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Rumbling, Bumbling, Stumbling . . . New Job!

by Jon Kaufman

Friends, when last we spoke I was mired in state of unemployment, a predicament shared by a growing number of Americans.  Unceremoniously dispatched on St. Patrick’s Day, by my previous organization, the last few months have been a mixture of sorrow, sleep and self-examination.  While I don’t recommend vocational dormancy as a lifestyle, my furlough from the rat race provided an opportunity to step back, observe, and learn my limits.

Following a nice solid bout of self-pity, I attacked Internet job boards, revised and posted my resume, and waited for the offers to roll in.  After a few weeks of humility, I returned to my previous state of melancholia, humbled and defeated, wondering how I got so useless so quickly.  Refusing to spiral down the drain, I answered an advertisement for an online newspaper needing a writer in the Roanoke area to cover local baseball.  Although I had no background in sports writing whatsoever, I was quickly hired, sent directions on how to publish to their site, and left to my own devices.

Covering a selection of local high school games, I quickly gained even a greater respect for professionals like Ray Cox, Robert Anderson, Chris Dowdy (Roanoke Times), John Montgomery (Play by Play), our own Bill Turner and, my favorite, Brian Hoffman (Salem Times Register).  Frankly, my text was a bit elementary, but upon studying the work of those listed above, and others, I was able to reach a level of competence I could at least live with.  Combined with my coverage of the Roanoke Rails collegiate summer league team, of which my son Will is a member, I have earned a whopping $18.88 for my reporting efforts so far.  Retiring to a cozy lake house is not yet an option.

Between documenting weekend double headers, the interviews continued.  Among the possible positions was a sales position that I targeted as my main objective.  Upon acing the first phone interview, I moved on to a meeting with the hiring manager.  The night prior to the meeting I experienced a health related issue which led me to seek pharmaceutical assistance.  I arrived at the interview not of sound mind or body, hoping my midday nap would skip an afternoon.  Struggling to remain conscious, I managed to complete the interrogation and nearly exited without incident.  Steps away from a clear escape, I crashed directly into a wall while traversing the maze of office cubicles I was tasked to navigate.  I could imagine terrified office workers diving below their desks awaiting the next tremor.  My prospective boss kindly steadied me and guided me to safety.  Sensing that I had sideswiped my chances, I returned home bruised and bemused.

Weeks passed, and the tedium of daytime television seized my withering soul.  My son was forced to confiscate my “man card” upon discovering my viewing TLC’s “What not to Wear” on consecutive days.  I had reached rock bottom.  Just as thought that all was lost, the company whose office I nearly destroyed called me and asked me to take an “assessment” for possible hire.  Floored, I readied myself for the challenge.

I had never taken an “assessment” before and really had no idea what I was getting into.  When I reached the office I was given a case study regarding a fictitious company, a fictitious identity and a phone number to call during several pre-set intervals in the process.  I was to learn my fake company and the other fake company and sell them my fake products.  My first thought was to run; my second was not to panic.  I was given fifty-five minutes to familiarize myself with the materials and make the first phone call.  I read through the stack of papers provided, took some notes and a very deep breath, and made the call.  I spoke to the voice on the other end for a few minutes, hung up and could not recall a thing she said.  The second call was merely to make an appointment for the third and final call, which would be my opportunity to present my products, which I knew little about.  At this point my tie is off, I’m flying through fake printed emails, my socks are damp with what I hope is perspiration, and I was wishing that I was watching “Cake Boss” back home.  I have no memory of my presentation other than a clear idea that I had sabotaged a great opportunity once again. Summarily defeated, I limped home, a casualty of a make-believe scenario.

Sitting in my den, wondering what outfit Stacy London and Clinton Kelly might select for my next interview debacle, I received a call from the real employers who had just read my assessment results, which, incredibly were good!  Checking the mirror to make sure it was me in the reflection; I stumbled through the phone call and accepted the position. The drought was over; I was now a working man!

They say it is better to be lucky than good and right now I feel both luck and good – even though I might have a wall to spackle on my first day on the job.

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  1. Thank you Angela. Yours was the kindest message i have ever received regarding my column. One day I hope to make writing my profession and your encouragement means so much to me. Thank you for reading.


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