Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Lost Generation Looks for a Job

I'm concerned.  No, I'm down right worried about the 20 somethings who are looking for work right now.  I have two in that category so I know first hand what they are experiencing.  They have the misfortune of starting their work careers in a sucky labor market.  Hell, it's not even a market.  It's more like a yard sale.

This young man, who looks a bit like my oldest, is dutifully scanning the papers, which would never happen since everyone their age group searches on-line.  Newspapers are so old school, ya know.

Ahhhh, the old days.  You got dressed in your Sunday best and went door to door, filling out applications and using your Miss Manners, uh, manners.  My youngins crawl out of bed and plod off to the computer, the new human resources/personnel office.  Do they even have people in HR anymore?  I'm just seeing a computer randomly selecting applications and then shooting them in the air.  The ones that land on a desk get picked up in passing by a manger who needs some new peons.  The rest of the applications get used for cat litter boxes and bird cages.

When my oldest son graduated from college, he had one interview at a car rental of the biggies.  He had two interviews and didn't make the cut.  Having rented from this particular company, I figured that he didn't fit the profile.  He didn't chew gum, yawn in anyone's face or have limited interpersonal skills.  At least that's the experience I had with one of their "customer service" people the last time I rented a car.

And so, a dozen on-line applications later, he settled for a job with an office supply chain.  He had to take a personality test for that one.  Really?  Was the fate of the free world on his shoulders?  Did they really have a commitment to hiring just the right person for this minimum wage job?  I think it's more a test of endurance.  If you can sit at the computer for an hour and answer all of the questions without putting your fist through the monitor, then you're the one for them.

Poor kid.  He wore the silly red polo shirt that didn't fit his 6'5" frame.  He reported to work at 5:30 a.m. to unload the truck.  He answered questions about which pens were on sale.  He patiently waited on senior citizens who just wanted someone to talk to.  And every two weeks, he stared in dismay at his paycheck and wondered, "What's it all about?"  Heck, I've wondered that over paychecks that were a lot bigger.

 The younger son had the same experience...minimum wage, random work hours, silly uniforms, no advancement jobs.  And to add even more insult to the situation, some jobs are "seasonal" which is corporate gobbildy gook for a job that ends right before you are eligible for unemployment.

Out of desperation and with an added bonus of adventure, they both worked jobs at Yellowstone National Park.  These jobs are considered seasonal, but if you complete the contract, approximately a six month commitment, you get a bonus and unemployment.  Having worked there myself, I can tell you that even though many people work in parks to enjoy nature, it is also a refuge for young adults who cannot find work in their states.  Quite a few people move from one park to another, living a nomad life of sorts.

My sons went back for a second season because they couldn't find work in Ohio, other than the above mentioned minimum wage jobs that do not provide benefits, dignity or advancement.  The oldest son has decided to pursue his dream of finding a job with a minor league baseball team.  The pay is low but he is willing to give it a shot before he gives up and thinks about graduate school.  The younger son is planning to go back to college to get a degree in Criminal Justice and possibly go to police academy.  I don't know where that came from, but maybe he got just a teeny bit of my social worker genes in a more macho version.  Don't tell him I said that.

None of my sons' friends have careers or anything close to it.  I don't think any of them have health insurance.  And I know that none of them have a clue about what to do.  Some day, in the far, far future, the economy will improve, I have my fingers crossed on that one, and these young men will be closed out of the job market.  Those faceless human resources people will toss their resumes aside with disgust because they don't have the experience they want.

How can you get experience when there are no jobs!!!!!!!!!  Would the HR people be happier if they had just stayed unemployed instead of waiting tables or stocking shelves?  I know this will happen as well as I know that useless lap kitty will barf in my shoe sometime this week.  The companies will forget that little unemployment disaster that was in all the headlines for a couple of years.  They will go back to asking questions like "What is you worst personality trait?"  They won't understand that working minimum wage jobs does build character.  Any job that you show up to day after day, especially if you hate it, builds character.

I don't want to be right about this one.  I would love to see the doors of opportunity open up for these young people, my lost generation, but I'm worried.  I think we're going to have them in our basements for some time to come. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

You Say Wikileaks, I Say Wookileaks

Has anyone else been thinking the same thing?

Wouldn't Wikileaks be a lot more fun if it was Wookileaks?

And couldn't we all relate to this better if it was about wookies who need Depends?

Or how about Kon Tiki leaks?

I could understand the problem if your boat leaks.

And who wouldn't be interested in Mikileaks? 

This is a Mi-Ki.  I bet it leaks when you come home from work.

This is what I've been thinking about today.

I haven't been out much lately.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sleepless in (Where Am I?)

You know that giving a drunk coffee only gets you a wide awake drunk?  The same applies to giving a tired person gallons of coffee.  All you get is a jittery, blabbering idiot who can't sleep.

This is my prime time sleeping season.  I love to sleep in a cold room. I leave my window open and go into some kind of hibernation mode.  Little frost pellets form on my face.  But, last night or this morning or whatever you call 3 a.m., all systems failed.

My oldest son is staying with us...who doesn't have one of those in the house?  He was heading to bed at 3 a.m., using his cell phone as a flashlight and ran into hubby just getting up, using the same light source.  O.K., so I don't understand either one of these life styles, and even if you choose to keep unnatural hours, we have electric lights.  So they have some sort of giggle fest out there in the hall which is better than screams and a fist fight I suppose, but I'm confused, I'm dazed and I'm awake.

You know, you can't try real hard to go back to sleep.  It's like trying to push a hard boiled egg through the eye of a needle.  It doesn't work, it's frustrating and you get egg all over the place.  This analogy doesn't seem to make much sense, but I'm barely coherent right now.  Just try to follow along and fill in the blanks when I leave them.

Here I's 9 a.m., I've been awake for 5 hours, I've had breakfast, I've checked my email, I've watched CNN, I'm already watching reruns of NCIS, it's snowing (yikes), my heart is skipping along on a caffeine high, and I'm thinking about signing up for a sky diving class. not make any decisions in this condition.  Hide the credit cards and sharp objects.

I promise not to handle anything today that could dismember me or a loved one, including Useless Lap Kitty.  I remember Thanksgiving two years ago when I almost sliced the end of my thumb off with a handy dandy food slicer, and there was this trip to the emergency room, and there was crying and fainting but hubby recovered when the needles went away, and then I had to fix dinner with this big honking bandage on my thumb, and now the end of my thumb is permanently numb, and I threw the slicer away as soon as I got home, so I'll probably just stay in my comfy clothes and hope that eventually I just fall over into a coma but right now I think I'll do some laundry and alphabetize my recipes and clean out the dryer vent and paint the bathroom...........

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Walking in Hunting Season: It's a Jungle Out There

I'm a simple soul.  Not simple in gazing vacantly at lint on my pants, but I have simple needs.  I need to sleep in a cold room, I need to read, I need chocolate and I need to take walks in the woods.  The first three are covered nicely.  As of yesterday, the walking has taken a deadly twist.

Hubby and I live a semi-hermit like existence in the country.  We have five acres of woods and weeds as high as an elephant's eye.  If I want to walk on our property, I would have to carry a machete.  Since I'm not yet committed to building my upper body, I walk on a neighbor's property.

See the picture?  He has it mowed for just that purpose.  "Come on neighbor," this path says to me. But there's some wee, tiny fine print and you should always read the fine print, you know.  

IT'S HUNTING SEASON FOR DEER!  I was on my third loop of the path, breathing the crisp air, enjoying my privacy and communing with nature, when neighbor shows up in full hunting regalia.  Actually, he sort of looked like the Cookie Monster in camouflage...with a gun. It seems that I was not alone.  I was being observed by men in trees...with guns.

Neighbor informed me, in a sweet way, that it probably wasn't a good time for me to be out walking.  It seems that my orange vest was a nice touch, but my gray hooded sweat shirt sort of looked like a deer tail.  I'm thinking he was being polite about the gray sweatshirt.  They probably saw my gray hair bobbing above the weeds.

He reassured me that deer hunting season, the one where the hunters use guns, would be over next week.  "And what can they use after that?" I asked. " Let's see," neighbor said thoughtfully, "there's seasons for muzzle loading, bow and arrow, sticks and stones, table knives, nerf guns, and Nancy Sinatra tunes."  So I exaggerate a little, but hunting doesn't stop, just the weapons change.

I am currently vewy, vewy afwaid of taking a walk next week or any other week.  I don't think this a good look for me.

I don't know what the bag limit is for my species, but let me say one thing to my predators.  I am a stringy, bitter tastin' critter and my head won't look very impressive on your wall.  Let me walk in peace and the spirits will look kindly on your hunting.  Deal?

And by the way, I hear the deer got their hooves on some claymore mines.  Be vewy, vewy afraid.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Working Retail Sucks!

I have to get something off my chest besides the remnants of the coconut cream pie I just foolishly ate.  I have a scrub business located in a flea market.  That's not my big confession but it is subject to some eye brow raising, I'm sure.  If you are a connoisseur of flea markets, you know that I am surrounded by discount socks, used video games, basement junk, puppies, dented canned goods, etc.

I'm there because it's cheap, so don't judge me.  What I really have to tell you is that retail sucks hugely!  I can't tell you how good it feels to say it out loud.  It's not just me.  If you haven't had the pleasure of waiting on people yourself, find someone who has.  We are everywhere in your life...lurking behind bushes, insanely babbling to ourselves.  For heaps of fun, Google "Retail Sucks" and settle back.  You'll see language from previously normal people that will just blow your hair back.

When we started our business I had no idea that working retail would be worse than being a social worker.  I apologize to my readers who are in that noble profession, but let's face it.  Social workers are notoriously underpaid, misunderstood and overworked. " We get no respect" to quote a famous American.   And you know what?  Working retail is at the bottom of the respect scale. 

Why has retail turned me against the human race?

See this child?  I swear she was in my store yesterday.  While her pregnant mother attempted to shop, she and her little brother ran amuk through the racks.  Every ten seconds she stopped and shrieked at the top of her lungs.  I mean the sound was at a level that could break glass.  Her face was flushed, her hair was disheveled and 666 was peeking out from under her bangs.

Fortunately for my hearing,  mother grabbed the demon seed and left the store. I have had clones of this little girl in my store for what seems like hours while the mother shops.  Sometimes there are a whole pack of them terrorizing my merchandise while the parents placidly ignore them.

My scrubs are on racks with wheels.  Can you see where this is going?  Children climb through the racks, push them around, and use them as weapons against their siblings.  Little girls love to grab scrub tops off racks and drag them over to their mothers.  Do the tops get back to the right place?  No.  Children pull tags off scrubs.  Aren't the little tykes cute?  What's even uglier are the parents who let this happen.  Why are you having more of them when you can't control the ones you have?  Thank God I don't sell glassware. 

Let's move on to cell phone addicts.  Brittany or Tiffany stroll through the store, ear glued permanently to their rhinestone encrusted cell phone, trashing your merchandise.  "OMG, I can get this top cheaper at Walmart.."  Hello!  I'm standing right next to you!  I own the store! They pull at the clothes with long painted nails.  Their tats and piercings are flaunted to the world.  "OMG!"  These girls are in health care somewhere.  Think about it.  Frightening.

Since I've mentioned Walmart, let's go there.  I'm standing behind my counter, a sweet sappy smile on my face, and customers start the "I can find it cheaper at..." routine.  First of all, this is just plain rude.  It's a flea market which means the owners are running the stores.  These aren't retail outlets or corporate businesses.  You talk trash about my store, you are insulting me.  How about I go to your job and criticize your work?  "Wow, Brandi, you didn't use the proper technique for lifting Mrs. Jones off her bedpan.  Oh, yea...your hair looks like hell too."  How does it feel, Brandi? 

Speaking of Walmart and other evil corporate discount chains, I cannot offer you, ugly customer, the same prices that they do.  Try to pull together the few brain cells you have and think this through.  Walmart has a gazillion dollars to spend on merchandise.  They buy huge quantities of products at ridiculously low prices and make you believe that they pass the savings on to you.  Actually, my prices are similar to the discount giants and lower than the chain uniform stores.  Think this through and I will speak slowly for your benefit.  My profit margin is low.  I do not own a vacation home.  My car is seven years old.  Do I sound like a corporate giant?  Do me a favor....keep on moving down the road to the nearest Walmart.  I'll even draw you a map.

Of course, we cannot forget the rack wreckers who put items back wherever they happen to end up.  And the women who leave make up all over the scrubs they try on.  And customers who won't speak to you when you ask if you can help them.  And customers who ask if you have scrubs with iguanas on them...really?  And customers who ask if I make the scrubs...really again.  And customers who ask if I'm here every I pack up a thousand items and take them home so I can play with them.

To be fair, there is the flip side.  I have many regular customers who treat me with respect and I look forward to seeing them.  Their mothers raised them right.  I'm venting to relieve the pressure on my blood vessels.  Just know that the clerk who waits on you at the department store or the convenience store is mentally plotting your death when you walk in.  They may be smiling, but they have many fantasy scenarios involving your untimely demise.  Be nice.  Be very, very nice. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I Am Not My Mother!

Do you know that you can feel you sons' eyes roll over the phone?

"Hello, mom, I have a job interview tomorrow." 

Screech.  Gasp.  "Are you going to wear a shirt with a collar?  Make sure there's no dog hair on it."

"I know m-o-t-h-e-r." 

"You're rolling your eyes at me, aren't you?  Stop it!"

This is such cruel punishment from my own flesh and blood.  I spent most of my life cringing at the things my mother said and I'm certainly not my mother.  I AM NOT MY MOTHER!  Come over here closer and say that. 

"Why don't you ask Tiffany out?  Her mother told me that she broke up with her boyfriend, and she seems like such a nice girl."


"So I suppose that just because I suggested it....Stop rolling!"

No, I'll say it again.  I am not my mother!  I'm way cool and she wasn't.  When she suggested guys they were the pasty faced, choir boy, closet gay types, and when I suggest women they are hot blondes.That makes us different, right?

I don't fare any better in person.  If the two of them are together, they show no mercy. I get the full frontal eye roll, the pat on the head, and the threat to put me in my mother's nursing home.  I'm only 61 and I don't have dementia yet!  What?  What do you mean I bought you the same present last Christmas?  I couldn't have.  Shit, yes I did.  Why didn't I remember?  Yes, I know that my mother unwrapped the same presents about a dozen times one year.  Well, she enjoyed them every time she opened them.  What's wrong with that?

I also talk too much to strangers, which my parents did and their parents before them.  It's a family tradition.  I also sing along to songs in the car, I dance in the house, I check out their friends on Facebook, I tell off color jokes and just basically breathe which are all reasons for my sons to roll their eyes. 

I know.  It's just a matter of time before they have their own children, blah, blah, blah.  They'll get the same treatment, but that is weak revenge at this point.  At the rate I'm going, I won't be mentally sharp enough to be in cahoots with my grandchildren. Hopefully, I will be able to raise my gray head off the bed, hairs sprouting all over my face, and give my sons a big fat eye roll.  I gotta time it right because they might just think I'm having a stroke or something. 

O.K., so I'll stop now before I embarrass you and myself anymore.  At least until tomorrow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Job Hunting: Victory!

It's a Winston Churchill kind of day here in unemployment land.  I'm doing this little victory dance, kinda of old school, but Winnie would approve.  Here's the scoop.  I'm typing away, venting about how uncivilized the job search is in this economy and I get a call.

Flash back to last week.  I interviewed for a social work job I actually wanted.  I was convinced that it was my worst interview ever.  Other than no booger hanging from my nose, I was spectacularly unimpressive.  Hang on here, it's a bumpy ride, but back to the present.  The call was to offer me the job.  Actually, they offered me a part time job, but I'm good with this.  I'm going to need some adjustment time anyway.  I'll be in withdrawal when my "Law and Order" afternoons are disturbed.

If you think this is the end of my ironic story, it gets better.  The next day, I got a call about a job that I had applied for a month ago.  OMG!  It gets even better.  About an hour later, hubby got a call for a second interview.

So my foot is stuck so far in mouth it is finding another exit.  How is this happening? This should be the worst time of year to find a job.  Nothing ever happens at the holidays. I was planning to move under the bridge sometime around Christmas Eve.  My trash bags were packed, but great balls of fire, the phone is ringing off the hook!

Have I jinxed my good luck by talking about it?  Of course not...uhhhh...I hope not.  Just let me say that unemployment is at 15.8% in my area.  I am extremely grateful for a chance to get back in the job market.  I promise to make you all proud.  I promise to not blog about my job or to insult my boss or to get in any trouble of any kind.  For the first time in my work life, I shall follow the rules.  Oh please, please keep your fingers crossed for me.  Being good isn't one of my strongest traits.  I'll need your support or a support group.

Good luck to everyone still looking for a job.  If I can give you a reference, just let me know.  That's what friends do, you know.