If you are a regular reader of this blog, (and I know some of you are) you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been posting as regularly as usual lately.
And you probably know that I lost the job I’d held for some 17 years about 20 months ago.
I’ve written about what it was like to lose the job, what it was like to survive without a real job, about working temporarily in the same industry I’d gotten fired from. Basically, the same stuff a lot of other Americans have to deal with everyday.
I’ve seen documentaries on TV and read articles in the papers about the difficulty of finding work for those over a certain age, or people with little skills. If you are over that certain age and have no skills, I understand.
Luckily I do have some skills, stuff I’ve picked up in 47 or so years of paying my Social Security taxes.
Last week I did some handyman work for my friend Vivian, a lot of small stull like adding an electrical outlet to the wall, fixing a cooking pot with a loose handle (I had to epoxy the Bakelite handle holder) and change the handles on her bathroom faucet.
Vivian asked if I knew how to sew, she has a big sewing project in mind (new covers for her couch) and couldn’t get it together to plan by herself. I know how to sew and cut patterns, so I said I’d help her.
“Wow, you’re a Jack of all trades,” she said.
“Yeah, Jack-of-all-trades and master of none,” I replied.
“Yeah, you may not be a master, but you know how to figure stuff out, and that’s more important.”
I’ve never thought of it like that. And that brings me to today’s subject, my new job. I was hired I think because of that ability, the ability to look at something, figure out what’s wrong with it, and finding a solution. And I’ve been doing that for the past three weeks. So, if you think there’s no hope of finding a job after you reach a certain age, don’t despair. If you want to work bad enough, you’ll find work.
A few months ago my good friend Tommy the painter told me he could get me into his building as a porter, he’s on the board and swore it was a lock.
But it would have been going back to the beginning, moping floors and taking out the garbage just like I did at Rudin Management in 1997.
The guy who was retiring is 74 years old. He is collecting his Social Security check, his union pension; he has a house in Miami, a house in Ecuador, and lives in the Coney Island housing projects. He continued to work despite having all of this, and when we moved up to Hamilton Heights last year he asked if there were any cheap apartments up here, as they were raising the rent on him in the projects.
I did not want to be that guy at 74.
So I said no thanks, Tommy, but thanks for thinking of me. Good looking out, as they say in the street.
I waited and continued doing the free-lance handyman thing. I wasn’t getting rich, but I was paying the rent and bills, and writing a lot of blog posts. One day I’ll figure out how to make money doing this.
But for now, I was offered a job, and it sounded interesting, and I took it.
The day after the interview, I checked my blog stats and discovered someone had read twenty or so of my blog posts. It was the guy who’d interviewed me.
When he called to actually offer the job, he said he read the blog and noticed that I wrote about work a lot. Then he said, “We can’t have that, our clients value their privacy, and if you want to work for us you’ll have to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Are you all right with that?”
Before you start wondering, it’s not a high-priced escort service I’m working for. Just FYI.
I thought about it, and I said yes, I’m OK with that. Since I’m not disclosing any client’s secrets, names or even naming whom I work for, I guess this is OK. I’ll find out soon enough.
I do quality control and test fitting of architectural hardware. It’s fun, it’s interesting, and they buy lunch.
Not only do they buy lunch, but also they don’t make me come in an hour early to make up the lunch hour like Rudin management did.
There was a guy who worked for Rudin for FORTY YEARS. He was a porter the whole time, how’s that for no ambition. Rudin gave him a watch when he retired. A gold-plated watch. I’m glad I don’t work for such tight-fisted, constipated people anymore.
The people I work for now are creative, smart, and caring. It’s interesting, not the same old thing every day. It’s exciting at times, and fun. My co-workers are nice; the place is airy and has great views. I feel comfortable there and see there’s room for growth.
I’m glad I waited out the anxiety of not knowing what tomorrow will bring and didn’t jump at the chance to mop floors and take out the garbage for another nine years.
If you are out there and out of work, wondering what will happen next, think carefully and trust in yourself before you jump at the first thing that comes along. You just might end up with free lunch.