Day 66 - Chance
Tuesday, August 16, was an unusual day.
I received an email on Monday evening from my friend and Job Finders Support Group leader, Cleon Cox, in which he introduced me to a journalist from the Oregonian working on a story about under-employed and unemployed workers. Of course I had no idea what to expect, but I agreed to help the journalist as best I could. He wrote back to say he’d call me tomorrow, since it was already late in the evening.
Tomorrow became today.
Just after my daily workout at the gym, I received the call from Rich Read, who asked me about my experience of being a long-term under-employed worker. He explained that the story was about “U6” workers - those who are working part time when they want to work full time, or are unemployed altogether, and are not counted in the “official” unemployment numbers. It’s not that we drop out of the statistics that politicians like to talk about because we’re working, but rather because we no longer qualify for unemployment benefits. We no longer matter to our government.
I’m not going to get into all the frustration that comes with that idea. Instead, I want to focus momentarily on the satisfaction of knowing that I was chosen to represent thousands of Oregonians who, through no fault of our own and despite efforts often herculean, remain unemployed.
After our conversation, Rich asked if he could have a photographer make arrangements to meet up with me for some photos. Ross Hamilton called awhile later. He explained that he wanted an “environmental portrait” (photos of me at my regular duties) and perhaps at home would be best.
If you know me even slightly and have seen how I keep my home, and then witnessed the horror of my desk, you’d understand why home is not best for me. I suggested a coffee shop I like to use as my “office,” where I often meet people for networking or do my online job seeking. He met me there just before such a networking meeting, and took a variety of photos. He sent me a couple of “headshots” (as good as any I’ve ever had, and taken under a patio umbrella without fill lights, makeup, or any of the standard equipment in a photo shoot - this guy is good).
And that was it.
Later, I thought to ask Rich when he thought it might run. I figured this story would be found somewhere deep inside the Business section (bottom of page 4, probably). When I got his response just before heading to bed, I was stunned. It was to be on the front page of Wednesday’s Oregonian. In fact, before I actually made it to bed, I had two friends comment that they had already read it online.
I didn’t go to sleep at all quickly. My mind was involuntarily focused on how this might affect me the following day. And I thought about how grateful I am that life can be so random as to have a journalist contact a friend who would introduce me to someone who could tell a little of my story. What a day!
* You can read Rich Read's story on Oregon Live: