Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh Lord, I don't want to be in that number

...when the unemployed go marching in.
Well, at least now you don't have to suffer the humility of sitting for hours in a cavernous room where an overworked state worker calls out the names of the unfortunate to talk about why you don't have a job yet. You can look for a job and file for unemployment all from the discomforted convenience of your home computer.
For the record, I have not been without a job since my daughter was a toddler and she's now in her 30s. As of next week, it will have been three months since I drew a paycheck.
Today, I find myself in front of my computer daily cybersitting in the world's unemployment office trying to get a gig. Filling out online applications. Trying to write an upbeat, killer cover letter to become at least worthy of an interview. To date, I've only been tapped four times out of the 60-plus apps I've filled out since I stopped signing onto another computer.
I'm usually the one who does the interviewing so it's weird to have to formulate an answer for someone who might rather be back at their desk than talking to your sorry jobless ass.
One day I got three reject letters in mailbox: you suck, you still suck and you must be kidding why the hell did you apply for this job when you know we already had somebody lined up.
But there I am, cheerfully telling this stranger why I am the best person for the job. Lots of smiles, a little wry humor, a lot of earnestness and dedication to doing a phenomenal job doing the do for them. Then there's the form letter last week from a guy whose job I applied for back in May who I guess realized there was one last bug on his desk he didn't thump off: me.
Now comes word from the Dept. of Labor saying there are 366,000 similarly situated people out there who are trying to find work. I raised my hand when they made the announcement on TV this morning. Jesus...
But I don't want to be in that number. My son will tell you how many times I've snapped at him, how many times I've forgotten to keep my cell phone with me. Yesterday, I turned on the coffeemaker with the filter door open and walked away, water flying everywhere until he closed it for me.
They talk about how people go "postal" and start shooting people after they lose their job. Fortunately for the world, I'm too Christian to go out like that but I understand the murder-suicide motivation for people who get their mailbox stuffed with reject letters or worse, dead silence from employers who can't be bothered to drop a reject form letter in the mail to add to the stack of past due notices.
Still, trouble don't last always and I am a faithful woman so I continue to plug away across the Internets sending cheery news of my availability to "match my skills to your requirements for the job."
Still Lord, I don't want to be in that number where you're truly living unemployment paycheck to paycheck....

Sunday, July 6, 2008

When did patriotism become a code word?

A recent discussion I heard on the radio was yet another version of one I've been hearing over and over since this spring: Is Barack Obama patriotic?
I listen to the talking heads try to give advice on what he should do to appease the growling flag pin huggers. One of my journalist friends even started a column with the dictionary definition of the word.
But it occurred to me while I was listening to Tavis Smiley's radio show that everybody may be missing the point. It's not a question of whether or not Sen. Obama loves his country. The question is whether he loves their country enough to not "turn it over" to blacks.
Maybe I read too much (my ex-husband always said I over-analyzed stuff) but there's a current current of thought that Obama's election will open the candy store for blacks in this country. That he will favor the whims of all black folks across the country and repress whites to get back at them for the slave trade. He'll order reparations and make affirmative action the rule in hiring and admissions and anything else he (or his people) can think of.
So that made me wonder whether patriotism is a code word for "can we trust you not to be a 'black president'" and force whites to actually live by the laws of equality and justice even when they're afraid they'll "suffer" for their actions.
While I have no personal history with the man, I believe Sen. Obama to be an honorable and fair man. He's smart enough to not even imagine the historically paranoid nightmare of a Bizarro-world kind of slavery where blacks are the slave holders. First of all, we don't want to be in charge like that. We just want to be in charge of our own lives and comfortably enjoy the rights our forefathers and mothers fought for.
If seeing him wear a flag pin calms fear of a black planet, so be it. If giving a speech on patriotism confirms his thought processes on the subject, go hard, Barack, and go home. Like Rick Nelson said, you can't please everyone so you gotta please yourself. Same with proving patriotism.
Here's another code word: faith, as in "faith is the evidence of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
I have faith that Sen. Obama will lead this country with a steady hand and great discernment. We don't deserve him, but thank God we have this chance to change and bring peace to this country.