A job search in Florida in the summer is almost comical.
Firstly, Florida is a state that pays below national average because of something called "The Sunshine Benefit". The reasoning for businesses here is that they can pay less because people aren't moving here to work, they're moving here to play. This puts those of us who are natives at a distinct disadvantage, no matter what our education level is.
Secondly, summertime is notorious as being a time when most business goes into hibernation: Local families are vacationing, and tourists usually come when the weather is cooler because it's so hot here that you could fry an egg on the pavement, sizzle bacon to a crisp, and leave the toast out on the lawn to get a nice tan. Butter melts at room temperature within minutes.
That also means that wearing a professional, fully-lined suit to a job interview is sheer agony. Of course you can wear what you want to an interview... as long as you're interviewing for a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken.
My mother has helpfully suggested that I wear arm pads in my suits, so that I don't have to trot to the dry cleaners after every interview. I'm telling you: They need to make arm pads like they make diapers. In fact, perhaps I simply need to start stuffing preemie diapers in each armpit. It might make me look slightly deformed, but at least I'll be wearing a fully-lined suit.
But there's a bigger problem yet.
I am a hot commodity. I say this without blushing because it's true: Employers look at my resume and salivate. But, they don't want to pay for me.
I recently went through six interviews (yes, six) for one job that would chain me to a desk in a bull-pen environment where I would share an office with six others who are on the phone constantly. A community bathroom is directly off that room, with no privacy. In other words, everyone in the room can hear every drop of urine that hits the bowl.
After the sixth interview, I was informed that I was going to be paid around $40,000 as a base salary, with commission. The base, I was informed, would be enough to make sure that I could live comfortably.
Comfortably? According to whose standards?
Here in Florida nothing is cheap any longer. $40,000 would be fine if I were a secretary married to someone who made more money and we wanted a little "pin money", as my grandmother would've called it. But $40,000 is not fine if you're a female executive with experience and great credentials and connections.
I'm a single mom. I grant you that my child could probably adapt to eating beans and rice for years on end, but my goal is to have a life above the poverty level that will save him from rickets and stunted growth. Additionally, it's hard to be a snappy dresser when thrift shops are your department stores.
Since then, I've been offered a variety of great jobs that don't pay a thing except for commission only.
I had a call from a woman yesterday who was, of course, trying to sell me on another straight commission job. She asked me if that would be OK with me.
"I'll be happy to consider it," I said wearily. "However, let me tell you that in my experience, companies that offer only straight commission with no base salary either don't have enough start-up capital or don't believe enough in their product."
There was silence on the line for a minute. Then she admitted that they were a start-up firm. To add insult to injury, during the ensuing conversation she told me that they would give us job assignments all over the country, and we would have to pay our own way.
I would love to meet the sucker that takes that bet.
Right now, a career at Kentucky Fried Chicken is looking pretty good.