Thursday, February 26, 2009

Home from the Job Fair

My dad called the other day to tell me the Dispatch was holding a job fair at the Zoo. Instead of telling him how all other job fairs I've ever been to have been disappointing wastes of time, I just said, "Sounds good, I'll check it out."

And I meant it. All a part of this new perspective I'm trying to cultivate in order to stay open to possibilities and feel a little more settled.

So I drove up to the zoo and joined the huddled (but finely dressed) masses. The line was abuzz with friendly banter, people comparing stories of the starled looks from families with strollers on their way in to the zoo for the day. A young-ish man in a nice tweed jacket and serious glasses stepped out of line. "Would you look at that line," he said, clearly agitated, making an upward arm-sweeping gesture for effect. We instinctually followed his pointing, but everybody just kind of shrugged as if to say, It's a long line; what of it? He stepped back in line.

A few moments later he stepped back out, squinted up ahead and then peered behind him. I stood there and watched him as he spun his head back and forth from the front to the growing back of the line. I watched him try to form words with his mouth that were expelled only as the brewing sounds of agitation. I watched him look at us, the dozen or so in his direct orbit, with contempt. "This," he said, taking his attention back to the front of the line, "is the longest line I've ever seen.!." Moments later he stepped out of line and left altogether. I couldn't resist the opportunity to be amusing: "Well, that's one person we don't have to compete with." Everyone laughed and the line started to move.

Despite my open-mindedness, there was still very little to get excited about. I'd go into detail, but it just sounds petty. Obviously, most companies are struggling and any opportunity is better than none, but still, it was a pretty sobering experience.

What was interesting was the walk back to my car. I began to notice the people in line carefully studying the faces of those who were exiting. Being aware, I tried to remain neutral, figuring no one needed me to stink up their day. Back at my car, a man, another young-ish man, was exiting his car as I approached. "What's it like in there?" he said.

"Crowded," I said, carefully considering my words. He smiled and started to go on.

Then I called after him, "You might want to avoid the Zoo table, it's a long line and they're just offering seasonal for the water park right now. A couple others are like that too. I would just try to sneak in and pick up info about website and stuff."

"Thanks," he said, smiling and securing his portfolio under his arm.

Later on the news I heard that 2600 people attended that job fair.

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