Saturday, May 8, 2010

It's My Life

It’s spring in Milwaukee. You know this only because the calendar says May.

It’s cold and wet, which are climatic conditions considered ideal inside a beer bottle. But you don’t live in a bottle of beer—at least not yet. Looking on the bright side of things, you have no fear of melanoma. This is because there is no sun.

Each new day presents multiple opportunities for miracle-making. Shall you part Lake Michigan? Walk on it? Or find a job? Decisions, decisions.

Spiritualist that you are, you attempt to find meaning in your ongoing failure to land employment. You make a robust attempt to see this as life somehow protecting you from another bad job, and saving you for a good one. It doesn’t work.

Someone sings that if it weren’t for bad luck, they’d have no luck at all. This is true of you, also. You are on a hot streak. You sizzle like Canada in January.

There is the brief flirtation with telecommunications giant AT&T. You pass yet-another hundred-question personality inventory. Then you’re one of a handful of applicants to pass a performance audition, which asks you to perform the job before being hired for it.

Your reward is an actual job interview. A smiling businesswoman in a tailored suit and fashionably-coifed hair shakes your hand and schedules it for April 7th. You stride confidently through the cold March air and permit yourself to feel good.

On April Fool’s Day the phone rings. The interviews have been postponed. You are disappointed, but relieved they said 'postponed' and not 'cancelled'. You feel the difference is significant. One month later, you wonder if the difference is significant to AT&T as well.

Then there is the census-taker debacle.

You are convinced Lewis Carroll was inspired to write Alice in Wonderland after seeking employment with the federal government. It is akin to being inside an M.C. Escher drawing. It is the definition of labyrinthine. Surprisingly, no one has a recipe for upside down cake.

You successfully negotiate this lunacy. But state governments present a new set of hurdles.

One of the 3,416 requirements for this position is a current, state-issued driver’s license. You possess a current, state-issued driver’s license, but it’s for another state.

Your austerity program unfortunately does not allow for new, up-to-the-minute driver’s licenses, not with several years left on the current one and an acute shortage of cash.

But the promise of a paycheck has you aflame, so you make a leap of faith and visit the local Division of Motor Vehicles facility. All goes well until after your picture is taken.

You are informed that the driver’s license facility is unable to produce your license at this time. This despite the facility having seen sheaths of documents that confirm your existence, the various locales wherein that existence occurred, and the receipt of several hundred dollars.

You ask why. You are told that random licenses are assigned for processing in the state capital, and will arrive by mail “in two to three days.”

You err critically at this juncture and fail to ask “Two to three days from when?” Because a week after your visit, you remain bereft of the state-issued driver’s license with photo necessary for consideration for employment with the federal government.

You discover the state's telephone system successfully prevents interaction with other human beings. Visits to the Division of Motor Vehicles facility provoke only shrugs. And e-mails go unanswered because they do not conform to the topics listed on the division’s web page.

In a symphonic crescendo to this collision of lucklessness and bad-timing, Friday’s mail brings nothing. Ditto Saturday's. The deadline has expired. This feels like punishment. What was your crime?

As a child, you went to horror movies to get scared. Now, you need only get out of bed.

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