Friday, August 03, 2007

To Starbucks, On A Mission

Yesterday, I was off to Starbucks.

Not much different there. Just ask my dad about that.

But yesterday, I had more on my mind than just enjoying a cigar and an iced latté and reading through the Times. You see, I need money. Over the past three years, I've made the acquaintance of many of the trademen in Doylestown by hanging out at Starbucks. (Granted, that's most of the tradesmen in Doylestown who are in AA, since most guys want a beer after work rather than a frappuccino.) My plan was to hit them up for a job. Just, y'know, a casual kind of "So Gus, are you looking for anybody right now?"

And I came up with nada. Except for this dispiriting bit of information: the economy is in the toilet. There's no work right now. Nobody is spending money on anything. Work crews that are usually out building houses are "doing stuff in the shop today" because there aren't any houses to build.

(Huh. Interesting. There's this interesting dynamic in politics in NYC where on the one hand, you have neighborhood activists and preservationists who try to protect landmark buildings and stem the tied of development so it doesn't turn every blessed neighborhood in the five boroughs into the Upper East Side; and on the other hand you have the construction unions, blue collar guys, carpenters and steel workers, who want to put dinner on the table for their families and get their kids through college. Most of the activists and preservationists are liberal Democrats--and since we're talking about NYC, in any other place in the country they'd be considered "communists"--they support unions. So it's always kind of interesting when they're all in the same room together. I bet there's a similar dynamic here in dear old Bucks County. Most of my tradesmen buddies would probably be overjoyed to learn that Toll Brothers was turning every acre of farmland from Riegelsville to Newtown into McMansionland. I and all of my neighbors, of course, would be weeping and gnashing our teeth with outrage. But nobody's organized out here, so we're never all in the same room together.)

But anyway, then it started to get weird.

It would go like this. I'd see my buddy Bill park his truck and head towards Starbucks.

"Hey Bill! How goes it?"

"Drew! What's going on?"

"Well, I'm looking to pick up some work. Are you looking for anybody right now? I've got a strong back and a weak mind, which can be a winning combination..."

"Man, wish I could help you out, but I have more down days than I'd like lately. Sorry about that."

"No sweat, just thought I'd ask."

And Bill would head in to get himself something to drink before he went off to his AA meeting.

Okay. Here's what's weird. It totally started to feel like cruising. As in, at a bar. Although not a particularly good night at a bar, because I kept striking out. Over and over and over and over again. (And I've sure had similar nights like that at bars.)

Come to think of it, that's what this whole job search thing is like. I'm scanning ads and job postings as opposed to profiles. I send off my cover letter and resume instead of a "Woof! What all do you get into, Boss?" message. Interviews are like dates. And that's just what it felt like when I got the Bad Phone Call about the Dream Job: "Uh... Listen: you're a great guy and all. Really enjoyed our date on Tuesday. But I have to say I just wasn't feeling it, y'know?" And I'm like, "Damn! I was sure feeling it! Are you nuts? We'd be great together!"

I may have declared 2007 to be The Year Without Romantic Pursuits, but that seems to have found a way to come around and bite me in the ass. SAME dynamic. Different goals.

But I did make some progress yesterday.

There's this guy, you see. This big blond guy. A total stunner. Cut off jeans. Workboots. Black sleeveless tshirt. Bandana on his head securing his fine blond close cropped hair. Big beautiful man. He and I have sort of a "hey how goes it" relationship from seeing each other at Starbucks. But yesterday, when I was just getting ready to call it a night day and Go Home Alone, he sat down at my table and we started talking.

It turns out he's looking for work, too. We talked about how hard it its, how the economy sucks right now and nobody has any money. Then I told him about the day labor thing down in Willow Grove. And I had an idea: left to my own devices, I'll never make it down there. But if I had a "Day Labor Buddy," that would give me some incentive. Especially if we made an agreement like, "I'll pick you up at 7 a.m. and we'll head down together."

And the big blond guy was amenable to that.

And more.

It seems he's kinda in a bad way. And he's lonely. He doesn't have anybody to hang out with.


I guess I'm open to that. He seemed like a good guy to talk to.

Maybe that would be a strategy... Sort of a Sex And The City approach. Four of us--looking for work--could get together every day on the porch of Starbucks (over iced lattés rather than cosmos) and compare notes, support each other, call each other on our bullshit.

"What do employers want?"

"Can you get an entry level job if you're over forty years old?"

"Can employers smell desparation?"

"How far would you go for $10 an hour?"

"What's better: the job you want or the job you can get?"

Of course, I'm Charlotte, clinging to my idea of the Perfect Relationship Job, and driving myself crazy trying to make the lame Relationship Job I end up with perfect even though it's clearly not.

Stay tuned!

1 comment:

jimbo said...

Funny story, but it sounds like you're networking in your own way.

And your perspective on the economy is also interesting.

Take pictures.