Sunday, December 26, 2004

Book excerpt - Blown Job: Chapter 8

Nearly three years ago, I was fired from my job; a casualty of the post-9/11 economic downturn. After 18 months of looking for work without success, I sat down to write a book, entitled, "Blown Job: an unemployment odyssey." Here's an excerpt from Chapter Eight. (See "Past Posts of Note" for earlier chapters )

Chapter 8 - Check, Please

Have you ever wondered why insurance monoliths don’t offer employment insurance, in the same way that they push life insurance and health insurance and auto insurance and theft insurance? Pay a monthly premium and you’re guaranteed a job for life. They’ve already got us paying for the inevitability of death, illness, car crashes and home invasions. Why not protect us from the evil of unemployment? That’s one premium I wouldn’t have minded paying.

What we have in its stead is unemployment insurance. Though it comes with strings attached, the weekly financial benefit provided through employer tax dollars eases the transition between a earning a steady paycheck and “borrowing” from your kid’s college fund.

In order to collect, you have to prove that you’re worthy. You need to be ready, willing and able to work, every week that you collect. You had to have worked a certain number of quarters, prior to your firing. You can’t have been fired for cause. You need to appear at the unemployment office periodically. You have to check in weekly to maintain eligibility. You have to be looking for work. And you have to pay taxes on the unemployment insurance that you receive.

There isn’t one person I know who’s collected unemployment insurance who isn’t absolutely incredulous at this last little item. There seems to be something unethical, or at least immoral, about taxing unemployment insurance. Okay, I agree it’s income, but it’s only income because you’re not getting real income anymore. Am I right about this? Please, back me up here. To me, it’s the legislative equivalent of tithing (literally, because they soak you for 10 percent.)


I actually dressed in a business suit when I made my first visit to the unemployment office. I thought if I made a good impression that someone there might help me find a job. Don’t laugh. I now know how ridiculous that was, but that was back in the day when I believed in the power of networking. Most of my cohorts were in sweatsuits, and many had brought their toddlers along. They obviously didn’t overthink the situation like I did.

I filled out the requisite paperwork and swore an oath to look for work every week. I was instructed to telephone weekly to report my continued unemployment status.

I quickly fell in love with the automated telephone lady, whose voice became more familiar to me than my mother’s. In short order, I began to anticipate her questions and had my finger poised over the proper key before she finished her sentences (“Press 1 for yes, 2 for no.”) Each Thursday, she rewarded my labors, such as they were, with a brown envelope in my mailbox, which I took to the bank posthaste.

Twenty-six week passed thus, and then my president gifted me with 13 weeks of extended benefits, which almost made me sorry that I hadn’t voted for him.

At the end of 39 weeks, I was sad beyond belief. I had begun to rely on those little envelopes in much the same way as I assume an addict looks forward to his next fix. Gone was the faux compensation for labors rendered. At that moment, I really felt unemployed.

I still have the urge to call to call my automated telephone lady, though I know that she won’t speak to me anymore. Only an executive order can rekindle the relationship. But, with $87 billion likely headed overseas as I write these words, that doesn’t seem likely.

It was a nice ride while it lasted, but I would rather have been working. I’d rather be working right now.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

For My Fan


A legless diabetic in Britain was gifted with a pair of socks and a box of chocolates. Hey, it’s the thoughtlessness that counts.


In the new Harry Potter book out next July, our hero is in his sixth year at Hogwarts. This time out, Harry will learn wand repair, invent a carb-free Every-flavor bean, and dissect a Weasley.


A city in Mexico has banned indoor nudity. Cops are frantically vying for spots on the undercover task force.

Monday, December 20, 2004

This Just In


China crowned its first "Miss Artificial Beauty" in a contest for women who have undergone plastic surgery. The winner received a dozen artificial roses and a cubic zirconia crown.


In Hawaii this week, Christmas trees are going for upwards of $200, due to a supply shortage. A few weeks ago, they only cost $80. I bet folks are sorry now that they didn't buy them on a "lei-away" plan.


A bank robber in Milwaukee handed a teller a note written on the back of his probation papers from a previous bank robbery. The only thing he forgot to do was draw a map of the route to his house.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Book excerpt - Blown Job: Chapter 7, Part 2

Nearly three years ago, I was fired from my job; a casualty of the post-9/11 economic downturn. After 18 months of looking for work without success, I sat down to write a book, entitled, "Blown Job: an unemployment odyssey." I've been posting excerpts here. Since interviews took up such a big part of my life, and of the book, I've split Chapter Seven into two parts. Here's Part Two. (See "Past Posts of Note" for earlier chapters )

Chapter 7, Part 2 – Interviews, or, You Don’t Need Anyone, Do You

Interview Tip #4: Do establish a salary range:

You: I’m looking for a salary in the range of $45,000 to $50,000.

Interviewer: But this is a clerical job.

You: Yeah, and I’m the best damned clerical in the business.

Three job interviews in six months' time; no offers. My next interview, two months later, was for a marketing coordinator position with an engineering consulting firm. Because it took place in the summer, I had to add a little something extra to my interview preparation, which I’ll call Phase 4.1, dressing for excess.

There are two seasons in New York, which are best characterized as ass-freezing and boiling hot. In the winter, which runs roughly from late October through mid-March, one needs to dress in layers to face the biting wind and bitter cold. In so doing, otherwise stylish women appear to have taken fashion advice from The Michelin Man. In summer, where the humidity is off the charts, you need to wear the least amount of clothing possible, while avoiding a charge of indecent exposure. If I put on a suit and stockings in summer, by the time I hit the subway platform, two levels below the street and one above Hell, my carefully made-up countenance instantly resembles that of the character in the Indiana Jones movie; the one whose face melted off when he touched the Holy Grail. So I went with Plan B.

As my interview fell on a day when the heat was utterly unbearable at 8:00 AM, I decided to be smart about dressing. Instead of donning my interview suit, I put on a sleeveless dress and sandals, and eighty-sixed my panty hose. I carried my interview outfit in an overnight bag, and when I arrived at the office, a half-hour before my interview, I asked the receptionist if I could use the ladies room. I changed into my outfit there. A bit unusual, I admit, but I’d been on too many interviews where the perfect look I was going for was ruined as soon as I locked my door. If I was worried that the receptionist might have been scandalized by such behavior, my fears were allayed when I came back out. She barely glanced up at me. If I was going to perspire at all, better it should be due to the interview taking a bad turn, and not because the streets of New York aren’t air-conditioned.

It turned out that I had a delightful meeting with my interviewer, a woman with whom I was very impressed. Not only was she an engineer and a senior partner in the firm, but also she was a writer. Most of the technical professionals who I had met over the years were not all that skillful in word manipulation. There seemed to be two disparate skill sets at play, both of which this woman appeared to have mastered.

I showed her my work samples and she showed me excerpts from her firm’s proposals, qualification statements, and brochures. She let it slip that, among the applicants, there were three who presently were working at rival firms. Though they probably stood a better chance than I did of winning this job, I felt confident that I had made a good showing.

I therefore was very pleased to be called back for a second interview. This time, I would be speaking to the marketing manager; the person to whom the position would report directly. The first woman I spoke to was her boss, and the only reason that I saw her first was that the marketing manager was on vacation when the initial interview was conducted.

I was not as impressed with her as I was with her boss. She was very retiring and spoke in such a tiny voice that it was difficult for me to hear her. She didn’t really seem to have much input in the hiring process, and deferred to her boss and her boss’s boss. She told me that the latter, who was the Vice President of Marketing, would be the one who made the final decision.

She gave me a writing assignment to complete while I was there. I was to prepare a résumé for a hypothetical engineer. It was easy and I believe that I did well.

You can bet that I was elated when I was called back for a third interview. The field was narrowing. I waited nearly an hour for the marketing VP to complete another interview. To pass the time, I perused an exhibit in the waiting area. It was a graphic display prepared in response to a Request for Proposal and concerned a project to beautify a neglected area of the city. It immediately struck me that this had absolutely nothing to do with the core business of the firm. They were involved with water- and waste management. I made a mental note to ask the VP about this.

When we finally sat down together, he was interested to know how well I would work with busy engineers who had precious little time to devote to writers. I told him that I had worked with hardware and software engineers in the past, who also were too busy to be bothered. I mentioned that this was in a job very early in my career, which did not appear on my résumé. I explained that I was tenacious in following up with technical personnel and that I often had to remind them that we had to work together if we had any hope of bringing new business into the company. He seemed satisfied with my answer and went on to ask a few related questions.

When it came to my turn, I uttered some remarks that made it clear that I understood the firm’s business from my reading of the annual report and the website. I then brought up the project displayed in Reception and I asked him about its relevance to the organization’s mission. He told me that it was a project about which the region’s engineers were very proud and which they had undertaken to submit on their own time. I agreed that it was very altruistic, but I wondered if it might confuse potential clients, who might expect to see, at their first point of contact in the reception area, a project that was more closely allied with the firm’s core business, water- and waste management.

I actually think that I insulted him. He mentioned, rather defensively, that such projects were displayed throughout the halls of the office, which I had noticed on my prior visits. Any one of those projects would have been a better fit in the reception area, as they had more to do with the company’s actual business. But I didn’t say that.

At the end of the interview, I asked him about the next step. He said that I was the last to be interviewed and that a decision would be made the following week. I asked if I would hear something either way, and he said yes.

Ten days passed. I decided to call the marketing manager. She told me that a decision had not been made. She didn’t offer anything further and I asked if I would be advised in any event. She said yes and rang off.

Nobody called. No one e-mailed, or faxed, or sent me a letter. Three interviews; three suits; three round-trip train fares; three lunches. And hours and hours of Phases I-IV. And they didn’t even have the decency to let me know that they had hired someone else. Even after I sent each of the three a thank-you letter after each interview.

What did me in this time? Was it my questioning of the VP about the lobby display? Was it that I mentioned a job that wasn’t on my résumé? If only he would have asked, I gladly would have explained that I had been advised to go back 15 years on my résumé and no further, but that all of my jobs appeared on my application. Did they finally decide to go with someone from one of the rival firms, who had more direct experience? As with all my other interviews, I’ll never know.

It’s very frustrating, when you’re forced to divulge all kinds of personal information to strangers, not to be treated with respect and candor. But, on the bright side, at least now I don’t have to know how solid waste is managed.


Now that I’ve had some time to reflect, I can only say that the business of looking for work is, at best, an imperfect process. In spite of all my preparation, I made a series of mistakes and missteps. As for the employers, they often acted cavalierly and insensitively. How do I make it better for the next time?

Well, for one thing, I’ve decided to put every single job back on my résumé. It was bad advice to eliminate the early positions, in the hope that I could shave a few years off of my age.

For another, I will be extra-special careful in regard to what questions I ask. I need to be more sensitive to hot-button issues.

My biggest worry is that I may never land a job again that includes a lunch hour, a 401K, health benefits, and an employee ID. The longer that I am out of work, the harder it is to find new work and the less attractive I am to employers. That is why I sat down to write this book.

God, I hope it sells 8,999,999 copies.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

A Kid in a Candy Store

I love the Food Network. Where else can you learn how to make – well, anything you can think of and most things you never imagined? I especially love their competitions, during which, with typical shadenfreude (come on, admit it,) we all wait for the moment when someone drops his entry just as he's carrying it to the judges' table.

I happened to tune in the other night right when they were talking about an old-time candy store in Manhattan that sells all of the nostalgia-tinged treats of my youth. The place is crammed floor to ceiling with chocolates, nuts, fruits, jellies, teas, and novelty items. I've lived in New York all of my life and I never even heard of this place. (That's not so unusual, however. There's a storefront for just about anything you can think of here, and most get by on word-of-mouth. New York is a mammoth city, made up of a million little neighborhoods.)

The store's "penny candy" section grabbed my attention. (A penny? Pul-eeze! Not in my lifetime.) I immediately was transported back to my youth. I spent an unholy amount of time at the corner candy store, which housed a counter filled to bursting with Sugar Daddies, dots, marshmallow twists, jelly rings, Mary Janes, and a thousand other teeth-destroyers. Is it any wonder that every tooth in my mouth has a filling?

I had see this place up close and personal, and today, I journeyed to Nirvana; otherwise known as Economy Candy on Rivington Street. This inconspicuous emporium is located in what is known as the Lower East Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood that time forgot. You won't find too many plush condos here. The streets are filled with ancient apartment buildings festooned with fire escapes. Any moment, I expected to see Toody and Muldoon roll by in Car 54.

I entered the shop and I immediately felt happy. There was so much to choose from, I didn't know where to start. M&Ms in all the colors of the rainbow. Pez dispensers with every cartoon character from the beginning of time. Wax lips. Chocolate cigarettes. Itty-bitty Mars bars, Mounds, Dove bars. Good and Plenty; O Henry, Junior Mints; Halvah. And my all-time favorite – chocolate Ice Cubes. This little bit of heaven is a square of chocolate with a cooling whoosh. I grabbed several handfuls and went back twice for more.

I walked around the store four times, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. My mission was to fill a tin for a friend with a sweet tooth. Mission accomplished.

I traveled two hours and I took four trains and I strained my back carrying it all home. But a bunch of my friends now are going to have a very sweet new year. And I rekindled a few happy childhood memories. I have to sign off now to make dinner – peanut-butter cups and jelly rings on a bed of M&Ms.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Book excerpt - Blown Job: Chapter 7, Part 1

Nearly three years ago, I was fired from my job; a casualty of the post-9/11 economic downturn. After 18 months of looking for work without success, I sat down to write a book, entitled, "Blown Job: an unemployment odyssey." I've been posting excerpts here. Since preparing for interviews took up such a big part of my life during that time, I've split Chapter Seven into two parts. Here's Part One. (See "Past Posts of Note" for earlier chapters )

Chapter 7, Part 1 - Interviews, or, You Don’t Need Anyone, Do You?
Interview Tip #1: Remove your tongue stud before the interview, not during.

I certainly didn’t rely on networking alone to search for work. Remember that laundry list of job titles that I cataloged earlier, the ones that headlined employment ads on the ’Net? Well, these are just some of the companies and organizations whose ads I responded to:

Lexis/Nexis; The Foundation Center; Natural Resources Defense Council; Baruch College; FleetBoston Financial; Ernst & Young; Grubb & Ellis; Scholastic, Inc.; Trammell Crow; Sesame Workshop; Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom; Lincoln Center; Parsons Brinckerhoff; UNICEF; CNN; Manhattan Theatre Club; Bloomingdale’s; AOL Time Warner;

Bates USA; PEN American Center; Thirteen/WNET; UBS Warburg; Pratt Institute; American Foundation for the Blind; Macy’s; Details Magazine; NBC; HarperCollins; CBS; The Learning Annex; The Ford Foundation; The Robin Hood Foundation; Random House; American Express; MTV; Rodale, Inc.;

Dress for Success; Con Edison; Brooklyn College; The New York Times; Women’s City Club of New York; The Doe Fund; Bloomberg, Inc.; Starlight Children’s Foundation; God’s Love We Deliver; A&E; Barnes & Noble; Sterling National Bank; Meredith Corporation; Bertelsmann.

The list is lots longer. I wrote to smaller firms. I responded to post office boxes, e-mail addresses, and fax numbers used by companies who wanted their names to remain confidential. I applied through the New York State Department of Labor. Each time, I composed a cover letter; tailored my résumé accordingly; included clips of my work, if required, and sent off the packages with fingers crossed and heart racing. And nearly every time, I met with disappointment.

Some of the firms were polite enough to send rejection letters:

Dear (Your Name Here),

Thank you for your interest in the XYZ Corporation. While we were impressed with your credentials, we have decided to hire someone with more direct experience.

We will hold your résumé on file for six months, in the event that a position opens up that can best utilize your skills.

Again, thank you for writing, and best of luck in your career.
Has anyone out there ever been called within the six months that your résumé supposedly remains on file? This is one of those expressions that has about as much meaning as “the check is in the mail” or “that dress really makes your ass look smaller.” It’s a nice lie.

And the closer, “best of luck in your career” never fails to irritate me. What they’re really saying is, “we don’t want you, but here’s hoping you'll find some hapless sucker who will.” If I had any luck at all, you would have called me, bitch. (In Human Resources, the bitches seem to vastly outnumber the bastards.)

Interview Tip #2: When the interviewer asks if you’d like some coffee, don’t say, “No, thanks. What I really could go for is some moo shu.”

Now, I don’t want you to think that I wasn’t able to garner a single interview in my 18 months of unemployment. I actually interviewed for four jobs. Not a fabulous ratio, but not that unusual, from what I’ve heard and read.

Going on an interview, for me, is akin to preparing for a trip to the moon. I want to be sure that I take everything that I will possibly need and I have to be prepared for every possible contingency. I’ve always been deadly serious about the subject of work – unlike a friend of mine, who, while still a young man and reluctant to join the choking mass of nine-to-fivers, would joke that he’d call companies and ask, “You don’t need anyone, do you?”


My preparation goes something like this. When I receive the much-anticipated call from a person in Human Resources, I immediately log on to the ’Net and read every page of the employer’s website. I print out the company’s newsletters for future reference. I focus on the firm’s buzzwords, acronyms, and mission statement. I read the Annual Report. I scan search engines for mentions of the firm and its top executives. I look at industry information on Hoover’s.

That’s Phase I. Phase II is to review the literature I’ve accumulated on interviewing techniques. I practice my two-minute pitch, which encapsulates my talents and strengths. I go over basic questions: the ones I might be asked and the ones that I should ask. I rehearse my answers. I think up new questions based on the particular firm.

Phase III is reviewing my portfolio of writing and graphics samples. I reorganize it, based on the particular job’s requirements. Are they interested in press releases, proposals, or newsletters? Will they want to see technical writing or letters or humor? Which graphic should I open the portfolio with? This is basically an exercise in masturbation, because I usually have to ask an interviewer if she wants to take a look. Most are probably bleary eyed from viewing portfolios, by the time I show up.

Phase IV is scoping out the territory. This means figuring out where the office is located and how I will get there – which train to take, what time to leave home, how far I have to walk. On interview day, I check out the neighborhood. Is there a Duane Reade drugstore nearby? This is priority one, and the answer is almost always in the affirmative, because the company’s expansion plans apparently call for a DR to be located on every city block in Manhattan. Next, where’s the nearest branch of my bank? How many fast food restaurants are nearby? Is there a good place for me to stand and have a smoke? Where are the nearest shoe repair shop, library, and post office? These may seem like trivial matters, but when you spend more than half of every day away from home, these things take on importance, on par with salary, benefits, and an office with real walls.

Interview Tip #3: Don’t ask if you can smoke at your desk; if the ladies room has a condom dispenser; if Halloween is a paid holiday; if your kids can play under your desk after school.

So now I’m ready. All I have to do is choke down the overwhelming nausea that consumes me before every interview. I come to each interview very well prepared and quite fearful that I will forget everything I reviewed over the past few days. Though I am well-dressed and make a good outward appearance, I worry that my stockings will rip, or the seams on my skirt will shift, or my lipstick will smear. I worry that I will smile inappropriately or not enough. I worry that I won’t be able to come up with the right small talk. I worry that I will not be able to remember the details on my résumé. I worry that I won’t be able to answer a question for which I am unprepared. I worry that I will perspire if it is too warm, or that my nipples will show through my blouse if it is too cold. Should I take my jacket off? Should I cross my legs? Can I lean back in my chair or should I sit forward?

None of this is covered in any of the employment guides. It’s probably best not to think too much about any of this and just hope that the work will speak for itself. But we all know that what you say with your body language and facial expressions counts heavily in any social interaction, which, for better or worse, is just what an interview is. You can intrigue an interviewer with your résumé, but you really sell her with your personality. In which case, I’m dead.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

What the %#@*!


A teacher's aide fed dog food to preschoolers pretending to be puppies. As if that weren't bad enough, one kid misspelled "cat" and was whacked on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.


A prisoner stabbed a fellow inmate with a sharpened pork chop bone. A subsequent toss of the cells turned up a chopped liver gun with caper bullets, a bow and arrow made of turkey gizzards, and a garrote made of Twizzlers.


A guy who was unhappy with his Subway sandwich threatened to kill the clerk. It just goes to show, the customer is always insane.


A man frustrated with having to memorize a growing list of computer passwords has suggested tattoos as the new alternative. I'm thinking of getting " Mo!*th!#er."

Wednesday, December 08, 2004



An online diploma mill has been sued for, among other things, awarding an MBA degree to a cat. Rumor has it that the cat, who is said to be pursing his doctorate, was so distraught he attempted to neuter himself.


The woman who auctioned her father's ghost and his cane on eBay got $65,000 from the same folks who bought the fabled "Virgin Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich." I wonder if they'd be interested in my dust bunny collection.

Experts suggest we give ourselves a rest from technology every so often. No, not this min... .

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Book excerpt - Blown Job: Chapter 6

Nearly three years ago, I was fired from my job; a casualty of the post-9/11 economic downturn. After 18 months of looking for work without success, I sat down to write a book, entitled, "Blown Job: an unemployment odyssey." Here's an excerpt from Chapter Six. (See "Past Posts of Note" for earlier chapters. )

Chapter 6 - Networking, Or, How to Lose Friends and Influence No One

True story:

An unemployed nurse goes to her gynecologist for a checkup. While she’s in stirrups, the doctor asks her how she’s doing. She tells him she lost her job. He tells her there is (you should pardon the expression) an opening in his office, and asks if she’d be interested in working there. She responds enthusiastically and subsequently wins the job.

While this is the ultimate in networking, between you and me, I wouldn’t want to share a lunchroom with someone who’s made a clinical study of my whatzis. But hey, a job’s a job.

Networking: making the most of your contacts in order to find employment. These days, it is absolutely necessary to make capital of every relationship you have, no matter how tenuous or strained the connection. Too many applicants for too few jobs means that you have no choice but to pull hard on the old school tie, flatter your mortal enemy, and call in every favor owed. Shrinking violets need not apply.

I used to be painfully shy, to the point where I made up illnesses to keep from attending social functions. I’ve had food poisoning, labyrinthitis, even gout to avoid everything from my class reunion to the funeral of my former best friend. But losing my job has forced me to adopt all kinds of postures that I never would have considered before (except the one in stirrups.) The choking off of income is a powerful stimulus.

And so, I began my adventure in networking by contacting colleagues from the job I just lost. Each of them also had left the organization, either on her own or through a previous purge. My first contact had become an independent consultant. When I called her, she spent the first few minutes of the conversation commiserating with me and bad-mouthing our former firm, about which she got no argument. She then complained about the high cost of doing business as an independent and said that she couldn’t even afford a cell phone. I proceeded to tell her about the terrific one that I used, which didn’t require monthly fees or background checks. She professed an interest in this and I gave her all of the information that I had.

At the end of the call, she told me she would keep me in mind, in case she needed any help with written communications to prospective clients. Of course, I never heard from her. All I can say is, if she bought a Tracfone, I hope the battery dies when her car breaks down on a rural highway in a snowstorm at midnight.

I next contacted a fellow writer who had landed a job writing grant proposals at a non-profit. I took her to lunch and, after the obligatory small talk, she told me about an upcoming conference for non-profit professionals, at which it might be possible to make some networking connections. I soon found out that this kind of support was the most I could hope for. In almost all my interactions, instead of finding out about actual jobs, the best I could do was to obtain more networking advice. And so the chase began.

I called a third colleague, who also was working at a non-profit agency. She passed me along to a colleague of hers, to whom I sent a letter and from whom I never heard.

Next, I hit on friends of mine, who dutifully took my résumés and distributed them within their organizations or on to business associates. My friends even enlisted their nieces, nephews and cousins in the hunt. It was like a pyramid scheme gone wild – you tell a friend, and she’ll tell a friend, and so on….

One good friend put me in touch with an associate at a major publishing firm, who, in turn, gave me the phone numbers of three people in her organization. All of them were very nice and very solicitous, and none of them were able to help.

This I found to be particularly distressing, because I knew that this firm was hiring. The first person I spoke to was kind enough to disclose to me the positions that were posted on her firm’s intranet. I also checked the firm’s website and found other postings there. But I couldn’t get a nibble from the people conducting the interviews.

This brings up two troubling issues. The first is, why, in spite of my having inside information, could I not get an interview? There were several possible answers – the positions may have been filled from within; interviews already may have been conducted by the time I found out about the jobs; applicants whose skills more closely matched the requirements were more likely candidates. Or, it simply could have been that I’m too old and untalented and fated to die on my cot in a homeless shelter, once I lose my apartment because I can’t pay the rent because I can’t find a job because I’m unhireable after working too many years. Uh oh, that’s loser talk. But, can you blame me? I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I should be accumulating a big fat pension now, instead of presenting myself, hat in hand, heart on my sleeve, and bile in my throat.

I’ll never know the reasons, and I’ll always wonder.

The second troubling thought is, what will the people who’ve been trying to help me think of me now? They already know that I’ve been fired from my job, and though I’ve told them it was a mass purge that eliminated my entire department, some of them must be thinking, what the hell is wrong with her? Wouldn’t they have kept her on, if she was any good? And worse, when my friends have gone out on a limb on my behalf with their friends and colleagues and I still can’t get an interview, will they be tarnished for associating with a loser like me?

No one, but no one, ever has done or said anything to make me feel this way, but I’m pretty damned sure that this must be what they’re thinking.


These are just some of the highlights of my adventures in networking. The bottom line is, I’ve contacted everyone I know and, in spite of their help, every single lead turned out to be a dead end.

Anyone who professes to know anything about careers will tell you that networking is the very best way to find a job. I believe that this is true, in good times. But in a bleak economic climate, innovation is key.

So, if your adventures in networking have been anything like mine, my advice to you is, light a candle; perform a Santería ritual; avoid cracks in the sidewalk; dress only in yellow; listen to pronouncements from your pet; and parse the messages in your fortune cookies. Reliance on these unconventional methods will assure you the same brilliant success you’ll get from jeopardizing formerly solid relationships.

I absolutely believe that each and every one of the nine million of us will find a job just as soon as nine million new jobs are created. I figure between the Gap and Starbucks, it shouldn’t be too long now.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

More Food for Thought


In New York, a martini with a loose diamond plunked in can set you back $10,000. Or $9,997.50 without the olive. Or $10,800 with the trip to the ER to extract the gem from your small intestine.


A woman is auctioning her father's ghost on eBay. How the hell do you figure the shipping charge on that? And what kind of people types the word "ghost" in the eBay Search box to begin with? The same ones, I suppose, who would enter "Virgin Mary" AND "grilled cheese sandwich."


The secretary of health and human services, Tommy Thompson, resigned the other day, with a parting shot – "For the life of me," he said, "I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply because it is so easy to do." Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Food for Thought


As the great Dave Barry says, "I'm not making this up." ABC Family Channel is readying a multiethnic sitcomedy extravaganza, "East of Normal, West of Weird," about a 13-year-old Chinese girl adopted by Caucasian New Yorkers; one Jewish and the other Protestant. I bet Emeril shows up to cook the family's favorite meal, moo shu pork with mayonnaise.


This whole rash of Spongebob thefts has made Patrick absolutely frantic. Rumor has it he's offering the thieves a reward of 10,000 clams.


A restaurant that serves only cereal opened in Philadelphia. I guess their big seller will be Cheesesteak Crispies.