A cold front had come in, making it 90 instead of 100. It felt unusually cool to my Texan skin, used to the heat radiating from everything the sun touched as if each object not in shadow was a stove. I sat on the front porch and watched the sun set. For the first time since i quit my job my day had consisted of something other than sitting in front of the computer and applying to jobs. I was wearing actual clothes, not pajamas…i would have at least one outfit to wash come laundry day. I had spent the day eradicating a city of wasps in the well house, replenishing the dog and chicken feed in their storage containers in the house, harvesting and drying the sumac berries for the year, and trimming trees on the property. In 24 hours my sense of normalcy and reality had been restored and i had both the energy and the time to spend on physical endeavors like work on the homestead. It had been a very busy day. I had gone to town and back twice. It all started with a phone call. I had been up all night applying to jobs so at 8 am i was still buried beneath the sheets, having gone back to bed after taking my supplements at 3 and letting the chickens out of their coop at 7. The phone rang. Knowing i had applied to 30 some jobs recently i couldn’t afford to ignore it. I reached out from under the covers and grabbed the phone, clearing my throat and trying not to sound like i’d just woken up; I answered as professionally as i could. It was the company who i had originally interviewed with. They wanted to bring me in to interview for a different position. It would be the same company but the person conducting the interview would do so from their other location in town. Immediately my brain was awake. New location, new hiring manager, new chance. I pulled my knees up underneath me and began unzipping the mosquito net tent over the bed, “Interview? Yes, that sounds great. Today or tomorrow? Yeah, i could do today…”. I was opening the doors to the dog crates and locating my interview clothes. “What time works for me? How about this afternoon?” The woman on the other end of the phone explained that she left work in early afternoon so that would not be good for her schedule. I really wanted the job. I heard the words come out of my mouth, my confident and upbeat voice betraying the actual situation, “How’s 11?” “Great. That would work perfect. I’ll see you at 11.” I thanked her and hung up the phone. My brain did a backflip and immediately shouted, What did you do!!!?” 11. It was 8:10 now. I was at least a thirty minute drive from town. I didn’t have a printer at the house so i would have to go to the office depot in town and stand in line at the print center to print a new cover letter and resume for this specific job description…that is, after i had written it. I opened the medicine cabinet and scooped supplies into the sink; floss, night retainer case, tooth paste, mouthwash…i grabbed a pear and began cutting it while yelling at the dogs, “get up, get up, everybody up, go potty….everybody out potty!” I looked in the mirror, “What did you do?!” I raced to the computer. I booted it and opened the program to work on a new cover letter. When i had both it and my new resume rewritten i emailed it to the print center in town. Then, i dialed the number and left it on speaker phone while i jumped in the shower. While rinsing shampoo out of my hair i explained to the print center that i needed them to print 3 copies of each document i had sent and have it set aside so i could come in to pay and pick it up in an hour or so on my way to the job interview. The print center agreed to have it ready for me and i thanked them. While applying deodorant and makeup i was also eating the pear. I managed to get my interview clothes on, my boots, my make up, get my hair put up, and put my mask on. This was a job that men or women could hold…i could wear my pearl earrings today. I put them on. As i drove to town i wondered if this interview would be like the last one. I wondered if i would get a chance to make an argument for myself and if anything i would say would matter in the end. I pushed the thoughts from my head. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that i was the bread-winner of this homestead, and i needed to put myself in a position to go and win bread again. If there was an opportunity to interview for that privilege then i needed to take it and do it to the best of my ability. No matter what the outcome, i would give it my all, every opportunity i got. The car was nearly out of gas so i had to stop to fill her up. While i was there i went into the store and bought a peanut bar. I was so hungry but there had been no time to cook. Once the gas was done pumping i continued on to office depot. My first indication that the day was going to be a bit different from the others was the bit of kindness the print center had shown me. They had printed my resume and cover letter on nicer thicker paper to give me a better chance at the job and gave me 3 free paper clips so i wouldn’t have to use staples. They said that was more professional. They left a sticky note on top of my order that told of the paper upgrade and wished me good luck with a big smiley face. I smiled. It was really nice of them and they didn’t have to help me. I paid and continued on to the parking lot of the store where i’d be interviewing.
I had about 50 minutes to practice and collect myself. I fixed my hair in the mirror, went over everything i intended to say to market my skills, and spent some more time researching the company. The timing had actually worked out just perfectly and i was no longer panicked about whether i had scheduled the interview too early. When i had practiced answering mock interview questions enough i sat still in the car and let my eyes wander to the road i was parked in front of. There were young men in bright yellow reflective vests moving orange traffic cones up and down the street. After each car passed they moved the traffic cones, clearly trying to create a new lane space whilst also directing current traffic. The cars didn’t know what to make of it and they went this way and that at a snail’s pace, watching all the while for the men in yellow vests and their emphatic arm motions telling the cars they were displeased with the way they had chosen to interpret the ever-moving traffic cones. I couldn’t help but laugh. This one guy looked barely 18. His hard hat kept falling off his head and he was running all about in the street, hurrying to move the cones from here to there as fast as humanly possible. A bit of movement to the right of the scene caught my eye and i suddenly realized what they were doing. There was a new traffic light going in at the corner but the road was literally called “main street” and they couldn’t very well shut the main street in town down to put up the light. A semi truck carrying the poles and traffic lights to be put in had pulled up and was waiting in the turn lane to see where to park. The town had very narrow roads to begin with. It didn’t help that a police man had parked his car in the right lane and chosen to stand next to it in the street. I recognized the policeman. He was one of the officers that had shown up when my former friend and her ex husband had gotten into a dispute after his new girlfriend had smashed up his car with a golf club. Everyone knows everyone in a small town. I watched as the men in yellow vests directed the semi driver where to park. To my surprise, the driver was a woman. I smiled, “alright.” I expected the policeman to move his car, as they were directing the semi to park right where it was. Not only did he not move his car…he refused to move from beside it. I watched in awe as this woman, clearly cursing at the men in yellow vests, pulled that semi right into the narrow lane created by the orange cones, never grazing a cone, and driving inches from the policeman’s feet, but never touching him. She parked the truck exactly where the yellow-vested guys pointed. I don’t even know how. I sat in awe. I was sure God had put that scene in front of my face before the interview because i needed to see it. I needed to see that one small town’s gender stereotypes did not reflect all of reality. I was trying to see more of the woman driving the truck from where i sat when i noticed a smaller truck carrying the rest of the yellow traffic lights pull up. There was a man driving this truck. He didn’t know what to make of the ridiculous orange cone maze that they were ever-moving around the street. The young guy in the yellow vest pointed and the guy in the smaller truck drove forwards. He ran over one, then two, then three cones and proceeded dragging them under his vehicle all the way down the street. He missed the driveway where the yellow-vest guy had apparently wanted him to turn. So he threw it in reverse. I watched to see if the truck would let go of the cones. It didn’t. The driver was looking behind him when he put the truck back in drive and turned around just in time to slam on the brakes before running down a frantic guy in a yellow vest that had assumed the truck driver had seen him. The load shifted as the truck lurched to a halt. I looked at the straps on the big semi, pulled tight. As an argument ensued between the yellow vest worker that had almost been run over and the driver of the smaller truck, i grinned. The woman in the semi could see the whole thing unfolding and now she was on the phone, pointing through her windshield and waving her arms around. I laughed. I couldn’t help but grin. God had an interesting sense of humor and i couldn’t help but love it. The alarm on my phone went off and i pushed the button and then flipped the switch to silent. It was show time. I got out of my car, grabbed my purse and paperwork, and headed for the building.
It was a good interview. Quick, to the point, and we appeared to be on the same page. They needed motivated people who were determined, organized, and could handle time-management expectations. I was good at time management, organized, and i wanted a job that would keep up my current level of fitness. We discussed pay rate and availability before i left the interview. I felt that was a promising sign. I left the interview feeling hopeful and upbeat. Later that night i checked my email and found a message titled “job offer”. The two best words in the english language. The best words i had ever seen in my life. I sat back and pulled at my jaw. I suddenly realized i was smiling. The nightmare was over. I was employed. I accepted the job offer and then immediately drove back to town, both because i needed more wasp spray and because i had something to do. I walked every inch of the store for two hours and wrote down every product on every aisle and end cap. I spent the following day memorizing all of the information. I had people quiz me and was able to tell people where any item they asked for was. I hoped that this would make me faster at completing orders after training. I wanted to be fast enough to stay. I had prayed so hard for this job and now i had it within my grasp. I would do whatever it took to keep it. I realized that im not the kind of person that does well without a 9 to 5. For the next couple days i remained outwardly calm but inside i was buzzing with excitement. I was employed again. Thank you, thank you Lord. Thank you, thank you, thank you Lord.