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cruel and unusual

will wonders never cease?

My job history has been a bit, shall we say, checkered. I've had plenty of jobs, but I am probably the worst Job Candidate of all time. Back when I was a teenager I had a few odd jobs ... french fry cook, paper boy, bus boy ... but since I got married in 1973, the only jobs I've gotten are ones which have basically been dropped in my lap. The story:

1973: I worked a summer job as a steelworker for the Continental Can Company. A friend's mom worked there as the plant nurse, and I think she felt bad for Robin and I because we had no money, no jobs, not even a place to live. So she told me she could set me up, moved my papers to the top of the heap, and I worked there all summer. The next summer I returned, only this time I didn't quit to return to school ... instead, I stuck around until 1984. All those years in a job I didn't ask for.

Since 1984, all of my jobs have been in academia. When I was a graduate student, I taught composition classes ... it's what grad students were expected to do in the English Department, unless you had fellowships. Eventually, a friend in American Studies offered me a summer lecture class ... she subsequently helped me get several more jobs in American Studies. I didn't really try to get any of these jobs ... they just kinda happened. When I finally officially applied for the American Studies job I'd been doing, I didn't get it. That's how bad I am as a Job Candidate: I can't even win a job I've already been doing.

This was made clear when I moved to Mass Communications. I had assumed my days of teaching at Berkeley were over, until I got a call from a woman who asked me to teach a Mass Comm summer course. Next thing I know, I was applying for a full-time job. I didn't get it. But neither did anyone else, so they signed me up for one year while they intensified the search. I did a good job ... everyone said so ... but when I applied for the job, I didn't get it. Once again, I lost a job I'd already proven I could handle.

In the middle of all that, I taught one semester at SF State, not particularly well I might add, as both my classes were outside my expertise. How did I get that job? I was vacationing in Europe and got an email from someone at State who'd gotten my name from someone else. The pattern was clear: don't look for a job, get one ... apply for a job, don't get it.

The last several years I've taught online classes at American River College. How do I get those jobs? My sister teaches there, and one day she said "why don't you teach online for us?" And I did, and I do, and every semester I get another form telling me I have classes, even though I never ask for them. Don't look for a job, get one!

Until today, this pattern held true. But, miracle of miracles, the curse may have been broken at last. I noticed that ARC was offering a course in mystery and detective fiction. Since my dissertation was on that topic, I knew I could teach it, and while I live pretty far from Sacramento, I could handle a commute if it was only one or two days a week, if it meant I could teach in a classroom. So I applied for the job.

And a few minutes ago, my sister called to tell me I'd gotten the job.

What next, the Giants win the World Series?

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