Comedy Short Stories
It happened so quickly that I wasn't fully aware that I had slipped from a full time job to the unemployment line. The working environment was not the best so my initial reaction was that of relief and a lot less stress. I remember sitting in front of the TV and watching the afternoon lineup that I never had an opportunity to view. There were some exceptions over the years but they were mainly when I was sick or had a mental day off. As I stared at the talk show my mind wondered immediately to things that needed to be fixed up around the house. I now had the time to paint, install crown molding, put up ceramic tiling and complete the novel I had been working on for some fourteen years. I got up and shut off the TV as I was ready for a trip to the local hardware store to buy some stuff. It then dawned on me that I should alert my wife of my extended vacation and that she should pick up insurance. The phone call with her went something like this. "Honey, guess what happened to me today?"
I visited my old place of employment and completed paperwork to officially be without employment. This freeing moment was unusual for me as I had never been without work since I was sixteen. As I drove home I planned out the afternoon and targeted the start of tiling in the kid's bathroom. When I got to the house I changed and dug into my first home project post-employment. I had never tackled tiling before and I quickly found out that the adhesive didn't allow the tile to be removed after about a millionth of a second. As fate would have it this occurred to me on the very first tile and it was obvious that it needed to be fixed. After about fifteen minutes with a multitude of tools, it came off the wall with a large section of drywall. This event seemed to remove my afternoon steam and I simply closed the door on the bathroom. The kids would just have to use our bathroom for the foreseeable future.
The unemployment line for me was not what I thought it would be. The entire process from filing out the original claim and completing the weekly submissions were done through the Internet. As things always happen to me I screwed up the first electronic filing. There was no other way around it and I had to call the unemployment support line. I spent the better part of the afternoon conversing with many individuals and once I hit the third level of support the problem was discovered. The problem was that I followed the submittal directions on the website. The kind lady told me to disregard those directions and gave me the correct process. She told me that it happened all the time and that someone really needed to fix the website. I chuckled with her and figured someone would eventually fix it.
The third day consisted of following up with all the pending jobs I was in the running for. I was so arrogant that I hoped that the interview process would at least give me a week or two of vacation. Let's just say that in that time frame all my pending jobs went out the window and I was starting over again. It was a humbling experience to be turned down so often and I had to reach down on the floor and pick up my confidence which had to be glued back together with elementary school non-toxic glue. This little school project put my mind in the right state as I visited every employment site on the Internet or so it seemed. I put in for so many jobs I couldn't keep up with all of them. In fact I think there was a job in there for polishing hairpieces for some rich dude. To my surprise I got some immediate replies that included some interesting things. 'Your resume doesn't meet the requirements of the position and we will keep it on file for twelve months.' My favorite one of them all was a bit rude. 'You suck the teat of a blind Rhinoceros while washing your undercarriage in the shower.'
Day four didn't start any better as I checked my email and found a slew of automated responses that were similar to what I had received the day prior. As I stared at them I had a brilliant idea enter my mind. I gathered up all of my business contacts and sorted through them pulling out all the friends and companies I had worked closely with. I sent them all messages and waited for their responses. I was again surprised by the speed in which I received them and they included the following. 'You don't work there anymore?' 'Do you know anyone there that would want to buy our products?' 'Can you help me understand how the company works and who the key players are?' It was like another shot into the abdomen and as the air escaped from the hole, I made a mental note to never do business with them again. I took a shower as I felt scummy after dealing with the people I thought I knew.
The end of week three came and went with responses only adding up to rejection. These daily emails from various employees didn't seem to sting as much and over the next few weeks found some of them entertaining. It almost became an obsession with many of the companies to apply for anything they had. I felt like a junky getting a morning jolt from smoking my email crack. I was thankful to be pulled out of this downward spiral by my other unemployed friends. They had also engaged in this email crack frenzy and came to their senses after some time. Their guidance made me see the light and emerge from the other side with only burnt email crack chains sitting in their own dedicated directory in my computer.
Somewhere in the second month of unemployment I got the crazy idea that it was time to finish the novel I had been working on for some fourteen years. As I dove more into the details of getting published I needed more stories to make the book long enough. I pulled old stories from the deepest depths of my storage drive and there were some decent ones and some that were like a vomit topping. As someone once told me it was like trying to polish a turd. After this initial analysis of the work I realized that there would be a fair amount of work writing new stories and cleaning up the others. I put my head down and pushed through December and was able to compile a sold lineup of stories. I was able to get them shipped to the publisher the day after Christmas and was sure that I would sell a thousand copies the first month. The book with its shiny new ISBN number was ready for sale at the end of January. The next four weeks were painful and crept along at a snail's pace until it was time to request my book sales. It was only a few hours after my request that I received an email with the total of my sales. I had only sold one copy in a month and that was purchased by my brother-in-law. I sat in my comfy chair and stared blankly at the email and I felt as though someone had kicked me in the testicles. Once I found them on the floor and placed them back in place, I laughed a bit and closed my laptop.
February turned out to be a great month on the employment side which was a relief as the book was taking its time to find a market. I had a large company from Georgia call me about a high-level position which fit my background well. After two interviews with the Human Resources department I knew that my chances where high in making an onsite meeting. Of course I had overlooked the phone interview with the CIO and took a step back to focus on this meeting. I was setup for the phone call and I had three days to prepare my answers, review the technologies listed and dust off my interview skills. The day came and I found that I was prepared and confident to knock it out of the park. I sat at the kitchen table with all my notes, my laptop with the website open, my resume and the job description. I armed myself with my cell phone and home phone as there was some confusion on the HR side as to what number they would call. When the CIO was fifteen minutes late I quickly checked for dial tone on both lines and all was operational. I then got up and started pacing in the kitchen. I glanced at the stove's clock with each turn and in a blink he was thirty minutes late. I began to wonder if I had misread the date and time of the interview and upon emailing the HR department I received a two line response. 'You have the right time and date. Let me check in with him.' I was hopeful that she would track him down and we would complete the interview. After another thirty minutes transpired I called the HR lady and she picked up on the first ring. I asked if she had located the CIO and her response was less than what I expected. 'He didn't call you? I haven't been able to locate him.' As you can imagine my patience level was very low and I had to control what I said. She told me that it would be best to reschedule at a later date.
The second attempt at an interview was scheduled three days later and I was instructed that he only had fifteen minutes. I again prepared for the meeting and he was late for a second time. I then began to leave VM's for her and after an hour and a half she sent me an email that he was too busy and that there would be another reschedule. The third attempt occurred on a Monday afternoon and as the time closed in I was not as confident as the prior two days. My heart sank into my stomach as he was late and I was in the process of emailing the HR lady when he called. The CIO was all business and rattled off questions like he was a machine gun and I couldn't keep up. The call only went further south from there as he finished in seven minutes. He was gracious enough to ask if I had questions and I told him I did. I knew at this point that my chance for any further opportunities with him was less than five percent. My new mission was to keep him on the phone past fifteen minutes and that would be accomplished with my own machine gun questioning. He was not pleased with this and when fifteen minutes was reached he interrupted me and told me the time was up. I then spent the next week trying to get the HR lady to call me and tell me I sucked and no one would hire me. It was not long after this rejection that I fell upon an opportunity that finally panned out.
March came, employment was confirmed and I reflected on all the projects I had completed. My completed projects included crown molding for most of the house, bathrooms tiled, kitchen tiled, laundry room tiled and completion of a novel. Overall I must say that unemployment was not a pleasant trip but definitely gave me a new perspective on life, family and what is important. As I head off into the working world, I wish all those looking for employment the best. Remember to keep your head down, feet moving and don't let anyone tell you that you are worthless unless you are and that is OK too.