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October 3, 2002

God Plays A Wicked Game Of Karma

First, you want to know why this column is late. Heck, it's beyond late - one could almost consider this as a very early next week's column instead. Well, you get what you pay for, and until Gordie's banner ads start lining my pocket, you'll have to allow me the occasional omission. However, there's a good reason for why I am late. It may not be a good excuse, but it's a good reason.

As regular readers will know, I've been looking for a job for a very long time. In fact, I will mark six months of being unemployed this Saturday, October 5th 2002. As of 10:00am that day, I will have been job-hunting continuously for half a year. That is a very long time to be looking for work in my book. It is stressful, emotional, and generally sucks.

The summer of 2002 was not very kind to yours truly, offering what felt like a smattering of interviews. Ever since being fired I've kept a day-by-day log of my job search activities. Contact names and numbers, addresses, whom I've applied to, what the status is of any one hiring procedure, and of course interview dates, times, and locations. I recently got curious about how many interviews I've actually had this summer, so I went back through my notes and counted. Including second interviews, I have thus far had 21 interviews. Not bad.

The startling part of that statistic lies in the distribution of those 21 interviews. On a month-by-month breakdown I realize that I could have enjoyed my summer much more than I did. After being canned in early April, I had 3 interviews that month. May was a real downer, offering only one interview. June ponied up 3 interviews, July gave up only 2, and August shook 3 loose for me. If you've been adding as we go, you'll know that the tally from April to August is twelve interviews. So what does that mean? Yes, September has provided eight interviews. That's right, triple the previous months' average.

(For those anal types that are wondering where the missing interview to make 21 is, I had one in early October as well.)

As you can imagine, this has kept me pretty busy. I've been on the phone a lot, and on the road even more. One week alone saw me wearing my interview suit for three days straight, and four out of five business days. Trying to keep everything straight was not easy, especially with my wife's off-and-on schedule of activities to work around. Having only the one vehicle, we can't plan any separate concurrent activities that aren't within walking distance. Luckily there haven't been any major conflicts, and we both understand that interviews are a pretty important step in becoming employed again.

With so many interviews, many of them 2nd interviews, one would think that there would be a total reversal of the demoralizing summer job market, and that I may even be lucky enough to have a few offers come in around the same time. Although I'm now rather jaded about being called back for anything, I had a fair amount of hope that two or three positions would pan out and that I could be working by early October. The outcome? Hint: I'm writing this column in my ample free time.

From the deluge of interviews and follow-ups, I have only two leads remaining. Of the two, there is a good chance that I'm too late for one and not exactly what they're looking for at the other. My best chance remaining is a company that wanted to hire me, but needed to bring on someone else before they could afford to hire me (long story). Although I hope and am trying to yet weasel my way onto their payroll, I'm not holding my breath.

After the most recent round of disappointments, and one extremely disheartening near miss, I am all but convinced that karma, or something close to it, is working in my life. It's hard to describe, but if I had to put it in a nutshell, I would say that my chances of either getting an interview or an offer for any one particular position is inversely related to how much I talk and tell people about said position. A position I've told nobody about is more likely to interview me than a really exciting possibility that I've been spouting off about for a week. A job offer than I'm certain is just around the corner won't come because too many people know about it. The latter has happened not just once, but twice now. I feel like a mouse in a laboratory maze, and I'm only now learning what my mysterious overlords wish of me.

I had even learned this lesson earlier on, but my enthusiasm got the better of me for the most recent anticlimax. When people would ask about my upcoming interview or the company, I'd be vague, dismissive, or otherwise try to diminish the perceived personal value I had attached to it. However, things kept getting better and better, so I allowed myself to say more and more, and even start mentally planning things for my new position - which is when it all went to hell.

Paranoid? Delusional? Religion gone horribly, horribly wrong? Maybe one, maybe all. I sure can't tell anymore. My religious life has historically been anything but firm, and adding all this on top of it sure isn't helping build the foundation I've been trying to build over the past couple of years. I won't say for certain that there are higher powers at work, preventing me from gaining employment, but it sure feels that way. I can't say I like it, either.

Maybe it's all just a sign of depression. I've been cycled emotionally quite a few times over the past six months, and maybe the strain is starting to show. I probably need to get out and do more, but I've always had a problem with wanting to sit around and wait for the phone to ring, even as far back as highschool. Every time the phone rings during the day I'm always hopeful that it's another interview, or someone getting back to me, or a new lead. Mostly I'm disappointed and it's for my wife. Maybe again the likelihood of a new phone call for me is inversely proportional to my desire to get one. That's a real mindfuck if you think about it - I essentially have to become Vulcan and quash any hopes or desires I have to get what it is I desire. Damn.

Where does this leave me? Waiting, somewhat depressed, and a bizarre combination of nervous and confused. It's the kind of mood where I want to go drive a car in anger, play some ultra-violent video games for a few hours on end, or maybe just find a trampoline and see if I can scare myself by going too high. If I had a day job, I'd be too busy to think up weird stuff like that. Sigh.


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