Thursday, July 12, 2007

Unemployment Blues

Child, you simply have not lived until you've been unemployed in Cincinnati.

Filing for unemployment is easy. Getting it and keeping there's a challenge. It seems a couple of the temp agencies I used to work for actually challenged the fact that I deserved my meager $190 a week unemployment check.

What the hell can I possibly do with $190 a week except fall behind on all my obligations? That and lie. You lie a lot when you get unemployment. No I am not self-employed except for my bootleg cab driving and sideline desktop publishing business. No I do not live with anyone - I am renting my bedroom apartment from my mother and Ye Old Matey...we're not married and for the first time I'm really glad because they probably wouldn't give me a penny if they counted his income.

Yes, this is my life. Trolling by Kroger and Aldi and every street in between asking, "Do you want a ride?" to anyone with more than two plastic shopping bags headed for a bus stop. I pray for hot days and rain and women with children or old ladies who are willing to pay $5 to get out of the rain and into a car. I know that I am a lot safer to them than a lot of the men who hang out in every grocery store parking lot doing the same thing I'm doing.

Four weeks ago, I finally broke down and went to the orientation they give down at SuperJobs. It's supposed to tell you how to hook up with their services. There were 75 of the nicest dressed black folks you ever wanted to see in that room. There were only 3 white people and only two of them were there for jobs, and both were visibly injured (which is kind of scary because what kind of hellish job tosses you out over a job-related injury. Frightening indeed). The orientation reminded me of an interview that I went on once where I knew I wasn't going to get the job because the only other two black people there were the janitor and the security guard.

I made an appointment to talk to a career coach but even after the two-week wait, there just wasn't much she could do for me. I'm not a displaced worker, so I'm not eligible for additional training, not even two lousy years at Cincinnati State for this Multi-media and Web Design course I'm dying to take and would fit under their category of Jobs in Demand: Technology.

I already know how to write a resume, do a job search via the paper and computer. That left only my interview skills, so she referred me to their interview skills guy and told me to come back and chat with her after my appointment with him. I lost his number on the way home after picking up a few "trips" driving folks, so I'll have to call her and let her know that I did actually get an interview.

Yep, after five weeks of sending out my resume, I actually had a job interview yesterday. I almost didn't recognize myself in the mirror in job interview dressed up business casual, with make up and lip gloss. It had been so long since I had actually been in an office that wasn't the corner of my bedroom, everything I owned from my old administrative assistant life was either in the back of the closet or on the floor of the closet.

My interviewer was "tied up" and running behind by about 25 minutes. By the time she met me I must have smelled like a candy factory. My perfume was vanilla, my lip gloss was raspberry and I had been popping peppermints like they were going out of style due to sheer nervousness.

Still, I think the interview went well and if they give me the job, I am confident that I can do well. My experience and skills match the job they're offering perfectly, but I was the first interview she had scheduled that day. Outside, I was all professional and confident and smiles but inside I felt like the Donkey in
Shrek, jumping up and down shouting, "Pick me! Pick me!"

After the interview, I went back out to the parking garage. I forgot to ask if they validate and that was a $6 mistake that cut into my grocery money, not to mention gas was a whopping $3.27 per gallon that day. Don't ever let anyone tell you job hunting is cheap.

The view from the parking garage was very pretty and I decided to drive to the top and take pictures. At the top of the garage, in addition to the lovely view, there was a very nice man practicing the bagpipes. He said he practiced there because it killed the noise factor and he was right. With sounds of traffic pouring in, I hadn't heard him at all from the floor I was parked on - even from a few feet away it was faint and pleasant.

I told Me Mum I saw a man playing bagpipes at the top of the parking garage and she thought I'd gone around the unemployment depression bend. I figured you might think I'd gone round the twist as well which is why I'm glad I took the above picture.

So I took the loveliest pictures of the city while listening to heartrending strains of Auld Lang Syne and Amazing Grace.

It made for a lovely end to my morning.

Darn, I want that job.


  1. Don't let unemployment find out you're making a few bucks on the side. It'll be deducted from your check. It's not a pleasant thing to lie to unemployment. You could find yourself in Court, having to pay back every last penny. Same with welfare fraud.

    The stores at new Meijer/JC Penney's plaza on Colerain near I-275 is hiring. We're not talking just stockers, cart corralers. They need back office people, loss prevention, etc., something that pays a bit better than marginal.

    There's plenty of jobs out there. One word of advice - ditch the vanilla "perfume" fragrance. Your next interviewer may have horrific allergies & you won't make the cut!

    You also need to be careful with the "business casual" threads, too. That sort of attire is OK after you get the job, not before.

  2. a) I know. As long as you don't dime me out, I should be ok.

    b) I already applied there.

    c) The vanilla scent is very, very light and it beats Cincinnati smog/heat/sweat any day. How do I know it's light? It's the only perfume on the planet that doesn't trigger my migraines from "louder" scents. I had more to worry about from the lip gloss and peppermints than the perfume.

    d) I was dressed very appropriately for this job interview. My shoes matched my bag and everything. I promise.

    There's plenty of jobs out there.

    Really? Wow. I didn't know that. However I'd like to find one with benefits and preferably tuition reimbursement. That's not temp to hire or until the next round of layoffs and where diversity is more than just the buzzword du jour.

    They're not just interviewing me, hon, I'm most definitely interviewing them.

  3. Anon 3:54 is on the mark here. There's plenty of career opportunities with all the benefits if one has a solid game presentation. You need to "interview" the company before you submit your resume & get an interview, to see if they're a good match for you. Then you present your solid, proven track to them so they can "interview" you.

    Allergies are an entirely different path than migraines. Some fragrances cause very threatening reactions in people with allergic conditons. A neutral bath powder will solve the Summertime conditions. Some companies have put the brakes on colognes, "perfumes", & after shaves.

    Diversity - buzzword du jour? There are very few companies in Cincinnati that promote & foster true diversity. The offices & plants just have a bunch of black & white people in them. That isn't diversity. I'm very fortunate to have an employer who has a United Nations of people in the place. It's been a wonderful ### of years. I wouldn't trade it in for what is now pseudo-diversity.

    BTW, you could take a hint from Anon 3:54. A black or blue skirt properly fitted with a conservative blouse and a jacket or sweater will make a much better impression. If you have hard-hitting, proven skills & a solid track record, you'll want your dress to reflect that.

    There's any number of reasons that you're getting passed over & I suspect it isn't the color of your skin. It's time to take serious stock & inventory.


Everyone on the planet but NoSlappz is welcome to post a comment here.