Since my favorite job ended on Halloween (oooh, scary!), I’ve had five interviews. Of those, two went with other candidates, one turned out to be a volunteer position that I’ll do as time permits because the group is awesome. One was a recruiter. That leaves one from whom I have yet to hear.
All have taken place in the last month.
According to the news media, first-time jobless claims are no longer rising at the frightening rate they were at the beginning of the year. At the same time, these same media report that retail sales have bottomed out, and might even be slightly higher.
Why is this?
I’m not an economist, nor am I a statistician. I am, however, extremely opinionated, so my lack of expertise will not stand in my way. The economic state we’re in did not come about overnight (despite how much the right-wing radio talk show hosts would like to make it sound that way), and it’s not going to be solved overnight, either (despite how much the left-leaning media — and the unemployed — would like it to). Times are tough, and they’re going to continue to be tough for a while.
When we first found out how bad things were going to be, around the time of the election, we did what we were taught to do when times are tough. We hunkered down. We saved our money. We cherished our families, and our communities, and we all pitched in together to take care of each other.
However, we’re Americans. Americans don’t do deprivation well. We can’t stick to our diets. After giving up holiday gifts, and getting through the first few weeks of our New Year’s resolutions, we fell off the wagon. We started to spend money again.
If I were a first-class scold, this is the part where I would tell you all how you are puny and weak, and don’t deserve to live in this great land. Alas, I, too, am weak (although not so puny), and I, too, have bought a few things I don’t entirely need lately. I bought some beautiful coral cotton and cotton blend yarn to make a lacy sweater to wear when I go into air-conditioning. Knitting it, a few rows at a time, in a chevron lace rib, makes me feel more cheerful. I also bought a blouse to wear under a jacket to job interviews, so there would be at least one item in my professional wardrobe that was produced in this century.
This week, I went to the office of the New York State Department of Labor for some career counseling. I hoped they could give me some new advice. I’ve been networking, following the job boards, volunteering. Maybe there was something else I hadn’t thought of, and wouldn’t think of if left solely to my own devices.
After the fire drill (which made me feel like I was working in an office again), the pleasant man assigned to my case started the conversation. We discussed what public relations professionals do. We discussed what kinds of jobs were like public relations, but might be listed differently. We talked about the sad state of publishing in general, and he told me about a client who lost her job in paper sales because so few things are being printed anymore. I suggested the paper industry form an association with the slogan, “Get it in writing. Get it on paper.”
We also discussed comics, of course. He likes old movies, and I thought he’d like M.
His supervisor stopped by to see how we were doing, and we discussed my hopes and fears about my so-called career. She suggested I make a list of companies – especially small businesses – that could use my skills. Maybe, she thought, I could approach medical students about to graduate, and sell my services to help them grow their practices. When I said that was not my specialty and they would reject me, she asked why that frightened me. She suggested I make a list of jobs that most scared me, and apply for them.
This is the same advise I give to my son, when he’s afraid of trying something new with his career. “What’s the worst that can happen?” I ask him. “They say ‘No?’ Then you’re no worse off than you are now.” She was saying the same thing to me.
Excuse me if this column is on the short side. I have to make a list of things that scare me, and start crossing things off.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, is always pleased when external forces demonstrate that Mom is always right.