It’s been 3 years now at my job this month. Weirdly enough, it still feels “new” to me. The past is still very much present in my thoughts.
I’ve been through more than a dozen surgeries, depression, crap jobs, poor as hell-ness, and more, but nothing prepared me for the eight months of straight desperation that comes with trying to find a new job when you are unemployed.
Don’t get me wrong. Moving here was the absolute right decision for us. Becky could not find work in Fargo. And to be honest, the wages in Fargo weren’t going to be enough to cover our student loan payments. At least in the cities we can earn enough to cover our asses with a bit more to throw at emergencies. In Fargo, a $30 ticket to see Patton Oswalt represented our entire savings one week.
Three years ago, I was at my end. We were unable to even afford bankruptcy. We were not sure how the next month’s rent would get paid. I had a house that wasn’t selling and in pre-foreclosure. In my head, I figured if nothing happened by June, I’d end everything. Shitty thinking, but we had used up every backup emergency resource available to us – 401k, life insurance, parents, credit cards. Our resources at the time included one pair of khaki pants, one pair of shoes that was 2.5 years old, a laptop with a missing p button and a power cord held together by duct tape, a car that hadn’t had an oil change in 5,000 miles running on prayers, living on carl buddig deli meat and ramen and pb&j sandwiches.
Then the house sold. And I got a job.
Here’s what I wrote back then after landing this job:
Job hunting has never been this hard in my life. It has been brutal. Painful. Confusing. Madening. Frustrating. Full of moments that seem like, “This is it, this is the one!” and then having that job pulled from your open hands, and then crushed in front of you. And every time you see Romney saying he’s jobless, or see some politician on tv talking about how jobless people need to just get back to work you want to punch their grandchildren while they watch. Better yet, make them apply to jobs they are more than qualified for for 9 months without landing anything.
Every job advice column grates on you. You follow the advice, you blame yourself, you want to scream at HR computers who disqualify you without explanation.
Its experiences like this that people with jobs just don’t understand. It’s so easy to get comfortable, to think that you are a highly qualified, great worker with impeccable references and qualifications. But the moment you take that leap into the unknown and find out how none of that means squat in a new hiring computer system that rejects you without a chance after you spent 2 hours filling out their stupid forms that repeat every goddamn thing that is already on your resume. Yet, don’t accept that where you are is where you will have to be forever. Fear of leaving a job you hate can be just as soul-killing as trying to land a job you’ll love.
Yeah, today is a day full of relief, fear, confusion, a new ability to breathe. I’m still trying to process it. It’s going to take a long time to recover.
Three years later I’m ¾ of the way through a payment program to get rid of the 20k+ in debt that piled up in those months and in Fargo. Knowing that 4 cards will be paid off by next year July, and a fifth card not long after that, makes me feel good. Knowing we’ll pay off the used car in the next two months makes me happy.
I got this word cloud from my coworkers, who each contributed three words that describe me. I also got the Doctor Who mug at the top of this post.
We have had a hard road. Becky escaped academia for good, found a new career. We had two more bouts with unemployment – one as horrific as mine in 2012,. In March this year, Becky found a job where she will spend 3 years or more because she really found her place. We continue to scrape by each month to focus on paying down cards. We find cheap entertainment options to keep life interesting, amid the day-to-day grind.
I’m up to two pairs of Khakis!