It happened about a week ago.
While I was concentrating intently on something else entirely, I suddenly thought I felt a tickle in my pocket. Sure enough, my trusty iPhone was vibrating. I wasn’t expecting a call from anyone and I didn’t recognize the number on the screen.
As it turned out, it was an employer to which I had applied sometime in the past few months. They would like to invite me to travel hundreds of miles to their out-of-state location on Friday to sit for testing.
Hmm, I know how this song goes. The angst-ridden lyrics include a mention of “I’ve been down this road a time or two,” perhaps as a rhyme for “and this is not the job for you.” Let’s see: First, you spend hundreds of dollars in gas, restaurant and hotel money to sit in a training room with 20 or 30 other wannabes in various stages of unemployment discomfort. I went through this twice down in Orange County this past spring. Either you type insipid essays in Microsoft Word or you bubble in your multiple guess answers with a Number 2 pencil. Then you go home and a couple of months later you receive a congratulatory email along with notification that you have now been added to the list of candidates for any management position for which the organization should happen to open recruitment within the next year. About a month after that, you receive another email inviting you for an interview. You make more hotel reservations, take gas money out of savings, drive hundreds of miles again to get dressed up, shake hands and tell a lot of stories about your management style and a time when you disagreed with your employer’s decision and how you implemented it effectively among your subordinates anyway. After that, who knows? You might receive a call inviting you back to a second interview (now that you’ve already blown through $1,500 in travel expenses) or you might receive a form letter informing you that a better qualified candidate was selected and better luck next time.
All of this flashed through my mind in the ten seconds I had to respond to the employer on the phone. My answer tasted delicious on my tongue. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” I burbled in my most sympathetic voice, “but I’ve already accepted another position.”
You read that right, folks. After nearly a year of unemployment, Uncle Guacamole is once again gainfully employed in a full-time job.
It gave me great pleasure to be able to turn down this offer to spend a lot of money on nothing. This pleasure was enhanced immeasurably by uttering it from my own cubicle at my new job on a very quiet floor of an office building from which several dozen of my nearby coworkers could hear my heartfelt rejection.
About six months ago, one of my readers asked that I be sure to inform her when I finally find a job by uttering “Hooray!” and “Yeehaw!” in this space.
Never say that I’m not a man of my word.
I have now been on the job for one week and, I’ve got to tell you folks, I am loving it. I was a supervisor for years until I made my way up to manager. This job is neither of those and thus represents a significant demotion. Also I had to take a big salary cut from my last position. But then again, it’s a big raise from the zero dollars and zero cents I was earning as an unemployed person. And I will unequivocally assert that it is a heck of a lot better than standing in line for three hours waiting for a food handout.
I am also now a commuter. My job (ooh, it sounds so lovely to say my job) is in downtown Sacramento, which is 36 miles away, nearly an hour’s drive in rush hour traffic. Also, there is no parking to be had without paying a monthly fee to a garage and then hiking from there to the office tower in which I work. Thus, my wonderful wife drives me to work each morning, then returns at 5 p.m. to pick me up. At two round-trips daily, that’s about 144 miles, which works out to well over $150 in gas. And we will certainly have to purchase another vehicle sooner rather than later. Our old trusty isn’t going to last long at this rate.
It is truly a blessing from God that my wife is willing to do all the driving. The rush hour traffic as one approaches downtown on Interstate 5 reminds this New York boy of his romps of yesteryear on the Long Island Expressway. It is enough to fray the nerves of one stronger than I. My wife, however, has it down to a science. She has memorized every lane change from Arco Arena to Q Street and manages to execute this automotive dance with balletic aplomb. I’ll say it again: God has been very good to me.
As if that weren’t enough, I have a boss who is an answer to prayer. His kindness and patience humbles me. And if, someday, I make it back into management, I want to be like him.