Indiana is a state that works…for some, but not all.
I was laid off my position at the help desk at Fastenal. Fastenal is a company that specializes in selling various tools and parts for any mechanical need. The corporate headquarters are in Winona, Minnesota, but the main delivery hub is located in Indianapolis’ northwest side. The function of the main hub is a transfer point between hubs across the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, and Southeast Asia. What that means is that a Fastenal site in Singapore needs a part delivered, but the only location of the desired part is located in Texas. The order is placed, and the hub in Texas delivers by truck to Indianapolis where the Indianapolis hub processes the order, then ships out the product to Modesto, CA. Afterwards the part is placed on a ship or plane and delivered to Singapore. Depending on customs and maintenance issues on the trucks driving across the country, the order can take up to two weeks to deliver; but that’s if everything goes smoothly. Many times along the way a part is misplaced because it will fall off the pallet or someone put on the wrong shipping information. Through messages, searches in the hub, and pinpointing where the mistake occurred, responsibility is assigned, a hub pays for the mistake, and a new part is quickly processed and sent on the next truck. This is a general operation, but the actual job is quite tedious. My position on the help desk requires intense training because there are intricacies to the position that a person off the street cannot pick up by simply doing the job. I made costly mistakes often, and I made use of information given to me, but I wasn’t making a connection. I was told that I’m not a good fit and shown the door.
That’s something I heard throughout my life in the various positions I have held, and it’s something I hear now as I send out my resume and go to interviews. I’ve also heard that I’m not a good fit for any company as I traveled across the country, and the deeper implication is that I am not fit to exist, but should feel grateful to get a front row seat to watch life.
Oh my god! Thank you Jesus! Pennies from Heaven! I’m sure you can feel my eyes go to the back of my skull, fall down my sinus cavity, and empty out my mouth in a disgusted sigh.
There are various reasons for why I don’t fit, but the infuriating one concerns my academic background. Employers take one look at my B.A., and tell me they have nothing for someone who majored in literature and religion because they do not have a place for such a person in their office. What that tells me is they never went to college, or if they did they wasted their time on a business degree or a specialized degree in the sciences. My degree is a humanities degree, and is universally applicable because of the work I put into earning that degree—not to mention I had been on the Dean’s List for half my academic career and graduated with a 3.415 GPA. I had scheduled bimonthly meetings with my adviser and department chair concerning my senior thesis on Jack Kerouac, and many impromptu meetings in between when I ran into some difficulty in the research and lost the will to live. I had to revise those thirty-six pages throughout my senior year. In addition to my thesis, I still had to turn in quality papers in my religion and literature classes, and those were five to ten page papers, two to three times a week; and I was not permitted to slack. During my research, I had to verify the quality of what I read to substantiate the claim of my thesis. Those skills I learned during my time in school can be extrapolated into any environment unlike a business or science degree where my options would be limited. This post, however, is not about me begging for a job, but dealing with what seems like a never ending search of finding a place where I am a good fit; but that fit is not limited to a professional position.
I don’t need much in this life to be happy. If I have a small A-frame house in the Pacific Northwest in a remote area surrounded by trees and mountains with a short distance from the ocean, I would be good. A quiet place to meditate and write poetry away from people and systems distracting me with what they think I should be doing. I do not care about the goals of Corporate American culture nor its values, and the buzzwords of synergy and positive thinking receive an eye roll from me. These employers telling me I am not a good fit for their culture is a compliment, but I do have to eat and pay bills while I find my place. I could be rattled with worry, and forcing myself into an idea of what I need to do according to some arbitrary social expectations, but I’m busy looking into unconventional angles. What other alternative is there, honestly? I have tried to navigate through life according to what is considered usual, and I have experienced failure; but when I failed in unconventional means I was still able to eat and be relatively happy.
When I say “happy,” I’m not talking about the pleasure rising up and down your body beginning as a flood at the top of your head and tingling in your toenails like an orgasm when things are going the way you want them to; although, having that consistent experience for about a month would be a nice change. Happiness, as I’ve come to understand it, is a contentment resting in your core and stabilizing your entire being with balance and gratitude even as things are going terribly wrong. I’ve worked in corporate settings because I felt I had to for the sake of being married, buying a house, a new car, etc., but I never lasted long due to an overwhelming misery. Returning to school, and backpacking throughout the United States, I regained something that I thought I’d lost: a fresh insight into what it is I really want, and, by default, what I don’t want. I don’t care about the house/condo, I don’t care about the big paychecks, I don’t care about the newest car, I don’t care about making money for a corporation, and I don’t want to buy into the lie of denying myself until my mid-sixties to really start living. I want what I have in this moment. In this moment, I have my writing, I have my books, I have a love of sitting down with people and listening to their interesting stories, I love traveling with all the things I need in a rucksack, and I have my friends and a spouse who enjoy me and the things I write. I also have the opportunity to network with local literary people, and learn from them how to keep improving my art and broaden my audience.
My not being a good fit for one part of the world does not mean I am not a good fit for the entire world. I’m here. I exist. I have to say something. I have to contribute. Otherwise, what is the point of me getting out of bed in the morning? Yes, my statements are quite literal because you are reading these words I feel compelled to write, but people say something every day as they walk out the door to their respective jobs and vocations. Could I draw a paycheck from my words so I can pay the rent and eat something besides lentils? Yes, but my quality of life does not rest on whether or not a paycheck happens. As I continue my search for a job, I can still write, but I can also do some volunteer work until such a time I am employed and have to rearrange my schedule. I could easily get lost in my head and choke on the stale air because I don’t have a life similar life as my friends, or the lives I observe as I walk about downtown; but comparisons are odious, and I need to get out from time to time and engage the world I observe. I am a part of this world because I am alive, and I am interconnected to all sentient beings as I take a breath. Besides limiting my energy in building up the quality of my own life, how I am improving the quality of life for all living beings?