In my ongoing quest for the Holy Grail Job, I landed an interview, job offer and took it. Desperation breeds dysfunctional mind behavior because I was so relieved to finally meet a recruiter face-to-face that I accepted a job without thinking it through.
The Nitty Gritty:
1. The job was out in the middle of nowhere. Now, middle of nowhere in Louisiana can range from quaint to quickly-drive-through-and-stop-for-nothing. Unfortunately, this job was located in the latter, a throwback town where the one horse had left long ago. It had a gas station, a store, a car repair shed and one church. The nearest anything else was twenty miles away.
2. I was excited to finally land a job after submitting so many applications. Work consisted of constant movement (good for me), constant interaction with customers (another unexpected good for me), and constant stocking, restocking, and recovery (one more good for me – I thrive on organization).
3. I didn’t ask enough of the right questions at the interview. This was my mistake. Crazy hours I could handle. Pushing a three-hundred pound roller of water from outside to inside was my undoing (and my back’s undoing). I am fifty-five years old. I weigh 12o (add 10 pounds to that because I’m a woman and we lie within 10-2o pounds of our actual weight). I have age-related back problems. The next day after that mammoth push, it took me thirty minutes to gently crawl out of bed.
4. I did not call to quit. I think that’s as bad as texting a romantic breakup. I have some standards. I went in, talked to the manager, explained why I would not be back (my back), and he tried to talk me into staying. I had made an impression on him with my quick learning and excellent customer service skills. He said I’d only have to move the 300-lb roller once a week. So, in my mind I’m thinking, okay, once a week I’ll break my back and it will take three days of bed rest to recoup. In that time, I can’t work. He was unable to make concessions, which I totally understood, and being the “fairness” person I am (darn it), I agreed it wouldn’t be fair to the others if I had special consideration. I’m not disabled, just older. Unless we can now count older as a disability. I’m starting to wonder . . .
5. So, in conclusion, I ended up staying at work to work on the day I quit because he had no one else to call in. That’s another thing going against or for me – I’m too nice and I’m too understanding. It was kind of sad because I’d already started to bond with my coworkers. This store had a team that was like a family and they welcomed me with opened arms.
What I Gained
1. I like people. I used to think I didn’t like people in general but I came to realize I like all manner of people. I also realized I was caught in judging people by their appearance. Some of the most polite, nice , helpful, funny and friendly people were some I would have crossed the street to avoid in the past. I evolved and for that, I’m thankful.
2. I like making people happy. A good customer service representative is one who customers will remember as friendly and helpful. I passed the test. On my second day, some of the regulars were asking for me by name.
3. Helping people opened my eyes to my own possibilities. I want to make a real difference in the lives of people. If I didn’t need the money to survive, I’d be more active in volunteering.
4. An understanding of limitations. Superpower left me at some unknown point in my life. I’m not as physically strong as I thought I was and this made me take an honest and hard look at myself. I can still pick up heavy boxes and a heavier by the day grandson, but I have limitations. Twenty years ago, I didn’t. Body age slapped me in the head last week – hard. I may be young at heart and in my mind, but my physical strength is on par with my age. Sucks, but there it is.
So, it’s back to the grind. I’m discovering more and more senior workers are looking for work. The 55 and over crowd need jobs. Although some organizations and government programs are trying to help, their reach is too localized in specific areas of the country.
One of the best programs is the Senior Community Service Employment Program (http://www.doleta.gov/seniors). Areas are limited to larger metropolitan, so it won’t help me in my little two-horse town.
I’m still on the path to finding a job. What I’ve learned is not to accept the first offer too quickly. Research and ask questions. Although I liked working there for the short time I was employed, I foresaw permanently destroying my back in the process. We older adults have enough to look forward to without adding disability.
My favorite artist sings my life. Welcome Rebekka Karijord singing “The Noble Art of Letting Go.”