Month: December 2013

Cold Call Of Duty

Yes, it was that cold outside during my short-lived flyer delivery career. Photo taken by David Gay, with permission to use freely provided credit is given to the author.

The following excerpt is from an Email I send to companies that do not have an open position:

“I recently moved to Kitchener from Toronto and am looking for any sort of work to get myself established. While I’ve been in the Information Technology field for 20 years, I am willing to step out of my comfort zone to take on challenges outside my career path if I have matching skills for that.

I am willing to work full-time or part-time hours and have access to the Grand River Transit system.

A résumé is attached for your review. If no openings are available, please keep my contact information on file in case future openings become available.

Kind Regards

David Gay”

Simply put, it states my position that I am willing to do any sort of work regardless of my past career background. I’ll admit that’s a pretty bold statement, and a few family members and friends have told me that I’m not serious and it’s just talk. To those detractors I say, “read this blog post and try saying that to me again”.

For two weeks I was an independent contractor working for Metroland Media, one of the largest daily and community newspaper publishers in Ontario. The position was snagged by the sent Email above. My job was to deliver flyers on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday — a far cry from my heady days as a system administrator/computer programmer.

The pay was — well — it barely covered the cost of a Tim Horton’s breakfast per run: 6 to 12 cents per house. Not dollars. Cents. Per house. I was not given any special equipment to deliver these flyers: I had to buy my own sweet ride (to use the young people’s lingo) in order to deliver them. On Thursdays, the run consisted of a thick wad of flyers you could choke a horse with and required more than one trip to deliver.

As you can see in the pictures, the deliveries were done on a cold winter day so I had to bundle up properly from head to foot in winter gear.

Was the job easy? Believe it or not, the flyer delivery was the easy part because my route was near where I lived. It was getting the flyers that was so stressful.  According to the supplied handbook, the flyers for Wednesday and Thursday were supposed to be delivered the day before. This is particularly important for the Thursday run because of the volume I described above.  For the time I did the flyer gig, the flyers never arrived on time. They were received the same day I had to deliver them  This led to some late Thursday nights of delivering the flyers. Ever try to deliver flyers on a street with terrible lighting? On some driveways where the owner neither salts nor shovels? It was so stressful I vomited in public during one of my Thursday trips.

After dealing with this nightmare of my flyers not arriving on time, I called up my contact and told them I wanted out in two weeks. I was offered the choice to end my gig immediately, but decided to give Metroland Media time to find a new independent contractor to run my route, to avoid service interruptions to their customers.

So, to recap: a 20 year information technology specialist took a flyer job that pays a ridiculously low wage and is making him sick, yet still offers to stick with it until a replacement is found. Why would I resort to putting myself through this hellhole of a job? Clearly it was not about the money.

What it was about was what I wrote in that Email. I said I was willing to do any sort of work I had a skill for, and I meant it by doing the flyer run. Yes, I ended it after two weeks but again, it was about the logistics issues I had of getting the flyers delivered to my home on time.  I tried very hard to make this job work and gave it a lot of chances. I handled it professionally right up to how I wanted out.

In short, it’s the type of person I am.

Thanks for reading….and Merry Christmas!


The Double-Double Network

A picture of my breakfast at Tim Horton’s at the corner of King Street West and Louisa Street. That locale has turned out to be an unexpected yet welcome aid to my network rebuilding strategy

My biggest obstacle in finding work in Kitchener, my new home, is my network. This was quite apparent during one Christmas party at my sister and brother-in-law’s place, which is where I am staying until I get back on my feet employment wise. While I had a good time, most of the people there were those who I never met before. It was really tough trying to strike up a conversation with any of them save for two that were very computer-savvy. Once the subject of computers comes up, good luck trying to shut me up.

Shy moments like these have a potential to put a crimp in my network rebuild strategy were it not for my frequent visits to Tim Horton’s, where the interiors are either half or a third the size of the ones I’m used to in Toronto. In Toronto, you have no trouble getting a place to sit even during lunch time: in Kitchener, the lineup extends OUTSIDE onto King Street West or Bridgeport, depending on which T.H. I go to. While it’s a pain to wait outside in the snowy cold for my large-single-cream-no-sugar coffee and my cheddar-cheese bagel — and a place to sit to enjoy them — the spartan seating arrangement is actually an aid to my job search.

It’s easy to explain. What happens when you are forced to share space with other people, like on a crowded bus during rush-hour,  or in my case, a small Tim Horton’s coffee place consisting mostly of window-ledges and counter-tops? The first thing that happens is that eye-contact is made. Assuming no one has an attitude problem, smiles or nods are exchanged. Soon a conversation follows, hesitant at first but as more words are exchanged it becomes more natural and comfortable. That’s happened to me on several occasions: sometimes I initiate the conversation, other times the person asks me about my binder carrying my resumes or my shopping cart used to deliver flyers (a tale to be told in a later blog post). We talk about Kitchener, Toronto, our past experiences, the weather, my job search, etc. I’ve met some rather friendly people who I’ve exchanged contact information with and filed away for future reference. My most enjoyable and memorable meeting was with two men, Andre and Vernon, where we discussed the possibility of taking Andre’s trucking experiences into a video or blog format. I told Andre about WordPress and how to set up an account there.

(Point To Note: if Andre becomes a famous writer or video celebrity on YouTube, I want a cut)

Will such chance encounters lead to friendship and thus an expansion to my social network in Kitchener? Only time will tell but it beats the awkward moments at Christmas parties.

Thanks for reading!


Past To Present

Even in the 1990s, I always had something that I needed get off my chest!. (source: Wayback Machine)

I don’t blame anyone who thinks I’m just some frustrated middle-ager going on about my job search efforts. I am frustrated, but not in a rant-and-rave lunatic way. I do know what I’m talking about when I have an opinion about the economy and the unemployment problem millions of people face. Not only have I experienced chronic unemployment over the past few years, I was warning about the coming changes in the employment scene just before the year 2000.

Back in 1997,  I ran a section on my Interlog web page called “Take One!”. The section had articles showing how  individual rights were being trampled over by the so-called rights  special interest groups, corporate lobbyists, and political parties and affiliations  felt they had. You could say I was blogging before it became popular.  I wrote one article called “Downsizing Companies = Downsizing Individuals” which expressed my fears of what would happen if companies decided to adopt mass layoffs as part of their “business as usual” plan even in the best of economic times. Here is what I wrote back at the very start of 1999:

Back in 1990, I ended up like nearly 2 million Canadians during the recession: I was unemployed. I couldn’t find a job for nearly a year because no one was hiring. The popular buzzword in those days was “downsizing”, or companies having to do more with less.
We believed that once the recession was over, people who were let go would be rewarded for their sacrifices with a job market that was growing again. Well, things are better, according to the economists. Our economy expands at the time of this writing (January 1999) at an average of over 2%. Yet the downsizing continues. If you read the paper, you already know this to be true. If it’s not a mining company closing down, it’s a government department downsizing, or a factory that has gone to Mexico because of the free trade agreement.
So why the layoffs still?
I suspect that Corporate Canada has opted to make more money by cutting expenses rather than raising sales. It is the path of least resistance. It’s much easier for a company to tell an employee to clear out his or her desk than it is to design a better product that is higher in quality and lower in cost for consumers.
But this way of getting a bigger profit has a high cost. It downsizes an individual. There’s not much value left to a man or woman who loses the ability to earn an income, and cannot afford a place to live, food to eat, and clean clothes to wear.

source: The WayBack Machine

This was written at a time when I was gainfully employed and making good money in my I.T. career, yet  I was very perceptive of what was going on around me in the working world. I took note of the policies implemented by the company I was working in order for it to keep afloat and they worried me. Every time a friend or family member was let go as a result of downsizing,  it angered me. While those feelings prompted me to write this article, I never believed I would experience something as bad as the 2008-2009 economic meltdown that put me in the state I’m in now.

I’m not writing this post to show I’m some smug know-it-all.  If you took a look at my remarks on the graphic image about Java, you’ll see I don’t have the right answers all the time.   I’m just trying to point out that if job-seekers like myself believe something is working against us in our efforts to find employment, don’t dismiss us so easily. Some of us know what we are talking about.

In fact, some of us saw it coming.

Thanks for reading!