10. July 2005 · Comments Off on The Ongoing Quest for Meaningful Employment: Pt 1 · Categories: Domestic, General, Home Front, Military

This last Friday, at the workforce commission office, I asked the veteran’s counselor for an honest answer: “What does veteran status, really, really get you, as a potential employee?”
To which he replied,
“You get a preference with the state or the federal government. Other than that, all it means, is you get to see a counselor ahead of all those people out there.”

Which kind of confirmed the impression I already had, from my last three or four adventures in job-hunting— that all those glossy, uplifting TV spots we used to air on AFRTS about employers looking on us veterans with special favor— are pretty much a crock. Unless the business is owned by a veteran, or there are enough other veterans already employed to tilt corporate perceptions favorably, you are pretty much judged on the strength— or lack of it— on your resume. I only ever walked into one job, and was hired on the spot because of status as a veteran— and that job was a once-a-week gig, walking around the neighborhood next to mine, putting a local give-away newspaper on the front stoop of every house. Good exercise, but paid f**k-all. It was one of the four simultaneous part-time jobs that I held down just after retiring: the other three included up-scale retail sales, fill-in shifts at local public radio, and entering catalog data for company that sold classical music CDs. I also had some voice-over jobs; one day I walked into my bank with five paychecks, and the teller looked at me and said, “Lady, is there a place in this town where you don’t work?”

The catalogue job was the mainstay; fairly well paying, and the bennies included the pick of freebie CD releases brought around regularly by the distributors, but it didn’t last long enough to be included on my resume. The owners relocated, out of state and took only the office manager with them— all the rest of us readjusted our priorities in about fifteen minutes flat. The office manager lamented that the only reason we all seemed to show up was to use the fax machine to send out resumes, and our breaks and lunch hours to do interviews.

It took three weeks for me to find something else, but I wound up hating that job, the owner of the company, the working conditions, the owner of the company, my cubicle, the working conditions, the irregularity of bonuses, the owner of the company, the way I left every evening at five PM with a stress headache… oh, and I hated the owner of the company. Very little in life so far has given me the equal of the pleasure of giving my notice to him. I should have done so before and often…he was most marvelously civil to me for the last week. A year later I had to contact them again, regarding an IRA they had set up for employees… I discovered that in the space of a year I had been replaced three times over. (I had lasted two and a half years, the last year of it plotting my escape, like a prisoner in Colditz.)

That escape brought me to the job that has— like the catalogue job— just quit me. It is now just about history, although my salary is generously paid (and with luck, the checks will not bounce!) to the end of August. The office doors closed in the middle of June, and I went to working from home on getting the last bits of work done for clients. There are only two of them left with uncompleted work. I am waiting for them to do their part— when they finally come across with it, it will just be a bit of computer time, an-email to the printer, and a quick meeting at the management office which is very kindly letting me use their conference room for this purpose. My focus in the last two or three weeks has turned to my next bit of gainful employment which I pray will be… remunerative, interesting, and a twenty-minute commute away. (Thirty minutes, tops) Congenial surroundings, sensible bosses and co-workers who are not barking-at-the-moon nuts would be nice. Internet access would also be nice, but not essential.

This has been a very discouraging week. I had three very pleasant interviews late in June: one of which was for a job I would have liked very much; it was for a nice, up-and-coming enterprise newly come to San Antonio, which offered a good salary and benefits… alas, as it turns out, the company is transferring in one of their current employees for that position. This happens a lot, in San Antonio; it’s almost axiomatic that any really nice, plum jobs probably won’t go out locally. Having a story about the company, their new facility and their ambitious plans for the local market published on Friday in the local paper did not make me feel much better about it all. Thanks for the salt and the assurance to keep the resume on file. I had a file of old resumes in my desk at the old job. We never had call to look at them again, and they went into the big rolling canvas trash bin three weeks ago.

The second interview was… well, I liked the look of the place, and I would have enjoyed the work— I think!— but I didn’t feel good about how far out in the country it was. Given any sort of choice, I would have turned it down, regretfully, but they beat me to that. There are parties you don’t mind dumping, but you really feel offended at being dumped by…They sent me a letter thanking me for my trouble, but they were hiring someone else. They would, however, keep my resume on file. The third interview was a temp service, they think they can place me someplace; they’ll call me when they can set up an interview.

The only call I got last week, aside from strictly personal, was some asshole wanting to sell me a TV satellite service, and no, I am not in a very good mood, even if my salary is paid until the end of August, and I have spent three hours— like I have for the last couple of Sundays— answering various newspaper and on-line want-ads and filling out an assortment of on-line applications.

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