I have never been so happy to get a job! My honest interview on the eve of Thanksgiving actually paid off. My long drought of professional employment is over. The job is a dream job. I will be working in a Microsoft Access environment with links to Oracle and MS SQL environments. While the vast majority of my background is in accounting systems for oil and gas companies this new job will be giving me exposure in health diagnostic applications. So I’ll have a ton of things to learn. The job is only a fifteen minute commute from home. The compensation package includes a healthcare plan. If there is a drawback it might be the fact that it took so long to get here.
I got the word on Tuesday. But just a few days before I was shedding tears. Like a lot of people out of work and unable to support themselves I had to turn to government assistance. For better than twenty years I have paid into the system without receiving a dime. I was due for a return on my investment. I had to apply for food stamps. I applied for Medicaid. But because my last name is the same last name as a man who stayed in my apartment before me and he appears to be a lowlife that has left mountains of debt and abuse of various programs designed to help the disadvantage in his wake, utilities and government agencies are now trying to hold me responsible for his debt. Ameren UE, the only electricity provider in the area, tried to deny me access to electricity until the outstanding balance on his account was cleared. That issue was relatively easy to resolve with a few calls to the state and local government offices. But the welfare office has denied me coverage because this man has abused their system so. I’m not privy to the details of his crimes. All I need to know is that I’m being denied benefits because we share the same last name and address. I wouldn’t be surprised if I applied for a library card only to find out this guy had checked out a complete set of a rare encyclopedia collection and they’d want to collect from me.
My son is late for his eight month baby shots and I had no way to pay for them. In order to keep my apartment I had to ask my nearly eighty year old mother for a loan, again. I was frustrated and I was angry. There should be no reason why that in this so called civilized society, this the wealthiest country on the planet, can’t provide for all of its citizens when countries with just a fraction of our wealth and prosperity make provisions for all of their citizens. We have a society that sits back and cuts taxes for billionaires and the well to do and then turn around and cut funding for social programs for the poor in order to compensate for the lost revenue. My son needs help and I’m unable to find the help he needs.
My frustration caught the eyes and ears of Baba Orunmila. No surprise there, Baba frequently shows up when I’m at wits end. But I knew this was deep when Olodumare took the time to show up as well. They asked me if I felt like I was being unfairly treated. Yes I was being unfairly treated! I have a degree. I’ve been on job interviews where I know I was rejected simply because I walked into the door and made eye contact with a company representative. I have wasted so much money helping others why aren’t people helping me? What happened to karma and reciprocity?
I didn’t mean to dump on Baba and the Big O, but the floodgates of frustration were now open. Baba asked me what I wanted from him. I hesitated because he knew that I wanted out of my predicament. Baba knew what I think of this life sentence. In essence, we live in a system of hierarchy based on value and worth. We are so quick to discard people we judge as worthless because they don’t appear in some magazine. Common people have no value and no place in society while the truly worthless spoiled billionaires remain the focus of our collective imagination and worship. A young white female billionaire spends thirteen minutes in jail for offenses that would get a young black man killed. We live in a society where a black professional athlete will go to jail for killing dogs but people who kill common black children are hailed as heroes by many in the dominant culture. This society is corrupt, this way of life is unfair, it is unjust, it is inhuman, and it isn’t worth its existence. A meteor the size of Washington state should put us all out of our misery.
My tirade was a little deeper than that but this should be a good enough summary. I was asked what I wanted. All I wanted was to be able to provide for my family. I know I can do it if people would just give me a chance. All I wanted was a job that would allow us to have medical care. I wanted to be treated as a human by humans instead of being perceived as nothing but a whiny complainer who refuses to pull himself up by his bootstraps.
The Baba and the Big O laughed. I was not glad to see somebody finding humor in my situation. But they went on to explain that this is all part of the human experience. My experiences were supposed to help me help others when they find themselves in a similar situation. I really couldn’t competently write about being broke and the discrimination associated with black people who refuse to simply submit to the process of assimilating to what the dominant white culture deems appropriate for black people. Now I have a new appreciation and perspective for what other people have and are and will be going through. Baba told me it is hard but I would prevail. The government agencies may have turned me down but I have a mother who isn’t just able to help but is stepping up to the plate to help. No matter how much she may moan and groan about having to tap into her retirement my mom would do anything to help her kids. I really needed to get hold of myself and keep things in perspective. It may be unfair, but things will get better.
After our talk I felt a little better. After all, when Orisa truly say something you can take it to the bank.
The following Monday I had to report to another job for about a week of employment helping a company deploy hundreds of desktops at their new facility. It was a guaranteed forty hours for the week. The job was mindless, somewhat tiring but not even close to being exhausting, and a trained chimpanzee could have done it. But it paid a lot better than the beast of burden job. I got home Monday and sent my old recruiter an email asking about the chances of doing more interviews. The recruiter said she still hadn’t heard if the job I went to interview for was filled and that she wasn’t ready to close the book on it. She suggested I hold on for a day or two. The next day, Tuesday, I got home and my recruiter had sent me an email. The job was mine if I wanted it.
She sent the email early in the day about nine o’clock that morning. It was about six o’clock in the evening when I got the word. I couldn’t call her fast enough. My recruiter didn’t wait. She went out on the proverbial limb and accepted the job on my behalf. If I had rejected it the client could have been a little upset. I was the first choice and if I wasn’t going to take the job they needed to contact their next choice as soon as possible. But, that limb wasn’t much of a risk at all. My recruiter knew my situation and knew I wanted to get back to working professionally. I had to laugh when she told me with a tone of cringing in her voice just in case I declined. But in all honesty I have never been so happy to get a job.
Did Big O and Baba Orunmila do something on my behalf? I doubt it. As far as I know Baba doesn’t do things to prefer one person over another. Such favoritism could be judged as a form of bias by some, totally unfair by others. It would be no different than people who use their influence to get their family member or their friend or somebody else from their racial clan a job when there are people more qualified and more deserving for the position who need it just as bad if not more. It’s not their place to grant wishes. We aren’t here to live easy. We are here to learn lessons from life. My path might be one that requires sacrifice and personal struggle. It’s hard when my struggle causes the rest of my family to pay consequences. It’s hard when I see my family pay for my choices.
My job is a contract job. It’s guaranteed for eighteen months. I have eighteen months to plan for my next move at the end of this job. I will do my best not to waste a minute of time. It would be nice to have my own business in place at the end of this time. It would be nice to add a new valued skill to my skill sets. It would be cool to have both! Maybe I can restore houses. There are a ton of seriously low priced homes in the local black communities that need some restoration. And with mortgages in their current condition now is an excellent time to buy. I wouldn’t want to be trying to sell a house right now but buying a house looks really attractive. I will have to keep you posted on my progress. Hopefully you’ll stick around and this blog will still be going in eighteen months.
But in the meantime, regardless of how anyone would like to look at it, it’s good to be part of the working again. My drought is over!