The summer of 1996 was setting for a genuine coming of age for me. In Ontario we'd seen a change of political power. Our new premier was a 'no nonsense' conservative from North Bay, Mike Harris.
While many of my peers since childhood thought he was the next coming of Christ, I wasn't so sure. He'd vowed to remove surveillance cameras on highways, minimize social assistance abuse by making people work for their welfare and make immigration laws far less lenient.
Now don't get me wrong, I've engaged in a click or two above the speed limit and I'm all about everyone pulling their own weight especially when they're able and willing bodied people. The immigration laws did trouble me some as I really enjoyed learning about other cultures I'd never get a chance to otherwise. My biggest grievance was losing my cushy NDP government job as a result of this new political shift.
That's right I was a former civil servant that worked for the Ontario government as an employment consultant. Essentially my job was to develop new positions within aspiring companies for the long term unemployed and ensure trainees received quality training while companies received compensation for lost productivity in the form of government subsidy. The work came extremely natural to me and in typical civil servant fashion I worked all of 24 actual hours a week maximum, while considered a regular 40 hour week. I received a fat salary for all of twenty years of age and the future was so bright, I had to wear shades as the old song goes.
Little did I realize my optimism or naive nature would come back to haunt me. As the provincial power shifted, we were given our pink slips and asked to move on. Now for the first time since out of college, I was unemployed with no tangible prospects on the horizon. I wasn't too worried however. I figured being a pro at placing the long term unemployed--How hard could it being getting work for myself?
I lined up countless quality interviews. Whenver I did receive a response, it was in the form of rejection equipped with a full smorgasboard of reasons: too young, not enough experience, we've went with someone else or my all time favourite--we feel you're just too qualified for this position. As my bank account was quickly dwindling and I had already downsized from renting a modest one bedroom apartment to a slightly humbling 'sharing of accommodations' from a friend of a friend. I was borderline desperate and I knew something had to give.
One day when reading our local newspaper, which is incidentally marketed towards the low-brow, semi-educated members of society, I'd stumbled across an ad in the help wanted section. "Dynamic customer service reps wanted: Must be comfortable with adult related material." As I drummed my fingers on the desk restlessly while scanning over the saturation of massage parlor ads, escorts and xxx video ads, and occasionally glimpsing at the Sunshine girl, an epiphany suddenly hit me.
Perhaps it was time to think outside of the box. Maybe I had to change my strategy all together. All of these countless corporations that refused to take me seriously were stangling me in self pity, so why not try to a place that I would ordinarily be hesitant to take seriously? Why not do the opposite of the predictable? I mean I just had to apply, it didn't mean I had to accept it or anything. Maybe it was just the confidence booster I needed. I coudl always keep looking until something better, more suited came up. Feeling self assured and sligtly deviant and naughty, I retreated to the bowels of my friend of a friend's basement to warm up my electric type writer and compose the resume and cover letter that would forever alter my path of destiny as I know it.
Part II con'd.....