Job Hunting

“How’s it looking out there these days?”  Mr. H Dennis asked me over a glass of white zinfandel at our favorite meeting place.

“No luck, so far,” I said glumly.  “It’s so frustrating to invest all of this time and there’s just no way of knowing if I’m missing anything.  You really do seem to have to know someone to get your foot in the door.  I don’t suppose you have any pull to get someone to retire at the last minute?”

I couldn’t believe there were no jobs.  But what I had been forgetting all the while as I went through the motions this spring was that there was a recession on.  School districts had tight budgets and weren’t replacing everyone who put in for retirement this year.  There were no elementary positions opening up at all in the school district I worked in, and so I had to make a decision as to how far to widen my job search.

“I wish I knew someone who was, I do, but unfortunately, we are a pretty young district, teaching population wise,” Dennis countered, offering me some of his plate of fries.  “I came in with a pretty big glut of people and none of us are any where near ready to go.  Where else are you looking?”

“Everywhere,” I answered, taking the proffered fries.  Unfortunately it’s insanely hard to find out even if there are positions open.  I had no idea it would be this hard.”

In those days before the internet, where one could spend a tidy afternoon on Google assembling research, a job hunt was much more like finding a needle in a haystack.  I had my list of human resource phone numbers that I’d gotten from the university job office, and hunting for a job meant calling desirable school districts every few days asking if there were any active postings.  If I was lucky enough to find a posting that my certification qualified me for, it meant then printing my resume and cover letter on the computer that Dawn and Todd had bequeathed to me and getting the letters in the mail, pronto.  I kept a notebook with lists of where I’d sent letters, and when, and then called a few days after I was sure they’d received my information to see if there was any chance of an interview.

“What are you going to do?”  Dennis took a swig of his beer and placed the glass back down on the table.

“I think I’m going to substitute this year and try and wait out the teacher glut,” I responded.  “I don’t want to go down and teach in the city, which seems to be the only place I could find a job in this economy.  If I substitute here and in one or two other districts, I”ll not only work pretty steadily, but I will also get to know more schools and people and hopefully put myself in a better position should something open up next year in one of those places.”

“That sounds like a good idea,”  he answered, nodding, smiling in approval.

I took a sip of my wine.   I could feel it hitting me just a bit, my cheeks suddenly feeling red.  It was so surreal, sitting here with my high school teacher, drinking wine, both of us adults.  I was glad we were talking about work and not about Tom, or my mother.  I honestly couldn’t wait for school to begin in a week, so that I would be more distracted from the endless loop of doomsday predictions I had for both scenarios.

“I can’t wait for school to start.  I’m ready to go.  Subbing isn’t ideal, but maybe I’ll be lucky enough to get some long term positions, or get requested a lot like my friend Michelle does.  Tell everyone you know to request me,” I laughed.

“Too bad I don’t know more people down at the elementary level.  But still, I’ll try to spread the word.  Not too loudly though.  We don’t want Kathy’s stories to get repeated too much,” he laughed.

“Why?  What have you heard?”  Now my cheeks had to be bordering on purple.

“Oh, apparently there’s quite a bit of talk about how interesting it is that we’re friends,” he said, the corners of his mouth turning upward underneath his moustache.

“You can’t be serious!”

“Oh, I’m very serious.”  He put his beer down and looked at me squarely.  I could feel the sweat beads start to prickle on my forehead.  “Your elementary teacher friends like to talk, and some of them are friends with some of some of the middle school people who are in the English department.”

“Oh, God, I’m so sorry!  Is that bad?  Is that bad for you?”  I was mortified.  I hoped he wasn’t upset with me.  I hadn’t done anything, said anything to make anyone think there was anything going on between us.  He was married, for heaven’s sake.  Plus I’d had a boyfriend all winter.

“No, I think it’s funny, actually.  Imagine if they all knew that we were out to dinner together drinking and telling each other the stories of our lives?”  He smiled at me, still with that square gaze.

I breathed a sigh of relief.  I didn’t need gossipy drama on top of everything else going on right now.

 

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