Maybe if I wear lots of makeup, a plunging neckline and a push-up bra, I could work as a bartender in a strip club. At least there they wouldn't ask for a university degree.
What else can a working-class girl in her 40s do to keep herself off the dole? Certainly not what years of training and 9-to-5 diligence have taught me to do. For the past decade, I did accounts payable, was promoted to junior analyst and then systems administrator for the accounting system.
But last year I was laid off, and suddenly I'm unhireable. Turns out the world has changed and no one can now add and subtract or run systems without a university degree. Or as one corporate interviewer sneered, "People with degrees are better and more responsible workers than those without them."
I've obviously spent so long toiling in my clerical enclave that I've missed the credential inflation. One agency responded to my application by saying, "When you upgrade your skills, please reapply,' as though my 10 years' experience weren't good enough.
One accounting clerk job I saw advertised was only paying $12 bucks an hour, and I could have done it with my eyes shut.
Alas, it was not to be mine.
Not only did the employer want someone with a university degree in business, but they also wanted someone who was at least in the third level of the certified general accounting or certified management accounting course. If I had a BA after my name and was working toward my accounting designation, would I even take a measly 12 bucks an hour?
For years I was competent enough to keep ledgers finely balancing, degreeless and painstakingly trained on the job. Now no one can graduate from an accounting course without a bachelor's degree. Has someone changed the multiplication table behind my back? Or the nature of decimals?
And how can someone my age who lacks the resources to return to school ever compete for a receptionist job I just saw that pays between $9 and $12 an hour and requires university? Same for a data entry operator ad I recently didn't bother applying for. These are clerical jobs, for heaven's sake.
So I guess I'll have to forget about all my accounting, clerical, computer and admin experience and try instead to find a gig at one of the youth-obsessed coffee shop chains - or maybe a dishwashing job.
Recently, I saw such an ad, and at least they only required someone with "high school or some high school.' That job paid just over $11 an hour - not much less than some employers are paying for university or accounting degrees.
Or maybe I'll get lucky and win the lottery.
And if I do, I'll open up an employment agency for working-class men and women - especially those over 40. Because really, all you need is someone, somewhere to give you a freakin' chance.