In Jobs We Search

     I worked in the woman’s home, seated at her dining room table. On my first day she said she wasn’t a micromanager, but she eavesdropped from the kitchen, standing just outside the door. I could tell because as soon as I hung up from making a sales call she’d pop her head in and tell me how I could do better.
     That didn’t make me quit.
     She also assured me, “We have plenty of time to make our quota on this project, so enjoy the calls. Talk to the people. Have fun.”
     I’m not a fan of receiving telemarketing calls, even less of making them, but I needed to keep the résumé current while I job shopped, so I took her advice. I asked people how they were, what the weather was like. I laughed at their jokes, all the while hoping I wasn’t wasting their time. Not interested in buying booth space at a security conference in Singapore, few of them stayed on longer than it took to say, “No thank you. Goodbye.” Still – turns out that was too long. By the end of day two she was telling me, “Shorten your greeting. – Shorten your conversation. – Shorten your notes.”
     I don’t know where all our relaxed, have-fun time went. Still, that didn’t make me quit.
     Her husband toted a gun for his job. He often came home early. He’d leave his gun on, pop a Fosters beer, sit on the porch, and smoke, watching me through the window.
That almost made me quit.
     The day he came home early, donned his swim trunks, and said, “You’ll have to leave now. I want to play in the pool with my wife” – THAT made me quit. She was offended that I left this eight-hour a week job without notice, so she didn’t pay me for my last six hours.
     Next I worked in a man’s home – actually, in his converted garage-to-an-office. He had hired me because his wife had refused to do the work for him any more – for free. From the garage he’d call his wife and tell her he was ready for his fried egg whites. She would deliver them with a scowl.
     The smell of his eggs and her sour disposition did not make me quit.
     I caught on quickly, improved his mortgage- and rent-payment collection process, and thought this would be a good transitional job until I found the fulfilling, meaningful position I’ve long yearned for.
     Despite my accomplishments – of which he was quite complimentary – he really was happier with his crabby, incompetent wife he didn’t have to pay, so I didn’t have to quit that job. He fired me.
     In the midst of these false starts I continued the job search. All told, I sent 120 tailored résumés with 120 bespoke cover letters over 12 months, from nonprofit to government, from two miles from home to far-flung Turkey, from doctors’ offices to Doctors without Borders. Bupkus. Rarely a reply, and never a positive one. Finally, feeling a little sick and a little desperate, I checked out the jobs listed for the world’s largest bank, and with a sigh of resignation I applied for the full-time position that last headed my résumé: administrative assistant to a mortgage department. To the date of my leaving that last full-time job, the phone rang.
     “Hello, Jane. I’m Peggy, a recruiter. We liked your résumé. Do you have a minute to talk?”
     “Sure, Peggy.”
     20 minutes later I hung up, hoping and dreading in equal measures that I’d answered appropriately, professionally, all of her questions.
     Thus began my path to employment with BankBig.
     As if I were joining the CIA, my friends were called, former coworkers, managers; my credit history, mortgage payment and bank status were inspected; my personality was grilled with hour-long multiple-choice computer testing, and finally I was fingerprinted and my passport was scanned.
     Peggy called to say, “You’re hired!”

One response to “In Jobs We Search

  1. This is really good. I can “feel” this piece. I can feel the heart of my youngest sister. It made me laugh a little and cry, too. You did it, Janiie! You deserve to feel very proud of yourself and hopeful for peace and financial security in the New Year… you worked hard for this new position and I hope they know how lucky they are to have you onboard.


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