July 8, 2009

TNSTAFC: Relating & the Recession

Coffee isn't free in New York City.

I thought it was at NYU's Career Center, but it really isn't. It's just a way for the center to make us feel like we're being productive in the space dedicated to job seeking.

We pay for every drop of those Columbian beans. And then some.

I often come to the career center to check my e-mail before I go swimming. The Flavia coffee machine is a favorite stop where I put in my hazelnut coffee pack and get a strong brew of "free caffeine." Others smile at me when they get their chosen coffee and return to the clacking of keys at their work station. We act like we've figured out the secret to free coffee in the most expensive U.S. city, but it's really just denial.

The career center looks motivated, its room dividers stately and printers humming. And I look like I've stumbled from bed in a good suit.

I usually come to the center after work. And while job seekers are on the phone, talking about goals and potential with shopping employers, I'm dozing, hair askew, on the padded upright chairs no one ever sits on.

I hear them and remember unbidden what it felt like to see my bank account dwindle. I remember the worry of disappointing my family, friends and professors, if I didn't get something soon.

That was February.

But it's still February for many of my friends from graduate school. It's difficult meeting up with them for coffee. I try to say I understand. But it's becoming obvious that I'm drifting further and further from that knowledge.

But I do remember the vitality, the life-and-death of being jobless -- and how much I wanted to find stability again somewhere. Like living on financial adrenaline.

I imagine many of the people around me at the career center are looking for jobs in the same state. Their still looking in their field or maybe, or like I was, searching for any opening that would help pay the next rent check.

I wrote some stories today that highlighted the unemployment rate. It's growing. It's staggering.

I'm paying my bills and my loans and everything else. But my heart is with those who are searching and waiting for that phone call or mail.

I know coffee isn't free in New York City. I'll buy you a cup -- not a pity cup of joe -- and you tell me how you're doing. I want to know.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at July 8, 2009 2:28 PM
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