My feet hurt.

I’m not surprised. I’m wearing shoes that were never built for walking anywhere but on carpeted floors.  And I’ve already walked (or possibly trudged) a mile or so, between getting from the shelter to the train station, from one platform to the next for the three trains I have to take, and from the last station to my destination.  Where I get to stand in line waiting for the doors to open so I can go through security before I get upstairs and report in on my recent job searches.

Been doing this for three weeks now.  One more week to go.  Okay, the first week was mostly filling out paperwork for the job program; active searching started the second week.  Minimum three job applications a day, but of course, more is better, and we want better, don’t we?  I do, anyway, but I admit it’s Frustration City to know I’ve sent out between 175 and 200 resumes this year and only scored three interviews.  Never heard anything at all on most of them.

Like everyone else looking right now, getting a response, ANY response, feels like a step in the right direction, even if the response is the job seeker’s equivalent of a “Dear John” letter.

On the other hand — sending out resumes is good!  It’s proactive!  Even though at many points, I’ve been so invested in waiting to hear back about an interview that I put off my search…and put it off…and put it off, and then I’m furiously clicking through job boards and applying as fast as I can so I have the Magic Number to prove to my social worker that yes, I’m still looking, so please don’t take my benefits away.

But today, this morning, my feet hurt.  At least it’s cooler: earlier in the week I’d sweated through my top by the time I got inside.  Nothing quite like “dressing for success” in hot, humid weather.  Oh, my, how impressed a potential employer would be!  Cooler is good, and I hope it lasts for another week.

I hope I hear back, in a positive way, from at least one of these apps.  It would make the experience worth the effort.

It’s hard to keep my spirits up.  I’m probably fighting depression, which would be hardly surprising, considering the last couple of years, but I just can’t muster up the energy to call the counselor who works with the shelter.  Means I should, I guess.  But later.  Monday is an “independent job search day” for those of us who are left in the group — a couple got jobs, and another couple sound like they’re well on the way.  One person had a family emergency on Day 2, but since the Rules say you can’t miss a single day during the first week, the facilitator said he’d have to contact his worker and reschedule.

Real life need not attempt to get in the way of the County.  Oh no.  The County will give up not one inch.  Seems more than a little draconian, but on the other hand, how many times has someone claimed a family emergency just to skip a day or two?  One more example of how a few bad apples can spoil things for everyone else.

Spirits…yeah, it’s hard.  I’m smart, I have a lot of marketable skills, and I can’t score more than three interviews out of 175 apps?  That’s…hell, that’s only a 1.7 percent return.  I know, I know, at least I got those!  Grrr.  Oh, wait, I’m forgetting about the 2 interviews I got through a friend of a friend, that boosts me up to a 2.9 percent return, almost!  Yay!

As I’m standing, waiting, I see a dog.  He’s smallish, colored white and black like a Jack Russell terrier, but sized like he might have some Chihuahua in his background.  As he passes me, I notice two things: he’s got a wound, maybe a bite, maybe a scrape, on his right shoulder; and he’s giving all us humans a bit of a wide berth.  I don’t notice whether he’s wearing a collar and tags, but I doubt that he is.  Off he goes, south to north, and disappears, leaving me to wish I had a leash and some money, so I could catch him and take him to a vet to have his injury treated.

A little while later, “YIPE YIPE YIPE YIPE!!!!!”  I look up from my own thoughts and see the same dog rolling out from under a moving car!  Off he goes, back up the street, and the driver — the thrice-damned asshole driver Never.  Even.  Slowed.  Down.

And all I can think of is the dog, and how I wish I had a leash, and some money, and my car, and he’s running, that’s mean he’s okay, right?  Except what if he was hit, what if he’s running under fear and adrenaline and he’s really hurt and oh, god, what’s going to happen to him now?

And I cannot help him.  I am powerless to help him.  I can’t help him, and suddenly I’m crying there in line outside the social services building like I’m crying now, not sobbing but there are tears rolling down my cheeks, crying for a poor stray dog who never asked to be a stray, who might be okay but who also might be facing a slow, hard death from internal injuries, and then I’m crying for myself, too, because I feel like I’m powerless over my own life.

Because really, what power do any of us have?  We have power over our thoughts, and over our actions, whether proactive or in reaction to the actions/behavior of others.  I can send out resumes from now to the end of time, but I can’t force anyone to hire me.  I can have a stellar interview — and the four of the five I’ve had, I felt really good about afterward — but that’s no guarantee I’ll get an offer, that there’s not a better, shinier candidate in line ahead of me, or behind me, who will get the nod.

But what power I have, I will use.  I have to.  The alternative is to roll over and let life happen without me, and that, frankly, is part of how I wound up in this mess to begin with.  It’s finding a direction without losing sight of my goals.  Something that, if it isn’t The Job, will get me closer to it.

And I will listen to friends tell me all the things I “need” to do to get a job, any job.  Even though several other folks have said going for jobs too far outside your areas of experience is the kiss of death, that the Powers That Be will look at my resume and my application to be their newest inventory clerk/cashier/whatever — fine jobs, but not my areas of expertise — and decide that I have no real interest, I’m just looking for Any Job and why should they invest in me if I’m not in it for the long haul?

On the other hand — how many hands is that, anyway? — I have expenses.  I have my cats, who currently live at their vet’s because I had absolutely no other solution but giving them up, and I’d already given up too many others.  I’ve slid quietly into my fourth month in a three- to six-month housing program, and even though my case manager at the shelter told me two weeks ago that I was a resident in good standing, that doesn’t mean they’ll bend their rules on my behalf, so I’m facing not having a place to live in a couple of months.  I’m on the waiting list at another program as well, one that has a residence where I can have my cats, but my case manager there doesn’t know when a spot will open up.

I have got to find work.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Please keep your fingers crossed for the dog, too.



Filed under animal welfare, fear, homelessness, public assistance

11 responses to “Power/Less

  1. J9

    12 years ago I was a young, single, unemployed mother with two young children, at the mercy of county workers that gave me the run-around no matter how many hoops I jumped through. I was so happy when I got a good job and could tell those county workers to shove it! Today, I’m an older, single, unemployed mother with two teenagers at the mercy of the EDD. It’s so hard when you have no choice but to ask for help, and you’re treated as if you got yourself into this mess, so jump through these hoops and learn how to “do it right.” Let me guess…after 4 weeks they’ll ask you why no one’s hired you yet? And you’ll want to scream, “You think if I knew that I’d be here?!” I have my fingers, toes and eyes crossed for you, and the little doggie. ❤

  2. Syd

    Thank you, J9. Here’s hoping things start looking up for you soon, too!

  3. I felt the pain of the dog, and I know you and your nobility and pain. I’m reblogging this post. i so totally beleive in you, and feel invisible people will be plugging for you, but you must keep writing, love and hugs

  4. Reblogged this on Sorrygnat, World Citizen and commented:
    This blogger is amazing; i know her personally and I feel that’s a privilege. this is my way of tooting her horn.

  5. Syd, you have spoken so articulately for the thousands of other women who also walk this path with you. I will lift you up today and hope/pray for a good job to come your way very soon! Thanks, Esther, for bringing this post to us. Terrific writing, and such an important subject.

  6. I am hoping and praying too–for you and for the dog and for the thousands of people who are out of work and trying to get a job. You have an incredible voice and I am completely touched, choked up actually, by your words.

  7. I’m so grateful for this post; and for its being shared. The words are so raw and humble; yet filled with such hope. Sore feet – injured dog – powerlessness – powerfully written and received. Thank you, both.

  8. I’m glad you are writing. Blogging has been inhabited mostly by the privileged for a long time. It’s important people know your story.

  9. T

    Reblogged this on Workin' with What I've Got and commented:
    Wherein I, perhaps, piss my fellow bloggers off but figure someone has to say it: Let’s be honest, blogland can be a pretty insulated, privileged world. Regular access to a computer? Time to do the social network thing? Heat, light, air conditioning? Paid-up medical bills or good insurance? Not two paychecks away from bill collection calls or a delinquent mortgage? Access to affordable antibiotics? A decent-paying job not in danger of being outsourced? A spouse that’s got one that pays well enough so you don’t have to work full time? A pension? Retirement account? As many blogs as there are floating around cyberspace, there are countless folks who have something important to say — something imperative to say — and can’t blog, at least not with regularity. So many voices that aren’t being heard. So, please take a listen (read) to this one I’ve reblogged. It will make you (and me) think twice the next time you feel like tweeting about your overgrown cuticles or that latte you had at Starbucks wherein the barista inadvertently placed two squirts of vanilla syrup as opposed to the preferred one squirt, thereby ruining the whole morning.

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