I was cleaning up my Inbox this morning. Sorry, I’m not always that busy at work. (This was my personal email Inbox that we’re talking about.) I clicked the arrow beside the word “Date” and immediately I was looking at the oldest emails in my Inbox rather than the newest ones. These emails go back, though not too far, to 2012.
I was looking for work for much of 2012. I graduated from secretarial school in mid-April and eventually started working in mid-August (thanks, Suzanne).
That left about four months of sending out resumes, participating in interviews, driving hither and thither for said interviews, not to mention the emotional rollercoaster before and after each interview. How did I do? Was my French good enough? Did I impress? Do I really want this job?
Anyway, in the Inbox were hundreds of emails from potential clients, acknowledging receipt of my resume or telling me that they had already hired, etc. etc. I still haven’t finished this task. I could delete them en masse, page by page, but I prefer to delete them by sender, so I ask the program to sweep through all the emails to delete that particular sender. It’s slower this way but I’m in no rush.
This not only brought me back to the nightmare that is the process of looking for work but reminded me of a conversation that I overheard last night at a restaurant.
I had worked out at the gym after work yesterday and couldn’t get my head around making myself dinner so I headed to Dunn’s Restaurant, close by on Decarie, for one of my favourite meals, their spaghetti napolitana. During the meal I couldn’t help but overhear a telephone conversation right behind me at the waiters’ computer. One of the waiters was speaking to someone looking for work.
It was regarding a night-time job available; it only paid minimum wage. Still, the candidate didn’t have a chance because he didn’t have the two years’ experience the boss was looking for. “We need someone who has extensive knowledge of the restaurant business,” the waiter said. The caller didn’t give up easily; the waiter had to repeat himself a number of times before the caller gave up and that was that.
All this for a minimum wage job.
The boss has high expectations but can’t afford to pay for it; or there are so many candidates expected that they don’t have to pay more; people are that desperate.
This naturally got me thinking about the terrible difficulties that people can experience trying to find a job, any job. It’s certainly a buyer’s market these days, meaning that potential employers will get many candidates for even menial jobs.
It’s doesn’t seem fair. I had many, many promises directed my way while I looked for work that were insincere. I don’t begrudge the unhappiness of young people today who bemoan the tightness in the job market. It’s even tougher for older people like me to convince someone that we’re the right ones for the job. There are many advantages to having an older person working for you, although it’s easy for an employer to look at the disadvantages as well.
In the Eastern Townships, where I was living full-time before landing a job in Montreal, I became pretty jaded regarding the possibility of an Anglo Jewish male in his late 50’s finding a secretarial job. OK, you can all stop laughing now.
Inflation in September was 2%. Every month, inflation continues, albeit at a low rate. But salaries do not follow inflation; they’re not even close.
There’s an office next to mine that sells health and beauty products from Israel. Every few months there is a new receptionist/secretary at the secretary’s desk. It’s clear that the boss doesn’t want a full-time person there. These are all temps. It’s sad. And it makes me angry that he’s so cheap.
Still, there’s a world of difference between looking for work and being hired, if only for a few months, to have that routine established and somewhere to go every day and be productive and get paid for it (even if it’s not very much).
We can easily get complacent. Those down and out guys begging for spare change on rue Sainte-Catherine weren’t always in such a dire predicament; once upon a time, they were doing better. Bad luck and bad habits have hurt them but we’re not immune to either of these ourselves.
We need to wake up, learn compassion and sympathy and not be too full of ourselves and how we deserve all the good in our lives. We’ll be better people for it.