‘I am almost embarrassed when I go through the lists of jobs that I am NOT qualified for’
Although I will admit I have battled the “I’ll-never-find-a-freaking-job” blues, I am still looking. And still hopeful. I first became unemployed in December of 2008 as the economy, housing, and the State of California all started their final tailspins. I sold cars. However, in order to sell cars, people need to buy cars. In Sacramento, cars were the LAST things people were buying. I forget exactly when Sirius, then Chrysler’s sole owner, pulled the plug on some 700+ dealerships and mandated the remaining franchises either peddle all three brands (Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep) or hang up their horns. 16 other people were let go the same day as me. Upsetting as that was, I was somewhat relieved. Even after discontinuing my health benefits, my last 17-day paycheck was a mere $500, compared to a year prior at $1,850. On a side note, 3 months after my lay-off the owner of the car dealership I worked for over the previous four years committed suicide. Yep, 75 other folks bread & butter gone. Not to mention the bread & butter for both of his High School age sons & widow. My heart aches for the many dedicated people that worked all their lives, 43years in some cases, to keep that place going.
So began my journey. I applied for UI benefits online. I began receiving $1,100 a month. Thankful that I had some money saved, and using my resources as a salesperson, I was able to retain the $900 apartment that was home to my 17 year old daughter and myself for the 10 months it took me to find work. The ONLY reason I even got a job was because I had taken the Sheet Metal Workers Union Pre-Apprentice Exam in the November before I was laid-off. It STILL took 10 months of soliciting the union contractors, union shops, and schmoozing the admin people at the Union Hall to even get an interview.
Luck was a Lady for me the day I interviewed with Justin @ ACCO Engineered Systems Fabrication Shop. Because his wife had been in the Trade for 14 years, he had no qualms about hiring a girl. I beat out 3 other candidates for the job; and went at it with all I had. Tough, tough occupation. Even the journeymen at the shop complained regularly about how hard the work was. Well, I made it about 8 months before I was called into Justin’s office to receive my last paycheck & a referral to EDD. The large job at the airport was nearly complete, and there was not enough work for everybody. This was a Reduction In Force (RIF). The economy strikes again.
This time I was worried. Savings Account depleted, no prospects for work, & if I was going to be job-hunting for another 10 months, I was doomed! I scoured all the usual spots: craigslist, calijobs.gov, and the rest. During the first couple of months, what played out in my life was like an unseen force that understood what needed to happen. My daughter, now almost 19, informed me she was moving out to get a place with her BFF. Wow. That was a huge weight off my shoulders. Next, a friend of mine said, “I have an extra room in the City. $300 rent & some help with my business.”
So, in July of 2010, I packed up whatever I couldn’t live without, gave away the rest, & moved to the City by the Bay; Energized, excited, & hopeful. After almost a year, as a last resort, I went back to work selling cars. The economy is better in San Fran than in Sacramento, but folks are not throwing their money around without a fight. The “Seasoned Crew” at the dealership proved to be too much competition for me and I was cut from the team after 2 & ½ months. Back to the Drawing Board…and on May 1st, 2011, back to the Unemployment Line.
I am almost embarrassed when I go through the lists of jobs that I am NOT qualified for. Because I have no Degree, no Program Certificates, & no Skilled Trade, I still have no job. Couple that with my recent work history, and see how fast my phone DOESN’T ring. Clearly, I need some type of re-education. But how? I am looking at a maximum of 5 months before my UI claim is exhausted. I can barely make rent (which is now $600), let alone pay for school.
Between auctioning items I find at Thrift Stores, a day here and there as a movie extra, and the bi-weekly checks from UI, I am making it for now. I’m as tough as nails and very resourceful. I intend on keeping myself above water, and I will find work.
E.A., via email