Schedule Follow-Up: “Bait and Switch”

My daughter gave me Barbara Ehrenreich’s book “Bait and Switch” recently, sparked by a conversation about my scheduling.  (Ehrenreich’s earlier book, “Nickel and Dimed” about getting by on minimum wage, made a big impression on me.)  This book is about trying to get work in the corporate world.  I started reading it this week, and sure enough, came across the following excerpt from her description of a depressing “networking event” where out of work white collar workers and laid-off middle managers are responding to a list of the challenges they face:

…Solutions to my problem of “scheduling” are pouring in as fast as I can write them down.  “I make a daily schedule including Internet searches and exercises,” one woman contributes.  “This forces me to be accountable even if I’m the only one in the room, managing myself.”  Someone else adds, “I set the alarm for the same time I did when I was working.  I get up, shave, dress, just as if I was going to work.”  Another solution:  enroll your spouse as a “supervisor,” to remind you “you said you were going to do such and such today.”

This advice comes as a surprise: job searching is not joblessness; it is a job in itself and should be structured to resemble one, right down to the more regrettable features of employment, like having to follow orders–orders which are in this case self-generated.  Something about this scenario carries a whiff of necrophilia.  I think of the fabled resident of old Key West who somehow had his beloved’s corpse preserved in a condition congenial to continued physical intimacies for years after her death.  So, too, we are not to accept joblessness but to hold on desperately to some faint simulacrum of employment…

…Imagining one’s search as a “job” must satisfy the Calvinist craving to be doing something, anything, of a worklike nature, and Americans may be especially prone to Calvinist angst.  We often credit some activity with the phrase “at least it keeps me busy” – as if busyness were a desirable state regardless of how you achieve it…The alternative to manufactured busyness is flat-out depression, as a large gray-haired man seems to confirm when, in an apparent non sequitur he raises his hand to caution that “introspection can be very powerful if you do it in the right frame of mind.  Otherwise it can get you down.”

This entry was posted in Books, Articles, Resources, Job Search, Organization and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s