The anniversary of my mom's passing, Valentine's Day, I received a call out of the blue from a Headhunter asking me if I would be interested in pursuing a job opportunity in my former professional career as a Sales Engineer for software companies. I was over joyed to receive the call. I even asked, "How did you find me?" I stopped looking for work and didn't post my resume anywhere. He told me that he has a database and my name was in it. Not wanting to kick a gift horse in the mouth, I listened to him describe the job he had to fill. It was exciting. In an instant, I was ready to get back to my former life.
I was caught off guard. My resume is out of date. I took a work hiatus in order to care for my demented mother full-time; that was 6 years ago. My plan to reintroduce myself to the working world is to write the story of how I cared for my mom so that when I do reach out to my professional network, Ill have something to show for my time out of the rat race. I feel that I need to account for my time, what better way than to write a book?
Thrilled about the possibility to work again in a field that I enjoyed, I threw caution to the wind and turned my focus to my resume. The idea of a job where I would work a set amount of hours every week, not have to literally clean up human feces and get a paycheck at the end of each pay period, caused my knees to knock. Could it be? Will I find a job as a Sales Engineer again? Is the job market opening up to people like me, the long-term unemployed, the ones who are labeled lazy and waiting for handouts by some in the Republican Party?
For a couple of days over Valentine's Day weekend, I began to see myself working again. I was hopeful. It felt good. I saw myself solving business problems with software solutions and communicating with people in business meetings, people who are not hallucinating about wild animals and small children. Imagining a time when I received lots of calls from headhunters vying for my attention to pursue new opportunities, I felt like my life had value once more.
Based on my experiences, too much weight is put on people's careers and work, "what do you do" is usually the first question a new acquaintance will ask upon meeting for the first time. Saying the words, "I'm unemployed" typically brings a change in the mood, facial expressions change and everything that is said by the non-job holder after admitting unemployment falls on deaf ears. Unemployment seems to cause people to be classified into a group of outcasts. The media doesn't help the plight of the unemployed, the news seems to feed on the meme's of those who would be happy if we all vanished.
It's disheartening. People like me work our entire lives, making money for the overlords and paying taxes; doing what we can to make more money for ourselves, we feed the hungry giants with our hides. All of us are disposable when we reach a certain age. Reaching the age of inequality and unfairness, I wonder if everything is an illusion, a pipe dream that we are all lead to believe will help us achieve our goals when in reality, we are pawns to a more sinister plot. The playing field is not level; it never has been and unless common people come together, we will forever be doomed to a life of corporate slavery.
Lots of people are living one paycheck away from poverty, slaving away day in and day out just to survive. Why can't the ideals of the 60's and 70's be made true and real? I grew up in these decades, I was a young impressionable little girl. I believed everything, especially believed that I could achieve anything I set my self out to do because I believed that I could. My father, he believed in America back then, he believed that democracy would help us all get ahead. I did too.
Now, it's been almost 6 years since I was laid off from my job. Experience has taught me that society judges us by what we do for work. If one finds themselves unemployed, immediately we are judged because we don't have an answer to the dreaded question, "so, what do you do?" Collecting unemployment benefits and looking for work are never good answers in today's America. Citizens turn against each other and feel angry, selfishly thinking only of themselves as they sing, "what about me? Why should you get a hand out?"
Well, what about you? You could lose your employment tomorrow, your financial stream could be cut and you too could need unemployment insurance benefits. You do realize that we pay for this insurance when we are working? It's not a handout, it's Unemployment Insurance Benefits!
Long-term Unemployment is like living with the plague. Few employers want to talk to us, a group of people who are highly educated with decades of experience that could improve the economy and state of our country. When I told the headhunter that I was out of work for 6 years because I was my mother's full time care giver, he first asked me how old she was (illegal) and then yelled at me when I told him that I hadn't worked in a long time. He told me that my skills are outdated and that technology changes every 8 months. I attempted to interject, "But I have very good sales skills, it's not learned, sales is an innate skill." I was ignored. The sweet sounding Headhunter was pleasant when he thought I was gainfully employed, as soon as he heard I was unemployed, he immediately discredited my entire work history. I was insulted.
He would not take my resume, instead he told me that there are people with beautiful resumes who are over looked. I asked, 'Well, you haven't seen my resume, how can you judge me and my successes?"
His reply, "You have been out of work too long, no companies will look at you because you cannot prove that you can hold a job."
I was floored. I had worked my entire life. I had a good career that afforded me my perceived "American Dream" where I owned my own home and could care for my mother. Suddenly, I was classified as a loser, lazy and unable to contribute to a company's bottom line!
A bit miffed with the Headhunter, I asked. "Do you read the news? Did you know that President Obama met with executives of large corporations a few days ago and many of them signed a pledge not to discriminate against the long term unemployed? Businesses promised to give everyone a fair shot with open job opportunities and stop tossing the resumes of unemployed folks."
I got no reply.
The call left my mind spinning. I began to feel badly for all the people who weren't as fortunate as I am to have a husband who can support me. What about others like me with no husband, who made the tough decision to be a caregiver for an aging parent? Why are caregivers clumped into a group of people who are considered lazy just because we don't bring home a paycheck? Obviously, our critics must not have had the pleasure of caring for an adult baby; a parent who requires assistance with all daily living needs.
Why is caring for an aging parent considered noble, yet we are considered outcasts when our caring job has ended?
Not willing to allow a stranger to define who I am, I have chosen to remain focused, write and publish how I did it, how I helped my mother to have a peaceful end of life even with a diagnosis of Lewy Bodies Dementia. Our story is worth telling, so… when someone asks me what I do, my reply? "I write."