SURREAL ADVENTURES FROM THE SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS

Monday, June 22, 2009

Single white female will take any job

The day after my dismissal I didn’t feel like doing anything in particular, but just having a lazy morning and getting mentally ready to immediately start a frantic job hunt.

I was in good spirits, so I quickly got down to business with the job search. My cv was excellent and I had the best contacts. I sent more than fifty job applications in Sandwich and abroad; made loads of phone calls and wrote a zillion e-mails.

I was convinced that it wouldn’t take me long to start receiving interesting offers. But to my surprise, days passed, weeks passed and all I got was a few polite thank you letters saying my profile didn’t match the job requirements.

At the age of 18, I was the youngest student ever to graduate cum laude from the Sandwichian Law School; went on Erasmus for a master in law and economics at the University of Freeburg, in Burdishland; was fluent in four languages; later on, became a highly-trained professional with experience in public and private strategic sectors; the best head hunters often knocked at my door not so long ago. But now everybody was turning their back on me. What on earth was going on?

Was it a consequence of the general economic background to the crisis? Probably. But I could feel there was something else. Something fishy and gruesome: a mystery that I had to unveil.

I decided to take it easy and be patient. But three months later, I completely lost my marbles and started freaking out: the results of my job search were virtually nil. I had expensive bills to pay monthly, a gigantic mortgage and a brand new car to finance, that were slowly, but steadily, eating all of the generous severance pay that the Dumbass Industries gave me when I had been fired.

I suffered a couple of anxiety attacks at night and woke up crying in my sleep, thinking I’d have to sell my flat and car off cheaply and manage to survive with that income, until the last coin was spent and I was finally doomed to become a hobo.

And no, just in case you wondered, I never considered asking Ed Davies for help. He was always in my thoughts, but I was too hurt and too proud to ask.

Still under the effects of that most forgettable dismissal day, Hellgirl made one of her star appearances in my kitchen, as I was having a cup of coffee that tasted bitter as ever.

Contrary to general belief, people from Hell don’t smell like vomit or rotten eggs. That would be simple stupid. It only happens in cheesy TV shows or movies. How could they possibly gain human souls for the devil smelling like a skunk?

Seriously, real Hell’s minions are very, very distinguished and refined people. You can smell them from afar and even get very fond of them in the long run. Hellgirl particularly, smells like the air after it has just been raining. And that unmistakable smell always precedes her visits.

- Hi. Would you like to have a cup of coffee? –I asked her-
- That would be very lovely, Leni. But I only drink Everclear. It tastes like piss, but it gets the job done! –she said, finishing off a small bottle of that brew-.

For those who are not familiar with alcoholic concoctions, Everclear is a brand of neutral grain spirit home-brewed in Orsinia at concentrations of 95% alcohol. Because of its high alcohol content, it’s illegal, unavailable, or difficult to find in many areas. But not for Hellgirl.

She inhaled and then exhaled slowly. Her liquor breath nearly knocked me backwards; and that wasn't exactly as nice as the smell of the air after it has just been raining.

Then, she turned the TV on. An expert was expounding upon the root origins of the financial crisis, using terms such as lack of liquidity, toxic assets, stock markets crash and housing bubble. The future certainly looked very very gloomy.

- You haven’t been a victim of this crisis, but of your own negligence, Leni. –said Hellgirl, staring at me-.
- Are you giving me a sermon now? –I asked her-
- No. I came here to show you how awful things are looking now, just to put you in the picture. The unemployment rate is leaping to record high in Sandwich. Look. –she said pointing at the chart on the TV-

The Sandwichian figures were scary, in comparison to the ones for the surrounding countries.

Zeewland 2.3%
Sweessland 3.0%
Franzosichland 3.5%
Burdishland 5.4%
Zantland 7.3%
Orsinia 9.5%
SOUTH SANDWICH ISLANDS 20%

- I know very well how bloody awful things are looking over here. Since Big Cheese fired me, three months ago, I’ve been looking for a job and I still haven’t found any!!! -I screamed-
- I know. Your Big Cheese has banned you from the most important corporations.
- He did what???
- He strongly recommended his colleagues from the biggest companies not to hire you, because he thinks you’re not a reliable person.
- The fucker! So this explains everything...
- Yeah. You’ll never find a job with this reference.
- Oh thanks for the encouragement.
- Your ex-boss is a powerful man. He took offence at your sudden getaway and now he’s getting his revenge. Sorry to say it, but your chances of being employed again soon are very scarce.
- I can’t believe this is happening to me. I won a scholarship to study laws at the best Law School, got my degree with excellent grades, did a master course…
- Ok ok, that’s fine, but it won’t help you. Nobody will offer you a job after your ex boss’s reports.
- Come on, I’ve always had excellent job offers, even when I didn’t need them.
- These days are gone, Leni. You should think of lowering your standards or even of retraining.
- No way! I’m not going back to college! And I’m not publishing a classified in the Sandwichian Herald’s advertisement section saying ‘Single white female would take any job’. Least of all would I become a waitress at The King of Sandwich!!!

For those who have never been in the South Sandwich Islands, The King of Sandwich is the largest and most popular junk food restaurant chain in the island. They serve sandwiches (what else?) and delicious Orsinian specialties also, like peanut butter and jelly.

Hellgirl looked down very serious and shook her head.

- Swallow your pride, Leni. Wake up and smell the coffee: desperate businessmen who have lost everything in the stock markets kill themselves by jumping off running trains. Unpaid properties are being seized by the government. There is homelessness and street begging all over in the South Sandwich Islands. People are stealing to feed their families. Little children rush towards the traffic lights downtown to wash car windshields for a few cents. Women get engaged in domestic prostitution to pay the rent. Every day more, hopeless Sandwichians sell their souls for just a decent meal and a bridge to sleep under.

It sounded tragic, but the picture she was describing was faithful to reality: two million people had been fired or laid off in Sandwich during the last two years. There were more than four million unemployed persons in the island, and the figure kept growing fast. The biggest companies were ceaselessly cutting jobs, if not going bankrupt and closing their premises. Banks were dramatically restricting credits to businesses. Consumers panicked, as their income nose-dived. But what was most important: people were suffering. The underprivileged, more than anybody else.

And yet I still dreamed of finding my ideal job at the first go.




"Nobody knows you when you're down and out" (Madame Sarkozy sings the blues)

9 comments:

sage said...

Hellgirl sounds a little like a C. S. Lewis creation--the saga continues...

Crabbers said...

Madame Sarkozy sings the blues ,yes ! Et nicolas ne dort plus ,ne b..se plus ,ce qui le rend totalement névrotique , avec des troubles obsessionnels compulsifs très variables,et TOC ! Dernièrement il se prend pour Napoléon ! :(

Grass said...

You have just described a scenario that happens almost everywhere. In Philippines alone more than a hundred thousand of Oversea Filipino Workers got laid off from their jobs abroad last December and everyday, this number escalates at an alarming rate. For a country known for exporting human resources because of worst employment conditions, the future is bleak. Suicide rates have also increased since last year.

But what's amazing that best on a recent news in Yahoo, the rate of marriage also increased. Perhaps people find this as a solution to the crisis-to find a partner to to through the recession with. A partner. Maybe it's about time to call Ed as well.. HEHEHE

Love is Stronger than Pride, sis. ;-)


xxx

Grass said...

sorry, a typo. my typing sucks sometimes. replace *best with *based. *to with *go.

Sheesh!


:-)

Leni Qinan said...

Sage,

Hellgirl is one of my most beloved characters. (And I’m really flattered to hear that she sounds like a C.S. Lewis creation to you!).

I’ve seen ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ and heard of his works about heaven and hell. I’ve read in Wikipedia that he even wrote a Space Trilogy and was a close friend of JR Tolkien!). I think I should read some of his books. Thanks for the reference, Sage.

PS.- Yes, the saga of the Hell people continues… :)

Leni Qinan said...

Mon cher Crabbers,

Qu’est-ce-qui lui arrive à M. Sarkozy ? Pourquoi il ne dort ni b..se plus ??? (il est un des hommes plus puissants du monde, et j’en connais d’autres qui sont très jaloux à cause de sa belle maitresse !). Il se prend pour Napoléon ??? Et la belle dame… se prend-elle pour Joséphine ?

(*bisous et bisous*) il n’ya pas de crise bécottrice ici, hahah

Leni Qinan said...

Grass,

It’s sad and unfortunate, this financial crisis is bringing a lot of despair to everybody all over. And the situation of expatriate workers is twice as much unfortunate in that case. Concerning work and economy, I just hope everything is alright with you, Abner & family.

What really surprises me is what you said then about increasing marriage rates! WOW! So people look for a companion to go through the recession with… hm… do you think I should call Ed? The crisis must have affected him, but he prolly can keep a good standard of living… hm…. (*scratches her chin and thinks*). We’ll see what happens, sis. I’m still hurt (but still in love with him, of course). ;)

Big big hug to you & Gugu.

PS.- Don’t worry about the typos, I’m fluent in typoish! LOL

max said...

Sorry to read that the crisis is hitting so hard in the South Sandwich Islands. There’s still more coming, unfortunately but let’s hope things improve within a reasonable time.

I agree with Hellgirl –I just love that evil woman!- you may have to think of a professional changeover or even of moving (yes, moving, why not??? Maybe because you don’t dare to leave your Ed?).

Take care, sweety. You’re going through a real bad patch lately. I cross my fingers and toes for a good turn.

Leni Qinan said...

Hey Maxi,

I hope the crisis is not affecting you too much. I’m not sure about that changeover (and I’m not moving, to be sure). I wouldn’t leave my beloved South Sandwich Islands.

Ed? Ed who? LOL

((Take care))