There’s nothing like finding loose change in the sofa.
I live in a building with vending machines in the common area between the gym and the laundry room. It’s a rather interesting spot because it provides an inconvenient temptation whenever you go in. Either you want to spend a dollar or two out of boredom while you’re waiting for your duvet cover to dry or you find yourself staring at the candy and chips tempting you as you’re walking in or out of the gym. The snack machine is just there to be there and is practically useless 98% of the time. I rarely crave a Snickers or have a hankering for those miniature donuts on the bottom row. It’s not a factor in my daily life, so I don’t factor it into my decision making when I’m hungry.
There’s usually plenty of food in my house and my wife makes it a habit to buy healthier snack items when she shops for groceries. If I want something to eat between meals, there’s peanuts, Skinny Pop and all other manner of natural items to choose from. Admittedly, when she first started bringing that stuff home, I wasn’t too enthused by the selection. I’m a grown man, I have needs and Little Debbie had been fulfilling them for over 20 years. I didn’t see anything wrong with just bringing home something to eat and didn’t care much for what was in it just so long as it tasted good. I don’t know the exact contents of a Twinkie, but I’m sure one of the ingredients is happiness and another is wonder. But now, I don’t really have much use for, and don’t think much about junk foods. Out of sight, out of mind.
But sometimes I find change in the sofa.
Maybe I’m sitting on my sofa and hear the happy jingling of coins as I scoot over to the left. Or sometimes I’ll reach my hand in between the cushions and feel the cool metallic sensation of a nickel resting there. Spare change. Something the homeless ask for. Something you often overlook. The stuff you put in a Crown Royal bag and hang on the inside of your closet door. You didn’t know you had it, but now that you’ve found it, you feel oddly fortunate and then can’t wait to spend it.
There’s never a logical purpose to 75 cents. It isn’t a make or break amount of money or such a substantial enough sum to give any real thought as to how to spend it and when. It’s called loose change for a reason; it doesn’t serve a purpose outside of having a minimal existence and it’s not something you would worry about missing as much as a dollar or even a stray button off of a sweater. I can’t think of anything in a store that only costs 75 cents and haven’t had an occasion where 75 cents is the exact amount of money needed to buy a staple item from any retail location. In fact, I’d wager to say this this is probably the most you or I have thought about 75 cents in a long time.
Until you find it in the sofa.
Once you find that 75 cents in the sofa it somehow turns into gold. For a moment in time, it’s not just something that escaped your pocket during a nap or slipped out of someone’s pants while they were visiting for game night. It’s an opportunity. An opportunity to satiate some minimal need in your life that didn’t exist before you discovered it or to solve a inconsequential problem that you’ve invented as an excuse to spend it. That 75 cents is there to fulfill one desire; it belongs in the vending machine.
To hell with the healthy snacks from Trader Joe’s or the organic crap they sell right beside the produce at Jewel. Who cares about lightly sea salted peanuts or baked potato chips? You’ve got 75 cents and now you need a Butterfinger. You NEED a Butterfinger. The Butterfinger that you had forgotten all about is now the most pressing matter in your life. You’ve been blessed with this infinitesimally small sum of money and now you’ve got to spend it on the finest luxury item you can get for the price. That Butterfinger.
That useless vending machine that you’d written off as a mere distraction to your laundry or trip to the elliptical has been elevated past just some thing in some place, it’s now a destination that you can’t wait to visit. Loose change is solid gold. Step on up and hit B6 and watch as happiness falls down to your waiting feet. All for just 75 cents.
When you’re staring down your sixth month of unemployment and you’ve started to get used to the way things are more than thinking about the way things were or could be, you can reach a state of zen-like apathy towards your job search and your job prospects. It’s not that you stop caring, because you always care, it’s just that you stop getting upset when someone passes on you. By now I’ve figured out the reasons why someone might not be inclined to hire me and, to the extent that I can, I’ve worked to fix some of my flaws and, to the extent that I can’t, I’ve come to grips with people’s perception of who I am and/or what I can do. The reality is that my credentials are sufficient enough to get in the door at some places, but being qualified for a job doesn’t mean someone would want to or should give me that job. I’m good, good enough, even better than others, but I may not be what they’re looking for either personally or professionally.
The thing about waiting for a potential employer considering interviewing you and/or eventually offering you a job is that you don’t know if they’re realistically looking to hire; not just you, but anyone. I know it seems strange, but there have been jobs that I’ve seen open for the better part of the six months I’ve been unemployed and I can assume that, after they decided they didn’t want me, they made the same assumptions about a few others. They’ve either decided that they don’t want to hire or need to hire; they just want the option to hire someone if the needs dictate or if they meet that special and magical person that is all that they’ve been looking for.
In the meantime, you just kinda sit there full of potential and ready to offer up all of your skills to the next person that comes along. Or maybe you got lost in the shuffle and you’ve been either forgotten or overlooked because you weren’t needed at that moment. Either way, you’re not just interviewing for a job, you’re also looking for a purpose. But in the grand scheme of things, to a lot of potential employers, you’re someone to think about not thinking about.
Ready to serve, but not immediately needed for a purpose. They think they’ve got all that they want or need, so it’s a matter of waiting to be discovered, uncovered or remembered at some point. Not at the right time, there is no exact right time when it comes to hiring. Not on a given date or moment, but just when that time becomes that time.
Sometimes you’re the vending machine waiting to get more than a passing glance at all you have to offer.
Sometimes you’re the 75 cents hoping that you can surprisingly add value where the need may or may not have existed before.
Either way, your potential for a purpose is predicated on the confluence of their wants and your availability. It’s either the right hand digging into the sofa cushion at the right time, or remembering the under-appreciated fulfillment that you can offer at just the right time. Someone stumbling upon you when they or you least expecting it and finding out that you do have something to offer.
You matter, they either don’t know it yet or forgot about it. But you stay ever vigilant in the fact that your time will come.
When it’s finally time for me to end this blog and move on to the next thing, I’m going to relish the fact that I got to write all of this stuff down. Not because of your reception and my ego, but more so because it’s reminded me of my value, personal and professional, over the past few months. The fact that I can do this and you can remember who I am and why this exists.
I might be something to distract you in the laundry room or teases you outside the gym. But then again, I might be a few nickels and dimes that you can use later for something else. I don’t know.
What I do know is that there’s someone out there who’s sitting on a sofa loaded with riches that they’ve forgotten about and waiting to fulfill an overlooked want/need. Either way, I’m here.
I hope not for too much longer.