I am not in need.

This is not the worst week of my life.

I’ve been evasive about my job, purposely, almost since the beginning. I realized–the day after I turned 24, I think–the dangers of blogging about my career and my employer, so I stopped doing that. I even went back and deleted at least one entry that I knew I probably should have never written.

I can’t say much, but I can safely say I lost my job on Thursday.

I went through all the emotions. Panic. Pure lividity. Betrayal. Lots of betrayal.

I saw it coming. You always see the end of bad relationships coming, don’t you? Actually I saw it coming in January. I made an effort to try to seek out opportunities, but it was hard to do that while working the kind of overtime I was working. I think my peak week was 72 hours. The extra money was really nice–it went straight into the Honda and it’s probably already saved me a couple hundred bucks–but my fiancee could see the years coming off my life. Was it worth it?

I looked in the mirror and saw my Dad. But not Dad at 30. When Dad was 30, he looked younger than I look. I was working the kinds of hours Dad worked–both in quantity and in the irregularity–and I was getting old before my time.

Dad died at 51. Do I want to only have 21 years left? No job is worth that. Certainly not this one.

I applied for a job in Milwaukee. They were great people, but they turned me down. That was OK. I figured I was a long shot anyway. The only better job in the world would have been manager of the Kansas City Royals (they have an opening–maybe I should apply) but in my heart of hearts I didn’t think I was really ready for it. It was journalism, and I know how to write and edit, but I really need another five years’ knowledge under my belt.

Late at night when I was feeling sorry for myself, I’d hit the job sites and see what was out there. Nothing grabbed me.

Something happened last week. It was the last-straw moment, like when Lumbergh took away Milton’s stapler. I could have handled the situation better, but there were about a dozen people who needed to handle that situation better.

But bad weeks have a way of blowing over and usually after a series of bad weeks there’s a good week. You know, those weeks when you can disappear, work on whatever it is you’re supposed to be working on instead of putting out fires all day, go home at 5, and your phone doesn’t ring all night. Going into the weekend, I tried to tell myself this would be one of those. I was going to Kansas City for my wedding shower. Kansas City is always good. I might even be able to sit and watch KCS trains (real ones) from my sister’s back porch to unwind for a while.

Monday came, and it was just meetings. Meetings are bad enough; meetings where you have the sense that the person running it just doesn’t have a good grasp on what’s going on are worse. We had problems, and that meeting wasn’t going to solve any of them. This wasn’t looking like a good week.

Tuesday started out better. I heard a song on the radio as I drove up I-55. It’s been almost two years since I heard a song on the radio and it grabbed me, but this one did. I scrawled down a couple of lines after I pulled off I-55 and punched them in to Google. Google is the best thing that ever happened to music. The song? “What About Everything?” by Carbon Leaf.

Every time I saw something I didn’t like that day, some line from that song popped back into my head.

Lines like these:

In search of some rest, in search of a break
From a life of tests where something’s always at stake
Where something’s always so far
What about my broken car?
What about my life so far?
What about my dream?
What about…..

What about everything?
What about aeroplanes?
And what about ships that drank the sea?
What about…
What about the moon and stars?
What about soldier battle scars
And all the anger that they eat?


But the line that came back more often than any other was the final one:

Well, I am not, I am not, I am not in need.

It made me feel better.

That evening, I saw a job posting. I made a phone call. It sounded promising. The job description was challenging, but it’s a cakewalk compared to the last two years. “Challenging” is good. Doing two or three people’s jobs is bad.

On Wednesday, all of the higher-ups were acting funny. I should have picked up on that. I know the look. I saw it in 1993 when the managers at the fast-food joint I was working told us the restaurant was closing and the company was pulling out of the St. Louis market. I saw it in 1994 when Best Buy decided it needed to terminate all of the holiday help they’d brought in, even the part-timers who were just back from college and would be leaving in two days anyway.

It never occurred to me that look is universal. I guess it’s a good thing that I’m 30 and have only seen that look three times. The first time didn’t hit home–I was leaving for college anyway, and my last day was a good three weeks before they’d be closing. They let me keep my work shirt. I might still have it somewhere. I came back for the last day. One of my coworkers summed it up pretty well. “Well, Dave, I’ll probably never see you again. Good luck!”

But I did see him again. Five years later, at Mizzou.

The second time hurt. I don’t know anymore if I lost a day’s work or a week’s work, but I thought I really needed the money. I brooded for a week and then went back to college. Get a good degree from a good school, I told myself, so that would never happen to me again. It motivated me.

Ah, to be 19 and naive again.

Thursday toward the end of the day, my boss’ boss was waiting for me. She had that look. She motioned me into a meeting room. Inside, the man who recruited me in the first place was waiting for me. I went to high school with his brother. When he wanted to start doing some writing on the side, he came to me for advice. I counted him as a friend. But he had that look on his face too, and this was strictly business. Cutbacks… Job eliminated… I’m sorry….

Maybe you are, maybe you aren’t. That’s between you and God. I didn’t wait long enough to hear their cheerleading rah-rah schpiel about how they’d help me find another job. I didn’t need lines from an HR policy manual.

That song is in heavy rotation right now on my favorite radio station, but it wasn’t playing as I drove home. But I heard it again this morning.

In search of some rest, in search of a break
From a life of tests where something’s always at stake

Well, I finally got that. I was wanting to take some time off this upcoming week so I could tend to things I’ve been ignoring from working too much. I didn’t expect to get it.

What about that midnight phone call…
The one that wakes you from your peace?

Well, that won’t be a weekly occurrence anymore. My ex-boss called me this morning to answer some questions. He mentioned that Backup Exec blew up again Thursday night. “It sympathized with you,” he said. I told him to get used to it.

Then I think about being done, with no resume
With no one left to blame


Well, they can blame me all they want but it won’t make any difference anymore. I may be done, but I’ve got three different versions of my resume.

What about fortune and fame?

I don’t need fame. Fortune? Their money doesn’t spend any differently from anyone else’s. At the rate I was going, I probably could have retired at 55. Maybe this will slow me down by a year, maybe it won’t. But my likelihood of actually living to 55 probably just went way up. The ideal thing, of course, is to find something I like so I won’t want to retire at 56 anyway.

What about your love to obtain?
What about the ring?

Oh yeah. That. The important thing. I’ve still got my bride. She trusts me to see to it that her needs are met. Right now I can’t give her the kind of security I want to give her, but she knows I’ll do the very best I can with what we have to work with. She believes in me during those times when I don’t really believe in myself.

Now at least I get to spend some time with her. She got a good taste of what was to come the day we met. I was supposed to meet her at 5:30. But a tape drive broke and we didn’t have a spare, and HP wasn’t going to be there until 7 with a replacement. So I called her and let her know I was going to be late while I showed him what needed to be done.

Bad first impression. Very, very bad. But she got over it. She got over me going out to the parking lot three times during the date to answer the phone and answer another question.

Van, if you’re reading this, thank you. This is the girl.

I told her that bad jobs are just like bad relationships. You tell yourself over and over again that there are better jobs out there but there are a million and one reasons why you’re not qualified for one. So you put up with your love-hate relationship with your job, maybe you pretend someday it’ll get better and maybe you don’t, but you stay there because you don’t think you deserve anything else.

“And then it breaks up with you anyway,” she finished for me.

Exactly.

I won’t find a better girl. I can find a better job.

Well, I am not, I am not, I am not in need.

Zero times anything is still zero. But I’m not sitting here with zero.

10 thoughts on “I am not in need.

  • May 13, 2005 at 10:02 pm
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    Good luck with the job, bud…

    …but it sounds like you’ve already found your luck with your Lady!

    My best to you both!

  • May 14, 2005 at 12:15 am
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    Dave,
    I’m sorry about your job. I remember a couple of years back some of your friends lost their jobs. I’m sure they bounced back and so will you.
    The military base closings are getting a lot of press now. I understand they closed first, second, and third base in Kansas City. Is that true?

    • May 14, 2005 at 12:49 am
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      Ouch!

    • May 14, 2005 at 9:28 pm
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      >I’m sorry about your job. I remember a couple
      >of years back some of your friends lost their jobs.

      Yeah, they were the wrong people to let go then and they’d have been the wrong ones to let go this year too.

      >I’m sure they bounced back and so will you.

      Yeah, I’ll land somewhere. But the end of a bad relationship still stings, especially when it didn’t happen on your terms. I have a lot of other things I want to say but I won’t. I just took a phone call from one of the people who was an insider on the decision, and obviously I’m not as over it as I thought I was.

      • May 14, 2005 at 10:19 pm
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        Dave,
        I’ve read you enough over the last few years to know this wasn’t your fault.
        There is an awful lot of information on the web dealing with unemployment and job searches. With your intelligence, I’m sure you will be back at work in no time.
        You might consider a new career field. Your imagination has created characters that are fascinating. Jacques Pierre Cousteau Vermouth Bouillabaisse le Raunche de la Stenche might tap you to write his autobiography.
        Faith will see you through.

    • May 15, 2005 at 7:15 pm
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      Jeremiah 29:11 (The Message)

      I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out–plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.

      <Steve here> I want to add more, but I don’t need to. He will watch over you.

  • May 14, 2005 at 8:31 am
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    But I’m not sitting here with zero.

    Amen.

  • May 15, 2005 at 8:12 pm
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    Both times I was in a similar situation, my new employment was an infinitely better situation. I’m certain you’ll find something much better, very soon. Best of luck!!

  • May 15, 2005 at 11:09 pm
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    If you haven’t already picked up a copy at your local used book store, snag “What Color Is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles. It really helped me to land a great job.

    By the way, I just noticed that your comment software doesn’t allow the underline element to be used in HTML postings. That seems kind of silly to me given that bold and italic are both allowed. Oh, well…


    Dustin D. Cook, A+

    dcook32p@htcomp.net

  • May 15, 2005 at 11:13 pm
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    Ouch, Dave!

    I saw this Friday, but was waiting for the inspiration that would allow me to write some magical words that would make it all make sense. I still haven’t found those words.

    I will say that corporate decision making in such matters is often stupid and reflects little on the victims of such decisions, but reflects much on the decision makers. I’ve seen a lot of experienced and valuable people shown the door or encouraged to find work elsewhere due to decisions made by people who appear to not have a clue as to the magnitude of the loss that occurs when such people leave.

    Ah well. It’s still not a great time in IT, but it seems to be gradually getting better and you have diverse and valuable skills. Treat the search like a job, and you’ll probably find something better than what you had fairly quickly.

    As others have said, God has something for you. Going through the process of finding that is not always fun, but hang in there. The results are worth the process.


    -Steve

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