Umemployment…

is for the birds. I’ve been unemployed now since February 17th. It’s been almost five weeks. I get interviews – the last company I interviewed with I had three interviews, meeting a broad sampling of employees, up to and including the CEO. The CEO thought, although I had many positive qualities, I would not be happy in a job with constant phone interruptions. He is probably correct.

I’m getting interviews and doing well with them, but the companies all are going along another path, to use the cliche.

I understand the times we live in, that the job market right now is a buyers market, that job seekers must be 100% on their game 100% of the time to land that job.

This post really isn’t about me, though. What I’m thinking, given the closeness to despair that I get at times, in just five weeks, is overwhelming. If that feeling is overwhelming to me in just five weeks, what on earth are those poor people who’ve been unemployed since the start of the recession feeling? I can’t comprehend the level of stress and despair they must be going through.

Burly Man has a friend who has been unemployed for that long. He is now facing the very real possibility of “living rough” as he calls it, the British term for being homeless/houseless. This man is erudite, charming, engaging, talented and hard working. He is not unemployed because he’s lazy. Why can’t he find a job?

I was reading one of my favorite blogs a couple of weeks ago with a post about either the unemployment rate or benefits extension. One of the commenters kept posting that the unemployed should volunteer, take any job out there, etc. because who wants to hire someone who has done nothing but sit at home doing nothing?

I immediately thought of Burly Man’s friend. He has not been sitting at home doing nothing. He has been pounding the pavement, applying for everything, and still no new job for him. He tried to go into another field, but he was under qualified for those types of jobs. He applied to McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, etc – the epitome of “take any job” – but was turned down for those positions because he was over qualified and the manager’s didn’t want to take the time to train him when the odds were he would leave as soon as something more suitable for him came along. His education, experience and skill-set placed him out of “just any job”.

This is the plight of today’s umemployed. I am sure there are some unemployed that delay finding a job until the benefits run out, but I think that’s a small minority. Most people I know want to work, are looking for work and are miserable sitting at home. I’m sure there are some that take advantage of the system. But they are the exception and not the rule.

I’m fairly conservative in my political outlook; I’m not for government programs to fix whatever plight someone may be in, mainly because I think the government should be the last option, not the first, and that local groups can better handle local needs. That said, I cannot buy the line my conservative brothers and sisters put out there that the unemployed are just lazy people scamming the system for that sweet, sweet unemployment benefits. Have they visited the unemployment office recently? No one in their right mind would be there if it wasn’t necessary.

There is dignity that comes in honest work. There is security and self esteem that comes in a paycheck. There is a longing for work, income, security in most of the unemployed. These people need a helping hand, not someone telling them to just “take any job”. There aren’t any “any jobs” out there.

Where Have I Been?

I don’t know! I can’t believe I haven’t posted since September 2010!

The company I worked for was sold last year. It took both parties from June until November to close the deal. Nobody could tell who would retain their positions and who would not. So, I found another job.

Great move? No, it was not. As it turned out, I would have kept my job at the old company, and the new company …. well, let’s just say (and I do) that it was not a good fit, and leave it at that. The owner of that small company let me go in less than a month, and by email, to boot. Two weeks before Christmas is not really a good time to be fired.

However, there were blessings and reasons for celebration, even while my stomach was in knots over my finances. The week of Christmas saw three interviews, one of which eventually led to a job offer. The week of New Years saw two more, one of which resulted in the temporary position I have now at Verizon Wireless. I was not expecting to have any interviews at all during the holidays, so I feel extremely grateful that I got those calls.

I’ve been working in the Internet Order Center at Verizon with a whole gaggle of temp workers brought on to assist with the release of the iPhone 4 at the beginning of February. This project has been fun, and I’ve enjoyed being in a corporate setting again after four years of car dealerships. Nothing wrong with dealerships, it’s just a different environment.

This project is wrapping up. I’m looking for work again. I’m hoping to transition from temp worker on a short term project to a permanent full time employee with Verizon.

Keep your fingers crossed. 😀

Where Has Ann Been?

Working my tail off at a Toyota dealership. I can’t mention which one. I’m not totally sure I should even mention the manufacturer at all. So, I’ve been silent for the most part, over-worked and unsure of what mention of the company, my employer, and my experiences is even ethical on the blogosphere. I can say this, the woes of Toyota have been a double-edged sword: 1) job security for the customer service manager – me, and 2) overwhelming hours and numbers of people calling in afraid their vehicles are going to kill them. I think I could get graduate credit in psychology for the time I’ve spent on the phone with scared, angry, and upset customers.

The hysteria has past. Life has somewhat returned to normal, although I’m not really sure what normal is at this point. I’m getting exercise again. I’m keeping track of my blood sugar and the effects of my medicine. I’m focused again on following Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover ($745 to go in the emergency fund! WOOT!)

Speaking of the TMM, we were able to go see Dave Ramsey live in Charleston. It was a great motivator, and got me and Burly Man on the same page with the same level of intensity and enthusiasm.  We moved from Summerville to Charleston in February, to a place that’s closer to work, has cheaper rent, and rent includes all utilities. It’s a walk-up attic apartment over a business. It is certainly not my dream home, but it will get me out of debt and into my dream home.

Moving was step one of our journey into financial adulthood and freedom. The recall fiasco at Toyota took my eyes off that goal for a bit. And then Dave came to town and gave us a much needed booster shot. Burly Man has been checking out books about cheap grocery shopping, cheap living, etc. He even crossed 6 lanes of busy traffic to get me a Sunday paper today to check out the coupons.

It’s coming together…we will do this…we will be gazelles that outrun the cheetah.

So, TMM recap:

weeks of not eating out: 4

weeks on the envelope system: 2

emergency fund balance: $255

Long Time, No Post

My last posts were in March, right before I was asked to spearhead a project at work that is ongoing….I’ve been so wiped out when I get home that I hardly have the energy to clean the kitchen after supper.

I discovered last Tuesday that I can’t blame the job for my being so tired. I was diagnosed with diabetes. I’m not too terribly surprised; I’ve struggled with reactive hypglycemia for years and knew eventually the doctor would say the dreaded D word.

It actually makes things – like being so tired, or the thirst I was blaming on the decongestant the allergist gave me, or getting really emotional – make sense. The medication the doctor gave me to help lower my blood sugar gives me some digestive problems, but I feel so much better with my blood sugar in normal ranges that it’s worth the diagnosis and all the things I have to do differently now to stay healthy. I was reading alt.support.diabetes yesterday evening and poster commented that for many people, diabetes is a blessing in disguise because they’re healthier now, more knowledgable and focused on their diet and exercise.

stay tuned for more…i’m going to try to blog my way through my illness.

Life is Funny

I had to deal with a difficult customer at the end of the day today. He was mad, he thought we’d cheated him, he threatened our Customer Service Index scores. He spoke in circles. He wouldn’t let me get a word in edge-wise. In short, he was a pill.

I had to use my skills on the call to make sure he didn’t escalate. I also had one of the owners in my area listening to how I handled the call. So I had to be good.

I am good at what I do. I sometimes am afraid I’ll drop the ball on something, but that’s only because there is a great deal I’m responsible for. I finally have gotten to where I’m only afraid of getting reprimanded; I don’t fear the dire consequences that appear only in my mind. This is progress.

I got to thinking after I passed the call over to the appropriate manager, that being raised by an unpredictable, volatile, verbally abusive parent prepared me for this job. I’m attuned to how other people are feeling, I can read tone of voice and body language well. Those skills, developed out of sheer survival, helped me get through childhood. They helped keep me on alert, watchful for any little change in my parent’s behavior that would bring the world down on my shoulders. I’ve lived for the longest time, waiting for the next boot to drop, waiting for the world to come to an end. Anyone in authority showing even just a neutral affect towards me would send me to the corner, doubting myself, my performance, waiting to be dismissed out of hand. It’s a tough way to live.

With some professional help and a lot of prayer, though, I’ve been able to hone those skills, tone them down, refine them to my benefit. I don’t let an upset customer drive me over the edge. I control the conversation, I make things better. If they upset me, they’d never know it; that’s what walks around the building are for.

Until today, I would have never thought I’d be happy to have had some of the experiences I’ve had surviving my childhood. They’ve made me who I am, and they’ve made me successful at what I do.

Maybe one day, I’ll be able to take those skills and apply them to my parent. It’s something to think about.