At the suggestion of a friend, I took a roadtrip to Enchanted Rock on January 1. The challenge of climbing this 640-acre granite exfoliation dome seemed like a good start to the new year. Apparently this was a less than original idea since it looked more like a pilgrimage than a hike with dozens of people winding their way up the batholith sort of like the picture on the Alaska auto license plate of men heading to the gold fields through Chilkoot Pass.
Once more, my will took me much further than my strength. I spent the last two-thirds of the hike muttering under my breath: "I think I can, I think I can;" "just keep putting one foot ahead of the other;" "it's not a race;" "if that woman can do it using a walker, I can do it." Actually, the walker was an exaggeration, but I really do need to get into better shape.
Looking for Work
(Note: This was written a long time ago--please don't offer me a job.
I have held approximately 35 permanent job in the last 25 years. There were countless officially temporary ones, too. My longest job lasted 18 months, which speaks more to the flexibility of the employer than to my stamina. The shortest, and there were three, lasted four hours each. Every year when I file my income tax return, there is a great wad of W4's stapled to it.
My stated reason for leaving almost all those places was "lack of challenge" which can be translated as "was work for which I was qualified."
So here I am sitting at my latest desk anticipating another change. This is a one-person office. I have completed everything I could find to do here and have requested additional tasks so I don't feel guilty about having spent most of today carving a little bear out of basswood. Except maybe for the janitor--he's going to have a heck of a time getting all those little wood chips out of the carpet.
A couple jobs ago I thought I might look for work closer to home. I live on a small farm about 90 minutes from a real city and the commute was driving me crazy. It took tremendous resolve and organization to get to work on time and it was almost impossible to get to work clean (easier to get me off the farm than the farm off me). Anyway, there wasn't much work near home that paid enough to interest me except Bangor Nuclear Submarine Base, so I decided to apply there.
It was like a vegetarian applying for work at Kentucky Fried. I am amazed I even attempted it.
When I arrived at Bangor, I couldn't get my car past the front gate. The woman in charge of determining which cars presented great security risks asked for my vehicle registration. I told her I didn't have it with me.
"Of course you do," she unimaginatively stated, "it's in your car."
By which, I suppose, she meant that there is a law stating that you must carry your vehicle registration in your car. For her, I guess it meant the same thing.
Not really wanting to admit to being a scofflaw who postively knew that her registration wasn't in the car, I went outside and rummaged around for ten minutes. I came up with some stuff I hadn't seen for a while and needed, but not the registration. I composed my face to look amazed and horrified and went back to tell the guard that I couldn't imagine what had happened to it. Which was sort of true.
I was told, humorlessly, that I would have to leave the car there and walk to the employment building. It was only about three city blocks away, but by her tone I knew she had never even heard of anyone attempting this hike before. There was no sidewalk, so maybe no one had.
At the employment office I was given a seven page application. Scanning through it, I paled as I read the chilling words
Account for all the periods of unemployment? I couldn't even account for all the periods of full employment. And, it was just a guess, but I was pretty sure that they weren't looking for explanations like "humpies were running good" or "new puppy needed to be housebroken."
I had a grandfather who was born and raised in the Seattle area. He initially worked as a longshoreman and was active in some union organizing that would have rendered him unfit to work at the railroad, where he really wanted to work. Luckily, there was no Social Security at the time, no computers, and his name was Jones, so erasing his past was as easy as telling Union Pacific that he was straight off his grandfather's farm in Minnesota. I was not that fortunate.
Before I had accounted for two years on the application, I made an error in ink, asked for a new form, told that woman I would finish it at home and mail it in (the place was making a compulsive liar out of me), and took off heel-and-toeing it in the gutter back to the banished Toyota.
So here I am two years and three permanent jobs later, and it looks like I'm about to enter yet another brief period of unemployment for which it will soon be impossible to account.