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Pounding the Pavement

Today I hit the pavements of San Francisco as the sun refused to turn up from the gray blankets. I wound my multi-colored cotton Guatemalan scarf that really doesn’t do much to fend off the cold around my neck and braced for the four temp and staffing agencies where I would be dropping off my resume. “Looking for work should never shame you,” my mother’s internalized voice reminded me. “You should always be grateful for work, no matter what it is.”

I put on the poker face of over-politeness and do it the Guatemalan way: I drop in. I wanted to give a face to a name and to be honest, to make it past the all-purpose inbox of death where all resumes go during the horror of economic downturns that we have in California. Worse comes to worse they ask me where I lived and worked last year, I tell them Guatemala and they have no idea where Guatemala is; it happens, at least once a day.

I enter nameless impressive buildings where the building numbers could kill you if they fell off the entrance during an earthquake. My neck creaks when I try to separate the sky from the glass and steel and I feel like La India Maria when I get freaked out by how quickly the glass doors rotate.  I have a backpack, I don’t wear make-up and my bangs are in that awkward faze where it looks like I haven’t used a brush in weeks. The manila folder in my hand isn’t even labeled. Floor 8, take a breath.

“Hi, Mrs. Sculley, I was in the neighborhood and just wanted to introduce myself, drop off my resume and inquire about meeting with a recruiter. Will that be possible?” Not even a smile. “Didn’t you submit via email? That’s how everyone does it.” I tell her I wanted to meet them all because they had such glowing reviews on Yelp. She’s not impressed. She goes back to typing on her MacBook Pro, but I’m not going away. “Mrs. Sculley, I promise to stop bothering you and email you my resume if you provide me with your direct email.” I raise my hand and cross my heart and stand with perfect posture. Her face softens. She gives me her card. I thank her. Score. Another four to go.

Back on the street as I swim with the rest of the Montgomery Street fish I wonder why no one will hire fine young entrepreneurs like myself with resumes that are four pages long because they are full of white space to make us look important and over-qualified. We fit great ideas in all that white space. Glowing I tell you. Bah, who wants an entrepreneur, it’s trouble I tell you. I have one month to go before I start another fellowship or maybe not. Money in the hand is never money until it’s in your hand. Another Silvia saying. I am warmed up now and ready for 345 California, 14th Floor, eh, the whole floor is Innovations PSI.  The glass doors are wide open and just beyond I can see the Golden Gate Bridge. There’s no receptionist and they have perfectly round mints and the latest Consumer Reports “Top Ten Mobile Tricks” issue. I have to find a way to stay in the lobby and wait for five minutes, if only to enjoy the mint while flipping through the magazine. I sit on the plush lavender-colored designer couch.

The receptionist smiles as she enters, she is being nice for some reason, when she asks me to wait while she finds a recruiter. Mr. Kurt comes out. He tells me he has to go to a meeting in ten minutes. I hand over my resume, he goes through all the pages. “All this is your resume?” I tell him I’m a creative writer. He hands it back like I just gave him a fake dollar bill. “I don’t want it,” he says bluntly. “Is it because I’m killing trees?” I retort. “No, it’s not searchable.” I can solve that, I tell him, I can send him a PDF and Word doc ASAP once he gives me his direct email. He smiles, “Please.” He informs me they only have “Admin work”. I tell him I know how to use a typewriter and that I  even typed 70 words per minute on one manual typewriter with no whiteout or return button in a bunker finance building in Guatemala City two months ago. He puts his hands in his pockets and pulls out his business card. He looks at his watch. Time to go. I think I’ve tied on this one.

The going down is always easier. The elevator drops me back to earth and the cold breeze suddenly hits my chest when I open the door. Why can’t journalists have their own recruiting agencies? Maybe I should make coffee instead? I’m sick of writing grants. Yes, I will use a typewriter for money. Maybe I can dance for the next month? Sell lemonade? Better start finding the lemons before someone else does.

2 thoughts on “Pounding the Pavement

  1. Trudy says:

    I love how you make it all sound like an adventure, even the economic downturn. At least you are not staying home glumly. Good things are waiting for you. You’ll see.

  2. braaad says:

    Eh, like I said- a lot of people manning the desks at those temp agencies are real mouth-breathers with shitty attitudes. It’s totally professional, dignified and honest to hand deliver a printed resume. Of course, like you mentioned, you have to follow it up with an electronic version for them to input into their crappy little CRM but that’s not the point. The point is you made the effort to come to their office to introduce yourself. You should be rewarded for that, not given the brush off. Pro tip: the gay boy recruiters are always way nicer and accommodating than the uptight female staffers.

    Whatever, there’s no shame in any kind of work. Back in the day when I was doing admin temp work, my boss would ask me to take out the trash. I did it without a second though- even though I had a college degree and it probably wasn’t part of my job description.

    I agree with Silvia and I will add: only little wussy boys (and girls) are afraid of work.

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