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The Pavement Pounding Blues

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As I was sitting in my neighborhood Coffeehouse, after another one of my countless interviews that will most certainly not lead to an offer of employment, I started to reflect on my apparently never-ending job hunt, and on how much energy all of this nonproductive work was draining the life-force from my soul. How do so many folks keep up the brave face in this madness? How can you really find the strength to keep on going to Interview after Interview, come home empty handed, and head back out to do it again? I often wonder, how folks just keep on keeping on?

Doesn’t it get tiresome sometimes to try and always come up with a novel way to tell a prospective Employer why you’re so very interested to work for their company, when the truth of the matter is all you want to do is have job. All you really want to do is make a fair wage for an honest days work, and that you really never dreamed of putting plastic tips on Shoe Laces, like your prospective Employer apparently did. Where’s the honest in the Job Hunting process? Most of us aren’t working at our “Dream Jobs,” we’re working at the jobs we were fortunate enough to get hired for when we needed the work.

I have amazed myself this past year, as I have tried to sell myself to a broad and diverse range of Employers, in a variety of fields. I just had an interview where I tried for 20 minutes to convince the Interviewer that I had long desired to work in Home Furnishing retail… “Home Furnishing?” who is dreaming of selling furniture? Come on, now…don’t they know that we will say just about anything to get a job? Hey, why can’t we just say that…why can’t we say that “I’m just looking for a job, and you have an opening?” I know I wish I could, and I like to think that someone out there would appreciate the honesty and candor.

In the past year, I have interviewed to work with At-Risk Youth, Juvenile Offenders, Senior Citizens, Battered Women, people living with HIV, the Mentally Ill, and the Homeless. I have also want after jobs in Bookstores, Home Furnishing, Clothing retail, Telemarketing (how desperate was that?), and Security work. Hey, I’ve been all over the map. I have tried to sell the fact that my “education, training, and proven professional experience” made me more than qualified to not only manage a nonprofit community-based program, to serving up a Venti Double Mocha Latte at Starbucks.

I’m tired of trying to package myself as a Jack of All Trades, it’s just too draining.

After the truly demoralizing effort of interviewing for a one hour a day, one day a week job at a local Church to lead a discussion group on Current Events with senior citizens, a “job” that I didn’t get, even after being called for a “second interview,” I was so emotionally bankrupt that I simply didn’t want to try anymore. But the reality of life is that you simply cannot stop looking for work. If you want to keep clothes on your back, and food in your stomach, you gotta keep on keeping on.

I know that I have said many times before that far too many of us are trying why too hard, for far too little. The way the job market is now, I guess that I should be elated that I am even called in for the occasional job interview, but if you still come away with nothing to show for your efforts, it can do more harm to your psyche than good.

All of us have to trade off a little piece of our souls to get the jobs we have, and to keep them, as well. The current state of the economy has many of us just trying to hold on to the jobs we have. For those of us who are pounding the pavement daily, we see that there really is no upturn in the nation’s Job Market. Despite what the Bush Administration says, these are still very dark times to be unemployed or underemployed in America. The economy is really on the ropes. Far too many folks have been out of work for far too long, and the ranks of the unemployed are only growing. When the Bureau of Labor reports that the unemployment numbers have dropped, which hasn’t been for a little while, I think that the truth of the matter is that people have simply given up looking for work. When your Unemployment Insurance benefits are exhausted, you are no longer counted on the Unemployment rolls. You simply fall off the radar.

These are truly hard times for the American Workforce.

It would be far too easy to turn this into a political debate, I’m too tired to do that right now. I just want to take a moment to lament the fact that I’m not sharing in the American Dream right now, and I’m very frustrated by that.

I guess I just hope that I find myself a position, soon. I too want to try and enjoy life here in the land of milk and honey. I dream of the day, when after all my telephone pre-interviewing, first interviewing, second interviewing, and final approval from the hiring committee is over, and I have my dream job, selling fruit along the Expressway.

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Author: Street Sheet Editor

The STREET SHEET is the oldest continuously published street news paper in the United States. Organizationally, it is the public education and outreach tool of the Coalition on Homelessness. Every month, the STREET SHEET reaches 32,000 readers through over 200 homeless or low-income vendors. Our vendors are charged nothing for the papers they receive, and keep all money they earn through STREET SHEET distribution.

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