Thursday, December 14, 2006

A new life for an old man?

I'm starting over. Right now I'm where I was supposed to be over twenty years ago. Just out of college and looking for a job. But I'm 42 years old. Seven years ago it was different.

Seven years ago I was working in the cable television advertising industry making about $14 per hour. I had a house full of furniture on an acre lot in a nice neighborhood, and I was starting to settle down and save money for my retirement.

But in the months following the WorldCom scandal, AT&T laid off thousands of people based on fears that stemmed from the fictional profits of Worldcom (C Michael Armstrong admitted it on CNBC), and the ripple effect led to the the layoffs of myself, my co-producer and four sales people from our department.

That was in June of 2001. In the following months, finding work became very difficult, especially in the wake of the attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I had probably four interviews from distributing over three hundred resumes.

I finally had to settle on retail work. There was something seriously wrong with this picture. I was unable to sustain home ownership, and was getting further into debt. I finally had to give it all up when my home's well dried up and broke the pump twice. I lived on bottled water for eleven months, trying to save up enough to get my well pump fixed. The funds never materialized. I wound up selling my house and moving in with my mother.

My only alternative was to get a Bachelors Degree, since my Associate Degree proved worthless. You get a one shot deal right out of higher education. You have to get a job while you are still in school. If you are out of school for more than a couple of months and you are still looking for work, you are as good as dead.

So here I am. I finished school just last week. I'm waiting for my final grades. I have a 3.2 GPA. which isn't perfect. I made the Dean's list at UIS once. I made the Dean's list twice at Ivy Tech State College in Indiana and my GPA there was 3.375 . My overall final military evaluation was 3.8 and I got an Honorable Discharge (DD-214) and a Good Conduct Medal after my term of service was up. I worked for eight years at AT&T Media Services before getting laid off, and before that, I was never fired or terminated for reasons other than my own choosing.

Just this September, I was hired at Watts Copy System to do graphic design work. They fired me just last week for "poor quality of work" which was a option on a multiple-choice form with a little circle that was filled-in. There were no other written comments on the form, think about it.
So here it is, almost Christmas. I have not been able to celebrate Christmas since December of 2001. The whole issue about holiday stress is being able to meet the expectations of others. Since I will never meet the expectations of others, I choose to reject the rituals by which everyone else is programmed to try to meet the expectations of others.

Every event I must attend that celebrates the culturally programmed achievements of other members of my family (i.e. weddings, etc.) is like a slap in my face. Every holiday card included with with bragging letters is infuriating, but I take comfort in my not having any credit cards, nor any debt of which to speak.

Regarding work, I want to take the high-road of education instead of the low-road of marketing, but the indignities of my social status, and the relative treatment one such as myself receives for it, makes me want to take advantage of the subconscious minds of those "status conscious" braggarts.

I'm getting a BA in Communication at UIS. On my own I studied Psychology and Sociology. There seemed a visible divide between Communication and Psychology curricula, perhaps for ethical reasons that I was all too happy to breach. One of the most inspirational books I read on the subject was Rebecca Lemov's "World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes, and Men."

I once published all of my notes and bibliography of reading material at, but I have since removed it because I have to make a living too.
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