The Re-education of Joelogs Jonas

"I don't think we woke up early enough, Comrade 😦 "

[ Note : Belated happy birthdays to Mevelyn Tang (10th January), Raymond Ong (10th January), and Dr Annie Oliveros – Robrigado (14th January) Thanks for reading ! ]

LET’S CALL HIM Joelogs Jonas.  He loves to remind me that people call him the eldest of the famed brother group, and he does nothing to convince them to do otherwise.  In the past two years I’ve known more about him than in the previous ten, and no exaj, everyday I learn something new.

Recently he’s faced probably the most daunting challenge of his life : to find gainful employment in a strange land.   As a single, twentysomething Gen Y techie unawed by the trinkets and bright lights of White Man’s Land, working abroad was not in his list of Most Important Things To Do B4 I Start Caring, BUT perfecting his craft, looking cool and earning street creds among his peers, potential colleagues and former rivals in Most Likely To Be A Chick Magnet Whenever, Wherever, were.  Although not exactly congruent, he realized those two vocations were starting to run along parallel courses especially when he started to pound the pavement for a jay-oh-bee.

He started his job search a bit inauspiciously, drawing a bit of negative vibes when I dared to suggest that he pick up the first available job, whether it was gathering trays at the foodcourt, deep-frying hash browns as a counter cadet down by Happy Meal Avenue, or arranging hangers and racks, preferably at the Feeder Mall that draws Kiwis, Maoris, Asians, Islanders and all sorts of weekend warriors this corner of the world.

He uttered his now-famous phrase hindi ako nag-aral para gawin yung job na ganyan, raising eyebrows all around the household.  I don’t know about you, but if you weren’t willing to start from the ground up in whatever you did, your perspective would never be complete, and you’d never gain a classic understanding of the big picture. But well, naive hubris is wasted on the clueless young, and not all the diametrically opposite, devil’s advocate views coming from me (maybe especially from me) could dissuade him from his confidence.

Such confidence did not flag immediately, but you could see it come crashing to earth in steady swoops.  It wasn’t a free-fall, because he had a ready rationalization and credible explanation everytime he failed to grab a gig :

Overqualified daw ako;  wala pa akong job referee, kailangan ko muna ng experience; kakatapos lang ng hiring nila, and here’s my favorite, mabobored lang daw ako at di ko sila magugustuhan as employer.

That last one really floored me, as if lost souls from the netherworld of the idle could actually play a part in picking apart the desirable qualities of those who would liberate them from their deprived state.  I was still at that point where I was both loathe to criticize JJ’s jobhunt attitude and eager to lend him every bit of moral support.  Besides, each rejection from a prospective employer brought him closer to that elusive “you’re hired!”, so based on the law of averages, after so many no’s, he was tantalizingly close to joining the ranks of the working class.

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Evidently still not close enough, after a few more weeks.  He finally swallowed his pride and admitted that an I.T. certificate, the techie geek’s ultimate passport to job security  wasn’t enough in the era of post-subprime recession and failing Euro economies, and by way of a white flag sought employment from the local government job-placement agency, which  was powered by the overwhelming desire to reduce the burgeoning numbers of people on the benefit.

He promptly soared back to form by rejecting outright the gigs that were served on his plate, a tiler’s assistant and bricklayer, just-show-up and no-questions-asked.

Hindi ako ganon kadesperate, masyado namang mahirap yan para sa akin and meron pa naman sigurong ibang job para sa akin, were still-in-denial phrases I heard when he dismissed the job offers.  I wish to reiterate, these were jobs that were instant hires that only required that the candidate report for work, be a quick study, and show enough interest to stay hired for maybe the rest of the project.  Ummm, even one-out-of-three was gonna be a challenge for Joe tomorrow morning.

could you hold my spot? I need to check eBay, TradeMe and Nasdaq 😉

After the week of the employment agency misadventure, Joelog’s head had shrunk enough that he was willing to try even the non-IT gigs, like maybe barista traineeships, retail positions, or even the dreaded foodcourt openings that at least gave away, from common knowledge, free lunches, leftovers that couldn’t be served the next day, and similar stuff that we didn’t mind having for dinner 😉

What neither of us realized (I’m sorry to say that even I had naively overlooked) was that because of the severely skewed employer’s market that had been prevailing, there was extremely high competition even for the barest bits of scraps on the table; that only those who were showing the greatest initiative, interest and desperation were to be considered for these remaining jobs.

As you might have guessed, JJ was ill-prepared for this development, and each day that week he still came home dejected, downcast and empty-handed. He hardly made any final interviews, and in some cases was told outright that only those who had related experience for the job and were willing to commit to a certain amount of time to staying with the position were to be considered.  Given the fact that most of these positions were hardly career-makers, our jobhunter couldn’t even tell the white lie of saying he was willing to be a cleaner for six months, and stayed unemployed.

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This story doesn’t have a happy ending, yet.  As of last count, JJ hasn’t yet started earning his keep for the last eight months, but he is a long way off from giving up, mainly because he has no choice but to keep trying.  Most of his friends back home think he is having the time of his life living the life of an accomplished, fat-cat IT wunderkind enjoying everything his heart could desire.  For that alone, he is resolved to continue chasing the dream of earning First World dollars, in the job of his choice, and coming home to yehey-welcome-homes and blowout naman Mr Bigtime!

Di ka nag-iisa, J.J. !

Thanks for reading !