Finding A Job
Author: Shiloh


Stepped down from the plane
just in time for Thanksgiving dinner;
small-time soldier boy,
home from the Army.

What family I had left was there to meet me,-
my aunt, step-uncle, cousin, step-brother, step-mother
and my father... Soldier-Father, meet Soldier-Son...

Dinner at my aunt's was strained, orchestrated,
small talk about the weather,
careful avoidance of certain subjects,
except what was I gonna do now?

A week later I still didn't know.
Stood in line at the unemployment office;
forms, questions, more lines, -
none of it seemed to matter or make sense.

Looking for a job, walking the streets,
watching everyone else with their briefcases,
their purposeful strides,
hating them because they seemed to have it together.

Felt like some kind of damn criminal
every time I went to the unemployment place;
cross-examined like I was some kind of fool
before I could pick up my check.

Answered an ad in the paper, no experience necessary.
Three others were already there, -
suits, ties, confident smiles
contrasted sharply with my Army shoes and khaki pants.

The guy who interviewed me said he'd been in the Army,
wounded in North Africa, chasing Rommel,
served in the European Theater
from Normandy, until after V-J Day.

No one had given him anything when he came back;
he'd had his share of hard times,
he'd worked his ass off for what he got,
but he'd never belly-ached about it, no sir.

It wasn't very difficult to understand him -
he'd "won" his war -
and I knew, before he said it,
that the job had already been filled
but they would keep my application on file,
at least until I got out the door.

He smiled as he showed me to the door,
but he could afford to smile -
he had a job, a car, a home, a family
... and a regular paycheck.

The ad was still in the paper the next week,
when the employment office sent me back for an interview.
This time I was seen by a woman
who probably watched the six-o'clock news every night.

When we got to the part of the application form
that told about my military service,
and that I had been in Vietnam,
she seemed to get a little nervous.

Once again, the job had been filled,
but they'd keep my form on file...
(in case they ever needed a drug-crazed Vietnam Vet
to run amuck in their factory?)

After several weeks of being unemployed
I signed a contract with an employment agency.
You guessed it --
they sent me back to the same place.

The job was still open,
even though I knew, personally,
that it had been "filled"
on at least two separate occasions.

This time when I filled in the lines on the form
about my military servcie,
I put down that I had been at Fort Dix, New Jersey.
Nothing else.

I was interviewed for the job by the department head
and I told him I had worked in the mess hall at Fort Dix.
(It wasn't exactly a lie - I had pulled KP there once.)
Apparently he didn't feel threatened, 'cause he hired me.

A few months later I was called in for a talk;
they'd found my other two applications
and they were "concerned" about my oversight
in not including all my military service on my last form.

They had to accept my explanation
that I didn't think it was important,
because by then I'd completed my probation period
and was a dues-paying member of American Chemical Workers Union
Chapter 12.

I worked there for about four and a half years,
for minimum wage minus deductions,
never once getting a promotion,
and never once running amuck.

------- Author's Notes -------

this is the one i wrote back in 1975 or so, about my first civilian job hunt, where i finally got a job at GAF corporation (the film and paper and photo chemicals people)...


Comments on this poem/writing:

Walter Wind dancer Davis ( -- Friday, November 11 2011, 11:53 pm

Another brother

Without a doubt I can relate !!!
Name:                                           Remember Me

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