Editor’s note: David Newman of Nyack is one of six bloggers working with The Journal News and LoHud.com as part of our Jobless Recovery series. The 12-part series examines the job market and the impact unemployment has had on the Lower Hudson Valley. As the region climbs out of the recession, some sectors and businesses are expected to grow. Read more at LoHud.com/joblessrecovery.
They cock their heads at me or sidle up for closer inspection. They are brothers, in-laws, brothers of in-laws, friends, guys changing in the locker room. They can’t quite figure it, this attorney who stands before them wandering a career desert. They make me feel like John Lennon’s persona in “Watching The Wheels.”
“Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin, … all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me, … Ah, people asking questions lost in confusion. Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I’ve lost my mind, …”
Their advice? It comes down to “why dontyas.” Dave, why don’t you teach computers? Huh? Or, you know, I have a friend who bought an ice cream truck and made a lot of money. Well, there’s one. At least I have experience. I used to push an ice cream cart around a park in Queens one summer, peddling pops and burning my hands on dry ice.
Or this: Dave, what about consulting? Have you thought about consulting? Consulting on what? And, as a matter of fact, I do try to cultivate as much legal work as I can during this transition period. But, Dave, what about being a technical writer? Uh, because I’m not technical and what makes you think that there isn’t already a glut of technical writers who are looking for work like the one who was in my job search work team?! [Breathe, Dave, breathe.]
Dave, didn’t you used to want to be an actor? You’re never going to get another chance like this, you know. Yes, but if I spend my nights waiting tables, who’s going to make dinner for my wife? [Dave, you’re beginning to sound whiny and, by the way, does the whole world need to know that you’ve become Mr. Mom?].
It’s not that they don’t mean well. They do, I know. And, maybe I’m being too hard-headed. Maybe I need to listen. Yeah, you know what? I’ve decided. I’m going to become a DB2 multiple virtual ice cream storage, truck driving, barnstorming technical consultant.
“Ma’am, would you like TCP/IP and Unix support with that chocolate éclair or would you prefer the usual Christopher Walken monologue from Pulp Fiction? ‘Hello little man. Boy, I sure heard a bunch about you. See, I was a good friend of your Daddy’s. We wrote, edited and maintained routine technical documentation in that Hanoi pit of hell over five years together. . ..’ ”
Perhaps I’m being a bit harsh here. But, unless I get to be the khaki vested, senior bald unemployment correspondent on the Daily Show or get a gig as Charlie Rose’s guest host, I’ve invested an awful lot of time and effort in my career and continue to do so. Not only do I perform the occasional freelance work for clients, but I spend five days a week doing specialized training, stay on top of law firm and trade association news feeds and attend continuing legal education programs. So, the ice cream truck is going to have to wait a little while. Besides, it’s twenty degrees outside. Who wants ice cream?!
About the writer
David Newman was former in-house counsel at an international technology company. He specialized in regulatory compliance and public policy, with an emphasis on the international supply chain to the United States. In fact, David was highly involved in the discussions surrounding the development of regulatory rules designed to prevent terrorists from using instruments of the international supply chain to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the country.
After sixteen years with the company, including efforts that saved tens of millions of dollars, David’s business group was eliminated as part of a much larger, recession induced series of cost saving measures.
In this jobless recovery, David’s blog posts are designed to help him and his “in-transition” counterparts recover a spirit of belonging, perspective and sometimes humor.