Thursday, November 3, 2011

turning point

Well, blast it all.

I used to look at pictures of people waiting in bread lines during the Great Depression and think "Wow, I'm glad that's not me."

I'm still far from living on the streets or Dumpster-diving for dinner, but nonetheless, I'm beginning to feel less and less exempt from the general economic crunch.

Especially now, since I have no job.

Let me explain.

Remember how I said I was going back to Korea?

There are certain pieces of paper one requires if one desires to work overseas. The Republic of South Korea demands that all American immigrants obtain a background check from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and send it to the State Department to be notarized. This notarization consists of an apostille—a big fancy stamp, basically—which legitimizes the document for use by a foreign government.

When I checked the State Department's website in August, it clearly stated that the processing time for an apostille was four weeks.

Perfect, I thought. The job we've been accepted for in Korea starts September 12th. I'll send these forms off on August 5th, and we'll have them back by September 5th or earlier.

Ha-ha. What point did John Steinbeck make about "the best-laid plans of mice and men"...?

I sent the documents off on August 5th. A week later, I logged onto the State Department's website again, just to check up on the status of our apostille.

The Department's electronic literature now said that the processing time for an apostille was EIGHT weeks.


It was all up with September. We missed out on the position. We had to call our recruiter, explain what happened, apologize profusely, and decline the position. The marvelous, marvelous position in Bucheon, Seoul, which would've netted us 4.6 million won (about $4600) per month, and left us with $50,000 U.S. to take home afterward.

Well, darn.

Our apostilles came in on October 5th. By that time, the jobs in Korea had all dried up. The hiring season was over. Our recruiter mournfully informed us that Miss H and I would be high and dry until January, when the next wave of hiring began.


After a great deal of soul-searching and some late-night discussions, Miss H and I decided to wait it out. We'd obtain temporary employment here in the High Desert, work some dead-end jobs for a few months to keep afloat, and ship out for Korea in January.

It was shortly after this that we discovered that San Bernardino County has the second-worst unemployment rate in the entire country after Las Vegas, Nevada.


So here we are: applying for jobs all over the tri-city area, without so much as a callback or an interview. Both of us are going mad, being 23 and 25 years old (respectively) and still living in our parents' houses. It was cold comfort that Rush Limbaugh said on the radio this morning that 30% of all unwed males in the U.S. between the ages of 25 and 34 are still living with their parents. I don't wanna be one of 'em. I want to be out on my own, dammit. Self-sufficient. Independent. Striding forward to my destiny. I really feel like I'm stuck here in the desert. It was just an inkling before, a terrible dream, a half-imagined dread. Now it's real. And it's constricting my chest. I perpetually feel, living here in the Victor Valley, as though I can't get enough air. Some days I just want to walk off into the desert and see how far I get. Just to maintain the illusion that I'm my own man, and my fate is still in my hands, you know.

This would've been easier to take if I was still chasing Predators. But I'm not. After I'd read that the State Department would take only a month to process my apostille, I gave my one-month notice at work. I retracted it as quickly as possible after I learned of the State Department's true colors, but the damage was done: my superiors had already begun searching for a replacement. And they found one, and he'd quit his job to work with us, and he needed to work full-time to support himself and his wife. So there it was: I was out. There was no getting around it. No plea bargain, no parole board, no second chance. October 28 was officially my last day. It's my first week off and already I'm going crazy.

So I made a decision this evening. I decided that I would polish off that bottle of über-peaty Ardbeg 10-year-old Scotch that's been sitting on the pantry shelf for eons.

More importantly, I decided that I would swallow my pride. I went out to the living room and asked my parents (who had just forked over $500 to replace the leaf springs on my Jeep) for a loan of $4500 to complete my commercial pilot's license. It was hard, but I felt it was the right thing to do. They had extended the offer previously, and I had refused it. But now I feel like I have no other choice. I've got to start making money somehow, and my journalism résumé is far too anemic to do me any good in this economical climate. I'd wanted to get my instrument rating first (only one checkride that way), but that's another 45 hours with an instructor. I only need 38 more hours of PIC (pilot-in-command) time to get my commercial license, excluding checkride prep with an instructor and the actual test. If I go down to the airport every day and fly an airplane around for an hour or two, making landings at towered airports and doing a few long cross-countries and night flights, then I'll be up to speed in no time. Then, hopefully, I'll pass my tests on the first try and be able to saunter forth into the world of commercial aviation.

And I'll use my first paycheck to reimburse my parents' loan. I promise.

Hold me to that, will you?


Jane Jones said...

Oh boy. That is terrible news. I am so sorry that your plans fell through so completely.

I loved your walking out into the desert plan. Sometimes you feel like drastic measures, whether they be as simple as just leaving, is what is needed to balance out what is going on inside your head. Beautifully written.

I also understand the living-at-home dilema. I love my family an incredible amount, but it is such a struggle to be an adult and trying to make adult decisions while they can't help but feel you are still their child living under their roof. Hmm, good luck.

Lastly, January isn't too far away these days. And if you can't keep busy with obtaining your pilots license and polishing off that Scotch (oh man! I'm dying for a snifter (? I think?) now) then you can catch up on reading, start a new story, or watch all 11 seasons of M*A*S*H... trust me, it's worth it.

Claire Dawn said...

SOrry to hear things didn't work out. At least you only have to wait until January and not next August/September.

Good luck on the license. And let me know when you got out to Korea. I should nip across and see you guys. :)

Postman said...

Thanks for the understanding, Jane. And trust me, you wouldn't want a snifter of THIS Scotch. It's so peaty that it tastes like saltwater.

M*A*S*H!!! That's just what I need to cheer me up! [runs for the living room]

Cheers, friend.

Claire: True. If I had to wait a whole 'nuther year I'd have to think of something else to do. And you should definitely come see us if we make it to East Asia. I need to reassure myself that you're still alive after that 'orrible tsunami.