I woke up one morning hyperventilating about my job. In the midst of all the stress of the shifting and the tension of the settling down, I had forgotten that I was without a job for so many months. No, that is incorrectly put. I didn’t actually forget, but I had pushed it to the back of my mind. Where it should not have been. It should have been at the forefront, since the borrowed money would barely hold me in good stead for only for a month. And the saved money was almost over. I was gradually reaching the place, where people in these parts of the world refer to as “meri toh lag gayee”. Or, the s*it has hit the fan. Yes, I was gradually reaching that unenviable position. The worries that made me spend sleepless nights even a month ago, were coming back.
There just were no leads. There were no calls from consultants. Even where there were leads, which turned into interviews, which turned into jobs, things suddenly went into suspended animation also known as “on hold”. Take the case of the worlds leading telecom company, where I aced the interviews every time there was one (I am not being a cocky bitch. I am in HR and I know how to interpret interviews). I was super confident that the company would send me the appointment letter the next day, especially since someone called me from Poland and told me with great urgency that I had to fly to Mumbai for my final interview. According to one of its directors (whom I knew from my previous company), my “engagement was confirmed” here and I need not worry. I fitted the bill perfectly. Not quite, as it turned out. Thanks to the great recession of 2008, which continues to grow from strength to strength, the position was put on hold and would only be up in the first quarter of 2010. This information came after much prodding and not from the HR department. I am amazed at the lack of responsibility and sensitivity that HR departments sometimes show. I mean, aren’t you supposed to inform the candidate, who paid 10 grand from her own pocket to get interviewed (that is another story, they just refused to pay up later), that the position has been put on hold. And this too, to one of their own. I can only imagine how much other candidates must suffer. A HR department must have reached the bottom of its ethics barrel to behave in this manner. Almost a million sarcastic emails were exchanged, but nothing much came out of it. I remained in my state of joblessness.
The job that my school friend A and her husband had given me the lead for and for which I was almost hired went on hold too. “Going on hold” is probably the phrase that’s most dreaded by job seekers. It means that after endless rounds of interviewing and the endless times you tell them “something about your family” things did not work out after all.
A leading advertising agency interviewed me for one of their positions and almost hired me, as per the recruitment consultant, to then put that job “on hold” as well.
On hold means that it is not a yes, yet, but it is definitely Not a no!!! So you keep hoping the job will come back up, even though in your heart of hearts, you probably know it never will. As Woody Allen said somewhere recently, “Everyone needs their own little fictions to cope with the harshness of life”. And that the job will soon be off its on-hold status, was mine.
A peeve that I have with job interviews in India is the question all interviews start with: tell me something about yourself. I immediately start going on a professional journey, but they stop me to tell me that they want to know something personal as well. Having done my training in Human Resources from the United States, where asking any personal questions could be an invitation to a law suit, I am almost always thrown off by this one. What do I say? Do I say I have a husband? Do I say I am separated? How will that be taken?
Rather badly, in fact, as I found out some time later. I had gone to yet another job interview where I had told the interviewer, an older lady, that I was separated. Then on, all she was interested was, was my separation. When was I separated? Was that before or after my last job? Or was I separated while living in America? How old was my child? How many years after marriage was he born? This went on and on for about an hour. I could not take a moment more of this, but all I could do was to grin and bear, because I knew I needed the job too badly. I could barely survive another month without a job and now was not the time to give the interviewer a course on the politically correct interviewing techniques. I ultimately did not get that job. Whether it was for my personal information, or lack of professional knowledge, I will never know.
It has been extremely hard for me to keep my spirits up through a period when all jobs went into a state of suspended animation. It has now been ten months since I have last worked. There have been days when I did not want to get out of bed feeling like worthless, feeling like the biggest loser ever. My worries about funds have taken me into the depths of despair. But I have never allowed that feeling to engulf me. I have never let myself show the world my desperation. I have put on a happy face for the world and it has helped me in springing back up. I believe happiness is a choice. And that happiness begets happiness. My experiences could have turned me into a bitter person, but I chose to be happy.
I chose to tell my son fairy tales at bed time. I chose to bake lemon cakes with lemon butter icing. I chose to buy yeast to bake my first French baguette. I chose to sit on the red recliner, sipping apple juice in wine glasses which is such an integral part of the PVR Gold class experience with my friend H, laughing our heads off over the silliness of bollywood movies. Window shopping with my friend D, telling her that she can definitely get all those designer dresses made by the friendly neighbourhood tailor for a fraction of the prices, giggling ourselves silly…. I chose to do that.
Precious, the overweight black teen mother, suffering physical, sexual and emotional abuse from her father and mother, from the Hollywood movie of the same name, saw a thin white female with blond hair every time she saw herself in the mirror. I see a confident, hopeful, happy person, certain of a better tomorrow.
I am not religious. I am not even very spiritual. But there is only one thing that I believed in. Steadfastly. That, “this too shall pass”. And that, while things fall apart, they also fall back into place. This, and a strong belief in myself has been the wind beneath my wings!! This is not to say I do not have days when I do not have moments of self-doubt. But I choose to overcome them. And I hope, someday, I will be able to “ Fly, fly, fly high against the sky, so high I almost touch the sky…….”