Gilbert quit his glorified bucket-lifting job a few weeks ago.
But that wasn’t bad news.
It was a cathartic moment for he and I, or at least mostly me.
5 years of social and economic stagnation. 5 years of physical and emotional deterioration.
He was finally able to “tell off” his real and/or perceived enemies. He was finally able to escape a job where most of the people overlooked, dismissed, or plain ignored him except when he screwed up.
Gilbert’s no angel by any means, but the man is as honest as you can reasonably expect a man to be. He’s as honest and hard-working as the American ideal in a suburban neighborhood, just without the connections, the family, the income, and/or white man’s last name.
The big buffering reason that it wasn’t bad news: about a month ago, he had secured a full-time job and had been working at a major institution. By major institution, I mean, I’m thinking “the best he could do given his current lot in life”, which to most would appear to be depressing and exceedingly lonely. The only girls he talked about were his dog, my new girlfriend, and his since-departed former manager.
I did play a role in helping him find that full-time job. I felt that I needed to offer whatever help I could because frankly, I liked Gilbert, and he needed a new job as much as anyone else. He also offered the rest of the Micro-UN $500 dollars or a month of free rent.
The reasons he needed a new job? Doing heavy lifting at his age and education seemed to be a very poor fit. He needed benefits; he needed to see a doctor for his back, his hernia, his eyes. He needed money to retire.
I learned enough about Gilbert’s skills and desired industries of employment, as well as the language of the institution. I always thought that if I actually had Gilbert’s skills and knowledge as a mechanic, I’d never be out of a job.
For two months, I would spend a day applying to various jobs for him, writing resumes, and cover letters, helping him pass customer service tests. As compensation, he would generously treat me out to lunch each time, as if he wasn’t in deep credit card and student loan debt, and was still an up-and-coming $90,000 a year foreman with a crew to feed.
I slogged through the ads. From home improvement stores as a sales associate to hotel chains to handyman jobs on Craigslist to maintenance jobs at properties. Sometimes he’d go to a job fair. He’d had as much experience in customer service and handyman work as anyone. He’d gone on a few interviews, and he’d always end up talking about something where he might’ve done something wrong.
On one interview, he inquired about vacation time within his first two weeks.
Yup, sometimes Gilbert can say something taboo in any social situation; that’s just how honest he can be.
While he does regularly gaffe socially, I didn’t see how he would do so when it came to his domain of knowledge. In my time in the Micro-U.N., we’ve repaired the fan for his oven, hooked a trailer, repaired and replaced a door. His skills are capable; his communication skills might not necessarily communicate that. However, I give him all the credit for advancing through about 4 or 5 interviews for his current job.
The very last day I applied for him was when I turned in the application for his current job. I decided to take half of a day, and organize his documents for his current job. I knew it was a big opportunity for him. I’d write a kick-ass cover letter, detail his resume with mechanic related language, and that would be that. I was surprised that a week or two he got a call back. I stayed with him through the first phone interview, holding up his resume, pointing at what else he could say if he stalled.
He made it, and was scheduled for an in-person interview.
It would be a month or so before I heard back from Gilbert about what had happened at this interview. He’d been quiet about what had happened. I didn’t see him much during this time; I’d assumed he didn’t get it, til one fateful day.
“Hey B, so the big institution called me. They say I’m going to start in December,” he left in my voicemail. I didn’t talk to him much after but was happy for him.
Then just the other day, I saw his number appear on my phone.
Only this time, I got to actually talk to him.
He talked about his old job bucket-lifting, how his former co-workers were being, or rather the company was exacting a hit on its workers and blaming it on Obamacare. They would now get less hours so that the company would not have to pay medical insurance and other benefits. At his new company, his pension was much higher than while bucket-lifting, he had health care, and guaranteed jobs for the next 5 years. The job was 8-5, and “hard” but it beat the bucket lifting of 5 years. Best part of the job? The girls he saw were 10x hotter than his former assistant manager.