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Friday, December 3, 2010

Banging Your Head Against the Wall

When I was 14 I began to write poetry andI was  not terribly good poetry at that time in my life either not being a Rimbaud enfant terrible of poetry. When I was 15 I decided to submit my terribly not good poem to a high school literary magazine and in an exercise of parental love my father volunteered to type said poem, as I had not yet acquired that skill. Not long after enduring the transcription trial my Father asked me what did I want to do with my life.  I replied that I wanted to become a poet.  After turning a somewhat paler shade of white --iceplant white I believe is the correct shade--and stammering something about making a living he finally said, "Well then, you had better learn to type." My high school literary magazine did not publish my poem and I did not see print until a senior year journalism class.

Over the years, with the exception of one long period, I continued to write poetry, with almost no attempts at publication. A poetry teacher of mine, Joseph Stroud,  advised his class once, that if you wanted to be a professional poet, marry a rich woman. Herr Professor Stroud has written and published volumes of poetry, but he kept his day job teaching in a community college.   The poetry because my private alchemical quest, a secret delight and passion. (See my other blog on the arts: Notes, Jots, Flicks for the post, The Process of a Poem http://notesjotsflics.blogspot.com/2010/10/process-of-poem.html)

I pursued other avenues of life including the public contact process  involved in community organizing by which I meet some unusual people. One of those unusual people was a man who had, before the Iranian revolution worked in Shah Pavlavi's secret police, the Savak. He explained that in order get a job working for the Savak he had to go down to Savak headquarters every morning and bang his head against a wall.  This was apprenticeship
Savak style, because he had to prove he could bang his own head before he would be allowed to bang heads while questioning suspects.  He went on, he said, to have a career in the Savak persuading students who had been seen abroad at anti-Shah demonstrations to switch allegiances and receive the gratitude of the government. That was of course, as opposed to  continuing to receive the ingratitude of the government.  After he suddenly became unemployed due to a revolution, he came to America and stirred some controversy in Napa by getting into an armed conflict with Iranians of a different political perspective. He seemed not far away from seeking a similar conflict with me.

Sunday I turned 60, and I am now almost 45 years from the day I turned my Father a paler shade of white. I am about 18 years away from my conversation  the the former Savak agent who seemed to not like my politics.  I have never made much of my life economically, although I have done a lot of interesting and good things in my life. I am however, as regular readers of my blog know, unemployed.

Today I went to the nearest Washington State Work Source office, seeking help with some aspects of my job quest. The main object of my visit was to have a conversation with an appropriate person on the possibility of worker re-education. The state will often approve additional weeks of unemployment benefits for worker retaining if a appropriate training program that can be finished in a few quarters can be found for a worker appropriately situated.   I got to talk with Jerry, who was helpful and amicable.  I began by telling Jerry about my Savak acquaintance and said I feel like I have been going through a similar job search.  I showed him my resume, with an incomplete college education and talked about turning 60 and we discussed the possibility of worker retraining.

The job skills I had in mind learning, HTML coding, web page writing. was, after some searching, discovered to be an in demand occupation.  The state of Washington has some complicated ways of classifying jobs as to in demand or not and the mere frequent or infrequent appearance of skill in job ad requirements seems to have little to do with the classification.

 For it seems that the job I am also unemployed from, parking attendant, is also in demand.  The fact that I have applied to all the parking companies in Seattle and not gotten even an interview, or that the job makes almost no appearances on Craigs's list or the Work Source lists, is irrelevant. This lists seemed to have been drawn up before the Great Recession going full swing.  The parking attendant jobs no doubt include valet, whose running I cannot keep up with at age 60, and lot checkers, for which job I do not process the required drivers licence, being an exceptionally bad driver in my opinion.   Jeff gladly discussed with me possible ways to get unemployment's approval for workforce retraining for me, including the affect of arthritis disability on me.

It appears that because I made more than the median wage in my industry and more than $11.20 an hour at the time of my dismissal I cannot approach the retaining from having made low wages, even through I had been reduced to 30 hours a week due to lack of work for a year and was forced out by a boss who thought I made too much money and replaced with someone making starting wage.  I believe in fact is is the wages I made that have prevented my rehiring into the parking industry, which prefers to hire at the bottom of the scale without respect to skill.  In fact, much of the industry is being automated, so many of those booth jobs have largely disappeared and yet the officially assessment is that in King County, although in no other  county in the state, I am in an officially thriving industry. The people who lost there jobs to machines or were replaced with lower paid workers provide little supporting evidence for my case.  Never the less Jeff was optimistic that it was possible that if I wrote a good personal letter stating my case according to personal circumstances, I might get approved, especially as I had chosen an industry that would increase my job prospects.

I was given a schedule with the prerequisite preparation seminar on it and some materials for on line computer training that I could take while pursing the other. I had a good time talking with Jeff, although I was partially discouraged at my prospects for such an improvement.

And by the way, I got an email yesterday.  It seems an online journal might publish one of my poems.

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