Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Glass is Half Full of Poison

Sure, if life gives you turds, you can make lemonade, but I don't think there are many people who would argue with me that IT MAKES A LOT MORE SENSE to make lemonade out of lemons. What does that mean, "if life gives you..." anyway? Since when is life an official dispenser of anything? If life gives you Little Debbie Vanilla Bars, you can attempt to make lemonade out of that, too. Or you can just eat half a box late at night, depressed and mindless, and fall into a troubled sleep, waking up with a hangover, too early to feel good about, and too late to do anything of significance, before your next day at the turd factory.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Now I'm Worried

A few weeks ago I had SIX job interviews in one week! One was dismal, but the rest were pretty okay-- I would say yes to any of these jobs. One seemed like a really comfortable environment, and there was one that seemed really interesting and paid really well. By the end of the week I had narrowed it down to the only one that offered me a job, but then I had to go out of town suddenly.

But my confidence had been bolstered, and I figured it would be no trouble to get more interviews. Since then I have sent resumes and well-written cover letters to a few job listings a day from craigslist, but I have yet to get a single call back from any of them. And this worries me because I think my cover letters are my strong point; when people meet me in person, I think they get doubts. The astute human recourses person can easily tell, mostly because of my inability to lie or even bullshit, that I'd probably rather be sitting at home writing in my American Job online journal than actually working. Which is true; yet, I need a job, and money, and I have worked in countless jobs successfully, was thought to be a good worker, and there is a certain element to it (usually the WORK itself) that I value, take seriously, and even enjoy. After all, I'm basically a normal person who likes sports, playing cards, eating, washing dishes, friends, families, relationships, doesn't understand money, and am scared of death.

I got to thinking that maybe this job searching business is a lot like casino gambling (or, I guess, any gambling) where you're hot for a while and then cold for even longer. Everything goes in streaks. And I mean EVERYTHING. If there is one constant to life, it's how everything goes in steaks. Why? I have no idea, except maybe it's Murphy's Law. Murphy's Law again and again. As far as I can tell, Murphy is God, and God is Murphy, and it's all as simple as that.

Oh, yeah, okay-- there's that other little factor called "love." But try sometime-- for an experiment, or if you're just plain crazy like I'm starting to think I may be-- try talking about LOVE in a job interview, and see how far that gets you.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I Am Not Worried

I've been looking for a job for close to three months now with no luck-- shouldn't I be worried? Why am I not more worried than I am?

I am not more worried than I am partly because I've been through this before, and many times. There have been times when I've found a job in one day and there have been times when it's taken me months. I was the same person every time, and though there were different cities, different times, different unemployment rates, I can see no pattern except that there is a lot of luck involved-- more than anything else, chance is the biggest factor of all.

Of course it has occurred to me that maybe: the world has passed me by; I am too old; the world is too much changed, and we are now living in the cold, dark future. I'm not so sure that it won't come to this some day, but I don't think we're quite there yet. Despite my limitations, I think that I am still a pretty good candidate for any job I apply for. I have things working for me and against me, sure-- but overall, I think my chances are at least average. I think that when the world gets to a place where I absolutely can't find any kind of job, that will indicate to me that we are to the point where the gap between wealth and poverty has increased to the point where a full scale, not very nice revolution will be inevitable. I am not looking forward to that day, and hopefully it will not happen in my lifetime. But I don't think we're there yet.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally! An employer who understands me!


Reply to:
Date: 2008-03-20, 5:50PM EDT

New Bar Opens in Hamptons this Summer - Hiring All Staff! Please apply in person Saturday March 29, from 2-6pm at 80 East Montauk Highway, Hampton Bays. 555.555.5555 for more info. If you cannot attend, reply with a resume and recent pic. Read below for details.

Thank your lucky stars... the #1 bar in America is bringing the Hamptons back to life!!! Porkys Hamptons Grand Opening this Memorial Weekend!! Get ready for the summer of a lifetime at Porkys Hamptons, Home of the Famous Fishbowls!

Porkys Hamptons, the #1 place for birthday and bachelorette parties is now HIRING a rockstar staff!

Tell your boss to take this job and SHOVE IT!!

Make more money this summer than you would all year long.
The top 3 reasons to work at Porkys Hamptons this summer -
1 - You'll be rolling in money
2 - It's the funnest job you'll ever want to wake up for
3 - You'll finally get that date no matter how UGLY you are!!

Porkys Hamptons is holding the biggest hiring party in the country, next Saturday March 29th from 2-6pm @ 80 East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays, 555.555.5555.

We're hiring rockstars, bartenders, professional partiers, shot girls, marketing, guest list, professional wingmen, cover bands, djs, beer pong leagues, promotional models, bottle service girls -

Experience not necessary - you just need to know how to smile!

Get ready for a summer you will never remember and the JOB OF A LIFETIME at Porkys Hamptons.

Compensation: tbd
This is a part-time job.
This is an internship job.
OK for recruiters to contact this job poster.
Phone calls about this job are ok.
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

Monday, March 10, 2008

You Don't Have to be CRAZY to Work Here...

I had an actual job offer this week and turned it down! What, am I crazy? I thought-- I'm pretty much down to trying to make a pack of Top Ramen last THREE days, and I'm turning down work?

I answered this craiglist ad where you just had to go in the office in person and fill out an application, thereby weeding out people who couldn't get it together to get to the office or come up with two forms of ID. It was for a messenger job-- out a law firm, I think. The office I went to was a temp agency. They didn't really tell you that in the ad. Or the pay. You always have to wonder why they withhold crucial information from some job ads-- are the jobs so bad they have to trick people into applying for them?

I had a brief interview and tried to convince the woman interviewing me that yes, I DID know how to use the subway. I didn't feel like I convinced her, so I was surprised when someone called me from their agency the next day and offered me the job. The thing was, it paid $7.15 an hour, it was a temporary job, but it was long term, though no one could say HOW long term. But they wanted someone to COMMIT to the length of the assignment. Though no one could say exactly how long that would be. Now... what is wrong with that picture?

I suppose there was nothing to keep me from lying and saying I WOULD commit to the length of the assignment-- then at least I'd be working, and if I found something else I could just say I'm doing the American Thing-- going where the money is. But the whole idea was distasteful to me-- not to mention the $7.15, which happens to be minimum wage in the state of New York. When someone offers minimum wage it's like saying, we would pay you LESS if it was legal to do so. It doesn't give you very much confidence that they will value you or anything about you.

I acted like I didn't get the significance of $7.15 an hour. "Seven FIFTEEN?" I faked incredulousness. "Why not just a round figure? What's the extra 15 for... Vaseline?"

I didn't say that, but I swear, some day I WILL say that kind of thing. But when will that day come? Maybe it isn't really anything to aspire to. What I did say was just my honest assessment of the situation, on the spot (I was on the phone). "To be honest," I said, emphasizing the honest, "I can't COMMIT to a position at such low wage, because if something came along that paid better, I 'd want take that."

Am I crazy to try to approach situations like this with some kind of integrity? And is it really integrity, or is it just me wanting to retain the upper hand, even if it means not making ANY money? Anyway, things can't go on much longer like this... I mean, money-wise.

Monday, March 3, 2008


It has been so long (like 10 years!) since I have been in this position (stone cold job hunt) I had forgotten one of the most difficult aspects of it: the nerve-wracking anticipation, uncertainty, and helpless feeling you get when you actually find, and are considered for, a job that you WANT. As frustrating and depressing as it is to apply for job after job that you aren't the least bit excited about, when you eventually come upon a job that you think you would really enjoy and feel fulfilled by, that's when the real feeling of powerless sets in. It's not unlike the feeling of being infatuated with someone-- when you start obsessively checking your email and phone messages.

Anyway, after applying to one mundane sounding job after another-- though any of these I would be happy to get-- I came across a listing for a job at a vegan restaurant that also serves a high percentage of gluten-free food. Besides the cuisine, the description of the place interested me-- as an environment that encouraged the employees to work in all aspects of the restaurant, with respect and caring for each other, the clientele, and the world. This didn't strike me as idealistic, but rather as sane. Why does it have to be the norm that there is an inherent conflict between employer and employee, and an ego-driven harshness, an atmosphere of suspicion, paranoia, and fear?

Anyway, from the description of this job, my experience eating at the restaurant, and an interview I had after applying, I got the feeling like this was the kind of place that I would start if I was going to start a restaurant. Where there was the possibility of the workers caring about each other and what they were doing. It wouldn't feel like a job so much as something to do with your life.

I realize that this whole "American Job" 'zine/blog is based on the negative, complaining, pointing out what is difficult and what is wrong. But what if I could actually write about what was done right? Maybe it wouldn't be as interesting. But anyway, I am not worrying about that. I really want to work, and I want to work at this restaurant.

At the time of writing this, however, I haven't heard back from them yet. (Which is pretty much why I'm trying to make myself feel better by writing this!) All the other job listings pale in comparison, but I keep looking-- partly in a way of protecting myself from getting my hopes up-- and to not let too much time go by if I DON'T get this job. Actually, I saw another interesting job today-- but more on that later. Right now I just keep checking my email, checking my phone messages....

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Back East

I like how people say "Back East" even if they've never been to The East, or even one state to the east of where they live. I'm sure the origin of that phrase is interesting, and the information can easily be found, but that's the kind of tangent that I can no longer afford to indulge in. I've got 15 minutes to find a job, and then it'll be March. That is official panic-time for me. Never has March sounded so cold, so final, so imposing and dreaded. It's already the most DISAPPOINTING month of the year. How much more disappointment can I endure?

Anyway, I actually AM back east, in that I lived here, in New York, previously, about 20 years ago. I worked at the Stand Bookstore, and so of course I had to consider going back there to look for work. It was one of the best jobs I've ever had, even though it didn't pay much.

So a couple of weeks, or should I say, now, months ago, I was out exploring, not yet feeling the panic of endless rejection, and I stopped for lunch at an absurd chain restaurant and ate a salad that did not excite me. It did less than excite me—it did not agree with me. We began to argue. Because the restaurant had one of those broom closets converted into a bathroom (“restroom for VERY SMALL customers only”), I started to look for another, nicer bathroom as I walked.

I finally came upon my former place of employment, The Strand. The bathroom used to be nasty, but now, in post-crack-epidemic New York, their bathroom is clean and comfortable, and larger than a lot of small businesses. For this alone, I’d recommend shopping there. And also, it’s unique place. Bookstores pay nothing, but that’s because people WANT to work there, because they love books. And how much longer can they survive, anyway, with... you know why.

I sat in this nice, warm bathroom stall until I felt better—then as I started to leave I had to rush back to the toilet and HEAVE! It wasn’t pretty, and it sounded even worse. I cleaned up everything, better than new, washed my face and mouth, and I ventured back into the store where patrons nervously glanced in my direction and then looked away in embarrassment and disgust. I was still sweating profusely, and I’m sure the sounds of my wet, then dry, heaves could be heard over the entire store.

At that moment, to add to my embarrassment, an employee showed up with a bucket and mop—and I didn’t envy his task, either. I was glad that I had cleaned up well—and so I assured him that I had taken care of it. Instead of seeming to be disgusted with me, this kind man asked if I was okay and looked at me with genuine concern. “Do you have a food allergy” he asked, which I thought was amazingly perceptive. I thanked him, and then moved on to the graphic novel section. People continued to move out of my way.

I felt a great deal of compassion for this place at this moment, and I even considered the idea of trying to get hired there again. But no, I thought, it would be too weird to work somewhere and go back over 20 YEARS LATER. I just couldn’t do it. Plus, the fact remained: I had returned to me my former place of employment, and I had HURLED. I don’t know what it means, but there’s something to that to be taken very seriously.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Great 2008 JobHunt Continues

So I'm thinking, should I treat my life, or at least the job hunting part of it, like a reality TV show? There definitely seems to be a lot of opportunities on craigslist for reality show contestants, like: "Did you just go through a bad breakup? Open audition! Tell us your story!" It used to be when you broke up with someone, all your friends got sick of hearing about it. But now you can go on TV and get paid? I don't know.

I'm not only looking on craigslist. I'm also contacting the human resources departments of enormous institutions such as universities, the US Government, Starbucks, and the Post Office. But do I really want to work at the Post Office, or should I just read Bukowski's “Post Office” again?

What I would really like is if someone said, “Randy, you sure have a lot of books. We would like to pay you to read your books!” It's not likely to happen, but that got me to thinking, what jobs can you read at? Night Watchman, maybe? That got me to looking at the security jobs on craigslist, which there are always a lot of, though it always makes me suspicious when they sound TOO good. "We are hiring 25 people, high pay, no experience required, etc." What is the catch? Do they make you pay for training? Do have to buy your own uniform?

One security guard job said that they would train you for free, in a 47 hour course, to carry a firearm. They said 40 hours is at the range, learning how to load and shoot the weapon, and then there is 7 hours on when to, and when not to, use the weapon. This was shocking to me. Well, hopefully one would NEVER have to use the weapon, but still. When you see a person working as a security guard, carrying a gun, it concerns me a little that they were given all of 7 hours of training on when they should use it or not. Not to mention that with any kind of education, if you don't constantly relearn what you’ve learned you will forget it. What country are we living in anyway? Oh... right.

Thursday, January 31, 2008


I was walking home today and noticed some kind of film production on Nostrand about a block from Fulton. Fully aware that the writers' strike is still going on, I made a rash decision-- now was my chance to break into the industry. Here was what looked to be a multimillion dollar production-- I mean there was a million in honeywagons alone! They had actors, makeup people, lights, bullhorns, pyrotechnics, line-producers, assistant-directors, bagels, cream cheese, script-girls... but obviously no scripts! This was my big opportunity.

As I approached the picket line, manned by angry writers (you could tell they were writers because... well, you can just tell), I held my laptop high over my head as if I was forging a stream or something, trying to keep it dry. Really, it was just so the producers (more obvious than the writers, as they were a large group of well-dressed white people doing nothing) would see that I indeed had a laptop and was ready to start cranking out scenarios. Pretty cheesy, I know, but I have not had a single call back for all the crap office jobs I've been applying to-- so right-- I'm desperate.

As I parted the line of unshaven, poorly dressed writers and began signing contracts the producers and lawyers placed in front of me, I made the mistake of looking back at the poor bastards as they pathetically hurled objects at me. Not rocks, not rotten fruit, but ineffective things like plastic water bottles and latte cups. An Altoids tin nailed me on the shoulder, but that was the worst of it. The thing was, then, I looked at the faces of those writers-- and they weren't just anonymous stepping stones in the river to a new career-- they were human beings, with feelings, and souls, and some of them kind of famous. I recognized Ethan Coen and Shane Black. Was that Charlie Kaufman? No, just Ethan Coen again. And there was Nora Ephron, I think, and Hampton Fancher. David Mamet wasn't there, but what would he say? And was that Joe Eszterhas? No, just a guy who looked like Joe Eszterhas. And another guy who looked just like Joe Eszterhas. A whole line of guys who looked like Joe Eszterhas, all yelling at me, pleading with me to reconsider.

I woke up then, my bedbug bites throbbing, a cat lying on my face, his butthole directly over my nose. Thank god it was just a dream!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


WHILE being aware of craigslist, I've pretty much avoided it, until now, as it seems to be one of the places one now goes to look for jobs. Maybe just the current version of the classifieds, where every idiot out there looks, one thing strikes me as being different: there are more amusing and insane help wanted ads than I've ever remembered seeing before. Indeed, it's tempting to just let yourself be entertained while you should be sending out resumes and cover letters in an organized and sane manner.

Here is part of one I just read, the requirements for working at some kind of hedge fund fueled new media company: "must be able to work in a rock'n'roll environment, from full vol deathmetal to Norah Jones. Must be able to work with your dominant arm ripped off and shoved half-way up your arse while set on fire with gasoline, if necessary. Ideal candidate eats ibuprofen for breakfast and adrenaline for lunch. Long hours, sometimes several weeks at a time. This is an unpaid internship, but you will meet movers and shakers in both cutting edge entertainment and high-flying financial circles. You will learn what it's like to live on the edge and you'll make valuable contacts. Position also includes mundane tasks such as office clean up, doing the principal's laundry, and shopping for his girlfriends."

I'm wondering if my cover letters are too boring. With all the people who must answer these ads via email, I'm wondering if I should do something to make my reply stand out. Maybe I should write something totally insane. I could try it and see what happens.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

One More Cup of Coffee

In the best of my estimation, the last time I looked for a job was 1996 or 1997-- at that time I was doing temp work, and one of my temp jobs turned permanent-- and I worked in this pleasant library of a law firm for three years. Following that I moved to Milwaukee and worked for 0tv and Bluemark Productions for nearly eight years. At any rate, it's been over ten years since I've looked for a job.

I pretty much feel like a person who has followed a long career with a brief retirement, and deciding to get back into the job market has found that it resembles nothing he remembers. After all, the last time I looked for a job it was by using the newspaper classifieds and the yellow pages. Only computer geeks used email, and no one had heard of Google, much less Craig's List. I am now in an ever more competitive job market with people who were TEN YEARS OLD the last time I was looking. They are full of energy and self-confidence, have grown up with computers, know more about popular culture than I care to, and a lot of them are in the position of being able to work for free, as interns. I don't FEEL old, not at all, but I'm sure I'm perceived as old by much of my prospective employers. Maybe I can impress some young boss with how I saw pre-Henry Rollins Black Flag and countless other examples of having lived in their pre-history, but those bits of esoteric folklore are interesting to a very limited group of people and probably won't get me very far.

I can think about this a million different ways, but it comes down to me needing money, and needing money soon. Some things never change-- while at the same time are completely different. It's a Tuesday morning in the job hunting world, so what am I going to do today? First, anyway, I'm going to have a second cup of coffee.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Must Possess A Positive Attitude

Instead of being depressed about emerging from eight years of retirement and being thrust into the ever more harsh and unforgiving job market with less chance than ever for success or fulfillment, much less happiness, and the prospect of now having to expend all of my creative time an energy to find a low-paying, unhealthily stressful, soul-destroying crap JOB, I decided I could at least TRY to embrace the entire process and whole experience as a necessary part of life, like, say, diarrhea, pain, and death, and celebrate it to the best of my ability.

I guess one nice thing about the world is that it keeps becoming new, whether you like it or not. It used to be a new world every time there was some upheaval like The Industrial Revolution, but things sped up to the point where there would be a new world with every new generation. Today, however, things have accelerated to the point that there is a new world every 14 seconds. Obviously that is an estimate, and quite variable, but the point is, things are now changing must faster than human beings can possibly keep up with. Yet we are all still human beings, and until that changes, we all, at least, have something in common.