Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I applied a few weeks ago for a Reporting Services job. Reporting Services is part of the SQL Server application, and provides a relatively easy way to get pretty slick reports out to your Interested Parties. You can do dashboards, OLAP, all the catch-phrases of the hour.

I’m pretty slick with the Reporting Services stuff. Mad skilz: I haz them. This is my ker-chunk in the world of database work, the part where data is turned into actionable information.

So I apply for this job, and I go through the first interview: Solid.

I have a second interview with the “tech guy”: Solid. (In fact, I knew more about it than he did – he’s more of a .NET programmer than a database guy.)

I have a third interview with the client, who looks at my samples and asks me some questions and I ask him some questions and he says, “OK, this all looks great, I guess the next step is getting the paperwork together – if we get that in order today, can you start Wednesday at 8:30?”

That was last Monday. I called on Tuesday to say, “Hey, how’s it going, am I starting Wednesday and if so where do I show up?”

What? Who? For the which-now? Oh, yeah, that. Ummmmmmmmmmm…they’d have to get back to me.

In case you were wondering what a Kiss of Death sounds like over the phone? It sounds like this: Ummmmmmmmmmm…

I’ve now heard it about eight times. Eight times, in two months. We gallop right up to this same point. You are perfect for this job, you are exactly what we wanted, can you start right away this week, OK awesome we’ll just get the paperwork to our {accounting, HR} department, Ummmmmmmmmmm…

We appear to be experiencing technical difficulties in our checkbook queue. Please just sit around forever hoping it is temporary.

Oddly, I take great comfort in hearing the same thing from everybody. Usually, I don’t like to hear about anybody else’s misery, no matter how miserable I am. But in this case, it actually does make me feel a little better. I don’t personally suck, the whole market does.

Ah. Yeah. I feel so much better now.

Except for the part where we are in the red by, oh, I dunno, a couple thousand dollars each month? Yeah, that part has me taking these little white pills for anxiety-driven insomnia, which are, thank Dog, only $10 a month. Go generics!

Now, when they asked if I could start Wednesday, I made an assumption, and it went like this: I’m taking a six month contract with daily commute starting on Wednesday.

We began discussing childcare and what we’d do about that, because the situation we have is not ideal if both parents are working full time. We have the after school program for the girls, which shuts down at 5:30 (if we’re working at a client site, we’d have to leave their offices by 3:00 to be sure we’d get there in time), and which is closed if the school is closed.

School is closed at least two days per month. Through the holiday season, even more. Employers get kind of testy if you have to say, “I can’t come in next Tuesday – it’s National Polyester Appreciation Day, and school is out.”

I talked to the lady who provides daycare for Captain Adventure and, due to the spike in job losses out here, she’s got plenty of room for the girls. She quoted me a very good (but still nose-bleed territory) price for the three of them. I said, “OK. Well, since I’m going to be starting soon on this deal up in Sacramento…I guess we’ll go with that, then.”

But then I didn’t get that job. Or the two in Modesto. Or any of the half-dozen in Stockton. The two in Pleasanton. The three in San Francisco. The Oakland one. The two in San Jose, the one in Santa Clara.


As of 2:30 yesterday afternoon, the absolute last oar I had in the water snapped off and floated away from the canoe.

Well. Isn’t that special.

And now…well, major change of plans. We’re out of time, out of money, out of resources, out of ability to keep paying for daycare while I try to find full-time work.

I’m going to have to go to our daycare lady and say, “Ummmmmmmmmmm…”

Feels great. No really. I have to go to a lady I already know is being slammed, and slammed hard, by this frickin’ job-losing economy with the unemployment rates soaring and funding being cut left right and center, and tell her that instead of adding three more kids to her roster, I’m going to have to reduce her head-count by yet another.

I’m also going to have to break into our post-tax investment account, seal in the losses (ouch) and use that money to pay off the carpet loan and the credit cards that have been creeping upward while I’ve been doing all this running around looking for work.

But hey, between those two things, I’ll be plugging up the hole. We won’t have a whole lot of extra, granted, and I’m going to have to work really hard at bringing in as much income as I possibly can under the new circumstances.

What the husband is making will (mostly) keep the lights on, health insurance provided and the mortgage paid. I’ll be covering the food, clothing and so forth…so I don’t get to “just quit.”

I get to work as hard as I can in spite of the other full-time “mommy” gig.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. We are now crossing a zone of turbulence. Please return your seats and keep your seat belts fastened. Thank you.”

Oddly, I don’t feel half as bad about it as you’d think. This morning I’m filling out the paperwork closing out five years worth of hard work saving toward early retirement, and it doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. Granted, I’m not exactly skipping my way to the mailbox, either…but I’m not as upset as you’d expect.

Actually…I’m grateful. It isn’t what I thought the money was going to be used for – I thought it would be for that “gap” between 50 (when we wanted to retire) and 59-1/2 (when you can start withdrawing from your IRA without the tax gods frowning upon you).

Instead, it’s pulling our fat out of the fire now. It is giving us the base we need to keep the business going long enough to succeed. In a way, I don’t even feel so much like I’m cashing out investments, as simply moving them around.

I was invested in Chevron, in Johnson and Johnson, in Kraft and Heelys and Coca-Cola.

Now…I’m investing in us.

Incurable optimist that I am, I even feel as though this is going to be a good move, in the end.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go fondle my stash and pick out something sexy to make for my very first Esty listing…


Jeanne said...

My condolences on the job situation, but you definitely have the right attitude about it, and that's admirable as well as amazing given the circumstances and the usual reaction. It takes a certain shift in perspective and consciousness to see the potential blessing that this could be. WILL be, if you keep this up. ;-)

I'm certain that you'll be pleasantly surprised at what turns up next.

Science PhD Mom said...

Believe me, I know how much life sucketh right now. I do not have your employment woes, but we have enough rain and thunderclouds hovering over our house to make me feel more than little empathetic. Hang in there, we just have to trust that it will get better.

21stCenturyMom said...

I'm right there with you, girl. Tnis is the most bleak time I can ever remember but I keep on keepin' on, convinced that somehow, some time things will work out. I may be a person with zero retirement dollars by then but I'll still be breathing so there's always that.

Ms. Wagner said...

Tama, we miss you over on the Fool! I didn't realize things had gotten so rough. Last I heard, you had gotten the book deal.

But, hon! Get some Google Adsense on this blog! You have a ton of readers. Get some links to some books you love through Amazon's partner program.

Ok, they won't bring in a lot, but, well, maybe they will.


(this is Ishtar from the Fool)

Kali said...

I am so fickin' proud of you. I don't know you from Adam (or Eve even) but your coping skills are more than good. They are AWESOME. You created a 'rainy day fund' (the precursor to the retirement fund) for the rainy times and it *is* raining all over.

You did good. You are doing good. You're gonna be fine.

~A sidelined cheering squad

Marty52 said...

Somehow I think it is easier because there are so many of us in the same boat, and as long as that boat isn't called the Titanic, I think we'll be OK. So much belt tightening is going on now, and I think in the long run we'll be stronger for it. At least I hope so!