Not the one they’re looking for

February 1, 2013 on 7:22 pm | In daily life, employment, jobs, Uncategorized, unemployment | 3 Comments




Several weeks ago, I applied for yet another job. It was not a teaching job, but rather a writing and editing position the description of which was nearly identical to my skills.  I was given an interview. After the interview I sent the interviewer a handwritten thank you note. Ten days after the interview, having heard nothing, I called to find out where they were in the candidate selection process.

The interviewer told me,  “We’re in the process of finalizing the hiring of another candidate, but you can call back in a week and we’ll let you know if we are going to do any second interviews.

With nothing to lose, a week later I called back as she suggested.

She told me again, “We’re in the process of finalizing the hiring of another candidate.”

Yes, the exact same words. It takes three weeks to “finalize the hiring” of someone for a job that pays in the low five figures? The job listing is still on their website (where others have been removed and new ones appeared). So I’m not sure what to think, except that clearly I’m not a contender for the position.

I asked, “Can you tell me what assets the candidate you selected has which I might not have?

She answered (after a long pause), “No, not really. We look at a combination of objective and subjective things.”

What that tells me:  Regardless of  my skills and experience, including past experience directly with their company in a similar position, I am not what they want, and they can’t even tell me why.

I’m not sure how to feel about that, except kind of relieved. If they can’t articulate what they want in an employee which I don’t have, if the interviewer spends a full hour talking with me, yet can’t express to me where I failed to meet expectations, how well are they going to communicate needs and objectives during the workday? Probably about as poorly as they did 17 years ago…which is causing me to finally remember why it was somewhat of a relief to resign from the previous job I had with them back in the mid 1990s.

And so I continue toward my third year of ringing up groceries for a living, while searching for an employer who wants more from me than the ability to stand in one spot for 8 hours smiling and asking “Do you want paper or plastic bags today?”



and God send you a Happy New Year

January 4, 2013 on 7:04 pm | In children, Christmas, daily life, unemployment | No Comments

So, it’s a new year, and yet nothing much has changed.

Mr. Random Thoughts is still being laid off by his company. I’m still woefully underemployed. And Obama et al are still determined to toss yet more of our income into the black hole of government spending.

Happy New Year!

I had a fantastic Christmas despite the above, because all four of my children and Eldest Son’s wife (henceforth to be known as Third Daughter) were present in our home. It was simply wonderful, having our home filled with laughter and genuine joy.

I continue to be grateful that none of my children are anywhere close to this stupid (far from it) or this immorally irresponsible.

No, they’re all amazingly interesting, highly ethical and emotionally healthy young people. Clear proof that there is no such thing as karma, and we don’t always get what we deserve.

Before I put the holidays behind me, allow me to share one final memorable moment brought to us by the inimitable Julian Smith, who managed to tap into my lifetime hatred/fear of dolls (generated thanks to Older Brother who made me watch this at the tender age of 3):

Ah yes, good times, Julian, good times. Thanks ever so much!


The title of this post refers to “Here We Come a Wassailing,” specifically the verse:

Good master and good mistress,
As you sit beside the fire,
Pray think of us poor children
Who wander in the mire.
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail, too,
And God bless you, and send you
A Happy New Year,
And God send you a Happy New Year.

Merry Christmas, now here’s your layoff notice

December 13, 2012 on 2:12 pm | In Christmas, daily life, economics, employment, family, unemployment | No Comments

Here’s an employer-generated email (to which I have added illuminating commentary in italics) which you do not want to receive at any time, but especially not two weeks before Christmas:

To L——- A——– Company [aka The Company That Shall Remain Nameless, henceforth TCTSRN]:

Due to continued [a list of industry-specific conditions any reasonably well managed company would have anticipated and planned upon] many companies have been reluctant to enter the market.  Once we sign up our next client company, it will take a minimum of two years before we will be at full capacity for the size of our current workforce.  [We only have one client. And since there is no "next client company" waiting to be signed, and no plan as to how to obtain one, hell may freeze over before we need "the size of our current workforce."]

It is, therefore, with great disappointment that we must reduce staff once again. [The previous layoff including our entire IT department was not enough.]  We need to trim our workforce by approximately 25%, which will occur in two phases, as set forth below.

Phase One

In phase one of the layoff, we are asking employees who wish to be considered for layoff to submit their own names in accordance with the instructions below. [Please volunteer to go before we have to tell you to go.] Depending upon the needs of the Company, layoffs of certain employees may be delayed or denied by Senior Management, within the Company’s sole discretion. [But just because you volunteer doesn't mean we'll let you go until we are ready to kick you to the curb. Our interests are the focus here, not yours.] Employees who submit their own names and who are confirmed by the Company for layoff will receive the following severance package, conditioned upon signing a separation agreement:

· 2 weeks of regular pay per year of service (less payroll taxes), paid bi-weekly
· An additional 4 weeks of regular pay (less payroll taxes), paid bi-weekly
· COBRA reimbursement for 6 months, not to exceed the maximum cost of medical HMO premium based upon the employee’s current covered family members
· Outplacement assistance

Should you wish to be considered for phase one layoff,you must submit your request via email to J– S——, VP HR, and to your Department Head by December 28, 2012. You are invited to discuss this matter with your Department Head in advance of submitting your email request. You will be notified via email by HR on January 4, 2013 if you are confirmed for layoff and, if confirmed, your last day of employment will be January 11, 2013, unless a different date is agreed upon. [So, you have to think about this through Christmas,  and we'll keep you waiting until after New Year's Day to find out your fate.]

Phase Two

In order to achieve a total workforce reduction of 25%, it is possible that there will be a phase two of the layoff, which will take place in mid-February. In phase two, Company management will identify employees to be laid off. [If we didn't get enough volunteers, or they weren't the Right Volunteers, we'll be picking more people to kick to the curb. Think about that during the holidays.]  These employees will receive the following severance package, conditioned upon signing a separation agreement:

· 2 weeks of regular pay per year of service (less payroll taxes), paid bi-weekly
· Outplacement assistance

[So, you poor fools who didn't volunteer, or volunteered but were told "No, you can't leave until we say so," you won't be getting an extra four weeks pay, or COBRA health insurance reimbursement. Think about THAT during the holidays, suckers.]

For those of you who are laid off, we know this situation is difficult.  We appreciate your dedicated service to the Company. For those of you who remain at [TCTSRN], we appreciate your continued efforts during these challenging times. [Our hearts bleed for you. Really they do. We expect you to keep up the hard work every day on behalf of TCTSRN even though you're probably doomed too; there is no new business, we have no plans to gain new business, and we're basically circling the drain here. But we execs are certainly not giving up our annual bonus, which is scheduled to be payed out in April, after the upcoming unpleasantness.]

We will continue to focus on growing our business in a profitable manner, while controlling expenses. We anticipate that [TCTSRN] will continue to be profitable, with both surplus and assets growing next year and beyond. [Because we made a very healthy profit this year and last year too, as you all know. That has nothing to do with your employment. There is nothing to see here, move along.]

If you have questions, please contact your Department Head or J– S—— x2395.

J– G——-

The above (without my commentary) was received by Mr. Random Thoughts on Tuesday. He is going to volunteer for the layoff. Then we get to wait through the holidays to find out whether he’ll be able to get the maximum severance package, or have to endure another month of waiting for less of a package. Meanwhile, he’s using up as many of his banked sick days (he has twenty of them) as possible.

It could be worse. At least our house is worth more than the loans upon it. And no, I’m not being sarcastic.

Vita brevis

May 2, 2012 on 10:16 am | In children, daily life, employment, parenting, unemployment | No Comments

Thankfully, Mr. Random Thoughts still has his job, though any sense of security in it has been severely rattled. By nature more of a pessimist than an optimist, it is not easy for him to look past the panic a layoff engenders, and see what possibilities there might be in such a dreaded thing. Could there be an upside to nearly losing one’s job? Might it open one’s eyes to possibilities previously unconsidered? This is not a train of thought Mr. Random Thoughts willingly rides. And so it becomes easier for both of us to focus on the fear of losing his job, and to bemoan my own lack of full time employment, and to lament the economic uncertainty of these days in general.

Then I read about little Avery Canahuati.

Avery Canahuati, a baby who inspired countless readers as she raised awareness while struggling with a rare disease, has died. Her father Michael wrote of his daughter’s passing on the blog he and his wife had created for her, “Avery’s Bucket List.” The blog, written in Avery’s voice, encourages readers to share the story and to raise awareness about spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). …her parents decided to create the bucket list to make the most of her time alive and to spread awareness on the rare disease with no treatment yet.

“We can watch her die, or we can let her live,” her father Michael said. “And through letting her live we’re going to try and educate other people about this so they don’t have to go through it too.”

At 5-months-old Avery was able to scratch many items off her bucket list: The girl got her first kiss, a tattoo (temporary), her first trip to a baseball game, and other milestones aimed at spreading SMA awareness and encouraging parents to get screened for the SMA gene.

I think it’s safe to say that Avery has left more of an lasting impact on the world after only a few short months of life than some folks will do in 80+ years.

The difference seems to be a focus on others rather than self. That’s what Avery’s parents managed to have. They knew she was not destined to grow up–that every single day brought them one day closer to losing her. They chose not to focus on that excruciating fact, but instead to celebrate each day with their daughter. Avery’s parents adored their precious daughter, but her illness did not make them selfish. It made them look beyond themselves. It made them care more about others, and they allowed their personal tragedy to be a means of reaching out to others. .

That, frankly, is amazing. Human beings are by nature self-centered. Pain, particularly emotional pain, can make us even more so. The willingness to find purpose in the midst of pain, well, that is something special indeed.

May God comfort the Canahuatis and bring them peace and renewed purpose during what is certainly the most painful time of their lives.

Avery Canahuati


And then they escort you from the building…

April 25, 2012 on 1:10 pm | In daily life, economics, employment, unemployment | No Comments

An office email you don’t want to find in your inbox first thing in the morning:

From: S—- N—–
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 8:14 AM
To: S—- N—–; A—– N—-; L—– T——; G— M–; D—– S——-
Subject: Team Meeting
When: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 12:00 PM-12:30 PM (GMT-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada).
Where: My Office


Sorry to have to book this during lunch, but we need to meet, and this is the first available opportunity to do so.  We may not need the entire thirty minutes.  Details will follow.  Please let me know if you have any scheduling conflicts with this time.

Thanks much,


An email you REALLY don’t want to receive just before the aforementioned meeting:

From: J– P—–
Sent: Wednesday, April 25, 2012 11:58 AM
To: L——- A——– Company
Subject: Company-Wide Meeting Today

All Employees,

There will be a company- wide meeting on the 16th floor in the open area between accounting and actuarial at 1:30 today.  J– G——-, our CEO, will give some information with respect to the events today and his perspective on L——-’s future. He will be available for any questions that you may have after that.

I encourage you to attend.  Remote employees may call 8**-8**-**** to attend via telephone.


The “events today?” Layoffs. They’ve been going on at his workplace since shortly after Mr. Random Thoughts received the first email this morning. In a typically high tech heartless manner, the name of the axed employee disappears from the company directory at about the same time he or she is called into the Human Resources office to be fired. Meanwhile, the remaining staff are hitting “refresh” on their computers, hoping that their name does not suddenly disappear.

So far, Mr. Random Thought’s name is still visible. As I type, he’s in one of the two meetings, being told how “today’s events” directly affect him.

The last time we went through this scenario (1993), he was told he would not be laid off (they called it a “survivor’s meeting”) only to be told it was a mistake, and that he was laid off after all. Not an experience either of us care to repeat.

No, we did not see this coming, though I am not surprised. We may not be in a double dip recession, but it sure feels like it around here.

Occupying and Jesus

November 8, 2011 on 10:56 am | In Christianity, crime, economics, faith, homeless, jobs, lunacy, morality, racism, religion, unemployment, unions | 5 Comments

As seen yesterday on Facebook:

“And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers… He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” Jesus was the leader of Occupy Jerusalem, and was the Supreme First Occupier.

When I read this, my first reaction was to snort in disbelief. And then I felt a bit angry.

Equating Jesus’ behavior in Matthew 21 with that of the Occupy Wall Street crowd? Seriously? Equating his purpose with theirs? Seriously?!

Not being a timid sort, I expressed my disagreement, politely of course.

And the response was predictable:

[The negative stories about the Occupy movement] is corporate propaganda. They don’t like religion or Jesus. They just want your vote. Anybody who thinks Jesus would take no issue with Wall Street today hasn’t read the Bible. Jesus stood with the beggars, the lepers, and the prostitutes. Jesus would not have rung the Wall Street bell. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” Mark 10:25. The “prosperity Gospel” has impoverished the soul of our country much like it did in India before Gandhi. The tea party movement along with radical environmentalists, abortion clinic bombers and occupy wall street all have their idiots…We all need to look at what folks are angry about and to look closely at those aspects.

My only response to that was to back away slowly, because there’s no rational discussion with someone who sees only what they want to see. And that’s a big problem with the entire Occupy movement.

You want it to be an anti-banking movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be an environmentalist movement? Or an animal rights movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a help the homeless movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a pro-communism movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a “Christian” movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be an anti-Semitic movement? Okay, it is.

You want it to be a business opportunity? Okay, it is.

It can be whatever you think it is, because in reality, it’s all of those and none of those things. It’s so unfocused the only way to interpret it is through each person’s own individual desires. And that’s why the Facebook poster truly believes Jesus would be part of–no, would lead–Occupy Wall Street.

Which is where my anger came in. To my mind, there’s little difference between a KKK member or a Nazi skinhead proclaiming that Jesus would be on his side, and an Occupy supporter proclaiming Jesus would back his movement. Both make God a tool of their agenda.

I hate that.

Believe whatever you want about the way our society should work, but don’t try to validate your beliefs by insisting God is behind them, or alongside them, or leading them. Just don’t.

The juxtaposition between Jesus response to those wanting him to stand up to the government and this:

is so stark that it’s mind boggling. Parenthetically, as one who works in a non-union grocery store (and no, I do not think it’s coincidental that non-union Whole Foods was targeted rather than Vons or Ralphs or any union grocery), I find this truly chilling. I don’t want to imagine the fear of the employees trapped inside as that mob attacked their building.

The Occupy crowd does not represent the average citizen, nor the unemployed.

It’s hateful and it’s violent.

Its protesting of “economic injustice” (i.e. capitalism) includes theft and vandalism. Even among their own.

The incidents are not random and few, they are many and growing.

What would Jesus do? Not this.

Elsewhere, Joel Griffith thoughtfully rejects the idea of a OWS Jesus

Would Jesus be camping with the protesters in the city park? Would he be leading an occupy “assembly”, singing solidarity choruses, and heralding the demise of capitalism?  If one takes the time to honestly review the stories in the four gospels, the only possible answer is a resounding, “NO!” Jesus lived under Roman rule.  The Romans oppressed Jesus’ fellow Jews, stationed military in Jewish homes and cities, and exercised political power over Jewish territory, interfered with Jewish religious life, and siphoned off Jewish wealth through tribute.

Though living under such conditions, Jesus never advocated revolution or political upheaval.

Read the entire piece, and if you still think Jesus was an Occupier, perhaps you need to ask yourself why. It may have far more to do with yourself and your own wants, than with the reality of God. You might want to go through the 4 steps Dr. Lina recommends as you consider how your belief in Jesus fits with supporting a protest like Occupy Wall Street.


Occupy yourself

November 6, 2011 on 10:04 pm | In daily life, economics, education, employment, jobs, lunacy, politics, unemployment | 1 Comment

I’ve been trying to figure out the Occupy Wall Street/Los Angeles/Seattle/Insert-City-Here thing ever since they set up tents in downtown Los Angeles. Not because I ever go to downtown Los Angeles; they could erect a tent city there and it wouldn’t affect me one bit. Nor would it surprise me, but that’s another story.

It just seemed more local to me than Wall Street, and I wondered if anyone would bother occupying some park in my own city. Not likely, as our parks are surrounded by trees, obscured from and in most cases remote from any substantial car or foot traffic. That’s what the Occupy people seem to want: high visibility, and they’re not going to get it in my city’s larger parks.

With some surprise I actually happened across a handful of protesters last week, not in a park, but on a high visibility grassy corner across from my city’s mall. Near a major freeway off ramp, it’s the only sizable grassy area that can be seen by a large number of passing cars.

The weirdness is, it’s not near any of the many banks in my city. It’s not near the mammoth biotech corporation that basically ate up the city next to mine. No, it’s across from a shopping mall. And I would bet real money that the protesters all have and do shop at that mall from time to time. I’d also bet that they purchased the obviously new camp chairs several of them were seated in at a large retail corporation–perhaps the Target a few blocks away, or the Costco or the Walmart on the other side of town.

Based on those…ironies?…and the fact that Occupy mobs fully embrace using cell phones and cameras produced by corporations like Apple, Samsung, LG, and others, as well as cardboard for their signs which is also produced by corporations, and they are wearing clothing they didn’t make themselves but bought at corporate run stores, I’m gathering that the protest against corporate greed is a little…skewed? Or maybe they just don’t get how much their own protest–much less their daily life–depends on corporate products.

Maybe they think that Steve Jobs would still have come up with the i-Phone if he’d never made more than $26,000 a year at Apple. Or if his wealth had been distributed to “the 99%” instead of amassed by himself.

Somehow I doubt that. I’ve read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Jobs, and I can say with some certainty that “corporate greed” helped create all the cool technology the Occupy mobs use so eagerly.

Never mind Jobs, just look at Facebook, and Mark Zuckerberg. He’s still amassing wealth from his creation, and still finding ways to improve  its profitability. The Occupy mobs use Facebook extensively. Do they have any idea of the “corporate greed” behind it? I’d bet real money they don’t and they don’t care.

I’m not the only one pondering this blatant hypocrisy.

I’m left wondering just what the “corporate greed” is that the Occupy folks hate so much. I’m thinking it’s not a substantial, quantifiable, identifiable target. They just don’t like the fact that some people make a lot of money doing what they do for a living. And they think those people should be…what? Fired? Kicked out of the country? Killed? Eaten? It’s hard to tell based on their rhetoric.

I’ve been reading a number of wise bloggers thoughts on this issue, and they make a lot more sense than the Occupy chanting and drums. Charlie at Another Think points out that envy is at the core of this mob effort:

Inciting anger towards corporations and the rich is a way of diverting attention from the inconvenient truth that Washington has long been a slobbering drunk when it comes to spending. And, what’s worse, it owns the keys to the booze cabinet.

All this careless rhetoric against the wealthy has elevated envy to a virtue. The Occupy Wall Street movement is rooted in envy, one of the deadliest of human sins. After all, the goal of OWS, and the deranged children it has spawned in Oakland, DC and elsewhere, is to tear down capitalism (a greed-based system) and remake society around an envy based system instead. These young idealists and anarchists imagine a society where everyone gets a piece of what everybody else has, where no one will ever be allowed to stand higher than the next guy.

Capitalism succeeds because it allows someone with good ideas and a strong work ethic to rise above the average. It appeals to the competitive desire in most of us to improve, to do better.

By comparison, OWS-style egalitarianism can only succeed if we all agree to pull down those high achievers and make certain that everyone is merely average.

In that, the OWS movement shares an alarming amount of DNA with the French Revolution, and is attempting to live out its high-sounding creed in the streets: Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

How long will it be before they start lopping off the heads of the wealthy in Zuccotti Park?

The always erudite Victor Davis Hanson–himself a university professor–blames the unrest on the unrealistic expectations of today’s university educated youth:

Apparently, most middle-class and upper-middle class liberals—many of them (at least from videos) young and white—are angry at the “system.” And so they are occupying (at least until it gets really cold and wet) financial districts, downtowns, and other areas of commerce across the well-reported urban landscape. As yet there is no definable grievance other than anger that others are doing too well, and the protestors themselves are not doing at all well, and the one has something to do with the other. I am not suggesting union members and the unemployed poor are not present, only that the tip of the spear seems to be furious young middle class kids of college age and bearing, who mope around stunned, as in “what went wrong?”

…Students rarely graduate in four years, but scrape together parental support and, in the bargain, often bed, laundry, and breakfast, federal and state loans and grants, and part-time minimum wage jobs to “go to college.” By traditional rubrics—living at home, having the car insurance paid by dad and mom, meals cooked by someone else—many are still youths. But by our new standards—sexually active, familiar with drugs or alcohol, widely traveled and experienced—many are said to be adults.

Debt mounts. Jobs are few. For the vast majority who are not business majors, engineers, or vocational technicians, there are few jobs or opportunities other than more debt in grad or law school. In the old days, an English or history degree was a certificate of inductive thinking, broad knowledge, writing skills, and a good background for business, teaching, or professionalism. Not now. The watered down curriculum and politically-correct instruction ensure a certain glibness without real skills, thought, or judgment. Most employers are no longer impressed.

Students with such high opinions of themselves are angry that others less aware—young bond traders, computer geeks, even skilled truck drivers—make far more money. Does a music degree from Brown, a sociology BA in progress from San Francisco State, two years of anthropology at UC Riverside count for anything?

So they’re petulant, they’re angry, they’re unemployed and unemployable, and they’re determined to be heard. In the meantime, they’re also starting to emulate the greed they protest.

…T-shirts, coffee mugs and other merchandise emblazoned with Occupy locations and slogans are being offered online and amid the camp sites that have sprung up in cities across the country. A number of merchandise vendors, clothing designers and others are making plans to market a wide-variety of goods for a wide-variety of reasons even as some protesters decry the business plans as directly counter to the demonstrations’ goals.

And that does not surprise me at all. Capitalism, after all, works.

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