The Sidewalks of No Job

Being disabled and collecting a tiny-but-steady income means that I no longer need to do a few things:

1. Voluntarily send my résumé to some publication that I either admire or have never ever heard of in order to pursue a job that I almost certainly do not understand.

2. Spend the next few days hoping to be invited to be interviewed.

3. If invited to be interviewed, dress up or dress down (and almost always over-dress) for an encounter in which if nothing else, “first impressions are everything,” but when I am looking for a job, I do not make a good first (or second or third) impression.

4. At the interview, spend some time engaged in what tiny little bit I remember one ought to do to “positively visualize success”; thus, I “positively envision” (air quotes included) myself working with this staff for years and years to come, even imagine holiday parties at which I announce my impending nuptials to (I silently look around the office and at the faces I will most likely never see again except in my memories of another failed job interview experience) … her.

5. But, and this is a medium-sized “but,” at the same time, strive to keep my expectations in check and understand that I will probably never lay eyes on any of these people again, so I allow myself to imply out loud with my outdoors voice that I am considering and even being considered by other companies whose offices I have not yet seen from inside the front door. Was I keeping their expectations in check?

Needless to say, it’s a delicate dance, the attempt to land work, as intricate a social dance as any one might hear explained in nature documentaries. And I can’t dance.

Those interviews, many of them, are burned in my memory. Many are not. They became good anecdotes, some of them; I interviewed for a copy editor job at a porn magazine on Lexington Avenue once.

What? (Needle scratches across the record. And I didn’t even hear music playing.)

My memory tells me that I lied to my girlfriend at the time about this particular interview, and I told her that the publication had contacted me out of the blue (I shrugged my shoulders like the top-hatted Monopoly man indicating his empty pockets) rather than what had happened: I was in the process of mailing my résumé in response to every single advertised publishing job in each day’s New York Times classified section, porn and non. (This was 1997, before we began to live our current online lives, in which I can now be turned down for a job within the next hour if I want my ego to be insulted for free and speedily.)

I sent my résumé to dozens of jobs each day, hundreds each month that summer. I received responses in the middle-to-high single digits each month, a terrible return on investment, especially since a job with a publisher did not wind up as the result. I placed the same wager with my résumé and postage with this (porn) publisher that I placed with every other publisher, both those legitimate ones and those that might infuriate my girlfriend that year.

I was interviewed in person by someone who was using a pseudonym. So that happened. I was not offered the job, because I failed the copy editing exam: I am by nature a prude, and the prude naturally emerged at the right-wrong moment.

There is no “X” in “success.”

* * * *
This first appeared in May. When this first appeared, a reader asked if my girlfriend knows this story. She does.

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The WordPress Daily Prompt for September 3 asks us to reflect on the word, “Sidewalk.”

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9 comments

  1. Martha Kennedy · September 3, 2016

    Yep. After I lost my job at the ski factory, I was desperate. I answered every ad in the paper. One led me to a narrow Sam Spade stairway to a second floor office where a guy behind a big desk was waiting for me. My co-interviewee was already there. We listened to the description of the job and the publication, encyclopedias, (I was hoping for a job in publishing) and then my co-interviewee said in a New Jersey accent, “OK let me see if I get dis. You want us to go door to door selling pornographic encyclopedias on commission, right?” The interviewer said, “That’s the jist of it.” My co-interviewee took my hand and said, “C’mon. We’re outta’ here,” and seconds later, I was back on the street telling the guy thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. sandmanjazz · September 3, 2016

    In the early days of dating a young lady in a wheelchair I am beginning to see the world in a very different light…

    Liked by 3 people

    • Martha Kennedy · September 3, 2016

      My dad used a cane, then crutches, then a wheelchair as I was growing up and into my teen years. It’s the only world I’ve ever seen and I have an uncanny knack for catching people who are walking beside me if they start to fall. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. vermontbookworks · September 3, 2016

    I lost my job over two years ago. The local staples store closed. Everyone now has to travel almost 30 miles to get office supplies. I think that you should write a book. I can help with the proof and edit work. With all the typing you do, I am sure you have some wonderful stories. Let me know.

    Vermont Book Works

    Liked by 1 person

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