Tag Archives: jobs

Trying to find a job while being an atheist

8 Jun

Looking for a job is always stressful. It is even more stressful when you’re the most maligned and mistrusted minority in the country, looking for work in the most hostile part of the country. Being an atheist and looking for work in the South can be a tricky predicament.

I found that out first hand over the past two days.

I’ve been looking for work since March when the company I worked for went under. I was really excited to get a call back from a company three days ago, asking if I would come in right that moment for an interview. I grabbed my stuff and drove 45 mins to the next town over. During the course of the interview the boss said I didn’t have all the experience he was looking for, but that he was in really bad need of somebody and wanted to see how fast I could pick things up. He mentioned a salary figure which I agreed to, then asked me to come in at 7am the next morning to shadow him. Throughout the interview he was giving me things to write down and to study.

I went home, extremely excited about the prospect of finally working again, and for somebody from whom I felt I could learn a lot. Then I started to explore the company’s website more in-depth as I had only a few moments quick glance before I was out the door rushing to the interview. He explicitly states on their website that it is a Christian company.

“Meh, whatever, I don’t care what they believe as long as I’m working and getting paid” I told myself. I got up at 5:30 the next morning and went to meetup with my prospective employer. We spent the morning going to a meeting and then it was off to make service calls.

The question came while we were in the car.

“This has no bearing on you getting hired, but what do you think about Obama?”

“Um…I don’t know…”

“Well do you like him or not like him?”

“Um…I’m not really a big fan?”

“For what reasons?” (I wanted to reply “Well, because he’s a center-right corporate whore parading as a progressive” But I didn’t for obvious reasons)

“For a variety of reasons, but I rather not say.”

“Ok, good, I don’t like him either. His taxes are going to crush my business.” (I wanted to point out that the president doesn’t control taxes, that congress does, and congress is republican controlled, but I doubt those facts would have either made me look good or mattered to him.)

“Can I ask you some questions about religion?” (The knot in my throat grows tighter)

“Only if you don’t mind if I don’t answer.” (“Damn I’m must sound like some secret-agent wannabe wacko” I thought.)

“Again, this is just out of personal curiosity, it doesn’t have any effect on you getting hired. What religion are you?”

“I rather not say.” *nervous laugh*

He then launches into a bit explaining how he and his wife are Christian, and that he came to realize God’s plan for his life when he almost died, was airlifted to the hospital and lived, how that got him to change his business around, etc etc…

We get to a service call and I get a reprieve. I’m extremely uncomfortable but I need this job. I need the experience and I need the skill set it will give me. So I bite my lip.

Two weeks ago my uncle almost died when he fell off a rough while working and was airlifted to a hospital. I was curious what happened to him, so I explained what happened to my uncle and asked him what happened to him. He explains how he had some rare condition and how the emergency crew in the helicopter didn’t think he was going to live, but he got to the hospital in time and Christ spared his life.

I didn’t say anything, but the whole time I was thinking: “Oh, Christ saved your life? Not the doctors with years of training? Not the paramedics and the helicopter, developed by science, that enabled you to be quickly rushed to a hospital, staffed with the fruits of scientific labor that kept you alive and saved your life. No, it was none of that, but the iron age God of the desert came down, skipping the 16,000 children that die of starvation everyday to save your butt and show you the way while you were conveniently in a first world country’s hospital attended by a swarm of doctors. Oh I see. Of course!”

But I obviously had to hold my peace.

Later I ended up driving him in the company car to a service call an hour away. He mentioned how he met his wife on eHarmony. I had tried eHarmony before in the past. I spent 45 minutes filling out their survey only to be rejected. eHarmony is a Christian oriented dating site. Atheists don’t do well on there.

Without thinking much, I mentioned how I tried eHarmony but that they rejected me.

“Why did they reject you?”

“Oh, erm…They reject you if you don’t match up with their ‘values’ system.”

“Why’s that?”

(In my head: “Shit shit shit….whatever. Fuck it. I don’t care.” Did I mention that sometimes I have a self destructive streak?)

And so I explained that I was, in fact, an atheist, that I do stuff with my local atheist community (even though I’ve been kinda off the radar for the past bit), that I used to be an evangelical as an early teenager, that religion is a interest of mine, that I’m pretty well read in it, and that I’ve been working on app development for atheist counter-apologetics apps.

The cat’s out of the bag now…

He was just kinda like “Oh…..ok…” Later he asked me “So what made you become an atheist?” I’m sure he was expecting that some disaster had befallen me and that I now hated God, or that I just wanted to lead a sinful lifestyle.

The problem with this question, besides all the problems with the situation, is that it is a trap. Most likely inadvertently, but a trap nonetheless. Let me rephrase the question and you’ll see exactly what I mean:

“So what made you abandon and discredit everything I hold dear, everything that is intimately intertwined with how I see myself and my world?”

There is absolutely no possible way I can answer that question without being offensive. There just isn’t. It’s a loaded question.

“Um…it was more of a journey for me over time.” (I wanted to say “Well, because I grew up, I read books, I experienced things outside of the narrow world view the church taught.”)

He mentioned how he never really knew any atheists, that he had come in contact with a few, and that they were all really big jerks. I mentioned that there are all types in every group, and that I’m very non-confrontational (in person) and live and let live. Oddly, he didn’t really understand what “live and let live” meant so I had to explain it to him. We really didn’t talk much the rest of the trip. He was busy working and making phone calls from the passenger seat. Throughout the day, before atheism came up, he was making me write down all the things he wanted me to study. “On Friday I’m going to have you do X, on Monday I’m going to have you do Y.” He didn’t really give me too much more to study after religion came up.

At 5pm I finally started the long drive home. I had been up for twelve hours and rushing around town with him for ten. I was exhausted. When I got home, I spent the rest of the night studying my ass off. He said I could take Thursday off to study, because it was more important that I pick up the concepts fast for when he tests me on Friday than for me to shadow him for another day.

I took a short break to get a few hours of sleep in the wee hours of Thursday morning, then was back up and studying some more. At the end of the day on Wednesday he said he might have me come in again later Thursday to do some stuff, but that he would call and let me know.

I sent him an e-mail around noon on Thursday telling him how far I’d gotten studying. (I really did learn a shit ton really fast). About an hour later I got a response:

“…My wife and I, as well as the other people in the office are discussing it, but we are thinking we need to find someone that already has extensive experience. You are doing a great job on all of this studying as far as I see it, but I am thinking a history of experience would serve us better at the moment. I am getting busier and busier by the second and I thinking it would be best for us to find someone who can hit the ground running, who would require no shadowing…

If you don’t mind, if there are any reminders on your note pad that I needed, I would really appreciate you sending them to me. I am in with a few other companies as far as passing along resumes, and I will certainly pass yours along. You have great potential!
Thank you in advance for understanding.”
I’m fucked. I didn’t get the job I desperately needed in order to give me the skill set, background, and money to accomplish my goals. I was, am, depressed. What about the ten hours I spent running around with him? I had other things I would have liked to do that day too. I probably won’t see a penny for my time.
I really do think he rejected me because I didn’t have the experience he was looking for, but part of me wonders. Even if he says that it has no effect on my getting the job, it does have an effect subconsciously in how he perceives me.
Before atheism came up, he did mention that his wife was coming on board with the company and that they would have to have dinner with me so she could meet me before they hired me. She apparently has a good sense about people, or so he told me. I wonder if his wife put her foot down at the idea of hiring an atheist. I can just imagine her asking how they’d be able to trust such a deviant, someone without morals. How could someone like that represent the family company?
Yet I have no proof of this, so it’s pure fantasy and speculation.
I would like to hope I was rejected just because of my skill set, and not that I was discriminated against based on my religious stance.
I’ll honestly never know for sure. Such are the perils of trying to find a job as an atheist in an often fundamentalist Christian south.

Alternate realities and why I want to leave everything behind

4 Jun

As far as I’m concerned there are two types of realities: Meta and Micro. Standing in front of a speeding train will result in death, commanding the desert sand to produce water will do nothing, gravity pulls objects towards the center of the planet, the earth revolves around the sun, you have X dollars in your bank account. Meta reality are the rules and mechanics of existence that exist universally through all micro realities, whether you want them to be or not.

The best way I can think of to explain micro realities are by books, movies, tv shows, games, etc. The existence within those stories are micro realities. If they’re not completely fictional, they will still obey the laws of meta reality. (Weapons will hurt and kill you, gravity still pulls things down, the sun is a large nuclear reactor, etc…) But I don’t want to get lost in the physics of everything, that’s not important. What I want to focus on is the setting, the world in those micro existences.

Look around you. What are you sitting on? What is the inside of your house like? What furnishings do you have? What style is everything in? What is the local environment like? For most of my readers I’m guessing it’s relatively the same existence they’ve always had. 21st century clothes, items, local food, etc.

But why this? Why not on a pirate ship? Or in some ancient village, an underground lab, or a jungle? We’re all so accustomed to the same old boring existence in our location that we have to seek out new and exciting worlds in the form of movies, books, and video games. We want to see something new, something exciting, to be transported to another reality, if only momentarily.

But why stop there? You have an entire planet to explore! Instead of just reading about other existences, or playing through them in video games, go out and live them! This is one of the main forces behind me wishing to leave the country and travel the world. I want to experience new cultures, new realities.

The other reason why I want to leave is that I don’t like this micro reality.

What I realized the other day was that just about everybody I talk to lives in the same 21st century American micro reality. The vast majority of these people have only ever know this one reality; to them, it is all there is. This is life, growing up, living, working, and dying in a first world country. Along with this existence comes a set of ideas concerning what people “ought” to do with their lives. Back in my grandparents’ day, the correct life path was:

Graduate high school, get a job with a stable company, work there for 30-40 years, retire with a pension.

For my parents’ generation the correct life path was something like:

Go to college, get a degree, after perhaps a handful of jobs find a career, work the majority of your life saving for retirement, retire around 60-65, enjoy the last 30 years of your life.

My grandparents’ correct life path doesn’t exist anymore, and I loath the idea of the one laid out by my parents’ generation.

Why? Why must I live my life like that? What if I don’t care about living in a huge house, or driving a $50,000 car? What if those are not my measurements of success? Why must I wait till I’ve long lost my youth to enjoy life? How am I going to be able to do all the things I want to do, to see all the things I want to see when I’m 70 years old? What if I don’t live that long? What if I waste what time I have now saving up to finally live when I’m old and failing, only for my body to give out before then?

Why must I live in this:

And not this?

Why must I wear this:

and not this?

I find it almost impossible to discuss this with people who exist in the the same reality I’m trying to escape. To them, their day to day is all there is to life. Going to work every day, living in their apartment, feeding their cat, and from time to time going out with friends is all there is to existence for them. Yet existence hasn’t always been like this, nor is this some culmination of thousands of years of history. Your ancestors didn’t chase animals on the plains or build the pyramids, or storm the castle, or cross the oceans so you could get up at 8 am in sleepy suburbia, put the coffee on and get ready to drive to work.

One of the questions that keeps coming up is “what am I going to do for a job?” There are two questions wrapped up in that question. One is asking “what are you going to do to eat?” and the second one “what are you going to do to earn a living?” The answer to the first one is that I will work little jobs here and there, though nothing permanent. The second question shows you’re still stuck in that idea of saving up money to do something later.

If I work 50 jobs in my life time, and live in half as many locations, making only enough money to eat and travel to a new place, I’d be thrilled. THAT is a life worth living! All the stories, people, cultures, experiences! I would much rather spend my life like that than working a steady job, paying a mortgage, driving the kids to soccer practice and occasionally taking a week long vacation to the Caribbean.

The myth that you can do anything

7 Dec

One of the most prominent myths in the pantheon of American mythology is that you can do anything you want if you set your mind to it. We hear this over and over again. It’s a reinforced theme in movies and examples are trotted out on Oprah for all to see. At the heart of this myth is the idea that there is enough social and economic mobility for you to go from zero to president.

I think this might have been true in Americas past, but no longer. With the current state of the economy, millions out of work (myself included), and an entire generation of college graduates who will be indentured servants for the rest of their lives, paying off massive college debt while working for years at McDonald’s, one could say I’m rather cynical about this idea that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it.

You see, I feel that in order to attain the very top positions in our society, president, chairman on the joint chiefs of staff, senator, surgeon, astronaut, CEO of a major corporation, etc, you need to be either groomed for the job, or extremely lucky. It goes back to that old world mentality of being stuck with whatever class you’re born into and it’s infuriating.

Most people like to believe that through hard work you can achieve anything. While hard work is important, I feel this view is naive. Billions of people around the world work very hard at their jobs for years and never get anywhere. You can join the military as an enlisted person and work hard for decades, yet never make it to officer; something a college grad can go into officer school for and come out instantly ahead of anything you might achieve.  There are plenty of entrepreneurs that slave away over their business, only to have it fail. Hard work is no guarentee that you’ll be the next Google.

If you’re a nobody and want one of those top positions, you need to know exactly what you want to do with you life by age 12, and work with unrelenting drive to achieve it. Even then there is no guarantee that with your 4.0 and stellar SAT scores that you’ll get into Harvard. This is a form of self grooming, but it requires a focus that almost nobody has. How many people honestly knew what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives when they were 12? (If you start too late in your teens, you won’t have the prodigy credentials needed to get anywhere) I had a rough idea when I started college, but by that time I was 18 and despite all my hard work, my interests shifted my senior year.

I’ll be 23 next month and with a worthless college degree my current options are limited to McDonald’s. I would love to be an astronaut but I can’t. I didn’t have stellar high school grades, I didn’t have the SAT scores needed to get me into one of the top college, I didn’t major in the right subject, and I don’t have any military pilot backgrounds. Even if I tried to go back to school, buried myself in debt, and worked to the point of exhaustion, I’d never make it. To get picked is a matter of luck and grooming. In order to get there I would have had to start at age 12.

Despite the fact that you can’t be anything you want to be, that you’re dealt a hand of cards when you’re born, we as a society insist on perpetuating this myth. We love “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” stories. I think we suffer from a mass confirmation bias when it comes to this stuff. We put it in movies, highlight it on talk shows, and write books about people who go from zero to hero. In reality you can work till you die and still be a zero, unless you’re either groomed from birth for the job, or extremely extremely lucky.

I wish I changed my major

13 Nov

Starting college I was a history nut. I loved doing historical reenactments, I loved reading history, I loved historical movies, everything. I remember consciously telling myself that I was going to major in something I love, regardless if it would make me money. I didn’t want to spend the next four years working at something I didn’t care about to get a job in a field I didn’t care about, so I majored in history. While at college I worked really hard. I skipped parties to study and was constantly working on my research papers. I ended up getting a 3.7 (out of 4) for my major related coursework, and a 3.2 for everything else (languages made me struggle).

While in college I hit upon the idea of being an archaeologist. My professors told me I needed to know at least Latin, French, English, and German fluently to be a medieval archaeologist, so I took language classes, much to the detriment of my grade point average. A favorite history professor got me an internship with a local archaeological dig and I spent two semesters getting up super early to go scan a backlog of slides or dig in the red clay earth. It was primarily 1800’s archaeology, which was not at all what I was interested in, but I liked the people and I needed contacts if I was to enter into archaeology as a field after undergrad.

I spent two of my summers at field schools, one at the local archaeological place outside my college, and the second in Newcastle, UK. I spent the summers getting up early and working long days. All of this because I wanted the experience and the contacts. Back at college I worked extensively on my senior thesis, taking it to history conferences around the region and presenting it. I even won a grant to do research at another university’s archives and was selected as a special scholar at a prestigious military school. As one of a handful of selected scholars at that school, I had to double the length of my thesis. All the other students at my college had much shorter thesis requirements, so there wasn’t as much stress on them. Still, I wanted the contacts and experience so I did it.

Then senior year everything changed.

My now ex helped me see that I wasn’t very happy every morning I came back from the dig, covered in dirt, sweaty and aching. “Maybe archaeology isn’t for you” she suggested. It scared me, but I thought she was right. I’m not sure if I was burned out because I disliked 1800’s archaeology so much and I would have been fine if I was working at a castle, but I decided not to be an archaeologist. Suddenly all those mornings getting up extra early, the hours spent in the field stooped over a patch of ground, the hours scanning slides, the money spent sending me overseas for a summer, all of it was for nothing. Yes they were valuable in the experiences they gave me, and the wonderful people I got to meet, but let’s be realistic: It was all for the goal of becoming an archaeologist. Suddenly I didn’t have that goal anymore.

Meanwhile on the history front, I was getting tired really fast. The extra work for that military school’s scholar program was really burning me out on history. My professors kept pushing me to go to gradschool, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in a dark archive looking over dusty old books. I also did not want to teach! Everybody keeps telling me “Oh you could teach!” and I want to hit them. I hate children and I hate the idea of standing up in front of a group of them trying to get them to care about Charlemagne. I became a history major because I loved history, not because I wanted to teach it. Well now I’ve lost the spark and I’m mildly indifferent to it.

At the same time all this was happening, I quit my living history group. I had been doing this hobby since I was twelve and I finally got fed up. My passions were collapsing across the board. Then my girlfriend of three years left me for an older man, my grandmother got pancreatic cancer, I graduated and left my home for four years, along with all my friends, to live with my parents in the conservative/religious deep south where I knew no one. Needless to say, I often contemplated suicide.

I can’t tell you how furious and frustrated I am. I worked hard. I played by the rules. And now it’s all for nothing. I’m stuck in the worst state in the country, in the middle of the worst economic collapse since the great depression, and my degree is worthless. All my hard work is worthless. You see, you can’t do shit with just a BA in history. Maybe if the economy was better and I was in a better state, it might be worth something, but unless you go to gradschool to get a higher degree, or teach, you can’t do shit. I have no applicable skills. I can write research papers and use MS word. Lovely. I don’t have any market specific skills like a computer science major, or a chemistry major might have.

“Oh, but college is not supposed to get you a job afterwards! You go there to learn!” I used to believe this wholeheartedly, but now I call bullshit. You see, college is so ridiculously expensive today, it’s prohibitive. Unless you’re rich, the only way you can get a college education is by taking on so many loans you become an indentured servant for the rest of your life. College has become so expensive it’s now an investment. Nobody but the independently rich go to college with the idea of “just learning.” You spend the money to get an education that will get you a higher paying job. Don’t get me wrong, I love the humanities and I think they are our collective soul. I am in no way saying funding for them should be cut. That would be disastrous. I just wish I majored in something else.

Towards the end of senior year, I really got interested in astronomy and chemistry, thanks to the help of one of the best professors I had. I really wish I majored in something like that. My friend, who was a chemistry major, has been able to find work easily, same with my biology major friend. I’m really fascinated by those subject, yet I hate math. (I know math is pretty important in science) I’m frustrated because at the start of college, I had no way of knowing my interests would dramatically shift right before I graduated. What would have happened had I majored in chemistry? At the time I would never had thought about it. At the start of college I loved history. I was so excited to be out of highschool and able to load up my schedule with all the history classes I could handle.

I really regret it now.

I want so desperately to move out of this state, to a more liberal, less religious part of the country, and then eventually to Canada. I’ve lived in the conservative religious south my entire life and it’s smothering me. I’m tired of constantly being the hated minority. I want to live somewhere that isn’t so repressive. Not to mention I hate the heat. Yet with no skills I find myself applying to make sandwiches, shelve books, or work as an office assistant. None of these are jobs I really want to do, and with a worthless degree I’m essentially starting four years later than everyone else. I feel I’m going to be stuck in South Carolina for years to come, trying to get a job that will give me the skills needed to move. I probably won’t escape and finally be able to start my life until I’m 30. It just makes me want to die…

At a crossroad in life

19 May

Hey everybody. As you might have noticed, I haven’t posted in a while. Last Saturday was my graduation from college. I was already nervous about it and then the Thursday before I got a call from my mother that my grandmother, the only one I have left, had cancer. My grandmother was subsequently hospitalized and could not make it to my graduation. My parents came up, my mother was extremely stressed, and we went through the motions. Afterwards we packed up all of my things into a little U-haul and I lost my academic hood.

One of the most difficult things for me was having my sanctuary, my little apartment room, invaded and packed away. My parent’s didn’t mean to “invade” it, and I’m not upset at them for it, but still, it was my little space where I could feel secure. Having to pack it all away without regard to the memories I have in that room hurt. And so I left my home of four years, my girlfriend of nearly three years, and both my best friends to drive down to a state I hate to visit my favorite, and last, grandparent who was now dying of pancreatic cancer.

Here I have no friends, no job, nothing. I don’t even have a space of my own. I’ve been moving around from room to room in the house, depending on where each uncle is going to sleep. One night I was in the frog over the garage, now I’m in my sister’s room. (She left for VaBch) All of my belongings are packed in boxes, cold in the garage. I have only some clothes and my computer that I move from room to room. I’m all alone here, and my parents are really stressed out. We don’t get along well normally, and now everything is really straining.

I want to get a job, what type of job, I don’t know. I want my own apartment, someplace I can feel safe and decorate. Getting a job takes time, and unfortunately that’s time I don’t have. My dad just lost his job, and so now he’s looking for a new one. He flew up to NY to network, but we’re thinking his best lead is in Dallas, TX. Years and years of work and he’s right back to where he started. It’s not fair. Nothing is. Regardless, we’re being kicked out of our house on July 15th. Our rent period runs out then and the people we rent from want to sell the house. I have no idea where I will be after that date. It kinda makes getting a job hard when you don’t know where in the country you will be in the next month. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being alone.

While all this is going on, I’m trying desperately to start my life. I’m just now starting to figure out who I am. I realize that there will always be people who disagree with me, there will always be people who criticize me. The only thing I can do is try, try to not take it personally, which is very hard, and decide if their criticism is valid or not. I would really like to have a fun and adventurous job in some distant country. I’m thinking about gradschool a few years down the line. Getting my master’s in political science might help me get that job. The problem is they say that you should have a job that’s relevant to what you want to study before you apply to gradschool. The other day I applied for a management job at Waffle House…. The economy is so bad I can’t afford to be picky. I just hope I get a job that will help me get into gradschool.

My world is falling apart and I’m alone. I even started posting in the “strictly platonic” section of Craigslist, just so I could have somebody to talk to, maybe even go see a movie with. No luck. I’m just so scared that I’m going to get a job at the Home Depot and be stuck there for years. I’ll be working at a shitty place for too long and gradschools won’t take me. I’ll be passed over in favor of new, fresher graduates who enter a better economy.

I’d really like a job that would make me feel like I’m contributing to the good of the world, but it’s a little hard to focus on that when you’re not sure if humanity is worth saving.

Some thoughts on getting a job

17 Dec

So as my last year of college winds down, I’m starting to think about employment for after I graduate. To be honest, the coming change is kinda scary. I’ve never been paid anything above a wage before, and the idea of someone paying me thousands of dollars a year to do something blows my mind. I’m not sure if I’ll be good enough to do whatever it is I need to do.

As if the job market was not already tough, I have a few…..principles…I refuse to compromise on. My biggest fear is becoming a wage/corporate slave. I would rather starve than worship some evil overlords and thank them that in their mercy they allowed me to become their slave in return for barely enough money to live.

I refuse to prostrate myself before my employers, or potential employers. The relationship will be balanced, or there will be no relationship at all.

I refuse to have my cellphone turned into a leash my boss holds tightly in his hand.

I refuse to work in a barren cubicle that constantly reminds me how tenuous my employment is, that I could easily be replaced tomorrow.

I refuse to grovel for my vacation time. If I put in the hours, it’s mine.

I refuse to work unpaid hours to prove my loyalty to a company that has none for me.

I refuse to work in a top-down, one way communication, management environment.

I refuse to tolerate abusive and screaming bosses.

I refuse to spend the vast majority of my life working a job I hate in the hopes that when I am old I can retire and be happy for the 10 years before I die.

Live free or die.

God helps those who help themselves?

11 Mar

“God helps those who help themselves” is a phrase that has always bugged me. Ok, so whats the logical conclusion of god helping you if you help yourself? Good things happen I assume. We now have an equation of sorts.

God helps those = who help themselves = good things come

It’s the same thing as A=B=C. My problem is that A seems superfluous. Why not just cut A out and say “Good things come to those who work?” God has nothing to do with it. If you go out and get a job, it’s you who is doing the work. God never comes down from the sky to help collate your proposal or bag groceries, or what have you. You’re doing the work and you reap the benifits.