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COLUMN: Ryn: I wonder if they’re hiring in Madagascar

Job hunting has always been a full-time endeavor. In this fine economy, the hunt entails double time, triple time and often being on call like a doctor.

Is anyone hiring doctors?

With the Tucson Citizen going under and the rest of the country following suit, I am not alone trying to find a new job.

More than 15,700 folks across metro Tucson and 116,500 across the state have been laid off since the end of 2007, with more surely on the way.

As I am not alone in my hunt, I am also not alone in the way the job hunting process unfolds.

It starts with panic. We e-mail everyone we know, from each boss we ever had to our kindergarten teacher.

We even include that dude from 21 years ago who eventually joined us after we ran away to New York, since he recently found us on Facebook.

No matter that he’s back living with his parents in Michigan and, if we recall correctly, used to keep moldy green pizza under his bed.

“Hey buddy,” we e-mail, “you got a job for me?” Perhaps he can pay us to regularly clean beneath his bed.

The hunt moves to desperation. We scramble to all the job sites and blanket the Earth with our résumés.

We apply for each position we come across, regardless of pay, hours, location or even working conditions.

“Perhaps it might be cool to be a corrections officer,” we think. “Maybe I am cut out for Border Patrol.”

This stage includes a lot of typos, weeping and often sending out wrong versions of our résumé, like the one that hasn’t been updated since we were a salad bar girl at Bonanza.

We also apply for stuff for which we aren’t even qualified. Who cares if our only medical experience was dissecting a frog in high school? We apply for that surgeon job in the Virgin Islands.

Then we get mad. “Heck with you if you don’t want to hire me to clean beneath your bed,” we write to the Michigan pizza man. “You don’t know what you’re missing. I’m the best dang moldy green pizza cleaner in town.”

After we completely sever any contacts that may have helped and torch bridges we haven’t even crossed yet, our anger morphs into self-pity.

“Woe is me,” we lament. “No one wants to hire me.”

Here come thoughts of being worthless, unemployable and destined to live in the Rillito riverbed, like that guy who eats graham crackers for dinner at his camp beneath a tree.

To offset this pity, we vow to be constructive.

So we go get drunk. If we happen not to drink, we can always escape through meditation, long walks around the guy’s riverbed camp and frequent, lengthy naps. My nap record was eight hours the other Sunday.

Once we sober up or wake up, we begin our stint of wild dreaming.

Here’s where we shoot off résumés to Hawaii, Australia and Paris. Costa Rica, Madagascar, Rome. It doesn’t really matter what types of jobs are open in these places; we just know they will take us far away.

As we check for phone messages every half-hour, our e-mails every five minutes and our Facebook every three seconds to see if anyone posted a job opening on our wall, we slowly sink into surrender.

“No one is hiring,” we say. Or at least not for jobs that would tickle our fancies.

Thus the fun begins. We get innovative. Recalling how we once traded artwork for a sandwich during our early New York days, we break out the paints.

We gather up our markers and hook up a sign that says: “Will create for food.”

We dig out our tattoo guns, dust off our flute and research how to start a business selling wacky yard art. We practice haircuts and pedicures on our dog.

We still may not have found a job or even been offered a sandwich, but at least the dog looks cool with a Mohawk.

And if anyone needs a haircut, tattoo or wacky yard art, you just may find me working as a surgeon in the Virgin Islands.

Ryn Gargulinski is an artist, poet and Tucson Citizen reporter who nearly showed up for corrections officer training a few weeks back. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM.

This column originally appeared in the Feb. 27, 2009, issue of the Tucson Citizen.

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COLUMN: Ryn: Job fairs: The great compression

Cattle generally have it better than folks who stampede through a job fair. And the cattle get shot in the head.

My friend Bart used to work in a slaughterhouse, and he told me plenty of grisly tales about the air guns.

No one was shot during Tuesday’s massive fair at the Tucson Convention Center, but I may have volunteered to be put out of my misery.

Something about being in a room stuffed with thousands of people vying for a mere handful of jobs tends to make me weak and weary.

Others weren’t quite as depressed about the job fair, though I tried to make them say they were.

“It doesn’t make me depressed, no,” said Luis Gomez, 53, who was looking for computer-related work. Self-employed for some time, he said business was down and he needed some part-time income. “It’s a source of hope, not depression.”

Kristen Nyboer, 22, who is trained in working with autistic and developmentally disabled kids, also felt pretty positive about the fair. Until she saw that the line was longer than those for the Porta Potty during a beer fest.

“I’m still not depressed,” she said, “but maybe a little less optimistic.”

Even Stephanie Jamison, 37, who has been to every Tucson job fair in the past several years and only once got a job from them, had uplifting things to say.

“No, it doesn’t make me depressed,” she said. “It gives me encouragement to know is doing this to help people.”

No matter who runs them, job fairs have always left a bad taste in my mouth, not unlike drinking coffee while eating tuna fish.

To be fair, I’ve only attended one job fest prior to Tuesday’s packed event. It, too, was a jammed event, but at New York City’s Javits Center, a four-level behemoth of a building large enough to host floor hockey games and international motorcycle shows – complete with the latest lines.

I recall being pushed, shoved, smushed and drenched in sweat, wearing an ill-matching pseudo suit that was much too big for me.

Sure, I’ve come a long way since those pre-college days, and now even have clothes that fit, but I still tend to get morose when I feel like I’m at a cattle call.

Job fair volunteer Tyler Evans, 24, shared my lack of enthusiasm for the event. He was collecting the little registration papers some people actually threw in his general direction.

“Only about 10 percent of these people will get a job,” he said of those hoping for an offer after the fair.

Part of that was because the applicants far outnumbered the available jobs. But another part was due to people’s attitudes.

“They sabotage themselves,” he said. “They go into it like: ‘Hi, my name is so-and-so and I don’t want to work for you.’”

Meanwhile, he continued, the employers are often paying attention to the long lines and the person behind the person they are supposed to be interviewing.

“I wouldn’t go to this,” he said of the fair, “I’d go to a business personally to get a job.”

Yes, Evans is employed. He’s training to be a nurse. It’s not a position he nabbed from a job fair.

I didn’t think my luck would be so great at the fair, either, despite my matching and fitting clothes.

Not necessarily because of my attitude, not because I felt like bursting into tears, but mainly because I didn’t hand out any résumés.

I simply couldn’t.

As much as I wanted to embrace the attitudes held by Gomez, Nyboer and Jamison; as much as I wanted to be grateful for the chance to meet a host of employers under a single roof; as much as I loved my little matching winter suit; I couldn’t bring myself to smile and hand over a single résumé.

My thoughts lingered, instead, on the air gun.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and Tucson Citizen reporter who is not expecting any callbacks from the job fair. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM.

This column originally appeared in the Jan. 30, 2009, issue of the Tucson Citizen.

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Ryn: Sex sells


Sex sells.

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

Or at least the millions who spend billions to plaster it all over thousands of billboards, magazine ads and TV spots hope it sells.

Sex is actually one of the top marketing ploys you’re expected to memorize in media classes. It’s right up there with celebrities, animals, humor and catchy music.

Not many can forget the “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh, what a relief it is” of Alka Seltzer or the series of sung “meows” that helped sell the yellow-boxed Meow Mix cat food.

At least the singing cats weren’t having sex.

Tucson is pretty mild when it comes to sex ads, at least on billboards. The closest I recall was a beer ad that depicted a moonlit beach reflecting off naked legs that promised a wild night if you got drunk on their stuff.

They failed to mention, however, any quickie hookup would most likely lead to an even quicker breakup when both parties sobered up.

Another ad, which I thankfully have not glimpsed in some time, used sex to encourage women to go get breast exams. At least I think that’s what the ad was for.

The bus stop posters showed a topless woman holding two roundish things in front of her chest. The things ranged from oranges to baseballs and even included a halved avocado, with the pits still in so they looked like deformed nipples.

Since the ad was geared towards women, it seemed counterproductive to use a gimmick that would appeal more to men, even if the bountiful items were only avocado.

In addition to beer and breast exams, sex is also used to sell, well, sex.

I don’t watch TV, but my friend fills me in on how every other 30-second spot is selling the latest, greatest miracle drug, device or doohickey that will enhance your sex life.

The ads depict formerly sad couples in bed who are now happy since they found this magical miracle.

One local paper has a whole section devoted to sex ads every week.

Readers are promised everything from phone fantasies to erotic escorts. They are also reminded of club specials like “bikini Thursday” and featured acts with names like “Prinzzess Pet.”

Give me a break.

Ladies night is just another sex ploy used by bars to get more men into the joint. Men will come if women are there.

Colleges, too, may be jumping into the game.

Women are finally outnumbering men on a number of campuses nationwide.

As the gap widens, one Skidmore College professor was quoted in USA Today as saying, “We should be taking about whether it’s reasonable to give preferences to men.”

That means lowering the standards for guys so more can get in.

Colleges may think they are selling this premise under “gender equality,” but it all boils back to sex as a marketing ploy. Women will come if men are there.

After all, who would go to college for silly things like learning. Rather, it’s a place to get drunk and have sex.

Give me another break.

Unless we live in a cloistered cell, we can’t really avoid all the sex ploys, ads, toys and the dozens of sex e-mails that clog our junk folders every day.

But we can choose not to fall prey to their incessant and demanding messages or their blatantly false promises.

Getting a beer, breast exam, college degree or many other products or services will not insure you have sex.

Besides, it would be tough to get passionate or intimate with an avocado in the way, anyway.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist and Ryngmaster who wrote this column while wearing a bikini. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her Rynski’s Shattered Reality webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail