Unemployment Nine: Why some people are unemployed

I had to attend a mandatory career-counseling session today, and I really want those two hours of my life back, along with the other hour-and-a-half or so that it took me to travel to and from Varick Street and the mouth of the Holland Tunnel.

I understand that the New York State Department of Labor wants to be sure people who are receiving unemployment benefits are actually looking for work. It’s their right. I actually didn’t really have a problem with the session itself. But some of the winners I got stuck with would be lucky to find water if they fell out of a boat.



Everyone had to fill out a form. It was pretty straightforward stuff, and the directions were fairly clear. Yet you would think some of these people were asked to sketch the schematic diagram of a Formula One engine. Some of the questions I heard made me want to jump out of my seat and yell, “Duh, no WONDER you can’t find a JOB.” But that would have been quite hypocritical for obvious reasons: If I had a job, I wouldn’t have been stuck in the room with these Mensa candidates.

Then once all of the forms were properly filled out, I started to get a sense of some of the personalities in the room, and many of them deserved swift kicks about the rear end.

The ones who really pissed me off:

• The dickhead who arrived 20 minutes late and was openly shocked and stunned when he discovered he wouldn’t be the first one dismissed. Right, because your time is worth so much more than mine or that of any of the other 50-something people in the room. Jackass.

• The guy with the accent that made Apu from The Simpsons sound like the King’s English, who was really trying to be helpful by answering other people’s questions but was likely only confusing them further.

• The very well-dressed and very attractive blond woman who looked down at everyone else in the room with a glare of utter disdain, the way she would look at a scuff on her $500 black pumps. I hate people who think they’re better than everyone else. She went from a nine when she first walked into the room to a negative 40 when I saw the smug look on her face.

• The woman who took everything said by the people running the seminar as a personal attack. They mentioned an organization called the Grace Institute, which offers training classes for women in business and administrative skills, and this hothead automatically took it to mean that all the women in the room should abandon their careers and become secretaries. Uh, dummy, that was not at ALL what they meant. Settle down and perhaps lower your caffeine dosage.

If these were the only people I was competing against, I’d have had a job offer about 36 seconds after getting laid off. But I know there are plenty of people in the unemployment pool who are just as smart as I am and, perish the thought, possibly even smarter.

I wish these people luck, though. They seemed like relatively nice folks — well, except for the blond. I hope she ends up waiting tables.

2 comments on “Unemployment Nine: Why some people are unemployed

  1. Liz says:

    I haven’t had the pleasure of sitting through such a seminar but the last time I had to collect unemployment was 4 months after I moved back to NY. I lived in FL for 2 years and had to collect from the fine state of Flor-i-duh and was given a host of instructions on what I needed to do in order to collect unemployment. I was told to make “at least 2 job related contacts per week” and pay a visit to the NYSDOL office on 54th Street. I was making a killing with responding to postings on Monster, HotJobs, CareerBuilder and the NY Times among other sources. I went to the DOL office and encountered one of the most useless folks in the universe and ended up walking out because that woman couldn’t help me. About a month or so later, I got a letter for the unemployment folks in FL asking me to provide them with a list of places that I contacted for employment…I made them sorry that they asked. I wrote a letter and 1) I told them that I followed their instructions about going to NYSDOL and said that the staff couldn’t do anything for me that I couldn’t do myself, 2) gave them printouts from my accounts on Monster, CareerBuilder, HotJobs and NYTimes showing my application activity, and 3) on the form that they gave me, I listed places where I actually interviewed. Never heard from them again.

  2. […] with how bright and talented everyone seemed to be. Unlike some of the dolts I encountered at the mandatory career-counseling session I attended in November, everyone at the table — myself included, I hope — really seemed […]

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