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The Importance of a Schedule

May 2, 2010

That first day of unemployment is mostly shock. You do not have anywhere to be.  You do not have to get up for work tomorrow.  If you so choose, you can get giraffe-riding levels of drunk and by god, you do not have to go to work hungover. There are a lot of left over feelings from that first day however.

The day of, and for about the next week, I felt betrayed. I thought the company valued my services, appreciated the work I did. I was reigning in not just our second most requested on-site language, I was managing some of our hardest to fill languages. (Quick tip: If you’re looking for a face to face Albanian interpreter in the Portland area, don’t. Just, don’t. Settle for a telephonic interpreter, or have them bring a family member.) My manager didn’t even pull me into a conference room like my friend Wayne. I never had a chance to defend myself, I was never asked about my level of involvement with Wayne and Jay. They just assumed the worst and got rid of me. I still feel sore about that point.

Arguably, I could try blaming my friend Jay for getting me fired, but I never had any resentment towards the people I chose to call friends. It’s not their fault, my managers never had faith in me (or really, anyone for that matter). They made a bad decision, and ultimately their company has lost months of valuable bridge building with employees. I liked my interpreters, and I think most of them liked me. I was even handed with long appointments,  I recognized how far I was asking them to drive, I was sensitive to their other lives. I was friendly, courteous, and willing to trade favors. One of the things I felt the worst about was that now all those interpreters were stranded. No one knew how to take care of them like I did. That might sound shallow, but co-workers often conceded that they had no idea how I could balance so much information in my head, how I could juggle schedules and get things done, day after day. I had large responsibilities, but I would have liked to at least train someone up, introduce them to the interpreters, have them take the reins formally. Some poor sap probably got thrown under the bus, and now is struggling to just tread water. I felt bad about leaving my interpters in the lurch, but they’ve worked with the company for a while — they know how abrupt the turn over can be.

What I really felt those first few days was freedom. I don’t have to go back to that fear-mongering, windowless, never-closing office ever again. I don’t have to suffer the wrath of pressured medical assistants, irritable doctors, and hurried ER nurses. I don’t have to tell anyone that their interpreter isn’t coming, that we have failed to convince someone to drive 30 miles to your town for a 30 minute appointment. I was let go, I could collect unemployment, I had savings, so I didn’t need a job to pay rent *now*. I could wait a little while. I could do whatever I wanted.

A week after I was fired, I was determined to keep a schedule. I would get up around 8 or 9, make myself breakfast, read a little, and then apply for all the jobs I could find. Afterwards, I would make myself a late lunch, and read some more, or watch Doctor Who. I’d poke around on the internet, hang out with my house mate when he woke up (Peter works at night),  make some dinner, watch some TV with the housemate. He’d go off to work, and I’d settle down for more leisure time. I’d go to bed before midnight, wake up, and repeat. This continued for a week.

By last Saturday I was stir crazy. I hadn’t left the house except to get the mail, and work on a punching bag in our garage. No one wanted to interview me, no one in Portland wanted to call me to hang out on a weekday, I was alone. I called my friend Wayne, and ended up across the city, drinking at the first bar I have actually enjoyed  myself at since moving to Portland. I have enjoyed myself at a few restaurants, and I have enjoyed being pleasantly drunk, but most of the bars I’ve been to have been meat markets, total dives, sports bars, karaoke houses that served fish bowls of liquor. They have not been the neighborhood pubs festooned with character that I so love. This was the first time I enjoyed myself, but I felt guilty for spending money on drinks. We were celebrating a little, as Wayne had found a job, and been offered a position at Liberty Mutual, the Insurance Conglomorate. He’ll be doing paralegal work for $45,000 a year. He cannot actually collect a full week’s unemployment. He’s a company man now.

Week three, this past week, I’ve fallen off the wagon. I’ve started sleeping in more, I stopped shaving, I have been looking at jobs less. I have yet to receive an unemployment check (due to a miscalculation on my end regarding dates), I need to file more paperwork for food stamps. My bus pass has officially expired as of today. I am actually further away from resources like the grocery store and the library, which were always worthwhile diversions last time I was unemployed. I am trying to stay positive, and that is why I am publishing this blog. I have wanted to blog for a long time now, but I’ve rarely had a reason. Now, I hope to catalogue the ups and downs of my job search for the adoring public here. Ideally, I’ll be back on the saddle again soon.

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