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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Notes on A Job Search

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

"Incontinence."
"Feminine Hygiene."

These are the words occupying my attention while Becki, the very friendly HR manager at Vons grocery store in Riverside, is explaining to me that the position in the store's Starbucks kiosk has already been filled. She's more detailed and courteous than she needs to be, because all the while I keep looking over her shoulder at the labels protruding from the shelves of aisle 3.

"It's over. This is stupid. Why did I even come in here? Why have I gone any of these places? What am I doing?"

I can't quite decide if this is a needed serving of humble pie or it actually is the humiliation it feels like. To have a Masters of Divinity degree and to be an ordained minister are not credentials that mean much outside of certain ecclesial or academic contexts; as my friend has put it, "We're uniquely unqualified" for anything but ministry. So I don't expect that the people at these restaurants and coffeeshops where I'm looking for quick part-time work will be impressed, it's still very hard to take.

Because I thought this part of my life was over. I thought I was done asking complete strangers, "Are you guys doing any hiring right now?" And what's worse is that these strangers are now uniformly my juniors by five, even 10, years. They are cordial and polite, but all the while I know they're thinking, "God, I hope I'm not that guy when I'm old."

Meanwhile I'm waiting for the phone to ring, and for church people to be on the other end. But I've been waiting for that since well before we moved. But it's not happening. It's funny, because as I left the church I was serving in Kansas City it was amidst a chorus of positivity, with friends and congregants affirming gifts and saying things like, "Some church in California is going to be lucky to have you." I knew what was really going on, though, how this place is full of people just like me and so every church out here is lucky to have somebody else. I smiled politely and was genuinely thankful for the compliments then. Now they echo like a taunt.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 1:08 PM

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