A Stately Summons

unI’ve heard from the State of Alabama, and they want to help me get a job!  Isn’t that great?  I got this really nice letter from the kind and caring people at the Department of Industrial Relations, and they want me to come in and talk to them about jobs.  The letter said that they felt they could help me find one.

Of course, they didn’t forget to tell me that if I don’t want their help, then I’d lose my benefits.  If I don’t have a list of the jobs I’ve been looking for I may lose my benefits.  If I don’t show up on time, I may lose my benefits.  In short, if I don’t do exactly what they “ask” then I lose my benefits.

Part of me is all “Hell YEAH!” over the letter.  I mean, basically the state is paying me to look for a job.  Good for them checking up and making sure I’m doing my job!  But at the same time, I have to wonder how many people actually get this letter.  I know several people have been on unemployment longer than I have who have yet to get such a demand to “put up or shut up.”  Sorry, not a demand… a request to “help.”

I suspect that since my claim is on the high end, they’d very much like to get me off the rolls as rapidly as possible.  From what I understand, my claim and benefits are on the high range, significantly higher than the average claim.  Then again, I was gainfully and well employed for years, why wouldn’t I be higher?

I suspect this is pure economics.  I’m on the high end, absorbing nearly twice as much money as other claimants, so I’m getting extra scrutiny.  But isn’t that discrimination?  If I show up next Wednesday to a lobby full of former white collar workers, I’m going to be pretty upset.  If the state is going to be all “GET A JOB” on me, they better be getting all job-centric on everyone.  If they are, I’ll gladly put up with their headache of an “interview” that I have no doubt will do nothing to help me find gainful employment and everything to make sure I’m doing it on my own.

But maybe I’m just feeling a bit of the victimhood that’s put us in this position.  That, by god, I’ve put money into the system for 15 years or more, and have never once prior to this made a claim.  And the first time I do, I’m called out on the carpet for it.  It’s a bit hard not to feel the victim of something sinister.

But whatever.  I’ll have my list of the places I applied.  And I’ll go from there.

ROAD TRIP!

So I’ve been unemployed for two months.  Got the unemployment all sorted out, and am getting bucks that way, but lord its less than working for real.

Got two freelance jobs this week though.  I’m currently on a road trip in Montgomery playing driver for a lawyer who’s in the backseat working on a brief on the way down to our final destination in Auburn.  She’s fighting a first amendment fight to keep Auburn City Government out of the bedrooms of college students.  I happen to like the first amendment, and so should you.  So I’m 100% in support of the action.

So I’ll be tweeting from the road with updates.  I’ve also managed a job interview, so hopes on this trip are high.  Details on twitter…

A Door Closes, A Window Opens

I had my hopes pinned on the potential for a job.  It was a discussion, very brief, of the possibilities.  The person I was talking to wanted it, but it didn’t work out on their end.  The job was right up my alley and something I wanted to do.

But the guy’s staff didn’t like the result.  So as they closed that door, one of his staffers opened a window.  It’s not a sure thing, but the window is open and I have a chance.  And even if this window opens, it’s the first time I feel validated since I lost my job.  Obviously there are a few political nuances that are keeping me vague, but the difference a chance makes in my outlook is tremendous.

So I’m feeling good and celebrating with a milkshake.  Amazing how quickly your outlook can change.

But that’s not all I’ve got going on.  I’m excited about Geek Palaver, a new blog site that while available isn’t really running yet, but will be.  It’s a group of geeks that plan on talking about all kinds of interesting stuff, and I hope to grow that.  I’m still working on Beyond The Boards, and the response to it continues to grow.  And there are other freelance gigs brewing.  Suddenly it seems a lot less hopeless.

I also attended a meeting of WEDC today.  I was an invited guest since the group was honoring my mother-in-law.  While I expecting to be depressed following it, I was uplifted!  It was a moving meeting full of surprises, including the announcement that the educational scholarship in Mary’s name is almost fully funded.

So today is a good day.  A door closed, but a window opened.

An update from Angel Island

I’m posting this from my new favorite oasis in Huntsville.  Okay, it’s not really new, and it’s actually been my favorite for a while.  I’m at Angel Island Coffee.  And I hang out here most mornings after dropping the kiddo off at school.  Why?  Cause it has great coffee and free wifi and I can surf job sites (and make the occasional blog post) from the comfort of a big leather couch.

And because Angel, the owner, is the perfect business woman, she sees me coming in the store and more often than not has my coffee ready for me at the register by the time I walk up to it.  Yea, that speaks a bit to my own predictability, but also to Angel’s innate sense of people and business.

I don’t buy her more expensive drinks.  I buy her coffee.  Fresh brewed and smelling so heavenly.  Almost always… no always the dark roast.  And its a little peice of heaven.  So she has every reason not to like my cheap spending habits, but she continues to deliver the same wonderful experience every time I visit.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep this up.  My severance from getting laid off runs out in another couple of weeks.  At that point, the $2 for coffee, $10 a week will have to be re-evaluated along with lots of other choices.  Like keeping the phone charged, I’m afraid.  But till then, Angel Island has offered me something more than good coffee at fair prices.

It’s been that place I can go and get away from the swirling storms that are my life.  It really has been my oasis and my refuge in a time of turmoil and I’ve been grateful.  Ask my twitter and facebook friends.  They’re all tired of seeing Angel Island in my morning status updates.

So this is just my personal thank you to the place that has given me so much without doing a thing more than give the city’s best coffee while also giving the best personal service.  Thanks Angel.