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Anyone need a worker who can identify bear poop?

Reader columnist Paula Larson
Reader columnist Paula Larson Staff photographer

Apparently I’m not psychic.

I never saw the day coming when I’d be closing in on 50 (or is it closing in on me?), career-less and starting over in the job market.

Guess I can forget about submitting my application to the Psychic Friends Network. Which is just as well because I can’t imagine working with co-workers who always know everything about each other. What would we talk about behind each other’s backs?

I just finished a seasonal job at a summer camp, and so I am now truly and semi-completely unemployed. I still work as a free-lance writer, but that is now-and-again income and I could use more money “now” than “now and again.”

So here I go, wading into the wild and not-so-wonderful world of job applications.

First step, find a job to apply for that I could conceivably qualify for. Check!

Second step, complete a résumé.

Ugh. I hate doing résumés. I hate the very word “résumé.” No good can come from that many fancy accents over letters in a word.

The problem with my résumé is not that I don’t have experience. I’ve got two degrees, I’ve had two careers and I’ve learned lots of different skills in the jobs that I’ve had. My problem is that now I can’t physically do the careers I had before.

So now I have to take the skills that I have and try to apply them to different types of jobs. Which is where my other problem comes in.

My job skills are … um … well … weird. And often currently useless.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a sampling.

I know how to make a pond turtle let go when it bites you on the oh-so-tender webbing between the thumb and first finger.

I used an aluminum pole with a hook on the end to shake the prunes off tree branches.

I can bend over with eight bats (as in flying mammal, not baseball), each in its own cloth sack, under my jacket and pick something up without squishing any of them.

I know how to make an exact model of your leg with fiberglass, plaster and some water.

I can perform stand-up comedy while no one laughs.

I can identify bear poop.

I learned how to blow toothpicks through a straw to get them stuck in acoustical ceiling tiles (OK, to be fair, this was not technically a part of the job).

Like I said, weird.

My current résumé task is taking all of my experience and melding it into a document that will make someone want to hire me. This can be an exercise in creative writing; as my skills don’t include creative writing, this can be especially challenging for me.

But, hey, I figure that sooner or later someone will be able to use my ability to make color-coded GIS maps on what is almost certainly now grossly outdated software. Until then I will just keep churning out the résumés until I find my new employer. Because the unemployment rate of those of us classified as “disabled” is staggeringly high, and I don’t want to be just another statistic.

That reminds me, I was also a statistics tutor in 1990.

Like I said, my skills are weird and useless.

Paula Larson is a freelance writer and retired wildlife biologist. She is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Her email is larsonpaula383@yahoo.com.

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