In the nine months since moving back to western North Carolina, the local public library system has posted openings for pages three (3) times. A page is a person who shelves books, and around here, the position pays $7.50 per hour. The first two times I applied I was not even invited to interview, which was a slap in the face. (For readers just joining us, I have a master’s degree in library science, six years’ professional experience in public libraries, and a 400-page library reference text that I wrote, and also I am awesome.)
Per the rules of storytelling, it was on the third attempt that I was called in for an interview. I explained that I would be willing to work at a job that offered no benefits, for only twenty hours per week, for only twenty-five cents more per hour than minimum wage, because even pitiful income is better than no income.
I was not offered the job.
The hiring librarian — the same librarian who checked out books to me when I was a child in 1990 — explained that she was worried that I would leave for a fulltime job. I wish I shared that worry.
She did however encourage me to speak with the library director. I met with him last week. He advised me to move if I wanted to find a professional job.
This job situation is getting absurd. And if I hear one more person tell me that the MLS is a portable degree, that information professionals are in demand, I will shove them into my fish barrels. Mafia henchmen probably have more sophisticated techniques for sending enemies to sleep with the fishes, but I am sure I can make it happen. (I am an information professional. I can do anything.) Same goes for anyone who wants to tell me about the meritocracy. These barrels only hold thirty gallons, but it doesn’t take much to drown.
If any prospective employers are reading this, I am joking about the whole homicide thing. Ha, ha!
My fish are named Canary (because she was the first, and she was supposed to indicate whether the environment were healthy — to test the waters, if you will), Anonymous (because it was depressing to assign names to fish who kept dying; Canary isn’t very good at her job), Poirot, who may yet be alive (I haven’t seen a corpse); and Mulder and Scully, who are probably still alive since they were only purchased this afternoon.
Enough of that. Back to jobs.
In a drastic change from the norm, I have some good job news to report. I am temping, from now through probably November, perhaps longer. The wages are not great, but remember: pitiful money is better than no money. I got this job not through my abilities, skills, or experience, because that would suggest some sort of merit-based universe, but through my mother, who works at the same place I’m temping. My job involves running reports and scheduling stuff.
I have the option to pay through the nose for limited health insurance. It is not real health insurance, the kind that pays for preventative care or routine health checkups, but it would cover some of the bills if I were involved in an accident. I am trying to decide if it’s worth my money.
At any rate, I am working, at least for a little while, at least for a little bit of money. This is not at all what I envisioned in terms of job, career, or financial stability for my early thirties, and also I sort of thought I might have health insurance and vacation days, but — all together now, let’s hear it — pitiful money is better than no money.
And now, since it is past ten p.m., and since my job starts early in the day, and since I need to sleep well because, let’s face it, being well-rested is a poor person’s version of affordable health care, I am going to go to sleep. Though not with the fishes.