resume, verb, begin to do or pursue (something) again after a pause or interruption
On Thursday last week, I woke up with the goal in mind of updating and writing my resumé– the shock of being laid off still quite fresh and the need to just keep moving pressing upon me. I went to my favorite coffee shop with my laptop, ordered the biggest cappuccino I could, and got to working. Writing your resumé is somewhat of a boring and mundane task, if not an exercise in ego inflation. A good resumé makes you look like a rock star as much as possible – even though most of us pore over spreadsheets and run unproductive meetings as a main part of our jobs.
Resumé with an accent on the e is a summary – a curriculum vitae. Remove the accent, and you get a much more interesting word – one which is still apropos to being unemployed. The act of writing your resume is done in an effort to resume your working life – either as a fresh start, or because you’ve been laid off. The other way to look at resume in respect to losing a job, is to see it as resuming your actual life again – like the life we have beyond the eight hours that we toil, gossip, move numbers around on spreadsheets, etc.
For the past few days, I have resumed many things that are essential to who I am – and that I had lost without realizing. I have resumed exercising and moving – which so many of us let go because the pressure and strain of our jobs makes it hard to fit in. I have also resumed daydreaming – having ideas. Just having the time to sit, have a thought and take it to the next place.
I’ve resumed cooking and enjoying food – instead of it just being something I have to do to live. I’ve resumed seeing people I love – meeting with friends and laughing. I have also resumed breathing – really breathing – consciously – in through the nose, out through the mouth – intentionally. I’ve resumed listening to and enjoying music all day, and all different kinds. Listening to NPR and This American Life again – letting the stories and news give me ideas, making me think and use my brain.
I have also resumed reminiscing. The only other time in my life that I was let go from a job was when I was 16 years old and the famous town ice cream shop fired me. I remember feeling the same way I do now back then – although working at 16 was mostly so I could buy my clothes and go out with friends – it wasn’t a livelihood like it is now – and I ended up within a week or so working for the kosher burger joint down the block. It was called Fliegels – and although it wasn’t the cool place to work in the way my ice cream scooping and waitressing gig was, I ended up working there until I graduated from high school.
As I remember, the ice cream shop job was brutal. I worked late and had to clean the kitchen…and they made us split our tips with the non-waitressing staff – which I always thought was unfair. I went home filthy every night, covered in dried ice cream and grease from cooking sandwiches on the grille. The customers were often rude and demanding – sometimes sexually harassing as well. My dad came to pick me up at midnight most evenings – and I’d go home and finally get to my homework in the wee hours before school the next day – completely exhausted and working too hard for a 16-year-old.
Despite the not so great situation with ice cream shop, getting the job at Fliegels initially felt like a step down. It was a takeout place – no waitressing or staff of teenagers. I manned the counter next to a giant, revolving wheel of shawarma – which was a foreign food to me. Most of the time, I worked alone, ran the register which spit the orders into the back where a Mexican immigrant prepared them. I had to wear a long skirt that went to my ankles and cover my hair and I learned a few words for things in Hebrew. Once a week, a rabbi came and worked in the basement blessing all of the food – and I began appreciating a totally different world of food and culture. One that was filled with shawarma, hummus, tahini, tabbouleh, falafel…much more interesting than ice cream sundaes and cream cheese sandwiches. The people were nicer – especially my Mexican partner who prepared the food in the back. Working at Fliegels wasn’t as flashy or as cool as my former job, but I was able to resume being a curious and well adjusted 16-year-old. I didn’t work late hours, was treated well and learned about Middle Eastern and Israeli food, some Hebrew and Jewish culture. The day I graduated from high school the owners asked me to come pick up my last paycheck. I had gotten a job as a camp counselor for a Girl Scout Camp in the Catskills for the summer so my stint there was over. When I got there that day, they paid me double what I had earned and sent me off with hugs and thanks.
I think for the past four years, my last job was a lot like working at that ice cream shop. I felt a part of something fun, flashy, iconic and important – but I was going home dejected and worn out for many reasons. As I resume my job search – and the next chapter of my life – I hope to find my Fliegels again. I’m 41 and not 16, but the things that make me tick are not all that much different…and I definitely prefer a good plate of falafel, hummus and tahini over a banana split any day.