Sunday, August 5, 2007

An Update


I just wanted to post a brief update on where I'm at. It's been 3 weeks now since I had no choice but to walk away from my job. Losing your job is a very humbling, depressing experience. Especially when you've been there awhile, you keep replaying events in your head, wondering if something could have gone differently. And when you realize that no, it couldn't, that this was inevitable and was going to go down the same path, no matter what you did, I guess you feel a little better. But the injustice of what happened stays with you.

I do have anxiety, over where the next dollar's going to be coming from. I've had trouble sleeping, thinking over what to do now. I noticed something, that when I've applied to jobs, I kept telling myself that if I got it, "it was just for now." That's because a lot of jobs I come across aren't jobs that will be stable for 25 or 30 years, or don't have room for growth. But then I realized that when I got this last job, at a liquor store that I managed for over 3 years, that's what I said then, that it'd just "be for now." And now here I am, 3 years later. I feel like Rip Van Winkle. I haven't really been able to do anything of substance or grow as a person because I spent 6 days a week working, at a place where there was no possibility of movement, either upward or anywhere.

Don't get me wrong, things have happened. I took a few classes and finished school (there's actually a funny story about that, but I'll post that at the end, so don't go anywhere). I was able to pay off my 6 thousand dollars in credit card debt. I was able to put a dent in my student loans. I was able to put away some money so I can lay low for awhile and relax, and hold out for a real job, rather than the first thing that came along.

But all I did during those three years was work. Prior to taking this job, I was the local organizer of a presidential campaign. I'd also just started up an organization with a few friends to serve as a hub for progressive issues in the local community where I live. While this wasn't a professional calling, it was very fulfilling for me personally, and really instilled a sense of mission and self-confidence that I don't remember ever having had been there in me. But shortly after starting this job, my boss offered me a 50 or even 60 hour workweek. I was still in pretty bad debt at that time, so that sounded wonderful. So I worked around 50 hours a week from then on. And I had to walk away from my volunteer work. While I probably would do the same now, I still had to pay a pretty big price.

When you're disabled, like I am, and can't drive, you really have to approach the job search from a whole different angle. You see jobs that sound really great, but they're so far away and the only way you can get there is by being on a train for 2 hours. And there are plenty of jobs where I live, if you don't mind flipping burgers or making coffee. Did I tell you how fortunate I was that I was able to put some money away?

So now, I'm going to prepare for a second run towards grad school. I initially was going to go to grad school this fall for library science. But I scrapped that for reasons I kind of don't want to get into right now. This time, I'm eying law as the profession I want to be in. I honestly never thought about it as an undergrad because I didn't think I was good enough. But hey, I was able to get my degree, so, why not give it a shot? A good thing about really considering it now is that I have more than a year to prepare. I have a few things I have to worry about, like where the letters of recommendation are coming from, but I hope to resolve them in time. It's a big risk to take, since it's going to cost a lot of money, but my hope is that I'll make the money (and then some) to pay it off.

My fear is that if I don't do this, if I continue on the course I'm on, I'll be drifting from job to job for the rest of my life. A few years here, a few years there. I'm a smart guy, I've busted my ass my whole life just to get to places that most people would take for granted. I have skills that wouldn't have been given to me (by God or whoever) if they weren't meant to be used. So...yeah. LOL. I'll keep you updated.

Oh, and as for that story I promised you. This was around Christmas time, 2005. I felt at that time I was at a pretty good place. I'd paid off my bills, was saving a little bit, I was making pretty good money. My family was trying to persuade me to go back to school, that I shouldn't have to work at the store for the rest of my life. I was really reluctant to do this, because I didn't believe in fixing what wasn't broken. Don't get me wrong, I would have gone back eventually, but all in good time. School wasn't going anywhere. But not long after, I'd hurt my back. It turned out not to be serious and it went away, but at the time, I was scared. I had no health insurance, and really didn't want to put any more stress on it. One day, I go into work. There were deliveries and there were boxes all over the place, to be put away. I told my boss, Debbie Wakefield, about my back and that I'd do my best, but I really had to limit myself. Her response: "So you're telling me these boxes are going to stay on the floor?" Not a hint of concern or compassion in her voice. So, I find it really ironic that my family couldn't get me back into the classroom, but that one remark from my boss, all on its own, did just that. I took the few classes I needed and got my degree. So, Debbie Wakefield, if you ever stumble upon this, I'd like to give my immense thanks to you.

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