Thursday, September 20, 2007

Testing the waters again

Last week I found myself in the office of career services provided for the students at OCCC. The woman who came out of a back room didn't care that I was just a normal person walking off the street, with no affiliation to the college. I imagined being the only one to have walked in that office all week, as classes just began for the semester. Students were too busy to think about looking for a job. The woman who greeted me had a blank expression on her tawny-toned face, and warned me that if I wanted to apply for one of the full time jobs I'd have to bring in my resume and set up an appointment with her. She handed me two thick binders filled with jobs in the area. I've been very casually perusing help wanted sections over the past few months, but the same stock jobs are always there, and the dream job never is: 'Dynamic woman wanted for international travel, must be willing to learn Bantu language and train with elite runners'. I keep checking, but so far, nothing really came close to that. I leaf through pages of clerical positions, dental assistants, the same old stuff.. Then I find it: Teacher wanted for female correctional facility inmates. Why hadn't I considered this before? And why was this appealing to me? I think this is the first time I saw an ad for prison teachers.. I didn't realize prisoners had academic options. And of course the appeal was working with a new culture. I pictured organizing training runs on site, and whipping them all into shape and redemption.. With a few creative writing lessons tossed in for balance. I returned the next week for my appointment with Linda. I brought a cold with me, so I figured Linda wouldn't mind that my resume was not typed. She did. She has a choppy army drill sergeant way about her, and she looked at me deadpan, after dragging my congested self over for the appointment, and told me, 'I can't look at a resume that isn't typed'.. I've stopped taking no for an answer from people of authority a few years ago.. It still feels new and daring to challenge them, but I will never take no again, if I really believe they're being unreasonable. 'Oh, come on.. Can't you just look at it?' 'Well, I can look at it, but we won't fax it for you.. You'll have to type it up'.. 'Of course! That'll be great, thanks'.. I was relieved. It's hard to argue with gumption when your nose is clogged and threatening to leak at any moment. She went into the back to get her reading glasses, and I quickly crossed out the line I had written to fill up space under job duties at the phone company:
. Assisted customers in resolving telecommunications issues in a PSC regulated call center
. Exceeded employee sales goals
. Put up with a lot of bullshit (this one)
Good thing too, because apparently my resume writing style was not jibing with the 2007 standards. Linda went down the page with a pencil marking off everything that needed to be fixed. Her humorless demeanor didn't exactly scare me, but it made it tricky to get her assistance as I tried figuring out how to format this on their PC. I decided to lean on the 'poor sick me' tactic.. Made sure my voice cracked a little whenever I called her over.. Two hours later (for a one page resume), when she realized the position I was applying for, she offered, 'I taught at a correctional facility once'.. I was taken aback a little.. Could I really have something in common with this woman? 'Did you like it?' I asked..'It was alright'.. I prodded more, 'They were probably motivated since there's nothing else to do there'.. 'Not necessarily', she shot down my hopes.. 'Sometimes they showed up and sometimes they didn't'. Wow. Another fantasy job down the drain. Well, I had a feeling teaching inmates for me would be an entirely different experience than it was for Linda. For one thing, I can't imagine her ever thinking anything about the job was blog-worthy. I finished up my resume, tucked it safely in my backpack, then turned to her: 'Thank-you so much for all your help. This has been very productive for me'. And then it happened! Her face lit up! It wasn't exactly a smile, but I saw the subtle change. I wondered how long it had been since someone appreciated Linda. I'm remembering how grim life can be when you are working in the same job day after day, year after year. I unzip my backpack and pull out my resume copy. I exit the office, and then drop the document lightly into the nearest garbage can. I walk out of the building and unto the well-groomed campus. It is a beautiful late Summer day. I find a quiet patch of grass, sit down, and prop myself up on a lone tree. I take out my slim copy of The Little Prince, and blissfully remove all previous notions of trying to be an adult.


clement said...

hmmm, I can't help but feeling guilty about you not having your resume ready on time. Anyway, you'll probably get the job and am sure you'll love it. Experiences can be very different depending on one's state of mind. You seem to have fun teaching adults, and I'm sure you'll be able to motivated the ones Linda doesn't seem to have been able to.
hope to read you soon again...

tamar said...

clement~ you were commenting as I was revising the ending of that post! Check out the changes.. I think you're right, it does seem like a good job for me..

Anonymous said...

Tamar: What a great story with so much information in it.

We're going to have to get an update on if you get the job. I think you'd like it and I think you'd be good at teaching (I think I've said that on a number of occasions).

I liked your write up on Linda and how you made her smile. It's always nice when we can make someone else smile and it generally doesn't cost anything. Maybe you were the first one that appreciated her and made her smile in years. There are many people that go through their jobs in the same way you described her and it's generally not their fault, it's the way the "system" is set up for their specific job.

Thought you might have gotten a coffee with cream and sugar to read "Prince" under the tree.

Looking forward to hearing whether you got the job.


Jon said...

So you threw away your hand-written resume? I think you should have scanned it and posted it for us to see.

I am curious

tamar said...

kevin~ It's good to hear feedback from others on what job they think I'd be compatible for, even if they've expressed that opinion before.. I'm a little like a man in that respect, and need several reminders! Yes, it really is nice to make someone's day, probably more important than 1/2 the other stuff we're striving for throughout our days.. Nope, no coffee after 1 pm for me :-)

jon~ well, I wrote you the best part of the resume, the part I crossed off! nothing too juicy in it.. And fear not, that was creative license there, I didn't really throw it out..