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By Guta Bauer at Murphy's Library did it twice! Once in English and once in Portuguese. I'm assuming they both say, "Life goes on, choices need to be made and we can never let our past deny us of our future. That’s just some of the things we learn from this story. "

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Suzie’s House 337 : In a Sluggish Economy

Suzie's House

The woman behind the counter probably didn’t mean to come off as combative. She squeezed off a hard, polite smile as she said, “It’s all done on computer now. We have several available in the room over there.” She pointed to the room to the right.

“Oh.” Suzie hadn’t been in Job Service in so long that she might as well have no experience at all. Everything had changed in the intervening years. “Um…”

“This way.” With a small sigh of exasperation, the petty bureaucrat came out from behind her counter and strode toward the computers with a single minded determination.

“Wait. All I want is….” Suzie couldn’t finish the sentence.

What she wanted was a job.

Used to be you could walk up to the counter and ask what was available in your specialty and the clerks would look it up for you. It only made sense that they would computerize it. She could probably access the system from home and see all the offerings on their web site.

She grabbed a business card out of a dispenser on the counter before following the woman. No name, but sure enough the URL of their web site. Suzie was half tempted to cut and run right then.

“Do you have a resume yet?” The woman held a chair out for her to sit in front of a computer.

“Um. Sort of.” Suzie sat. She fished through her bag for the folder that had print outs of her vita. What she had of one, anyway.

She had done her best to put it together at home over the last week or two. It had forced her to look at herself far more closely than she wanted.

How was she supposed to represent herself now? As an accountant who hadn’t done any bookkeeping in years? As the owner of a boarding house? All right, she was the failed owner of a boarding house looking to re-enter the world of accounting after having been summarily fired from her previous job.

As to references, that was even more frightening. She couldn’t expect her previous employer to say anything good about her. But she’d worked there for years. When she tried to call the employer before that, she found the business had gone under and there was no sign of the owner or her boss. She couldn’t even remember the last name of the employer before that. Essentially, she had no references.

“Just type in your information here.” The bureaucrat glanced at Suzie’s paper. “Oh. Well, you’ll still have to enter the information in our system.” She leaned over and pressed a few keys to bring up a screen that looked time consuming. “Well, I leave you to it then.”

“Um…” Suzie raised a hand as if to grab the woman as she turned away, then stopped herself. She desperately needed help, but maybe not from this individual.

“Unless you need a job councilor?” The woman said it with a clear attitude of condescension. Apparently only complete losers needed counseling.

“No.” Suzie regretted saying it as soon as the word popped out, but had no intention of taking it back. Not in front of this particular person. She stood up and collected her things. “I’ll do it from home.” At least there she could eat crow in peace.

If you enjoy Suzie’s House and would like to see more, please leave a comment. Suzie’s House is powered by its readers. I will be taking next week off for Christmas. Suzie’s House will be back on schedule starting the following week. Yeah, New Years Day. You’ll just have to read it with a hang over.


12 comments to Suzie’s House 337 : In a Sluggish Economy

  • ugh. that lady sure was listening….the periphery is unimportant you know…if it does not drive sales or meet quota…all too real, sadly

  • Unfortunately, increasingly stringent audit requirements pretty much force large employers or agencies to use a computerized tracking system. We have to be able to provide data on number of applicants for each job, what their qualifications were, what demographic categories they fit into, etc, etc. We can be fined otherwise.

    Although the computers feel very impersonal, a reputable software system will ensure that your application does not get lost, misdirected, thrown away, altered, etc. I’m old enough to remember seeing managers throw applications in the trash, or file them, unread, in what was charmingly called the “NFW (no f-ing way) file”.

    It sounds like Suzie has more than just a cumbersome applicant tracking system working against her, though. She should rework her resume, marketing herself as a small business owner with fiscal, inter-personal and facilities management skills. :-)

  • poor Suzy I’ve been there feeling stupid because I had no idea how to use a computer.Then taking course to find out how then being told I didn’t have enough recent references. it’s hard to find a job.

  • Kellye

    Spot on characterization for the Suzie we know and love! Too many people these days use technology to cover for a lack of interpersonal skills. You’ve drawn the bureaucrat perfectly for too many these days. I hate to see Suzie feel embarrassed, though. Every person’s skills have value and someone on the other woman’s position should know that.


  • Kellye

    IN the other woman’s position. :/

  • Am I glad that I have retired. I have enough difficulty just blogging! Being self employed running your own business can be a disadvantage if no references are available. I really feel for her.

  • So job centres are the same all over the world..Suzie’s job is too special to be found on a computer or in an office..I hope she figures out a way to make some cash at home..where she belongs

  • There’s so much to bother about and that too with an uncaring woman to spar with. It’s not without help but still. Nicely Audrey!


  • I don’t know much about US job searching thingy but from your story I can feel sorry for Suzie, being looked down like this is annoting

  • One situation, two unique individuals, all kinds of subtext.

    You do this so very well – I was there and felt for both women (but especially Suzie, of course).

    A little kindness is a lot to expect. Thank God there are those moments when people remember that, if they are behind the counter, their JOB is to help those who approach, not to get rid of them.

  • Laurie

    Poor Suzie! Applying for jobs these days might be more efficient but also much more impersonal. And good jobs are few and far between.

    Great scene between these two! I could feel Suzie’s discomfort almost like it was happening to me.

  • It just makes me want to see the table reversed. Suzie would shame her with kindness.

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