Friday, 16 May 2008

More Coffee &[un] Employment

I have returned to the coffee shop setting to write my newest entry. I am comfortable in this setting…joined by other individuals, who, like myself, seem unconcerned that it is the middle of the afternoon on a weekday. When you are employed it never occurs to you just how many other individuals find themselves on the other side of the line. Now this isn’t to say that this overcrowded coffeehouse is filled with the unemployed – but seriously – it is the middle of the afternoon, and countless others have the same blank expression that I have taken to expressing.

When my coffeehouse sojourns began in Banbury, I never had to deal with the phenomenon of a packed establishment. Gloria Jeans’ was newly opened, and though it was drawing a crowd, it wasn’t drawing a Starbucks crowd. Leanne could blog, ponder and procrastinate in peace. Now that I’m back in TBay, I am relegated to Starbucks – larger than life and ultra-commercialistic. Can you explain to me why Starbucks is actually in my Microsoft Office spellchecker? But listen, I’m not here to complain about commercialism today. No…I can rant on that topic at another time.

Unemployed. I have gone through periods of unemployment – and yet never have been fully unemployed…I have always had the option of returning to my job at a local school – though limited in hours and scope, it was a highly coveted job. Yet after eight years, I am tired of returning – it is time to create the ultimate uncertainty, break away the safety net, and just stop. I enjoyed it while it lasted, but it is time to move on. Right….the safety net…Leanne likes having a safety net – safety nets generally pay real money. Apparently Leanne doesn’t need real money – Monopoly money will suffice.

Being unemployed isn’t the cakewalk that it seems. Sure, I can technically sleep in, stay up late, and live life according to my own schedule. Lord knows I love to live according to my own schedule! But I’m in debt…3rd-World-country-type debt. I have bills that rival the financial needs of a family that practices the rhythm-method of contraception (understand?!?!). Life isn’t great. Every 3 weeks I have heart palpitations wondering how I’m going to make it to the end of the year – or even to the next month. Daily I ponder moving to a South Pacific Island, changing my identity, and living out my days as an expat. Expats are generally rich, but you get the point.

So you think to yourself – just get a job! And I’m trying, really I am. But the problem with heading back to TBay, is that I have returned to a city that is sinking. Now, contrary to what local politicians and city officials will have you believe, the regional job situation is in dire straights. As luck would have it, these same individuals have decided that Call Centres are the best investment for continued job security. Oh yes, the call centre….home to the persistent and highly annoying telemarketer. I have nothing against telemarketers, and can empathize with them entirely. But it takes a special type of person to make a career out of that profession. I am not sure what the average job span is for someone in a call centre, but I lasted 3 weeks. Or was it two? Regardless…I refuse to return to a call centre.

TBay offers countless opportunities for part-time-minimum-wage employment. Basically it is like a hotbed for cr*p jobs. Two days ago I dropped off my resume to a local business. The manager jeered me…my education…my past work experiences…I don’t like being jeered. Unfortunately it is not the first time I have had my education put down – managers just don’t like to see degreed people working at their establishments, and I get that. But I still refuse to remove my degrees. But...It was the first time I had my work experience criticized. I have been on contract for six years, and naturally I have to change jobs when a contract ends. I have held some contracts multiple times, but apparently this does not matter. Needless to say the manager in question, wondered why so many people in this city “job jump”. I smiled at her, and shrugged my shoulders. I stifled the answer I could have given her: “Why do employers expect workers to be loyal to part-time minimum wage cr*p jobs, with no hope of improvement?” I realize that every individual who is employed should be grateful to their employment but…all it takes is an additional dollar an hour or 10 more hours a week…and bang…job jump!

Ok...I'll admit here that I like contracts because I have a short attention span...and if I hate the job, I know there is an end in sight. Enough said.

I have already ranted on education. I have one. It’s not helping me. And like I have already said, I am not removing it from my resume. I do not believe that having an education is a necessity, but I can’t change the fact that I have one. I spent far too much time earning that education to willingly remove it from my credentials. I will suffer unemployment to preserve my pride. Yes, I regret going to school, and now I will suffer the consequences of that decision. Think I am exaggerating? Talk to the majority of individuals graduating with university degrees – ask what they are doing with that degree. Ask your local checkout clerk at Walmart, bagger at Safeway, cashier at Zellers – ask about their credentials. You might be surprised. The solution to the basic degree is the Masters Degree. Now I am forced to take a financial gamble (but that’s a whole other blog).

So while I again ponder the feasibility of returning my university education, I am stuck in unemployment. I realize that I need to get over my ego, and accept that I might have to work at McDonald’s, but I will hold out as long as I possibly can. When all else fails I will return to England – maybe sooner than I had anticipated. Trust me, I am tempted to get back on a plane and head to Clapham Junction. But I know I am not alone. I look around Starbucks right now, and am still perplexed why so many people can be sitting here in the middle of the afternoon. It can’t just be me.

No comments: