5 Stages Of Job Hunting Grief
Not wanting to move into the basement of my parents’ house back in the Midwest — as they jokingly/seriously mentioned throughout many phone conversations about my less than stellar financial situation — I decided that it was time to hit the metaphorical pavement (the internet) and start the job hunt. This journey had to wait until the next morning though, as the new Game of Thrones was airing and King Joffrey is not to be left waiting.
Like any reasonable adult jobless male, the first thing I did was call my girlfriend and complain about my impending homelessness. Naturally, this was the right move. She set me up with an interview at a sandwich shop that she had worked at during her freshman year in school.
Run a cash register
No previous food handling experience needed
This sounded perfect to me, as I can barely make mac n’ cheese without burning my apartment down.
I met with the manager of the shop for my interview in a cave-like basement of the restaurant (a place I didn’t realize existed in New York City restaurants before this moment). She complimented my backpack; I complimented her sandwich-shaped business cards — things were going well. Walking out from the basement storage area of the shop, I felt sub-shaped business cards were in my future.
Yet, the esteemed sandwich-making position went to a “more qualified” candidate. Apparently, my super-handy liberal arts degree at a private university, six internships, and sunny disposition were not what the shop was looking for in an ideal sandwich-making candidate.
Sufficiently pissed off at the world for not getting the job — despite not having any legitimate qualifications for it in the first place — I began to spitefully apply to any and every job in an angry frenzy. Nothing was too menial; nothing was too over-my-head.
I applied to be a social media blogger at a tech startup company, I emailed a man who wanted someone to teach his 10 year-old son how to play basketball on the weekends (I went on Amazon to peruse Coach Carter-type windbreakers), I applied to be an “Artist’s Assistant” for a middle-aged Midtown expressionist painter, I sent my resume to a publishing company who was seeking an Assistant Encyclopedia Editor, I offered my services in tutoring Spanish — a language I hadn’t spoke since senior year in high school, and I offered my skills as a babysitter and part-time dog-walker.
Anger fueled me; my finger clicked “apply” before I looked at job descriptions. I was going to prove to the sandwich shop manager that I was worthy of employment. Oh, sweet, sweet revenge!
Yet, for some reason or another, probably because these jobs were already filled — that’s how I’m looking at it in hindsight — no one ever got back to me.
I applied for more job titles like “Athletic Motivator,” “Cat Caregiver,” and in a moment of extreme desperation, “Digital Camera Review Specialist.” But the comical peak of my frenzied application process came when I called up Ms. Alabaster with an inquiry to her “Antique Packing” job.
Upon her answer on the other line, I could tell this may not be a viable opportunity. She could only hear every third word I spoke and seemed too old to truly know how to even use a telephone. Curiously, she had enough internet acumen to post a listing online. Ignoring this age-induced discrepancy, I followed through with the remainder of the phone conversation. Here’s a breakdown:
- 2-3 minutes of trying to understand each other
- Another minute of garbled static on her end
- Her telling me she really just wanted someone to take care of her mother
- Me questioning the possibility of someone her age actually having a living mother
- Her accepting that I only wanted to pack her antiques
- Me telling her I was a music major (thus, highly qualified for this job)
- 3-5 minutes of her describing the glories of her jazz flute abilities
- 2-3 minutes of her telling me how bad her last antique packer was
- Me consoling her about her trials and tribulations with her past antique packer
- Her questioning my physical strength
- Me telling her I was a, “strong, fit, warm-blooded male”
- Thirty seconds of me being stunned and embarrassed that I used the phrase “warm-blooded male”
- Her saying she would give me a shot
- 1-2 minutes of garbled goodbyes, including me saying something to the extent of “you won’t regret this.”
Ms. Alabaster never called me back, sending me into a deep spiral of despair. Things that didn’t matter started to matter a whole lot: I would never get to see her antique collection; I would never get to talk more jazz-flute shop. With the loss of my possible Mrs. Robinson, I decided I wouldn’t send another job application out. No one deserved me.
Then, the sandwich shop called.
They were willing to give me another shot at their new location. I had to go to another interview — presumably to make sure I still had hands and didn’t drool when I spoke — and was hired the following week. Everything was illuminated! The shop offered me some solid part-time hours and decent compensation, not enough to cover rent, but I was close.
Trying to scrounge together part-time jobs is stressful, but at the same time it’s the most fun I’ve had working in all of my life. You meet truly interesting people from all walks of life: no constant 9-5 grind, no cubicles squeezing the life out of you, and no boss telling you how he likes his mocha-java-chip frappuccino.
The sandwich shop has been one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. The people I work with are some of the nicest people on the planet, and every customer I serve is genuinely happy with my work. I wake up and read the newspaper, go for a walk, drink coffee, and roll into the shop at noon most days. I don’t have to adapt to any office culture and my uniform is a t-shirt and jeans.
I’m also more energized to do the things I love — indulging in new hobbies, walking through a city that I sometimes ignore, and reconnecting with people I haven’t spoken to in a while. I know that this part-time existence won’t fulfill me forever, but for now, it’s pretty perfect.
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Most importantly, they’ll teach you confidence.
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Everyone convinced you that taking the first job that would have you was the best way to secure your future, and now you’re absolutely paranoid of letting it go.