311. it's a whole new world out there
Okay, there’s no cute or easy way to say this. I lost my job this week.
As I understand it, the company I was working for had been operating under the assumption that a huge venture capital investment was basically in the bag. But the execs got a call from the VC people on Monday that said despite all promises to the contrary, they weren’t going to fund us. Our exec fought hard to keep the funds coming but he said all the VC guy could tell him was, “it’s a whole new world out there,” referring, of course, to all the drama in the financial markets.
In this past month or so, listening to and watching the news, I had a really hard time understanding all the doom and gloom about the economy. It seemed like something that only investors and bankers and retirees or those who had signed one of those shady mortgages had to worry about, not something that would hit me. The pundits kept saying that this crisis would have dire and far reaching effects for great swaths of the population and I kept thinking to myself, “bummer for those people.” I didn’t think this credit tsunami would hit me.
Until it did.
So how am I doing? Well, I loved that job. It was probably the most fun I’ve ever had working somewhere, so I’m kinda bummed about losing it.
But I’m also very grateful.
I’m going to have to go on a major financial diet but in general my monthly expenses are low. I’ve applied for unemployment and worst case scenario, I’ll take some entry-level rudimentary McJob to get by until I find something more promising. So as bad as the job market looks, I know I won’t need a lot to make ends meet and so while I’m not glad, I am grateful.
There are other people at my old workplace who aren’t as lucky as I. I know some of them just had babies and that’s a huge expense. And I’m sure many of them have fixed monthly expenses that are FAR higher than mine and so their job options are far more limited. Also, because of all the layoffs that are happening all over the place and the fact that the venture capital market is closed up now, they’re probably going to face a very arduous tech sector job search.
While I was packing up the things from my cubicle I caught a glimpse at the guy across the hall from me. He was sitting in his chair, arms dangling at his side. He was staring down at the floor as if the unholy maw of a black hole were opening up in front of him.
Me? If I went into full-on lean, mean, borderline-ascetic budget mode, I could probably get by on an hourly wage of $10 or $11. That wouldn’t be much fun but still, if that’s all I need to get by, I can find a job that at least pays that.
And so I’m grateful.
But I am a bit wary about the job hunt.
I’m a strange sort of creature. I think most of my friends would say that I’m a pretty bright guy. I’m no Mensa candidate but I like to think I know a thing or two about a thing or two.
And I’m a relatively handy guy. I’m no Bob Villa but I know how to operate a few power tools and can perform some basic house maintenance/repair jobs. And I can usually find creative solutions to problems. At my last job I turned the rubber end of a plunger (the kind you use on clogged drains) into a headphone coupler. And back when I used to script/shoot/edit a weekly video for a church I attended back in Hawaii, I used almost every trick in the guerilla filmmaking handbook to create some really (I think) entertaining videos with basically no budget.
There are lots of little things I know how to do but none of them translates very well into a job.
On the other hand, I’m pretty open to doing almost anything. And like I said above, I don’t need a lot when it comes to salary. I totally lucked out with my last job – it was a niche market of a niche market – and I doubt I’ll find something as sweet again but I’m willing to do almost anything. My job hunt game plan is to spend the first month or so looking for another golden opportunity. The next months after that will be looking for something in the ballpark of meaningful work. After that I’ll take any job that will have me.
I’m a strange sort of creature when it comes to the job market. I have a lot to offer an employer but my skill set doesn’t fit into any neat category. And so I’m a bit wary about the job hunt.
But I’m also excited.
They say that when you’re unemployed, your full time job is finding a job. And I agree. Craigslist and other job hunting websites are my first clicks in the morning. My resume is updated and polished up, ready to go (customizable per submission along with cover letter). I’m all about being a job search machine.
But that’s not what’s got me excited.
Although I plan on thinking of my job search as a job in itself, it’s not really a full time job, you know? And that leaves time for me to get back at writing and that excites me.
Last night at my c-group (Bible study) when we broke up into prayer/discussion groups I shared the news about losing my job. One of the people in my group asked me if I had considered writing as a job and I told her that that would be too good to be true. Because I know there are jobs for writers out there but here’s the thing. Writing is something that I love, but its only a specific kind of writing that I love – the random writing I do for this blog and the little short story things I toy with every once in a while. I love writing so much that I don’t want to “waste” it on a writing gig that may lead me to hate writing. What I mean is, I love writing so I’ll write whether I get paid for it or not. So if I do get paid for it, I want it to be on my terms. And that’s not a very reasonable posture to take in the hunt for a job, but when it comes to writing as a possible career, that’s that.
But like I said, I don’t need to get paid to write. And so being unemployed will allow me the time I need to get back to writing – my writing, my way.
And you know, there’s a feeble voice inside of me that is saying that this jobless situation could be exactly what I need – that maybe writing is my true calling and that I should take full advantage of the time that I have to do it – that my unemployment is actually a precious, divine gift from God.
And that has me excited.
In conclusion, I wanted to let you all know about my job situation. Some of you already knew either through phone calls or through my status update on Facebook, but some didn’t. I also wanted to let everyone know that I’m doing well. I’m grateful, I’m wary, but I’m also excited. Which isn’t too bad of a place to be.
Of course I can say this because I’ve only been unemployed for a few days now. I may be in an entirely different mind space in a few months but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.
PS. prayers appreciated, thanks.
PPS. for anyone else caught up in the throes of or worried about this financial crisis, my pastor had been doing an AMAZING series about Faith and Money. Read his blog posts about it here or listen to his sermons here (look for sermons with the title, “Faith and Money.”