I think I dodged a bullet. While the bullet was in mid-air coming at me at mock [sic] 12 (actually, I don’t know how fast that is; it SOUNDS really fast though), I had to conduct my first “job readiness” workshop at Helping Hands Brooklyn. It’s been a crazy week.
On the bullet dodged: I performed a feat of post-academic strength! I managed NOT to apply for this one particular academic job here in NYC. You’re probably thinking, what, you didn’t send out one lousy application and now you think you’re a kind of post-academic superstar? A superstar I am not. But only a post-academic can tell you how hard it is to NOT go on the job market. Only a post-academic can tell you how much teeth-grinding, insomnia-inducing effort it takes to NOT think to yourself, hey, maybe life in Shitsville, Nowheretown wouldn’t be so bad! I’d only have to stay for a couple years, and then surely someone would recognize my genius (thanks to my prolific publishing on arcane topics in obscure academic journals) and hire me on at Big Research University where I can finally live the life I’m meant to live! It’s really hard NOT to think like that, especially when my mother really wants me to have a job where I have an office with my name on the door. HAHA! That’s what my mom said to me recently. Her fantasy life is très amusante.
The truth is, I have applied to a handful of academic jobs this year during moments of weakness. But the bullet I dodged was a job opening here in NYC that kind of had my name on it. I’m not saying I would have been hired for sure. But I used to teach at that campus so people in the know, including a member of the hiring committee, told me to apply. I think she wanted to hire me because I have admin experience, and that’s what they need. And other people who work there told me they thought I would have a good shot at it. It was probably my best chance at a bonafide academic position in NYC, at least for now.
And I was mighty tempted to throw my hat in the ring. I drew up all the application materials. I addressed the cover letter to the appropriate officials. I was ready to print it out and send it. But then I didn’t. I just didn’t do it. Before NOT sending it, I got all philosophical about it. I opined to anyone who would listen about how “every path you take is path not taken,” etc. In the end, I dispensed with the philosophizing and just decided, ah….fuck it.
I really don’t want that job. I’m not saying I’ll never want another academic position again. But I really don’t want THAT one for various personal and professional reasons. And you know what? I am done with that soul-sucking diss, and I have no family to support so I don’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. Hence, the Ah Fuck It mentality. It’s pretty liberating actually, despite my long-term pecuniary concerns. Bullet. Successfully. Dodged.
On the “job readiness” workshop: A mere nanosecond after I did NOT apply for that job (which was a thing NOT done that felt very much like a DONE thing), I conducted the first workshop at HHB. Whereas I do not want THAT one job in particular (and feel rightly or wrongly that I have the right to be choosy), the people who came to the job readiness workshop were looking for any job. They are not picky or prone to philosophizing about their predicament. Philosophizing is a class privilege. Here’s a rundown of some attendees:
Betty (50’s): She’s a Certified Nurse’s Assistant. And she can’t find work. She wants to go back to school to become an RN but she can’t afford it. She seemed kind of embarrassed to be there at first, like we would all think she is a deadbeat. Which she is not
Fiona (50’s): Worked for many years in a laundry business until the work dried up (do you enjoy my punning?) Can only find jobs that pay like $7.00/hour now, and since her rent is $1500.00/month, she can’t afford to take a job like that. She took great pains to explain that she has “never been on public assistance before,” and she’s not a deadbeat.
Carl (40’s): Is currently employed in a restaurant “just to survive.” But said he “wants more” for himself. He wanted everyone to know that he is not a deadbeat because he has a job even if it sucks bigtime.
Allen (maybe early 60’s): Used to work as a real estate manager and in a variety of other fields. Wants to update his computer skills so he can get a job because that way he can prove to everyone that he is not a deadbeat.
Donna (60’s): Used to work as a Bridge and Tunnel toll booth clerk years ago. Wants to know what these newfangled computer machines do and how to use them. Has millions of children and grandchildren, but they all live in Alabama. She misses them, but is glad they don’t live here so she doesn’t have to raise her grand kids. She said she is “not a stay at home all day kind of person.” Translation: “I am not a deadbeat.”
Laura (50′): Is basically a small business owner. She bakes cakes and pies in her apartment and sells them to people. It’s not enough money, though, to really survive on. She is not a deadbeat because she makes cakes and pies and sells them to people, okay?
After everyone who came basically apologized for being there and for needing a job (which was so depressing), I talked about the services we plan to offer in the upcoming workshop series. The grand dame of HHB, Mary, came and told them there would be a job fair at the end. I was all, “WHAAAAAAA?” I don’t know anything about organizing any job fair so I hope Mary knows what she is talking about. Then Mary introduced me, saying “oh, she’s a Professor from [such and such] College. She’s not just someone we dragged in off the street!” I know Mary is trying to give some credibility to the proceedings. But, Jesus, I am not a professor at [such and such] College. I only adjunct there for christsakes. Come to think of it, I did basically just wander in off the street begging them to give me something to do. If there’s a deadbeat here, it’s definitely me.