Today I spent time in a room filled with Bankers, Lawyers, Accountants, Loan officers and Financial planners. I came to that room through a 1 hour bus ride, punctuated by 25 minutes waiting in the crisp, biting snow while waiting for a replacement coach. At or near my destination, snow became rain, and I entered said room with seconds to spare on a previously well-padded timeline, brushing away drops of life giving water and wishing I had a tissue in hand, not a seminar ticket.
Around the room were all manner of faces and fashions. Seated together one row ahead of me were a recent college graduate wearing sweat clothes, and a fifty-something, well tanned and shaved man wearing diamond and gold jewelry.
Both were dry, and appeared to be in good health.
Beyond our attendance, the people seated represented an almost complete census of Seattle’s work force, and we had but two things in common. None of us are working, and everyone present was leaning forward hungrily, eyes and ears fixed on presenters from a federal agency that shall remain nameless.
As I examined the faces of my fellow petitioners, I did not see the desperation I felt and feel in my unemployed state, nor did I hear it in the forced and fragile silence that held all present NOT being paid to be there. But I could taste it in the air. I could smell it, hiding under the skin of everyone trying not to project their fear, and felt it surrounding each of us in turn as we realized we were, in fact, in the wrong place.
Of the 30+ people in the room with me, I expect fully half of them were willing to take a five to six figure pay cut for one of the open positions, as evidenced by their calculating stares and smiles when the prospect of relocation expenses was explained. For me, it would have been an increase, which makes the last four years of servitude even more pathetic.
I was present to explore yet another avenue on which I might start my next career. While they were calculating how fast they could extricate themselves from bloated mortgages and bad leases, I was considering whether or not I could stomach the job duties outlined for 2, 4, or 24 years. My commitments and obligations will follow me wherever I go, and the need to add something back into the social contract gnaws at me as it has every day of the last 246.
I have a piece of paper in my hand that tells me I have 2 weeks to find that place. Tomorrow, I expect to hold a similar page that will explain to me the course of the next 245.
Month 9 of exile begins today, and I am no closer now than I was on day 1. But I do know one path on which I will not be walking, so that is one positive I can point to.
Today was also the second of two interviews I have been called to over that span.
I think I’ll submit my next CV in watercolor, just to see what happens.