I just finished a call with a job seeker with a question. He originally called to ask a typically annoying question that I receive several times a week: "uh, yeah, are you hiring?" That question can be answered simply by saying yes, but the elaborate part of the answer is in the details.
The young man's name was Job, but he was saying "Jobe" so that's what I was writing on my message list. I didn't process that it was actually "Job" until this very moment. After a few brief questions, I was able to determine that he wouldn't qualify at this time for any of our open positions, but gladly gave him referral information so he could receive a paycheck doing some temp stuff while he's looking for work. I let him know about what steps he can take and what paperwork he would need to work with us, and he thanked me.
After a few more minutes of conversation, Jobe staretd opening up to me, and telling me that he was only in the hospital once a couple of years ago (for psych reasons). I can understand; I was in a hospital once too, and even though there's a negative stigma assoicated with being in a "mental hospital," I think it can be the best solution, and speaking from personal experience, it produced a real shift in my thinking and how I viewed the world. Granted I was pretty cynnical and skeptical for a while, but I can attribute that to my parents and my upbrining. The mental hospital only showed me that it's okay to not feel okay sometimes, and there are more effective ways to alleviate that not-okay-ness.
But I digress. I didn't share any of that with Jobe. I listened to what he had to say, sometimes my multi-task mind would drift off and think of other things, but for the most part I was attentive. Jobe mentioned that he felt shy alot of times, and his shyness was a barrier to him obtaining and maintaining employment. He told me that he worked as a banquet server in a large and popular country club out here, and even though it was on call and he made great money, the anxiety he experienced doing that kind of work forced him to "shut it all out and off." Meaning he eventually didn't go back to work, and stayed indoors mostly, watching TV. He said his friends would come over and ask why he's not working or hanging out, and he said to me, "well, it's just not cool to tell your friends you are shy and can't work becauase of it." I agreed with Job that it's hard to have a job where you always have to be "on," be the face of the company or service provided, customer service can be tiring and a real soul-drainer sometimes. And for people with that extra spark, they just work harder and burn out more brilliantly, their own assets eventually give way to their undoing and demise.
Job somehow got onto the subject of parents, specifically his father, who hit him and left him with a permanent scar on his nose when he was 4. Job rationalized to me, "I was just a kid, it's not like I even did anything wrong." Job believes that his father hit him because he couldn't write his name properly. Who really knows what was going on, right? What we percieve when we are children is often shaped by our own desires for acceptance and positive reinforcement, and over time who knows how that shifts and changes. I think I was smacked once because I didn't want to finish my dinner. What the fuck is that? Capital punishment, that's what. But more then that? It's something that stays with you forever, and you think about, and causes you to cringe and feel that hollow panic in the pit of your guts when you see another pig slob parent yanking their little kid around the grocery store and verbally abusing them in a demeaning tone. I told Job that it was really good that he could determine that he wasn't responsible for the abuse dealt to him. Many people spend a lifetime internalizing and rationalizing parental abuse.
So twenty mintues later I wrapped up my call with Job. I have a million things going on, this job is the biggest challenge I've been faced with in a work environment, and I'm meeting the challenge head-on. I didn't really have time to talk to Job, and I spend all day fielding really bad calls. I can't beleive I talked to him for as long as I did, but something compelled me to talk to him. He ended with the conversation with, "Thanks, maybe I'll be able to apply one day," and abruptly hung up.
I hope everything works out for Job. If I didn't hear from him again, I'm sure things will.