titled “Human Resources, You Serious?” Now, mind you, just the day before this column came out I had been on an interview (my last interview was ten months previous) and while the interview was great, I knew I would not be hearing back from them because I just didn’t quite fit the niche they were looking for in a candidate. This lead to a tiny bout of frustration and anger that evening regarding the whole reason I was unemployed in the first place (having to do with my former boss and the HR Department at the only place in the past one hundred years that I’ve ever been fired from). I woke up at 5:00 a.m. the next day crying from unbelievable frustration when I decided to check my email and found the latest offering from “Work Daze” which was on the topic of why you should never (repeat, NEVER) go to HR for help if you have a problem at work. You can read the article for yourself at the link highlighted above or by clicking here.

Since this author extended a “virtual shoulder to cry on,” I decided to take him up on it as I needed an outlet for my very acute frustration at being unemployed for two and a half years and going nowhere fast in a horrible economy. I have corrected a few typos in the original email (well, it was 6:00 a.m. when I began writing it) and I’ve since edited it and here is the essence of what I wrote:

“You are so right on with your current article about the HR Department.  Bottom line is this… if you’ve got a problem that’s serious enough that you think you need to talk to HR, you’re (probably) already screwed, so you might as well join the ever growing unemployment line or if you’re really, really lucky, find another job.

“Mind if I cry on your shoulder?  Five minutes, tops… I promise.  I had an interview yesterday (gee, the last interview I had was ten months ago if that tells you anything)–oh, and I’ve now been unemployed for almost two and a half years due to an unfortunate experience between my boss and the HR department at the only place I’ve ever been fired in, let’s say, about a hundred years. However, they are both still employed, but I’m digressing….

“Back to the interview… the actual interview was delightful. I actually got to talk with a guy who knows the business I’ve been in for the past 20 years. It’s rare anymore that I ever get to talk with anybody who knows the business I’ve been in (higher education). In fact, I get so lonely wanting to talk with people who know the same things I know about the work that I’ve done that after the interview was over, I wanted to ask him if I could take him out to lunch (Wendy’s, of course, as I’m running out of money) so we could continue talking. I don’t know, maybe I’m just too lonely in the job search after two and a half years. Of course, I don’t fit the particular niche they are looking for in a candidate (e.g. able to leap tall buildings while downloading the latest app into their cell phone so they can play on it during work time–HR doesn’t mind if you do those kinds of things because you’re not “complaining” about a particular problem like ethics in the workplace or something as mundane as that). But, back to the interview (again), he was smart, funny, in my age range, easy on the eyes (well, I may be 59 but I’m not dead yet), and didn’t treat me like a moron. I really liked the guy. He knows a side to higher education I’ve never been able to access (you know, the top level). When I’ve tried to advance I not only hit the proverbial glass ceiling I bounced back down and got stomped on by those more, well, let’s say “in tune” with HR or whoever calls the shots. Actually, I hate to come down too hard on HR Departments as most of my life other then initially getting employed and sometimes attending training sessions that they require, I haven’t needed them… until the last job that has left me unemployed for the past two and a half years. And that fact alone should scare the crap about of anybody who thinks the HR Department is going to help them if they have a problem.

“All right, it’s true, my brutal side is coming out (I woke up at 5:00 a.m. this morning crying in my soup and we all know 5:00 a.m. is way too early for soup). And, it will probably be another ten months before someone calls me for another interview (by that time I’ll be living under a palm tree without a palm pilot) who will only tell me I just don’t know how to download apps fast enough into my cell phone while leaping from their tall building to the empty lot next door. But let them be unemployed for two and a half years in the worst economy of our lifetime and see how they adjust.

“And if I hear one more employed person say to me, ‘So, what have you been doing all this time since you lost your last job?’ I’m going to email them the 32-page document I’ve kept on all 452 jobs I’ve applied for in higher education along with a virus so it will blow up their laptop, iPad, or anything else they use to access it. Yeah, I like that idea. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make me any closer to finding employment or bringing home any money.

“Anyway, your article on the HR Department was very well timed and provided the humor I needed after another depressing interview that is going nowhere. Maybe I should move to a different planet… one that doesn’t require money to survive or HR Departments or (mean) managers.

“And the beat goes on for yet another day (it’s now 7:00 a.m. and that soup is very, very cold–but at least the tears have stopped). Thanks again.”

It never ceases to amaze me at how employed people who haven’t struggled with being unemployed in the past three plus years don’t have a clue at how really, really awful this economy is and how absolutely horrible the unemployment crisis is in this country unless they personally know someone who has been unemployed or if they work with the unemployed.

To all of the employers out there a little compassion and understanding towards the unemployed would go a long, long way (my “Golden Rule” post goes into that topic) when interviewing anyone who has been unemployed in this current economy. And for those employers who refuse to consider unemployed applicants (which I think is illegal and if it isn’t it should be) just remember it could eventually be you standing in the unemployment line if someone can’t get this economy turned around. And please remember that for those of us who have been diligently seeking work the entire time we’ve been unemployed, it’s an insult to be asked “So what have you been doing all this time since your last job” (and remember that your nonverbal communication shouts at us how you really feel) and treated as if we are lazy and living off our unemployment benefits until they run out (as if we’re waiting for that money–gee, all of $275/wk in Florida before taxes–to run out before seeking employment). Here’s a notice for you–my unemployment benefits ran out FIVE MONTHS AGO and I’m still no closer to a job then I was when this horrible time of unemployment began.

While I didn’t get the job I interviewed for last week, I’m not going to stop looking. In fact, this past Saturday I applied online for my 453rd job. Who knows, maybe this one will finally be the one, but if it’s not, God is still in control, and He understands my frustration along with the frustration of the other 14-21 million unemployed Americans out there.

“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in Your ledger, each ache written in Your book” (Psalm 56:8 MSG).

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Banner photo credit here
“137,000 Jobs Vanish” photo credit here

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