The Invisible Sea of People Without Jobs
The Invisible Sea of People Without Jobs
By Michael Boyajian
Back in 2008 when I was laid off from my state job as a judge the Poughkeepsie Journal wanted me to do a column that would track my job search. I considered the idea but then decided against it. You see, being laid off without cause was a humiliation that I did not want to share at that time. I was especially unnerved because I had recently adjudicated with great success two of the biggest cases in state history and also because I had never been reversed on appeal as a judge.
But today I would like to recall the search. In 2008 my job ended two weeks before my 50th birthday celebration. Needless to say, it was hard to look happy at this party with my closest friends and family none of whom knew that I had lost my job. You see I had become an attorney so as to avoid the fate of many who lose their jobs when they are in their fifties including my own father a proud man who was humbled by the experience.
But that was the least of my problems, during this time the economy and the stock market collapsed. It was hard being at home watching the panic knowing that you were in a bad spot while this was happening. It was at time that Obama pushed ahead of McCain in the polls.
Then in November a miracle happened, I landed another government job after going half way through my unemployment benefits. I had to go to Troy, NY for a month of training and that was hard being away from home and in the middle of it I caught a bad stomach bug but pushed through and showed up for training everyday. My supervisors loved me during this time; there was talk of putting me in charge of a new office in Poughkeepsie near my home.
Then I started my job in another location and things didn’t go well from the get go. I will not go into details here but to say in the end we all agreed it was a bad fit and I left my position. I was out of work for a short period of time, eating up a retirement account, before a good friend recommended me for a job at an agency that was my first state position back in 2000. It was a real homecoming, I was treated as if I had been gone but a couple of weeks and sorely missed at that. Going to work was a real pleasure and the work was a challenge. My supervisors and co-workers were terrific. I should point out though that I was earning a great deal less than my expenses.
The only other catch was that it was a temporary job running only to August 2009. Fortunately, they were able to find money in the budget to extend my tenure to December. But now I am unemployed again only this time I cannot collect unemployment and I am not even a statistic. You see because I voluntarily left that one job I could not qualify for unemployment. So I am not even part of the unemployment figures. I am one of many in the sea of the invisible mass of jobless people who cannot be measured. We are getting by on money borrowed from family. We have been forced to take severe financial steps.
I spend my mornings job hunting at several online sites, I am active on the civil service list and read the Sunday newspaper job listings religiously. You network online and stay in touch and get leads from friends. Some people who try to help offer suggestions that are inadvertently demeaning. Some headhunters imply that if you pay them a fee you will get a job because they got all the other headhunters their jobs and that seems criminal to me.
Some days there are no jobs listed for me and others there are few and those are the good days. You rarely hear back from anyone and if you do you probably don’t hear back a second time. I got a rejection letter for one federal job that said there had been 2,000 applicants. We treated that like good news because that meant that I was not being rejected because of any fault of my own. There was just a lot of competition out there.
I even tried applying for menial work just to get by but never heard from them or was told I was over qualified. Then I took the 2010 Census takers test and was told I did quite well and should hear sometime in March. This job would hold me over until I got a regular job in my profession.
The worst part is not hearing from places that you have applied to, it’s a deafening silence at times. Then you get angry at the people responsible for your job loss but you have to let that pass because the anger will just eat you up. You must just keep moving forward and a good day is a day when there are jobs to apply for.
And that is what you live for. I have gone over most of my experiences although I have left out some personal matters nonetheless. Fortunately my wife’s income has helped us and she has been a solid wall of emotional support. I hope that others like me will take solace from this recollection that they are not alone in this storm and that is my story and now I am not invisible.
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