Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Now, If You Were to Call from Outer Space Using a Satellite Phone …

At some point I did some research online to see if there’s any way to reach someone at the Employment Development Department by phone and saw something about using the phone at an actual EDD office. My most customary walk takes me right past an EDD location, so I went in there on Monday and was directed to a bank of phones overseen, to some extent, by an apparently joyless security guard absorbed by her smart phone. She told me, “Press the button for English and follow the instructions.”

I tried three or four times, inevitably hearing, “Due to high call volume, we are unable … ” and I went back to the security guard, tried to adopt a non-self-entitled tone—I tried not to sound like, “Look here, madam, I really don’t have all day for this”—and begged for a hint. She was friendlier this time and said you just have to keep trying. She claimed that people do actually get through from time to time, that it can take five minutes or it can take two hours.

After 15 more minutes, I gave up and left, but before I got to the corner, a key question occurred to me and I went back with a final question for the guard: is there anything different about the phones there, or would it be the same from my phone at home? She smiled winningly and said, “It’s pretty much the same,” which is good. It means I can be frustrated in the comfort of my own living room.

It dawned on me that if I’m going to spend four hours trying to call them to say I’m not coming to the Initial Assistance Workshop, where job search help is provided, I almost might as well just go to the Initial Assistance Workshop. I might even learn something worth learning (that I can then also refrain from doing). But that word “initial” is ominous—would this be the first of many 8:30 a.m. sessions? And if I tried to tell the leader of the first session that I’m already getting such assistance from my ex-employer, would she say, “Cool. I’ll pass that on to my friends in government”? Or would she say, “Fine. To notify us of that officially, you’ll need to call … ”

Monday evening, C. and I went down to the lovely and atmospheric Om Shan Tea teahouse on 14th St. for a poetry event. When I was employed, I almost always went to bed by 8:30 p.m. on work nights, pretty much right after dinner, so I could get up at 5:30 a.m. to stretch and meditate and have breakfast before riding my bike to work. I guess my free time occurred before work instead of after. While sitting at Om Shan Tea, I was thinking how all over San Francisco, people are doing all kinds of things every evening, so little of which will ever be experienced by me. It’s kind of a shame. I wish I could go everywhere and see everything. Probably what’s happening on only one square block in certain San Francisco neighborhoods would provide months of entertainment.

Today I talked to a friend who has been on unemployment several times, and she said she has never reached the EDD on the phone, but that they’re pretty good about returning emails. She has herself been to an Initial Assistance Workshop and vaguely recalled that there are subsequent sessions, and, for what it’s worth, she didn’t find it worthwhile.

On my walk today, I stopped at the EDD office on Mission St. again to see if it was possible to tell them I’m already receiving career services by just, you know, telling them, and it may be, but not at that office. The woman at the front desk said I’d need to tell someone at the main office, on Turk St. When I got home, I sent an email via their website, and if I haven’t heard anything by the day before the workshop, I’ll ride my bicycle over to Turk St.

Over the past couple of months or so, I have applied for several jobs at my ex-company, in part so I don’t have to lie if the Employment Development Department asks if I’ve been applying for work. Typically, I get an email back saying something like, “Due to the astronomical number of people who have applied for this position, don’t hold your breath,” and weeks later, they send an email saying my qualifications are not a match. This company no longer wants to hire in San Francisco at all, so there are not many jobs I can even apply for.

Today, in happy contrast, I got a phone call about a four-month temporary job where one of the possible locations actually is San Francisco, and the caller, who is the hiring manager, said that I’m one of only one or two applicants whose qualifications match the job description. We set up an interview for this Friday. A phone interview! No dressing up or complicated arranging of one’s coiffure required.

I looked up the description of the job in question again—the first for which I’ve been invited to interview—and indeed it’s something I am very qualified for, and it’s even a step toward a business analysis job, in that its title is Business Applications Analyst, which will look nice on my resume if I get the job.
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