Iím No Steinbeck, But Sometimes I Feel Like A Joad

A while ago after a reality-check conversation with a friend of mine I started job-hunting anew. Instead of my never-ending quest for yet another admin job I decided to just get any job. First I went to a local store of a coffee shop chain and talked to a really nice manager lady who had me fill out an application and promised to forward it on to the person doing the hiring for the whole area. The bad news was that this particular store (in my city) was in fact totally overstaffed.

     Okay so not an especially auspicious beginning but still I felt positive. I mean filling out that application did get me out of the house. All this Internet job-search stuff was starting to get to me. Buoyed up by what had been a generally positive experience I decided to try my luck at a recently opened restaurant. After driving around the block twice before I could find a place to park, I screwed up my courage and went into the restaurant.

     Walking through the door of the restaurant I glanced around at the set-up. The hostess desk was empty so I headed over to the bar. The bartender was busy and so I turned to a girl who was leaning against the bar in a waitress uniform. I plastered on my smile and asked, ďAre you guys hiring?Ē This girl looks at me with this totally sullen expression on her face and says, ďIím not the manager.Ē So I asked her who was the manager and she pointed him out.

     ďWhat the hell,Ē I thought. So went up to the manager and told him that I had come here looking for a job and that this snooty little brat was totally bitchy to me and in addition she appeared to be a little slow. The manager was so upset by her behavior that he fired her on the spot and hired me to take her place.

     Okay, thatís a lie. I asked about a job, he told me that they werenít hiring and I slunk away to my car. You have to admit that the other way does make a better story. Once again defeated, I began to think that maybe this whole Internet job hunt thing wasnít so bad after all. 

     This experience made me think about something else Iíve noticed, both on the message boards and in real life. People with jobs donít seem to like those of us who donít have them. Maybe it isnít dislike as much as a desire to distance themselves from us. If they looked at me and saw someone who was like them, who for no real reason other than bad luck was unemployed, they would have to admit it could happen to them.

I understand why we make some people nervous, but do they have to be so bitter to us?  Sometimes I get treated like they think I have SARS or some other hideously communicable disease.  How dare I be unemployed? Oh my gosh, that just ruined their perfect day.  After all, who wants to deal with the hoi polloi? 

     All right so maybe Iím being a bit harsh, but I do feel that way sometimes. Like I have this horrible disease called unemployment. No one wants to be around me because theyíre afraid poverty might be contagious. Iím the Oakie of the new economy. I havenít gotten lucky yet, but Iím still wandering down the Great Road in search of my American dream.



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