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Looking for work, from my recliner

My last real job laid me off at the end of January, 2022. 22 months later I'm still in my recliner, looking for work.

Mostly, that's because I packed and moved to Seattle, and since getting here I've only been halfheartedly job-hunting. Also, three places have hired me, but I quickly quit all three.

My savings paid the rent, so I could afford to be picky, but now there's barely enough savings to keep my bank account open, so I'm seriously looking for work.

Still haven't left the recliner, though. I'm not literally pounding the pavement.

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After 40 years of office jobs, I'd rather do almost anything else, so I'm running an "I'll do anything" ad. In San Francisco in the 1990s, doing odd jobs for strangers worked out well because there weren't hoards of other people doing that. Now, of course, it's simply gig work on Craigslist, where my ad is one of dozens.

In a week, only one very talky man has replied to my listing. I called back, and he very vaguely explained what he wanted me to do, which seemed slightly sketchy — he's a homebuilder, he said, and wants help spamming up business for his company, and editing his book for novice builders and prospects, full of paid promotions that he literally called 'kickback'.

What I just said in a sentence, though, took him half an hour to say, with a hundred meandering side stories, while I listened without being paid to listen.

He said he'd had 13 employees, but laid them all off a few months ago when business slowed. He said it like this was a shrewd business decision, and I thought about clicking him off straight away, but he said I'd be working remote from home.

Right now, I'd work for Bernie Madoff, and offer a discount if it's work from home.

So me and Mr Sketchy arranged a second conversation for the next morning, when he said he'd show me the basics of the work, online, sharing screens. 

Next morning I texted him at the exact moment he'd asked, and he replied by 'liking' my text, whatever that means. Then he was supposed to call me, but instead there came cellular silence for fifteen minutes, at which time I texted back, 'Peace out'.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

Meanwhile, here's an update on that help-the-homeless program at Metro Transit, a job I actually want. I'm amazed to report that two people at Metro replied to my email, and it wasn't just a form letter 'thanks for the inquiry' — it was six sentences from one person, twelve from the other.

Unfortunately, it only adds up to, "We'll be posting the position in a few weeks, so please apply." And I will, but Metro moves slowly and bureaucratically, so it'll be months before they officially turn me down.

♦ ♦ ♦

For a quicker income, I've applied at McDonald's.

Why not? I worked at McD in the 1970s and '80s, and didn't hate it any worse than I hate office jobs. The work of flipping burgers probably hasn't changed much, and unlike the teenagers who work there, I won't show up high or hungover, and won't be trying to hook up with the pretty girl working the register.

McDonald's is a minimum wage job, and the minimum wage in Washington is $15.74. I'd have to cut the caviar, but I could live on that, and there's a McD just outside city limits, a quick bus ride from home. Seattle has its own minimum wage, however — $18.69 p/hour — and there's an in-city McD that's almost as close, so that's where I applied. 

The economics of McDonald's: inside city limits, they're required by law to pay everyone three dollars an hour more than in the suburbs, but a Big Mac costs the same at either location.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

I've also submitted my résumé on-line, to two temp services — a local agency, and an international corporation that has an office in Seattle.

At the local outfit, their online form asked only for my name and email address, with an uplink to attach my resume, and an open-text box to write a few paragraphs about myself. The whole process took about five minutes.

At the massive agency, the application was more complex, and took about ten minutes, but their software surprised me by already knowing who I am. They'd somehow snatched my my name, phone, email, and real world address off my laptop when I connected to the website, so instead of me typing it, they asked only, "Is this contact information correct?"

That's creepy as Edgar Allen Poe, but yeah, the contact info was correct.

♦ ♦ ♦ 

At both agencies, I asked for office work, because that's what I do, what I've always done. Accurate typing, data entry, and filing is my life story. I'm good at it, seriously, and sadly.

If I gave a damn what anyone thought it would be embarrassing to say this, but in my entire life, there are only three things I've been good at:

① I was a pretty good husband, until my wife died.

② Once in a while, I've written something people don't fall asleep reading.

And ③ I'm very, very good at mindless, meaningless office work, which is probably my next job, and needs to happen quickly.

12/10/2023   

13 comments:

  1. Maybe Dean can get you job in the hotel kitchen

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    1. Sorry, Claude, he already got ME that job, and I have to tell you, he's actually a really sweet guy, so I'm starting to wonder about Doug: has anyone ever actually met him? Does he really exist? Hmm...Eel...

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    2. Dean still exists, still annoys me almost daily, but I've grown weary of writing about him... at least until he pisses me off again.

      I'd rather be unemployed, evicted, and living in the bushes behind the library than working with Dean in the hotel kitchen.

      Delete
  2. I haven't looked for work in awhile, but one of my friends was regaling me in her reality of resumé schlupping these days. Apparently for office work, she suspects it's all screened by AI, which is a fancy way to say they're basically just looking for a couple of keywords. If you don't hit them, your resumé will never even get read, she says. This goes along with what I noticed, having to learn new productivity software lately: the people REALLY embracing AI and automation in the workplace are HR, comms, basically the people described by the late, great David Graeber in "Bullshit Jobs." It writes the agendas for meetings mandated but which accomplish little, and documents what was said at them though nobody will ever actually read it. By automating everything (including screening new potential hires), they're writing their own pink slips. What's going to happen is very much going to suck but at least all the cheery HR drones are the ones that will go down first.

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    1. Yeah, I'm sure AI is involved, because it's stupid. One of the places translated my résumé into their database — and I was thankful they didn't want me to re-type it line-by-line like a few years ago — but the info was absorbed wrong, and omitted my two more recent jobs, so it looked like I hadn't worked since 1999. It also took my last employer's address as my home address, so it looks like I live in Wisconsin.

      AI is going to get better than it is, though, and stop making such stupid mistakes, and when it does a hell of a lot of people will be screwed. HR, definitely, and that's the good news. But also all of art and literature and music. And of course, everything I've done at every office job I've had boils down to looking at info, and putting it in the right place, and it's almost unimaginable that AI *won't* be able to do that within a very few years.

      It's a brave new world, where joblessness and homelessness awaits us all. Take a number, find a doorway, and huddle together for warmth.

      Delete
  3. That makes perfect sense as long as you ignore the difference between screening and interviewing. I spent the last 25 years I worked working in white collar environments. I hired a few of them. I did ask the H/R folks to put the spellchecked resumes on top, but to get me anything that came close to what I was looking for. I know AI frequently screens resumes submitted over the Web, but I frequently looked for the quirky ones, and AI is weakest when it comes to quirk. Not saying things won't be different in a dozen years.

    John

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    1. In a dozen years? In a dozen years we'll ALL be posting flyers saying "I'll do anything legal for $18.00 and hour".

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    2. My résumé is slightly quirky, though mostly bland, and I would love to find a quirky employer. But yeah, like you say, HR screeens out anything interesting, and AI is helping now, so it's a double-screen. Craigslist is a possible workaround, but only for the few employers who look at the 'work wanted' listings. Most of them just use it to scoop up applications and résumés to be lost in the blizzard.

      There's still been only one reply to my 'anything legal' listing. Maybe I should hop on a bus and physically post flyers in laundromats again, but that's so much work I think I'd rather be homeless.

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    3. It's always been my observation that the things we anticipate is imminent take decades or centuries and the things we think will happen when we're safely returned to the clay happen staggeringly quickly.

      Flying cars and a computer in every pocket, for example.

      John

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    4. Wow, that "is imminent" should be "as imminent". One keystroke and I sound like Jethro Bodine. I probably did that on my resume as well.

      John

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    5. Remember picture-phones? They were the big sci-fi promise for about as long as I can remember, just image, being able to *see* the people you're talking to on the phone.

      Now we carry these annoying cell phones everywhere we go, so we're constantly tethered to the internet and telephone — by choice, mind you. And I guess the picture-phone is part of the deal, if you turn the camera on, but I'd rather chop off one of my testicles with a can opener.

      Delete
  4. Doug, maybe you could get a job with Metro getting people home who have been rendered lost by AI.

    j

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    1. Is AI giving out bus info now? Google does, when I search for bus info, inserting its own probably AI-enhanced answer before the search results, but its answers are never much help and sometimes wrong.

      Delete

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