Lessons in Eating Humble Pie

So, a condition of getting unemployment checks absolutely free in the mail each week (whee!) is mandatory attendance at a “Career Center Seminar.” I could hardly wait, as I was promised “services that can help you with your job search – such as…computer access to job listings….”

Computer access? Well, sign me up! About 22 others were in the room this morning (I opted for downtown Boston, as I was really afraid of hanging out with fishermen up near home). I would say everyone’s demeanor was not so much deer caught in headlights as the resigned look of puppies and cats too long in the pound. The instructor filled us with such basics as “Send thank-you notes,” and “Don’t use LOL or language like that in a cover letter.” I see that one of the courses offered in the Work Place Center is “How to Use a Mouse.”

Okay, it’s easy to feel smug. As we went around the room, introducing ourselves and saying what we did (overtones of AA), there wasn’t a smirk or hint that every one there wasn’t taking being unemployed very seriously. And more: that they felt a real pride in the jobs they’d had. There was:

  • a nurse
  • a landscaper who didn’t think he wanted to go back to that again next summer
  • an organic chemist
  • someone in food services with 17 years experience
  • a bookseller
  • a product manager
  • someone who worked for years in a real estate office that moved to Waltham, “…and I don’t have a car, so…” shrug, resigned smile.
  • a tourist trolley driver

My cell phone rang as I was leaving — my niece to tell me she just got accepted to the college she wanted.  A nice antidote to an hour of sad endings.

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4 Comments on “Lessons in Eating Humble Pie”


  1. Damn … You know I went to that meeting a few months ago. It is indeed sobering. And, well, depressing. And ultimately, utterly useless. They did not offer, in that meeting or after, anything that could have possibly gotten me another gig. It was definitely a ‘check the box’ kind of thing to keep the checks coming. I thought there was gonna be a test … one that I might fail and thus not get my checks :-).

    Growing up sucks, huh?
    Christopher


  2. wait a minute … tourist trolley driver? cool gig. but i guess the competition is tough …

  3. swstone Says:

    Yeah, been there, done that–twice in my life. It is never pleasant–a lot of self doubt, and even desperate thoughts (oh God, not Wal*Mart). The system is not particularly helpful–the advice about networking is true, remember, it’s not what you know, but who you know. But the checks are helpful.

    My advice is to let everyone know what your situation is. I’ve found that there’s no shame in it–anyone who is good had been through it at least once (or twice in my case).

    Hang in there and don’t give up–enjoy the time off–make the most of it, but don’t enjoy it too much.

  4. Janice Says:

    From a friend:
    Let’s think of a company that could use them all… Trolly driver
    chauffeurs the car-less real estate person; landscaper, nurse and
    chemist work on cutting edge health organic gardening techniques;
    production manager analyses data from real estate person and devised
    optimal direct marketing algorithm for our gardening team; food
    service person makes healthy tasty snacks from organic produce that
    are delivered by trolly driver. I’m stymied by bookseller.


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