Confidentiality? What a Concept!

On Monday, I received an email invitation to participate in a phone interview.  I’ve had those before; a lot of employers prefer to communicate about interviews via email rather than phone nowadays.  But what was included in this one shocked me: an allegedly experienced HR professional emailed me directly from the email she’d received from ZipRecruiter, and following my information was the name and profile listing of every other person who’d applied for the job through the same website.  One was even a “great match,” which ZR claims is rare. (I’ve received notice of it when applying for jobs for which I was never contacted.)

Given the hubbub about employment confidentiality, I was, to quote Graham Norton, shook.  Yes, anyone can hit the wrong button when sending an email, but this interviewer, had she bothered to take the slightest glance at what she was composing, would have noticed her gaffe and immediately deleted the extra information.  But she didn’t, and I’m fairly sure she committed some sort of serious mistake, if not an actual violation of employment law.  So I was offered the opportunity to scroll through the competition, as I’m sure all the other candidates were as well. As far as I can tell, none of my competitors looked at my LinkedIn profile; I don’t know if anyone other than employers can view your ZR profile, and of course, anyone can look you up on Facebook, although mine is solidly locked down.

I didn’t mention this to her during the phone interview.  She was positive and bubbly, praised me for asking great questions.  I don’t expect to be chosen for an in-person interview.

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It’s Actually Funny Sometimes

My daughter sold her house last week — closing was Friday.  Relief for everyone.  My house is next, which I dread — it needs repairs and a lot of elbow grease from the two of us, and my energy drains easily and takes a long time to replenish.

But there’s humor in the air, something in short supply around here right now. Apparently my resume was posted on Monster when I applied for a job through the site,  and, on the same day, I received identical letters from three sales companies, seeking that special someone they just knew was me.  I turned two down immediately, but I lingered on the third, because it was for a real estate agent, and I’ve always been interested in homes.  I don’t consider myself a good salesperson — I’d be the one pointing out how damaged the walls are or how high a potential mortgage payment might be, and I’m not really competitive — but it’s one of the few fields where age isn’t the obstacle it is elsewhere — so I replied I might be interested.

Since she was seeing him nearly every day, I asked my daughter to ask her realtor, Richard, whom she trusts implicitly, if there was any hope in a career selling houses.  She texted me his response, but I was glad I heard it before reading it, because it was hilarious:

“Run, do not walk, as fast as you can from real estate. One hundred percent commission, no insurance, and if you don’t sell enough, up to half your commission goes back to the agency.”

His message pretty much confirmed what I believed — real estate was a bloodthirsty field that couldn’t provide the benefits I need — but his urgency doubled me over with laughter.  Here’s a guy that makes pretty good money moving houses, but he’s warning me away from his bread and butter — because, as he told Olivia, sometimes he wonders why he left a desk job for such a precarious career.  But his wife has a good job that provides insurance for the family, so Richard sells houses … and watches people drop out of the field daily.  Fewer than a quarter of the licensed realtors in our area, he noted, are actually working, because it’s such a tough way to make a living.

I never heard back from the real estate broker. And on top of that, I didn’t receive any rejection letters last week.  It’ll kick up again soon, I’m sure.  I’ll enjoy the peace while I can.

Yes, I’m Bitter

Just as my daughter got home today, I got an email from one of the top job sites for a position that pays absurdly well and for which I’m exceptionally well-qualified. It’s on the other side of the river, but a manageable distance. So I sent in my resume, and then said to my daughter, “I know I’m bitter, but I’ll probably never hear a word from them.”

She calmly replied “You have every right to be bitter.”

In other wondrous news, I discovered why I’ve felt like I was dying this week — I have a monster sinus infection. Mid-afternoon, I took a decongestant to help drain some leftover water from my ear, and about an hour later, as I was eating a sandwich, I sneezed — and the most horrible gunk spewed from my nose. It took three large napkins to clean up that single sneeze, and I’ve gone through half a box of tissues since. I’m waiting it out a week, since I have an annual checkup next Tuesday and can’t afford an extra co-pay. God only knows what my beloved PCP will have to say about it.

Looking Back

This has been a difficult week — I got a rejection letter from a nationwide company with the subject line “Reject Letter,” so I’ll let pictures speak for me now.

When I moved into the house my mother deeded to me and my daughter in 2016, this is what the master bedroom looked like. My parents hadn’t slept upstairs for seventeen years due to my mom’s spinal issues, so my dad crammed as much of my mom’s stuff up there as he could. They were both Depression babies & hoarders, and this room reduced me to tears. Thankfully, a handyman took care of it for me.

Broken Deal

Yesterday, a woman on my local listserv posted she was looking for a full bed & mattress. I responded immediately that I had the whole package — headboard & footboard, mattress & box springs, two sets of linens — and listed a price significantly below what I’d planned to ask. After a little bit of back-and-forth, we had a deal and I told her I’d text her after 6 pm to pick it up.

When my daughter got home from work, we extended considerable exertion to disassemble the bed and get all the parts downstairs. I’m not exaggerating by using the phrase considerable exertion; we were sweat-soaked and exhausted by the time everything was done, and I could tell my meager reserve of energy was long gone. Then I spent more than an hour trying to get in touch with the woman via text and call, none of which were answered, before she finally replied with “OMG! I didn’t see this! Can we come over now?” It was nearly dark, but I said yes. I wanted to sell that bed.

I should have known when I saw their glossy SUV that they’d have sticks up their asses. Although we’d warned them that the grass was high because our mower had a flat tire, I could see both of them looking at our lawn distastefully, as if they expected to hear “Dueling Banjos” at any moment. Then they delicately got out of their ultra-elevated vehicle to sniff at the furniture, and the woman’s first comment struck me as incredibly shallow: “The box spring is torn on the bottom.” Yes, the box spring has a small tear in the loose gauzy fabric covering it underneath. Unless you decide to lie under the bed, it’s not visible. I replied ” Yes, it does.” No elaboration. She and her husband picked over everything I’d carefully assembled over a couple of years, looking at it as if it was covered in green slime, and the wife finally asked “Can I offer you $100 for the mattress & frame? That’s all I need.” I told her, as I’d clearly stated in our text exchanges, that the frame was connected to the headboard and footboard, not a standalone unit. Neither tried to hide their disdain, and the husband said cooly, “Well, we’ll have to pass.”

I wanted to scream invectives and curses, but I simply turned and went silently back in the house. My daughter may have exchanged some sort of goodbye with them, but I was boiling with anger and wanted them gone. Both of us were past exhausted, and I knew recovering from all that effort would be hard, given my fibromyalgia. Plus we had to get everything secured somehow, although taking all of it back upstairs was out of the question.

We ended up shoving the headboard & footboard in a nearby shed, then managed to hoist the mattress & box springs onto a pile of boxes in the foyer. My daughter then took a shower and picked off four ticks, while I found one high on the back of my right leg. We were both so angry at the couple that we only exchanged a few words about it, mostly “trifling bitch”and “arrogant bastard.” Neither of us wished them well. And then we both collapsed in bed.

Obviously, I’m still angry about all our effort expended in what I’ll charitably call a misunderstanding. All I’ve managed today is a shower and changing my nightgown, and I’m typing this from bed. But it’s done, and when we haul everything out later this week to photograph and post it on a local sale website, I’ll mark the price back up to what I originally intended.

And I hope those snobs end up doing what they were trying to avoid — going to a mattress store and buying everything at full price. That would be a small form of justice.

A Week for the Record Books …

… and it’s only Wednesday. Got two rejection emails Monday — a new record — and a call from a new local job agency, which lifted my spirits at first, but then I recalled how many agency people I’ve spoken to — many — and how many jobs they’ve netted me — zero. Cue the depressing tunes.

We also have to replace the expensive carpet in my daughter’s townhome, because every single walk-through has complained about the cat smell. Seven bottles of odor-killing cheap vodka spread liberally in each room didn’t help. We’re replacing it with off-the-roller carpet from Lowes.

But since I refuse to be an angry, humorless, post-menopausal woman, I’ll also report that this week I read one of the most moving novels I’ve come across in years — A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman. I’m also reading an enjoyable review book, Bark Twice for Danger by M.K. Scott, which features Max the talking German Shepherd. It’s the second in a new series (the first is A Bark in the Night) and all three will soon be featured on my book review blog. I still haven’t decided how to republish it, but research is ongoing.

That’s all for now. Thanks for checking in.

Indie All the Way

A few months ago, I got an email from an outfit called Instafreebie, which links independent authors and readers. Authors offer their books for free download, only asking that you post a review on relevant sites (mostly Amazon and Goodreads, as many of the authors are only published on Amazon, although I’ve posted a few on kobo and Powell’s as well).

I started a book review blog in 2010, then neglected it for a long time before archiving the reviews, deleting the formatting, and pledging to rethink it. Then came two and a half grueling years of business school, during which I got absolutely nothing personal or creative done — I barely had time to read on all-too-short semester breaks. After that was my first accounting job and the reality of how decrepit the house my daughter and I had been inherited had become. And, of course, my mother had admitted herself to assisted living without first assessing her finances after my father’s costly Alzheimer’s care, and guess who was stuck steadily drawing down her once-plentiful CDs for her fees, which seemed to increase every month?

I’m still applying for jobs, as fruitless as it seems — I got another rejection email this week — but I’m also reviving my book blog, because reading and reviewing is something I’m good at, and I need to feel good at something. I don’t have any illusion of making money from it, but I’d like to get my name out there as a reliable, literate reviewer (some of the Amazon reviewers seem to consider proper grammatical English as a second or third language).

Since I write this blog under a pen name, I may adopt it for the book blog as well, since I’d like my readers to visit both, without blowing my maladjusted cover. We’ll see.

New Start

When I started this blog not quite a year ago, I was serious & determined: I chose a name that related to my stage in life, took a blogging class with a professional writer whose style I admire, reserved a domain name. I was going to write witty, sarcastic, poignant posts about my battles to find a job in my 50s, repair the house my daughter and I inherited, pay back the student loans I’d acquired in my old age, care for my aging mother in an expensive assisted living home. Yet every entry I wrote was angry, thrashing out at a world that had treated me unfairly, and ultimately I never published any of them, because who wants to read the blog of an angry, humorless post-menopausal woman? Certainly not this angry, humorless, post-menopausal woman.

I’ve given the blog a lot of thought in the last year, wondering just how I’d write about the heinous fuckery* that had become my life. Things were going downhill, not up, and I couldn’t find any humor in any part of my life. I was fighting myself at every turn, thinking it was just what I had to slog through, no matter how much I hated it. No matter that I was closer to sixty than fifty and still hadn’t fulfilled any of my creative goals; no, I had to put my nose to the grindstone and push through to check off boxes I never wanted to fill in the first place. Had to devote more time, effort, and money to something I hated, had always hated. Had to stomp down the thoughts that I didn’t want to wear a green eyeshade, study for a hideous exam, struggle to get a job I’d resent … because I despised the field I’d majored in my second go-round, the one that was supposed to be a guaranteed entry for anybody at any age. The only classes I enjoyed were taxes & business law, and it’s hard to make a living out of those when you’re not going for a JD as well.

But after two years of struggle, and meeting a lot of more experienced people in the very same lifeboat, I’ve admitted to myself, and a few select friends, that I don’t want to be a CPA or pursue serious accounting jobs.  I’m closer to 60 than 50, and instead of miserably chaining myself to a desk, I want to find some sort of job I can halfway enjoy and pay my bills while I pursue projects and passions important to me: turning 30-plus acres into a nature and wildlife preserve, learning how to make slipcovers and upholster furniture, writing more, producing some sellable art & jewelry … the possibilities are endless.  It can become a reality when both of us get our houses sold and I land some sort of job.

So I’m trying to get on the upswing here. I’d appreciate it if you joined me for the ride.

*heinous fuckery is an trademark phrase of author Christopher Moore to describe life going awry; his most common usage of the term is “heinous fuckery most foul,” which is actually the title of a chapter in his novel Fluke.