I remember the feeling of being on a short leash when I was growing up. Whenever I forgot about it, my parents would yank it just to remind me.
Unemployment is like that too. I got an email for a mandatory meeting with four days notice. There was no option for rescheduling it, and the letter said that if I didn’t show I would lose my benefits.
I’m not complaining, I understand leashes.
I showed up at the appointed time to be greeted by fifty other people who’d been tossed under the bus. There was remarkably little conversation.
If I expected any sense of a community forming among the others in the room, it quickly dissipated. There were not tables available to fill out the form that I needed to get access into the room. So I leaned on the top of a computer.
I was half way through my form when the woman using the computer I was leaning on told me that she needed to use the top of the computer to store her papers. It was interesting, because she was sitting at a huge empty desk. But clearly the only space that she really needed where I was writing.
No, this was every man, and woman, for themselves.
Finally they announced that the meeting would begin. We were herded into a room for an explanation of how to fill out the various forms. It was like dealing with the post office, but much slower moving.
The woman said that we needed to fill out the goldenrod form in pen. When one guy said that the lobby was full of pencils and he’d filled out the form with that, the woman let out an audible shrug and snatched the form out of his hand.
There were rules, but we also learned that there would be exceptions too. A valuable lesson for surviving my newfound bureaucratic existence.
After an hour, I got my shot for a one on one session. I clutched my resume and followed her to her cubicle.
She took one look at my resume and said that I wouldn’t get far with it. That I would be considered overqualified. I did get the sense that she actually cared about me. She just didn’t make that much eye contact, I guess that when you work with unemployed people, like in a hospice, you want to keep a bit of distance.
Overqualified, just echoed in my head as I walked toward my car.
My a-ha: My parents taught me well about surviving short leashes
Next installment: Keeping the Faith
About the Author: Bob Rosner is a best-selling author and award-winning journalist. For free job and work advice, check out the award-winning workplace911.com. Check the revised edition of his Wall Street Journal best seller, “The Boss’s Survival Guide.” If you have a question for Bob, contact him via email@example.com.