I’m only separated from her by a bedroom wall. Both of our doors are ajar, and we’re staring at our computer screens. Once in awhile I hear her sigh, and I feel the heaviness in my own chest. She rustles underneath her comforter as she switches positions. I mumble across the hallway, “You should sit up at a desk. You’re going to hurt your back.”
Dead silence. My adult daughter is hunched over her computer on her bed because she, like me, has been laid off from work. We’re both scouring the want ads, and have mastered the fine art of cutting and pasting cover letters and attaching resumes as fast as you can say “stimulus package.” We can type the letters c-r-a-i-g-s-l-i-s-t and hit the submit button in our sleep.
But I sense that she’s still a little greener at this than I am. Although she’s over the feeling of being sucker punched after the layoff, she’s still new at reading in between the lines in the want ads. She’s quickly being wooed by companies for her “marketing” skills. Excitedly, she perks up when she gets a response, just to find out that it’s a telemarketing mill or a door-to-door sales job with no benefits, or that it barely pays minimum wage, (if any) replete with promises about how good it will look on your resume. I want to protect her from the leeches, like a mother bear protects her cub, but discovering the realities of being in the belly of the beast is part of the process that she needs to experience.
Given time, the terminology will soon become second nature to her, when she realizes “entry level” means they aren’t going to pay you diddly; “multi-tasking” means they’re so unorganized that you’ll be doing just about everything; and “team player” means we tell you what to do….no questions asked.
And we are each other’s worse enemy, albeit lovingly. Now and then, she’ll blurt through the walls, “Don’t apply for the so-and-so job, because I just did!” I smile and just say, “Well, you go girl!” Sigh…
And the race is on. Will an employer want someone at my age with years of experience who is mellowed like a fine wine, or someone young and easily molded to fit their Type A, achievement-driven mindset?
Every once in a while I try to find humor in the drudgery of it all. I imagine creating our own ad to post on Craigslist – advertising us as a “two-for-oner.” We would come in a special package – a mother/daughter duo. Get the best of both worlds, the ad would imply. Your office will run smoothly and efficiently in the background with mom’s touch, complete with homemade goodies (and I even clean refrigerators) and the daughter will provide her perky social media expertise and technical wizadry knowhow, complete with really nice looking shoes and sassy style. Of course, I would have to remind them that when I say “two for one,” it’s gonna have to be a BIG one, complete with benefits, morning bagels, bottled water and gym memberships.
On the bright side, she and I were able to watch the snowbound commuters on the news last week who were miserable, grumbling on their dying cell phones trying to get home before 2012 – we, from the comfort of our couch. We weren’t eating bon-bons since they’re not in our budget, but we were warm with a roof over our head with nowhere we had to be.
“You can make your own bread??” she inquired. I just smiled.