Job hunting in the time of COVID-19

Basically? It sucks and don’t try it

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Just a pretty photo to make you happy. This is in Cuenca, Spain. Pre-virus.

Despite everything, I continue to look for work. Either the world is coming to an end or it isn’t.

If it is coming to an end, oh well. I will have wasted my time.

But it’s not like I could be sitting around twiddling my thumbs anyway. I am not wired for idleness. I know it seems that way – I talk about binge-watching TV shows. But that’s on the weekend when I have a job.

Straight unemployment? That doesn’t work so well for me. I have tried. Even when Mr T was employed and I was not, I got bored. We don’t have children and cleaning our house does not take that long.

As I am sure many of you have discovered, having a lot of free time does not mean you suddenly devote that time to exercising. I did not exercise a lot back then. (And I have not now, either. Hmm.)(What we learn from history is that we do not learn from history.)

I volunteered back then. But what I learned from volunteering is that if I am going to work, I want to be paid for it. I mean, some volunteer work should be free, for sure: reading to little kids. Shelving books at the library.

But setting up inventory systems for a small shop at a church? Yeah, I know they don’t have any money, either, and I didn’t expect it from them, but that kind of work? That is skilled labor and I want money for it.

So even if the world is coming to an end, I have been looking for work. I need something to do.

It – the job search –  has not been going well.

But my baseboards, my blinds, and the insides of my windows are clean.

COVID windows
Also, I have dusted all the pictures and their frames.

The outsides of the windows will be clean as soon as it is warm enough to go outside to wash windows.

That has not happened yet. We are in quarantine and it is cold and dreary outside.

Back to the job search.

It has not been going well.

This is not the best time to be looking for work.

And when I get a question on a job application like, “What are your three most recognizable negative characteristics?” I really have to think about how to answer it. I have no filter at the best of times and being under house arrest is not helping.

And I am pretty sure that, “I am super snarky and I have no patience with stupid people asking me stupid questions when they should know better” is not the answer they are looking for.

I put this post on facebook and a friend said he wouldn’t hire me because I didn’t follow instructions: the question asked for three characteristics and I gave only two.

Which – he is correct.

Also – I actually am patient with stupid people because they can’t help being stupid.

I am impatient with people who should know better. Like the HR people who wrote this question. Or the hiring manager.

Because – how is it relevant to my ability to do the job? (A marketing job with a museum.)

And am I really supposed to narc on myself?

(But now I need to think of a third characteristic. Can’t follow instructions? How about “smug and condescending?” That’s what the husband of one of my best friends accused me of on facebook the other day after I posted a meme about the current US president that the husband did not like. Apparently, the husband likes the president.

I. Do. Not.)

(And I am usually – no, I am never political on facebook. But I have decided now is the time. And I am learning things about people that I did not want to know.)

I don’t think I will get the job. I don’t think I will even get an interview. I think I will be unemployed forever unless I want to work for the US Census, which does not seem like a smart idea right now, or at a warehouse or a grocery store, which appear to be the only places hiring these days.

Fortunately, I rock at warehouse work. Mr T and I volunteered at the food bank yesterday, processing donations, where we saw things like feta cheese flavored olives, which made me think, “SOMEONE actually got paid to think of that product and develop it and I can’t even get a job interview,” which is not the part of warehouse work I rock at.

And actually, I don’t really rock at it. Mr T is way better than I am. He packed his boxes way more neatly than I packed mine.

It was an interesting job and I was tempted to steal the toilet paper and sell it so we could retire. (Not really.)(But I did think about stealing the stuff for hot flashes.)(It would have fit into my pocket.)(I’M JOKING! I’M NOT A THIEF!)

COVID TP

 

 

Love in the time of COVID-19

 

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My sister, my brother, and me at a rest stop in Texas. Those rest stops had bathrooms. Wow. I can’t believe I thought I was fat.

I hope you are all well. I hope the worst thing in your life right now is that you are either bored or going nuts from being cooped up in the house or both and not that you have discovered to your shock and horror that you have friends and family members who not only think this whole virus is a big hoax but also that they are determined to go out and be in crowds because even if it is true, it’s “only old people who die.”

Which – I can’t even talk about that.

I had to block someone on Facebook for that.

I wanted to argue. I wanted to say, “You mean your grandparents? That kind of old people?”

But – has arguing on Facebook ever won anyone anything?

Let’s step away from the virus for a few minutes and forget about reality and return to the days when our biggest – my biggest problem was finding a place to pee.

Mr T and I were in Spain a few weeks ago. We rented a car, which is not my favorite thing to do in a foreign country because the rules are different.

Mr T had wanted to park in the space that came with the apartment we had rented, but this is what the streets looked like:

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You can’t even see the tight corners that go with these streets, but believe me they are there. The nice thing, though, is that Spanish drivers and pedestrians co-exist nicely. They appear to view the street as a shared resource.

I mean, the pedestrians move when the cars come, but still.

Mr T, despite wanting to win some coveted Man Award For Driving In A Medieval European Mountain City, agreed to park the car on the outskirts of town, where the roads were wider and flatter.

Then we had to drive from Teruel to Cuenca to catch the train to Madrid (Mr T had worked all this out with logrithms and calculus and whatever – that this was the Best Deal – we are more or less aligned on our approach to money), which meant I had to put up with more Driving In A Foreign Country, which is Stressful, but he showed me the map – wide roads, few mountains – and promised that the Avis return place was on the outskirts of Cuenca, not in the city, which turned out to be mostly true.

Here’s a hint:

Never ever ever rent a car in Paris. That is, never return a car in Paris. EVER.

Paris is still designed to foil the Germans. (Or whoever might invade.) The streets are crooked and you can’t find the street names and even if you could, it wouldn’t matter because they change every few blocks.

Mr T and I are still married despite having to return a car by 7 p.m. in Paris and that’s all I will say about that except I still have PTSD. Did you know there is a peripherique – a ring road? – in Paris? WE DID NOT!

Back to Spain.

And toilets.

I heart Spain. I really do. I think I could move there and live there the rest of my life and be happy.

Except.

Where on earth do Spanish women pee?

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NOT HERE!

That sign you see in the photo above?

THAT IS NOT FOR A REST STOP! EVEN THOUGH THAT IS EXACTLY THE CONCEPT THAT IS BEING ILLUSTRATED!

THAT FIGURE IS PEEING! TELL ME THAT FIGURE IS NOT PEEING!

I was so excited.

Because I needed to pee.

Because dos cafes con leche for breakfast, y’all.

Well.

We stopped.

There were picnic tables.

But no restrooms.

None.

But I had to pee.

What’s a woman to do?

Well.

I did what women have done since the dawn of time.

We do what needs to be done.

I walked along the path, through the bushes, until I found a spot where I could not be seen by the road.

And I realized that this was The Spot.

The Spot that others had used as well.

How did I know that?

Because – how do I put this delicately?

I don’t think there is a way.

Ummm.

There are schools of thought, apparently, about peeing in the wild.

I had always thought that if one does that, one leaves as few traces as possible.

As in, one pees and that’s it.

One suffers the consequences of some – discomfort.

One does not leave evidence.

OK. I will say it.

YOU DO NOT LEAVE TOILET PAPER BEHIND THAT IS JUST TACKY.

And yet – this spot – AND SPAIN I SAY THIS WITH LOVE – was littered with toilet paper AND THAT’S JUST WRONG.

  1. It’s environmentally really bad
  2. I DON’T WANT TO SEE YOUR TOILET PAPER
  3. If you have to use the TP, you need to take the TP with you. YOU DO NOT LEAVE IT BEHIND ON THE GROUND FOR OTHER PEOPLE TO SEE

The end.

PS I still don’t have a job. Now I probably never will.

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When it feels like the world is ending, it’s nice to spend time (or to have spent time) with Las Abuelitas

Unemployment. Coronavirus. Stock markets. Winter. Crumbling mortar. Stupid TV shows. Dust. Death.

Las abuelitas

So this happened more than two weeks ago, before we knew how bad things were. Back when we were on our vacation in Spain and we were insulated and happy and somewhat remote from the drama of unemployment. I knew I had interviews waiting for me when I got home so I had some hope.

Now I have none.

I have had the interviews and now nothing is happening and I don’t know if anything will ever happen again. There might be a recession and all the companies might decide to freeze hiring and the stock market might crash, which would mean not only would we both be unemployed but our net worth would plummet and we would have to eat the cats.

No.

We would never eat the cats.

But there would be belt tightening.

Only we already live really frugal lives. We don’t have cable. One car is 19 years old. The other is three years old, so I guess that’s newish and we could sell it. We have no debt. We don’t have cable. We rarely eat out. We do travel, but that’s on frequent flyer miles and of course that would stop. I don’t buy books – I get them at the library.

We eat. We turn on the lights. We feed our cats. That’s about it. My plan is for my jeans to last me until I die. It’s the stupid health insurance that costs so much money. Other than that, I don’t know where we could save.

We’re just screwed.

So I am going to think only happy thoughts for right now because what else can I do?

Back to las abuelitas.

We were at the Mercat Central in Valencia.

Desayuno mercado

We were eating our desayuno mercado for 2 euros: un cafe con leche and a pastry.

I noticed the woman next to me had gotten her pasty a la plancha, which is grilled.

That looks really good! I said to her.

Would you like to try some? she asked.

I am shameless, so I said sure and took a piece.

It was delicious.

She urged me to take more, but I am not that shameless.

But the floodgates were opened and now she and her two friends wanted to talk to Mr T and me. Who were we? Why were we there? What were we doing?

Because of Mr T’s Spanish classes this winter, he was able to participate in the conversation and even tell his joke:

?Que hace el pez?

Nada.

(What does the fish do?

Nada, which means both “nothing” and “swims.”

This is especially funny in Spanish because puns are rare in Spanish.)

Which of course they loved.

They approved of our itinerary – a visit to the Albufera, the wetlands at the Valencia coast, and a trip to Teruel, a village in the mountains.

In each case, Abuelita Numero Tres nodded approvingly and said, “!Es muy bonito!”

They thought Mr T was very handsome (which he is).

Abuelita Numero Una’s husband had been in the navy and had been to Puerto Rico and New York, but she is a widow now.

Abuelita Numero Dos has three children.

Abuelita Numero Tres has no teeth.

They were lovely and warm and wanted to know all about us and I, who am the nosiest person in the world, which means I have to really hold back in interviews because I want to ask way too many personal questions, wanted to know all about them.

It was the best 20 minutes ever and Mr T and I want to go back there every morning and have breakfast with our Abuelita Peeps.

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When you’re jetlagged but you have a job interview (this is a good problem to have) and don’t know what to wear and then the tuckpointing guy shows up and neither of you are dressed

Do people even wear suits to work anymore? I don’t even know and honestly, I don’t want that kind of job, which I shouldn’t even be saying because I am not really in a position to be picky. I’ve always had to take what’s offered and be happy about it.

Albarracin
Mr T and I went to Spain at the end of February because we had already planned the trip and thought screw it, nobody’s going to offer me a job in the next ten days. This is Albarracin.

I think I just gave away the entire plot.

But yes. I had an in-person interview! This is good!

But it was at a bank.

I have been wearing jeans and t-shirts to work for the past few years and before that, it was business casual.

So I didn’t even know what to wear. My friend L, who is a senior VP at a bank in Chicago, wears suits to work.

I don’t even own any suits anymore.

What to wear to an interview at a place where people might be wearing suits?

I posed the question on Facebook and was instructed to wear a suit (which I do not own) and then was instructed to buy a suit (which I do not want).

I was also advised to wear leopardo, which, in retrospect, I could have. I have a great skirt of leopardo and I could have worn it with my black jacket and a black t-shirt. Hindsight.

I tried on dresses and skirts and stuff doesn’t fit or it didn’t look right. I finally settled on a black jacket and a black skirt, even though they were not the same black and it was completely obvious that they were not the same black but I figured that once I was sitting, my interviewer would forget my fashion crimes.

It was half an hour until I needed to leave the house. Too early to get dressed. Why?

Because cats.

There is no resting in work clothes, especially black ones, in a house with cats.

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See how they have every color in her fur? No matter what I wear, their hair will show on my clothes.

Which meant I had to stay in my robe.

Which would be fine except the doorbell rang.

Which – is not what I was expecting.

Mr T had just stepped out of the shower.

As in, he was nekkid.

I was in my robe.

Normally, I would ignore the doorbell, as it’s usually someone trying to sell me something (like lawn chemicals, which clearly I am not interested in – our lawn looks very unfertilized and un-weed controlled, which is BY DESIGN – I do not want to put chemicals into the lake) or to talk to me about a political candidate, which I get enough of that from Mr T.

But Mr T said, ” The tuckpointing guy is coming today!”

Getting our mortar repaired has been on the list since we bought the house 12 years ago. Mr T had found a contractor and arranged a time. Only the only information he had gotten three days ago was, “Sometime on Friday.”

One of us had to answer the door.

And I just re-read the headline of this post and realized it makes it sound like the tuckpointing guy was also not dressed!

No! HE WAS FULLY DRESSED!

Neither Mr T nor I were clothed. I mean, I was in a robe, but Mr T was nekkid. Of those options, the person in the robe has to answer the door.

Which was – so awkward.

I opened the door, explained Mr T would be out in a second, and closed it.

Mr T got dressed and ran outside. A few minutes later, as I was getting dressed, he came back in, announcing he needed to figure out something about the telephone line, which was going to be in the way of the tuckpointing guy, and could they move it or whatever, and all I heard was, “I am embarking on an engineering project that will take a lot of time and I will not be ready to drive you to the interview.”

(He was going to drive me because I didn’t know what the parking situation was – this was downtown – and I wanted to arrive unrattled and on time.)

And then we were arguing because we were both super stressed because a lot was riding on this interview and you know, Life.

Fortunately, Mr T is a whiz with engineering problems, though, and he resolved the phone line thing and we got in the car only ten minutes after I wanted to leave but I still arrived 15 minutes early to the interview. In the waiting room was a woman having a very loud, very personal conversation along the  lines of, “And then he called me a B-I-T-C-H and I told him no, I am not having that and I will go to court to stop the adoption.”

Which – in ordinary circumstances?

I would have sat next to her and started taking notes, because how can you not want to know what happens next with an opening like that?

But I needed to stay in a good frame of mind and I also thought, “What if she is the hiring manager? I can’t eavesdrop on the hiring manager!”

So I started pacing the halls, stopping to examine the beautiful black and white photos of Milwaukee while still trying to listen.

The hiring manager came out – not the phone lady – and she was wearing jeans, as was everyone else I saw, which was a huge relief, because #NoSuits.

And we talked and I think it was OK. She was great. I could be very happy working for her.

Then Mr T and I went home and the tuckpointing guy was grinding out the bad mortar, which was making an awful noise and casting dust everywhere, including under the back door, and I sent texts to our neighbors apologizing for the noise, and when the tuckpointing guy finally left at dusk, I took to bed with a cold.

The End.

 

 

Mr T bringing the sexy on Valentine’s Day

What’s hot for one is not hot for all

trash

I want to talk about Valentine’s Day and all that stuff.

I don’t care about Valentine’s Day. I don’t care about any holiday where I am supposed to get or give a card (except birthdays, mine and those of the people I love).

I feel manipulated by so many of those holidays – that they are just reasons for companies to sell me stuff.

(Although the half-price candy days at Walgreen’s the day after a holiday? Those are legit.)

I don’t judge people who do want the cards and the candy and the flowers, though. For some people, that’s their love language.

My love language is not candy. It’s not cards. It’s not flowers.

It is GETTING RID OF THE CRAP IN THE BASEMENT.

It is living a life without anchors.

It is living a life of space and light and open counters.

I am married to a hoarder.

He says he is not – that he is especially not, when you compare him to his parents, and I will agree with him. He does not have as much junk as his parents did.

(They had a lot. He had to clean out their house after they died. They had moved a bag of old newspapers from Pittsburgh to Florida. It wasn’t “Dewey Beats Truman” papers – it was just a bag of newspapers that they threw on the moving truck. That’s the level of junk they had in their house.)

(Also. The night before his mom’s funeral, we were looking for photos of her and of the grandkids to show at the funeral home. The house had photos on every wall and every horizontal surface. This was a house of photos. We found lots of photos of Mr T’s ex wife, but, even though my mom had sent them a bunch of photos from our wedding, not only could we not find those photos, but we could not find a single photo of me. Not. One.)(They did not like me.)(I ate bacon wrong.)

Anyhow. Where was I?

Oh. Mr T is not as bad as his parents, but he does like to hold onto things.

I do not. I moved so many times as a kid (and as an adult) that I am used to shedding possessions.

I came into this marriage with the essentials and with only two boxes of mementos.

Mr T came in with an entire basement full of boxes, boxes he brought with him when he moved here from California over ten years ago and have not been opened since. Boxes I have told him I will throw away without even looking to see what’s inside once he’s dead. If you can go more than ten years without opening a box, you don’t need what’s in it.

But we have been having many conversations about What Does Our Life Mean and What Do We Do When We Retire and (from me) Why Do We Have All This Crap In The Basement?

So he finally started going through the boxes to throw things away.

And we have found some very interesting  things.

Like his lease from 1986.

And his employee benefits packet from 1988.

Which made a person weep because the coverage was so good.

And his stepdaughter’s college tuition bills.

And coupons for auto repairs. (Expired.)(For decades.)

He was going to dump almost everything in the recycling except he discovered something we had forgotten: In the 80s, almost every kind of transactional document had your social security number on it.

The OG will remember: We used to write our social security numbers on checks. That makes no sense now that I think about it. Even without the spectre of identity theft, how on earth was that information useful to KMart? It’s not like they could validate that number.

But there you go. All these documents with social security numbers, which means they can’t go in the recycling and which also means, unless we want to put every single paper in the “shred” pile, each paper has to be looked at individually.

Which is how Mr T spent Valentine’s Day night: Looking at old papers and making the decision whether to recycle or to shred.

He got through three boxes that weekend and that’s about the sexiest thing that could have happened.