With the embarrassing and somewhat humiliating events from the meltdown at the advertising agency, I was once again freshly unemployed. The primary difference between this bout and the one after the game company had imploded was that I did not get the hefty severance, nor the sick pay, nor the vacation pay, but only the unemployment. On top of the lack of funds and a lack of general savings on my part, I also had the $300 cell phone bill that only existed due to the astronomical amount of time that I had spent on the phone talking down my now ex-boss.
I would be lying if I did not admit to having a slight feeling of relief over no longer being at the advertising agency and the ever descending roller-coaster ride that summed up the entirety of those short seven months of employment there. Now I was on my second layoff, and where the previous time of joblessness was a nonstop fun-filled party, this time was different. Every morning I would wake up and occasionally do some sort of pseudo exercises, have breakfast and begin the slow trudge through the various internet sites for possible job openings. Every site that I visited was looking for the usual array of engineers, senior accountants, food service, retail or the worst of the lot...telemarketing. That was it. Those were my choices and the tail end of the dot com recession was still working its way throughout Santa Barbara and Goleta.
During the entire seven months of unemployment, my days progressed in pretty much the same way, with the exception of one bright point of light, which succeeded in crushing my self esteem even further. At the one month mark of life without a job, I came across a posting for a local apparel company and two positions were being offered that sounded very appealing to me. My old housemate worked for the company and from the tales that he told, there was travel, glamor, excitement, and very lucrative options for advancement. I wanted this. Within two days of submitting my resume, I had my first interview, which went very well and then the follow up interviews went even better than the previous one. As I mentioned, there were two positions that had not yet been created and although one was better suited for me than the other, I would not have cared either way which one was to be offered to me. My interviewers stressed the point that the positions had not yet been created and that they expected a couple of weeks before someone would be asked to start. That was fine with me and I explained that I was exceedingly interested and to keep me posted, but I would still be looking until a I heard back. I practically skipped the whole walk home, but I knew that I was in for a bit of a waiting game.
Two weeks went by and I had not heard a word from the apparel company. No other jobs had reared up to grab my attention and I really wanted to be hired for one of the positions that I had applied for. I assumed that the details of the positions were still being ironed out and that I would receive a call soon, but I was wanting to know and I was excited by the notion of working for the company; hell, I had even sent a thank you card to everyone. I eventually broke down and called to check in on the progress of the positions and was transferred to the human resources voicemail. A few days later, I received a call back and was told that I was still a very strong candidate, but they were still solidifying the details internally and that I would definitely be receiving a call very soon. Again, hope filled me completely and with the perceived good news treated myself to a lunch downtown with the nearly nonexistent funds that I had. I told my girlfriend about the call and how excited I was and that it looked like I was going to get the job...well, one of them at least. We were both optimistic.
A couple weeks went by and I came home to find a voicemail on my phone from the apparel company asking me to call them back at my earliest convenience. Chills, the good kind of chills, coursed through my entire body as I dialed in the number for the HR department. I was physically shaking with anticipation. After the usual kicking around and waiting to be transferred to the correct department, I finally made it through and the HR person told me that she just wanted to be sure that I was still available for the positions, and that they were still being worked on. They would get back to me. I hung up confused, deflated, yet still hopeful. I never heard back from them again.
For the remaining four and a half to five months, I existed in this weird bubble of ineffectual routine and depression with slight spikes of hope that were always beat back down into the ground. Life with my girlfriend was becoming strained due to my lack of income outside of the unemployment checks that were barely managing to keep us afloat. I felt utterly defeated. Worthless at times. I did not want to see friends or family and I could not join in any of the fun or festivities that would occur from time to time due to the lack of money.
Times were bleak, but then came the day that I found an advertisement for a placement agency. I submitted the resume, went in and went through their little testing program to determine that I had some semblance of a working brain in my skull and the personality test determined that I did not enjoy boiling live animals or murdering old employees and within a week I had an interview. I was ecstatic, and sadly terrified from all of the emotional beat downs from the previous seven months and with the fear of this new opportunity to show that I was once again a failure--that was the state of my mind during those times.
I got the job, but it was definitely not my dream come true. More on that one in part 6 next week.