Finding it hard to be thankful when you’re unemployed?
Tis the season to be jolly? Finding it hard to find your holiday cheer because you’re caught up in the stress of a recent lay off or seemingly unending job search? Believe me, I know that as much as we say, “money can’t buy happiness,” not having money definitely inspires the opposite of happiness.
Let me share some humility with you. About six years ago, my wife and I were both in graduate school. A graduate assistantship asks full-time hours for part-time pay. So, needless to say, we had to stretch our dollars. I had a car for about two weeks into it the semester when the transmission failed. Transmissions are expensive. I started to take the bus to and from school. This required getting up almost two hours earlier than I’d been used to, carrying my school bag and laptop with me, and dressing in layers during the Texas “winter” which could have a temperature range of 30 degrees from morning to evening. I would pack my lunch and a snack for later and be ready for a day of school.
Missing the bus was not an option. But, if you’ve ever arrived at a new stop right as your transfer bus drove away, you know your control is almost non-existent. I almost missed an important exam when I missed a bus one day. It was cold, rainy, windy, and I was lugging my life with me. I sat on a bench near the Foley’s department store Downtown and put my head in my hands. It was not the end of the world, but I could not stop thinking about how much I just needed my car repaired. Then, Betty sat down.
Betty was an older woman– layered in two coats, a dingy light blue sweater, a couple of scarves that had seen many a weather-ridden day, and a head wrap. Betty had one of those rolling carts that people sometimes carry groceries and other items in when they cannot lift them. In her wire cart she had a book, a grocery sack, and a Magic 8 Ball. You know what that is, right? It looks like a billiard 8 ball but it has liquid in it, you shake it and an answer to your question appears in a small window.
Betty must have seen me with my head in my hands looking distraught. She leaned over and said, “Honey, whatever has you upset, you’re giving too much power to.”
I just kind of grumbled in response.
She did not accept that response and instead replied, “No no, dear. You always have an ability to do something. What power do you have right now?”
I did not feel like talking and I did not need an inspirational message, but I could not be rude to an elderly woman, so I mustered a response: “Well, I can stay dry.”
“No no no, dear! Think harder…what can you do now?”
I was annoyed at this point and said, “I HAVE NO IDEA! I just need to wait for my bus and think in silence!” (So much for not being rude…)
“Hmpf…,” said Betty “so you’re going to wait for your bus? You have somewhere to go? Well, so do I and my ride is here.” At that moment, a Metro shuttle that assist individuals with healthcare and other needed appointments arrived and Betty said, “Hey Adrian! Give me just a second.” Betty stood up and walked over to the shuttle. She got in the shuttle and talked to the driver, Adrian, and they laughed and then looked over at me.
“Where you going, dear?”
“University of Houston…” now feeling a bit embarrassed by my outburst, “but the next bus will be here in about 30 minutes. I’ll be fine.”
“Yes you will. Hop on. I’m heading that way and Adrian can drop you off.”
Somewhat taken aback, I said, “Oh no, I can’t do that. I’ll be fine.”
“Of course you will because you will ride with me and keep Adrian and me company. I live near the college and it would be an insult if you did not join us.”
Well, I could not deny this request so I humbly gathered my things and got on the shuttle. It was a quick 10 minute ride and I made it to school with time to spare. On the ride over, Betty asked what I was studying and how my schooling was going. I told her about my classes and the exam. As I got off the shuttle she grabbed my hand and said, “You have the ability to share. You have the ability to be humble when you are in distress. And, now I hope you have the ability to share with others. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and receive it thankfully.”
I nodded and thanked her and Adrian. I can’t say that day struck me as poignant, but I do know that I will remember that I always have an ability to do something.
What does this have to do with being unemployed at the holiday season? What do you have to be thankful for? It’s hard but if you can find your ability you can find your thanks. Did you get a seasonal job? Then you have the ability to bring some cheer to someone who might also be scraping by to make sure their family has a good holiday season. Muster a smile, share a good laugh, or simply provide an understanding ear. All of these are free but can be priceless if used at the right time with the right person.
If you don’t have a job, simply saying “thank you” to people can make their day. Did you have someone review your resume? Did they provide a good job lead? Did they simply listen to your challenges in getting a job? Thank you. You have the ability to appreciate and share at all times. As you move forward in your job search to find a new job or a better job, know that as powerless as you may feel at sometimes it is energizing to find that ability and use it. I wish you all the best in your job search and Thank You for reading our blogs.
Danny Zendejas is the Hospitality Business Consultant for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in the hospitality industry and workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.