Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Underemployed, not a doormat

(Image by Stock.Xchng vi)
Being unemployed or underemployed is tough from a whole lot of perspectives, not the least of which is the beating you give yourself.

Over the past 10 months, I’ve struggled sometimes with feelings that I’ve failed my wife, failed my children, failed myself and failed my career.
Oh yes, and I’ve failed to find a full-time job that can support my family. See? Avoiding the temptation to wallow in self-pity likewise can be difficult when the chips are down.

Generally, it seems I need to hit a point at which I have to do something to “talk” through and express what I’m feeling. Typically, since I started this blog two weeks after I first was laid off in December 2010, that “talk” has been through the words I write, revise, analyze, edit and rewrite over the course of a couple of hours or more. I typically begin around or a little after midnight and often end by posting my blog in the wee hours.

That seems to be the point for me where I can stop, lean back on my faith in Jesus Christ and rest assured that no matter how bad things might get in the coming weeks and months, my family and I are under the best protection in the long run. Some may scoff at that. I don’t really care if they do — scoff at your own risk. But if you are the least bit curious, send me an email and we can talk privately. I’m no Bible thumper and certainly don’t pretend to be perfect. But I’m confident in what I believe.

I also know that I am not a failure. Even if I feel like one from time to time, I realize that my failings do not define me in such a final way. Feelings are fleeting things, and I chalk this one up to what appears to be the hardest stretch I’ve ever walked before in my life.

I don’t think I need to tolerate being treated like a failure, either.

So I took great umbrage Tuesday afternoon when a telemarketer claiming to be with Illinois Vietnam Veterans, a charitable endeavor that works with, of course, Vietnam veterans, called to do what telemarketers do.

As I’ve done countless times over the past 10 months, when he asked if I’d be willing to renew the donation my wife and I made last year (I remember none), I explained my situation. I’ve been unemployed or underemployed for the past 10 months, so no, I can’t help now, but keep me on your list and call back next year.

In every instance I recall since my layoff, the caller expressed sympathy or even apologized for bothering me, and then wished me the best before we each hung up.

Not this time.

I heard what sounded like the first three letters of a four-letter scatological reference as the line went dead. The guy had hung up on me. How rude.

Now, I understand that time is money for telemarketers. I appreciate that many of them work on commission, so it's in their best interest to get past the unproductive calls as quickly as possible. But this guy is not doing anybody in his profession any favors. I mean, when's the last time you saw a bumper sticker reading, "Have you hugged a telemarketer today?" 

As I noted before, I do not claim to be perfect in my faith, even though I want to be. My response was to be a little miffed, and I posted such in a “tweet” via my Twitter account (@TedSchnell3).

“I'd say the Illinois Vietnam Veterans organization is a darned rude bunch. Telemarketer hung up on me when I told him I'm underemployed,” I tweeted (tweeted sounds so wrong. Maybe it should be twote? Rhymes with wrote?)

A former colleague responded that the guy probably was a scammer, at which point I saw red.

My response, via Twitter, was not very Christian, but in retrospect, it still makes me laugh (but not an evil laugh). I like to think that’s a good thing.

I didn’t curse, I did not yell, I did not wish he would die or be maimed in some horrible way.

But I have to confess that, for just a moment, I did wish him ill.

“I hope,” I tweeted to my friend, “he hurts himself with his fly in the bathroom.”

I’m not sure I want to know where that thought came from, but I still start to laugh each time I think of it. Perhaps it is irreverent to say it, but part of me hopes that there was a chuckle from on high yesterday, too.

And if penance is required, if that hapless and rude telemarketer is reading this and is indeed wounded as a result of my ill-conceived wish, I’ll provide you the bandage.

But you’ll have to put it on yourself.