Last week, while playing with my son, the phone rang. The caller ID read: "PA SENATE". Ever the pessimist, I almost didn't answer it, assuming it was some sort of robo-call, or plea for donations by someone's lower tier staffer. The curiosity got the best of me, so I answered it. As it turns out, it was actually my State Senator Rich Alloway. Still the pessimist, I was waiting for him to ask for a donation, but he didn't. Instead, he just wanted to call me personally to tell me how much he enjoyed reading my book.
You see, some time back, he was speaking at a local fund raiser, and after some coaxing from my wife, I attended the event and gave him a copy of my book. Senator Alloway's call was very sincere and we had a great conversation about the media and general politics. After his call, I could feel my ego inflating. After all, it's not every day that a State Senator calls you for no other purpose than to say he's a fan of your work.
As pure coincidence, Alloway was to be hosting a job fair at an events center here in my home town. I decided to stop by and introduce myself in person. I'm glad I did, because though Alloway recognized me right away and couldn't have been a cooler dude to talk to, the event itself turned out to be worth the frozen/Arctic trip into town on it's own.
I've been to job fairs in the past, but this was easily the biggest one I have ever attended. Being there as an employed truck driver allowed me to observe the event as an outsider. After all, I wasn't there to find a job.
As I watched the variety of people wandering aimlessly throughout the boothes manned by various trade schools, community colleges, and local industries, I realized two things. One, you know unemployment is too high when a job fair in a rural area such as this can draw a crowd this size (1000+people). And two, you could easily split that crowd into two groups; those who want a job, and those who don't.
Those who wanted a job were easy to spot. They were comprised of people who went the extra mile to look their best. Dress pants, and pressed shirts for the men, dresses and heels for the ladies. All carrying some sort of folder containing a portfolio and resume. In this group there was also a sub-strata. Those who wanted a job, but weren't going to get one because they sabotaged themselves before they even left their house.
These were the folks that took the time to wear the right clothes, prepared the right portfolios, but couldn't find a convincing way to hide the "flaming skull with rotting flesh" tattoo etched into their neck. Not to be out done, there was the guy who realized all too late that the giant disks that usually plugged half-dollar sized holes in his earlobes were probably not going to help his employment situation, so he opted to ditch the disks and went with the "I want my earlobes to look like soggy onion rings" look.
Moving on to those who had no intention of finding work. They were easy to spot as well. Many in this group moved in packs. Bringing friends and family and looking like reject extras from a bad rap video, these folks weren't even trying to be discreet about their agenda. They were there to grab job applications so they can fill them out as a requirement for unemployment benefits and welfare.
All in all, braving the elements to experience my town's job fair extravaganza turned out to be not only a great chance to see slackers and go-getters in their full glory, but it was also a good chance to push my son around in his stroller and make fun of people.