by Chuck Wanager
The other day, after I heard the news that the economy may be bouncing back, I was hungry. Good news always makes me hungry. To the refrigerator I went.
I took stock:
- One orange
- One gallon of milk. Still drinkable but half full
- One egg carton with three eggs. One broken
- Two apples in fairly edible condition. One browning on the top
- One can of Coke
- One turkey intended for Thanksgiving 2011.
- Some beef in a couple of plastic-wrapped bowls that I could have eaten if it had been several months earlier and the beef hadn’t spawned beautiful green and blue mold. (They were almost too pretty to dump.)
On my cabinet shelves were a can of tomato soup and some Spaghetti Os my sons brought over so Dad wouldn’t starve. Having finished my bleak inventory, I discovered I wasn’t hungry anymore. Time to get down to it, I thought. I have to find a job.
I was laid off from work as public information officer of a cable company that went belly up last fall. I didn’t see it coming and the loss hit me with a gut-twisting wallop. It battered my self-esteem, and it doesn’t that that at 61, I may be getting a bit too old for this kind of thing. But I haven’t given up. I am determined to find work. I have to if I want to ever replenish my frig.
To conduct a strong job search, they tell you, you have to keep a daily routine, which keeps you busy if you were still working and helps preserve some sense of self worth. My schedule says to rise at 8 a.m., eat and get to work – job search kind of work.
When I get up, though, I face the toughest part of my day. That’s when the reality of joblessness hits anew and anxiety begins to well. You try to remain confident, but the doubts creep in, no matter how hard you try to fight them back. When will I get a job? Can I find another job? How will I find another job? What if I don’t? Sometimes I want to give up.
Exercise helps fight off feelings of defeat. Running, lifting my weights, push ups, which I try to complete before breakfast. Then it’s to the computer, where confidence begins to flow as I zip along a cyber superhighway dotted with Web sites listing jobs, sometimes hundreds of them. What a wonder thing this is, I remind myself. No more sending off letters bearing expensive postage, no more pounding the pavement, if you don’t want to.
In the afternoon, if I’m not working the Internet, I consult the usual sources – the newspaper help-wanted ads and any job leads I have. I work the phone, sometimes making cold calls. Then I check my snail mail, often disappointed to find bills and junk mail.
Sometimes, usually in the afternoon, I head to what’s now called the career center at the local state department of labor office. It has often been very crowded with job seekers this year, but the office is reassuring to me as I view walls line with computers that can bring up pages of jobs and to know people are their to help me.
But many jobs are ones I can’t pursue because I don’t have the training or experience or they are part time or temporary.
In late afternoon, I finish up for the day by writing a letter, reworking a resume or running one last Web check. As I sit in my study with the setting sun filtering through the blinds, I know it is time to close down.
Soon, I tell myself, a job will come. It has to, because outside of my unemployment check, I have managed to survive financially by constant re-negotiations with creditors and some additional income from here and there, but not a lot. That can’t go on forever.
Losing a job is something no one should have to go through. Outside of losing a spouse, it is the worst emotion pain, the experts say. When I lost my job, my self-esteem plummeted. I felt as if I let my kids and myself down. I wonder if they think less of me. I want to hide.
To keep spirits up, I am taking some more advise from the experts. They say work four days a week, setting aside Friday as a day off, a time for you. Not bad. Can’t beat that work week. Friday, I’m heading to Atlanta for some high times.