Beggars Can't Be Choosy

Now that Christmas is over, I'm back to kvetching!

Nearly two years after attrition (with no unemployment insurance thanks to my former employer), the job market finally opened in my particular niche of finance. Prior to that, I spent the first year revising and editing my first novel, followed up with marketing and promotions including radio, magazine and newspaper interviews. As foretold by recruiters, jobs sprung up and my calendar was full with appointments for a position on Wall Street.

Which was nipped in the bud while having a seizure during a final interview, rendering me with a rare neurological deafness that impairs my hearing, my ability to understand what people are saying, my equilibrium and a ringing tinnitus in two different frequencies to top it off. Back to back with an even rarer symptom which makes most sound my enemy.

Still, a girl gotta eat. It took me over a year to kinda acclimate to the substantive changes in my body. I learned how to lip read when my intense focus wavers (usually around 1 minute) and an effective way to deal with sound: I barricade myself in my cabin almost 23 hours a day. Each time I declared with stoicism, "I can live with this," a downward shift cropped up, customarily painful that worsened my ability to hear, think and focus.

There's a little lesson for all in that statement, "I can live with this." DON'T EVER SAY IT! Because the universe listens and responds with a wallop!

Even though my symptoms impair me, despite all the medical tests which prove that I have what I have as rare as it is, Disability doesn't concur. As a matter of fact, they wrote that I can continue in my former career in a noisy trading room with heavy phoning.

I can only imagine the benefit of having a nearly deaf woman in the trading room for a first day, initial transaction:

"Quick, we only have a second! Should we do this $100 million deal for a repo swap? We need to increase the lines to do this deal. We emailed you the details."

"How much again? For what kind of deal? Did you email me?"





"WHAT THE FUCK? ARE YOU DEAF?" Shrieking, screaming, carrying on.

"Oh, I just checked my email. Is it that the $100 million dollar repo swap where you need line increases? Or is it the $50 million FX deal? Or that $5 million leveraged transaction? Or --"

"Fuck it, we lost the deal. GET THAT DEAF WOMAN OUTTA HERE!!"

Yeah, sure, I'll last a nanosecond if I could deal with the sound. All I know is that after the first time I threw up from the pain when surrounded by that din, followed up by fainting dead away in the middle of a cramped trading room, my career would be destroyed. For who wants to deal with a nearly deaf woman who throws up all the time, chronically fainting from non-stop screaming, phones ringing, bells and blaring overhead tv screens? But Disability knows better. Actually, I consider emailing their letter to recruiters and potential employers as an endorsement to re-enter the workforce in my former vocation. I'm certain that I'll be hired in a snap.

That's if my lip reading techniques help during the interview. In two years, I learned other ways to sidestep the word, "What?" with ingenious ways to make people repeat themselves so they don't realize I don't understand a word of what they're saying. I'm talking about new people I meet. The ones who know me know how to repeat themselves at least thrice.

If there's another person present in the room, I usually turn and address him/her, "Can you believe what he's saying?" indicating with a nod the guy who just spoke.

The other person says, "What the hell's your problem? He just asked complimented your outfit!" While reading his lips, I got the gist.

Quick on my feet, I respond, "Oh, so it wasn't sarcasm!"

Which is why I barricade myself almost 23 hours a day, for that method hasn't endeared me much to new friends who believe I'm a sarcastic bitch.

I don't think I can survive in a busy and noisy office environment.

At any rate, I need to work for book royalties are not what they used to be. I tirelessly seek jobs that don't include interacting with crowds of people or a lot of phone work, eliminating 95% of what's out there. I narrowed the search down to a 50 mile vicinity. We don't have mass transit where I live and I calculated that my 13 year old jalopy can take so much wear and tear. Strangely enough, there're quite a few jobs that fit the bill right near me. Stupidly, I sent out my resume with all my bells and whistles including all my degrees.

Never heard a peep.

Then, I met influential community leaders who forwarded to the same organizations my resume (bcc'ing me) including their endorsement.


Finally, someone from one of these organizations pulled me aside. "You'll never get a job in this county with your resume!"

"Why not? I've experience and qualifications! You got someone nearby and you don't have to pay to relocate anyone! Hell, you don't even have to pay me market rate salary! Who can beat that?"

"Don't you get it? The people who you'll report to only have GEDs. They're shitting in their pants that you'll usurp their authority and take their jobs away from them."

I never thought of that. All I want to do is pay my bills and write at night, something I did for the last ten years of my former career. They can keep their shitty senior positions. Did it. Done it.

Upon reflection, I realized he had a point. These are rough times and everyone's afraid of losing their jobs. So, I put what was said to me to the taste test. I scrapped my resume for a one pager. I only included my BA and two jobs where I dummied them down, removing titles, removing anything remotely threatening to any GED-educated supervisor or anyone who may feel that I'll usurp their authority. I formatted it as horribly as I could and had an embedded joke under skills: Able to leap from tall buildings. Hey, I do need a good laugh as if the resume wasn't enough. The piece de resistance - my synopsis in huge, bold letters consisting of one statement: I write English good.

THAT got a flurry of responses! Suddenly, I was belle of the ball. And with GOOD paying jobs! Go figure, right? It must be those fear-laden people, scared of losing their jobs from bringing on board qualified employees. Everything was honky-dory until they corresponded with me. Sorry, I can't hide my intelligence although I gave it the college try. More than likely, they googled my name.

Except one company. Okay, they're 60 miles away, but a job's a job, right? It's a tough market out there!

At first, they sent me a recap of the job: No benefits. Minimum wage. Part-time. No set hours. Sounds enticing, right?

Why not, passed through my mind. At least ONE COMPANY's interested in me. Let me be clear: I'm only in the job market to pay my bills. My career's in writing. I don't care what I do, just as long as I'm able to do it without being ill from sound. I'm a hard worker and will give them more bang for the buck. Anyhow, I'm 57 years old, overly educated, formerly an executive and despite what Disability wrote, unable to use my ears for 95% of the available jobs out there. I was game for this particular job because there're hardly any out there today for a 57 year old overly educated almost deaf woman who can't be around people and answer phones.

In a few days, they sent me a questionnaire and stated they'll contact me for an interview should the responses fit their criteria.

1. Do you have any previous Customer Service experience, please describe in detail.
2. Do you hold a Bachelors degree? (strongly preferred)
3. If you are selected for an interview,  please indicate when you would be free for an interview?
4. Describe your two greatest career accomplishments.
5.  What makes you interested in working at XXX?
6. This position is Per Diem (no set amount of hours per week and you do not qualify for benefits). Please specify what you're looking for and if this meets your needs.
General comments that may pertain to this opportunity:

Thrilled that someone expressed an interest in me, I sent my 1 sentence responses in the tiny 1/8" box they allocated for my use. Insofar as #6, I wrote, "This meets my needs."

Instead of an interview, these lying motherfuckers sent me another fucking questionnaire in a grid to complete with a date and time deadline in two days for submission. And a promise AGAIN to contact me for an interview upon review. Incidentally, notice the tiny space they gave me?

  • Can you tell me about a time when you did something outside of the routine activities assigned to you for the benefit of the customer? What was their reaction? Did they appreciate your efforts?

  • Give me an example of a time you had to turn down a request from a valued customer. What were the reasons you had to turn down the request? How did you attempt to resolve the situation?

  • Tell me about a recent situation in which you had to deal with a very upset customer. Were you able to retain their business?

  • Give an example of a time you identified a small problem and took action to fix it before it became a major problem. What were the potential pitfalls you were trying to avoid?

  • Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem. What steps did you take?

  • Are you willing to work on a Per Diem basis?  Yes_____  No_______

  • Are you willing to work various shifts (days and evenings between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.) as needed? Yes_____ No____

WTF? How many more fucking essays do I have to undergo for a no benefits, minimum wage, part-time, no set hours job 60 miles from my home? 

Sighing, I wrote eloquent, albeit short responses, knowing they're judging me for my ability to coddle their customers. Which leads me to believe this is one fucked up company. No doubt filled to the rafters with rampant problems from dissatisfied customers. An overwhelming job dealing with tons of disputes. Oh boy. Not only do I have to interact with people for this no benefits, minimum paying part-time job with no fixed hours with a 60 miles from home commute each way, their clients would also be irate and foaming at the mouth. Which might involve being subjected to loud shouts impacting my neurological deafness.

Still, it's a job, right?

On Christmas, several weeks later, I received a format email notifying me, "After careful consideration, we wish to advise you that we have decided to pursue other candidates for this particular position."

I couldn't resist. Immediately, I shot off an email right back at them, "Gee, what a disappointment! To be rejected for a no benefits, minimum wage, no fixed hours job where I have to submit frigging essays twice. What in the world are you looking for?"

Still and all, it's a tough market out there. Given the spate of interest I had the first pass with my hobbled resume, I'm going to dummy it down even further! Perhaps I'll eliminate my B.A. and put instead a GED. Remove almost all my computer skills. And even throw in a typo or two.

After all, beggars can't be choosy.

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