People have a hard time wrapping their brains around shitty things happening to decent people. Humans like to rationalize that perhaps the person deserved to have said shitty thing happen to them. It’s easier for us to process this than to just feel bad.
Maybe one day I’ll draft something about why I quit my job in 2008 working for a Fortune 500 company that we’ll call Safety Product, Inc. We made a safety product that was subject to FAA regulations. If this product malfunctioned, people could die. Yes, really. It was the most unorganized, corrupt, wasteful company I’ve ever worked for. The bag of crap that I used to work for is still with the company. But I’m not bitter! Oh no. What’s a word that means bitter times three mixed with a bucket of pissed off? Because that’s what I am.
I wasted no time looking for a new job. The economy was in the shitter, but I was optimistic. I landed an interview with a company close to home. They had me sit with two of their current buyers who proceeded to tell me how much they hated the job and that their boss sucked. Since I am ever the constructive critic of managers, interviewers, and fellow employees, I didn’t blame these buyers: I blamed the human resources department for sending two people to interview me who were not properly trained to do so.
I knew immediately that I would hate this job. It would be exactly like Shit Box Corp…oh, wait, we’re calling them Safety Product, Inc. They made me an offer for more money than my last job. I didn’t want to take it. I figured I’d have another opportunity in the next couple of months. They reneged the offer, and I never learned why. My one regret as an unemployed MBA is that I didn’t push back on them to see why they no longer wanted to hire me. I didn’t do that because I didn’t want to work there.
I kept hunting, searching, applying. I’d have the occasional interview, and nothing would come of it. I was under-qualified, and I was over-qualified. I heard everything, and I heard nothing. I had too much experience to be a buyer. I was told “Why would you want this job? You used to be a purchasing manager.” I didn’t have enough management experience to get another management position. ”You really weren’t a purchasing manager long enough.”
As is human nature, my friends and family kindly provided possible reasons why my inability to get a job was my fault. Some of my friends genuinely believed that I was rejecting jobs and holding out for the dream job. Others assumed my resume sucked. Others just thought I was being selective as to where I was applying. My dad will say it’s because I don’t write thank you notes after interviews. Because there had to be a reason this was my fault, right? I will say this: It was the worst of job markets, and I’m overqualified to be a buyer. Most employers felt I’d leave when I got a better offer. Also, the longer I was unemployed, the more unemployable I became. Catch-fucking-22.
I was rejected by Universal Laser, iGo, GoDaddy, General Dynamics, PetsMart, USAA, Mesa Air, ReBath and the State of Arizona (three times!) to name a few.
A lot of my friends tried to keep me up in spirits, and I really stayed up as best I could considering the circumstances. They’d ask “Hey! Have you considered working for a solar company?” or “You should do consulting for one of the big four firms!” Or my favorite, “Start your own business!” Um, ok. I’ll get right on that.
Did they really believe that the reason I wasn’t doing any of this was because I didn’t think of it? The reason I wasn’t doing any of this is because no one wanted me. Just tell me who exactly I need to blow at PWC to get an interview, and I’ll get right on it. Oh, and I’m quite close to starting my own business. I just need a concept and a fuckton of capital.
Six months in to this rejection fest, I knew I just needed to make ends meet and stop draining my savings. So instead of looking to corporate America, I looked to any company that was hiring. After all, I am not too proud to take an hourly, low-paying job. I’m too proud to not pay my electric bill. I always said I’d never go months without a job because if I had too, I’d pour coffee, wash cars, or flip burgers.
Let’s add to that recjection list Fry’s Food & Drug, Ann Taylor Loft, Fresh & Easy Grocery Store, and the Starbucks down the street from my house.
And this is when I started to panic.