Chapter 19: Second Nature
Jeannie started looking thru the employment section of her local newspaper want ads then surfed the internet looking for employment. After she updated her resume on Internet Job-Sites, related Job Engines, she finally went downtown to the municipal building and registered with employment services.
She also went to her on-line College that she graduated from who had their own employment services, tied in with the local college, but despite her best efforts she didn’t hear anything right away. Jeanie knew that the economy was bad, but she also thought maybe a woman in her profession would have a better than average chance.
The unemployment numbers nationwide were staggering. The few companies that were hiring were all in the inner-city, nobody was hiring locally. And the inner-city was not the safest area.
Jennie herself had always lived in a gated community; usually an upscale subdivision in a prospering community. The one they lived in now was not so different from the one that they had grown up in.
Working in the city meant commuting and that easily an hour one way. Mark didn’t like the idea of Jeanie working in the city to begin with, construction with confusing detours, dangerous unfamiliar neighborhoods, with menacing, inner-city locals hanging out at every corner. Winter was coming so it was already starting to get darker.
Despite all that Jeannie was persistent and kept calling on every lead she had within a twenty to thirty-mile radius, but in only a half-day she had exhausted her complete list of prospects.
No one was hiring, some were not even accepting resumes. Jeanie was discouraged but far from giving up. Mark had already given her a hard time about getting a job before, but he was not going to make the same mistake twice.
“Mark, I tried but there are simply no other jobs that are relatively close to us, Jeanie said.”
“Look, I’m not asking you to quit looking, I’m am only asking you to wait until the right job comes along.”
“Mark, we can’t wait for that, Jeanie said.”
“Yes, we can, I got the promotion, so you don’t need to hurry now. We have money again, and were up to date with the mortgage, we lost our 401 savings, but we can build it back up, Mark treaded lightly.”
“How’s your new job going Jeanie asked?”
It had been two weeks since his promotion.
“Good, you know It’s a lot different than what I thought it would be, Mark said. It’s a lot more creative thinking, Mark said smiling.”
“Are your happy baby, Jeanie asked?”
“Very happy, I shifted gears, at least now I can use the personal traits I’m good at naturally in my new position, rather than the quality-control aspect of my last job which was little more than of checking over random mistakes caused by other people.
Jeanie was so happy for him, she wanted to cry, Mark had returned to character, and she was going to make sure he stayed there.
“Mark, it’s not just about the money. I don’t ever want to be in that situation again, that desperation, that hopelessness, she warned.”
“We have to secure savings if we want to live independently, I’m come to realize what is really important to me and it’s not the house or the cars, it us, us being happy do matter how much or how little we have between us.”
Mark looked at her strangely, “I thought you were happy that we were back on our feet again, he said.”
“I am, I’m very proud of you, but what’s to stop your entire company from shutting down in the future again?
We have no control, maybe the corporate lifestyle, lucrative that it is, is not for us. It’s too volatile; too unpredictive. They follow the stock-market. It’s all crazy Mark.
Mark nodded in agreement.
I never wanted you to work; my mother never worked, Mark said.
We don’t live in a world of 30-years pensions, COLA’s, Medical and Dental benefits, and prescription coverage. It’s just not that kind of world anymore, Jeanie confirmed.”
I was just trying to prove that I was a better man than my father, he said.
You will always be a better man than your father, Mark, you know that.
But we suffered because of your pride, you never wanted me to work even when we needed me to, the most. Well now that your ego has been satisfied,
I hope you can see the truth of our situation, she asked?
I know but I still don’t like it.
I am not your mom Mark, I have always wanted to work, I don’t just want to be a housewife, I have nothing against women who make that choice but that is not enough for me, she said.
What do you want to do?
I want us to cut down on our expenses, I don’t us to live check to check anymore, that’s financial slavery, we have to be more careful, and that means sacrifice.
What do you want to do?
Any money I earn I do not want us to spend the money, we can save the checks, in a separate account one that don’t have immediate access too.
Okay, but you’re going to be working for a corporation, same as me, then what, he asked?
How can we not work for corporations as that is all there is any more?
“How about starting our own business, getting out of the rat-race, a lifestyle that dictates that we are slaves to a job that can change or disappear on a whim?
Oh, so now you want to compete against the cooperation’s, he said.
It’s that kind of thinking that kills American Ingenuity, she said. True capitalism.
“Our own business doing what, Mark asked?”
There are plenty of lucrative businesses that corporationalize.
How about you doing something on the internet, and me I could finish my teachhing degree??? Maybe just substitute???
Well at least you’d come that honestly, he said.
Yes, I approve of anything you do.
Jeanie thought of Gerald, and she felt guilty.
I’m just trying to suggest alternatives, we can save the money from the checks I earn until we have enough to invest in our own business. Of something we can be a part of.
What else could I do?
“I don’t know, your good in marketing, how about something in advertising. Maybe even open your own store. Who cares if its small, at least it would be ours, you’ve always been very independent, despite your privileged upbringing, we just need to find the right thing, Jeanie finished.”
“I don’t care what we do as long as I’m with you, I was wrong before, I admit that, and I promise I won’t ever choose between you and anything else ever again, least of all my pride. I thought I was above that, but when I was tested, I failed. I just-and then Mark broke down crying, “I just didn’t want you to see me as a failure, like my father always did, Mark said looking down at the floor to avoided her eyes.”
“I never saw you as a failure Mark, and I never would, I thought we were supposed to share our burdens together and count on each other, she asked?
My father constantly reminded me what tell me what a fuck-up I was growing up, I can’t remember him telling me that he loved me -not once. Mark said, I was trying to be the best in everything just to gain his respect. But to gain his love, Impossibe. But I was never good-enough. He’s such a big man down town, now he’s a Senator.
I was supposed to surpass my father, out-do him, be more successful, as every future generation is, now I won’t accomplish half of what he did.
When you told me what he did to you, I hated him for it, but I was even more determined to prove to myself that I was a better man than he was.
Mark, you were so determined to be the opposite of your father that you’ve come full circle without even realizing it, Jeanie said.”
I know, he said, he was sobbing but tears were falling, he hated crying in front of Jeanie.
“Mark, trying to do everything by yourself and turning on me was the worst thing you could have done.”
“Can you ever forgive me, Mark asked troubled?”
“I love you, I hold no grudges, are you yourself willing to forgive, Jeanie replied.” Mark thought her answer rather cryptic.
“Forgive what, he asked?”
“The consequence of actions, Jeanie replied.”
“When a man loses his job, the woman is always the first to leave him, everyone knows that, Mark said, I felt that if I couldn’t support this family myself, that you would leave me, he said.
No, Mark I would ever do that not.
Do you remember that time at the beach, when I carried you to the towels, so you wouldn’t burn your feet?
Yes, it was a long distance and I was afraid that you couldn’t carry me, she said.
I was trying to protect you by showing you that I would always be able to take care us, by myself, that’s what men do, men like my dad, he finished. I didn’t want you to see me as weak.
“No, Mark I would have suggested an alternative solution, like me waiting in the water while you went to go get my sandals and then bringing them back to me, instead of you carrying me to my sandals which was much harder, because not only did you not allow me to help, but because I myself became the burden, Jeanie explained.”
Mark was stunned, he just looked at her dumbfounded, he saw her brilliance yet again. It was always there but from time to time it erupted to the surface like lava shooting from a volcano. She would never flaunt it, only make it know when appropriate.
About two weeks later Jeanie got a call back on Friday from an Interview that had gone particularly well earlier in the week, now they wanted her to come in the following Monday for a second interview with human resources, and the Supervisor of that division would also be there.
Mark told her not to get her hopes up, just in case she didn’t get the job, and to remember that she may have to still re-interview a third time as well, so the most practical thing she could do was to continue with the other job interviews until she actually got hired.
But of course, Jeanie had her heart set on this job, because it was the closest to home, and it paid the most money. The second interview went well, and a few days later the same company called back again and asked if it was possible for her to begin orientation the following Monday.
Jeanie was over-joyed; the training was six weeks long and she would be paid for it. The schedule was broken up into half days because studies showed that training was more effective for the students in half days as opposed to a full day. Less exhausting.
Jeanie was very happy that she would be home during this training which served as a transition period for the next six weeks, so she would be able to have Mark’s dinner ready for him when he got home.
After the interview, she met Mark at the door, and hugged him tightly, until he begged her to let him go so he could breathe.
“I was going to call you at work, but I didn’t want to get you into trouble, Jeanie said, and then I tried calling you at lunch, but the calls kept going to your voice mail.”
“I was in meetings all day and we had a cellular blackout, which meant all phones had to be turned off for the length of the meeting, and they ran back to back.”
“I’m glad you’re home now, Jeanie said, your dinners on the table.”
“Can I change my clothes and shower first he asked?”
“No, you can do that after dinner, then we can shower together?”
Mark stopped at the store to pick up a bottle of champagne just in case.
Wow, you really want to celebrate, Mark said.
Indeed, I do, Jeanie smiled embarrassed.
“Congratulations, baby, he said, holding up the bottle. Instantly Jeanie thought of Gerald and that after at the hotel, now her period was late.
Well maybe just a glass she said.
“Jeanie kissed him, telling Mark all about her day, as she served him dinner; rarely did Mark see Jeanie this excited, she was laughing one minute and almost crying the next.
“When do you start, he asked?”
“Monday, Jeanie said.”
“How long is training, Mark asked?”
“Only two weeks, Jeanie replied.”
“How about your hours, Mark asked.”
“Training hours are nine to five, all day Mon-Fri, but I don’t know what my regular hours are going to be after that I assume it’s the same, but it may not be fixed, I may have to work late, weekends, holidays, whatever.
Work late Mark questioned?
When I’m on assignment, she said.
Secretary on Assignment, Mark asked confused?
Well, that’s not actually my title.
“What’s your title, Mark asked?”
“Administrative Assistant, Jeanie laughed.”
“Secretary, Mark teased.”
“Administrative Assistant, Jeanie corrected.”
“Did you meet your boss yet, he asked?”
“I did, Jeanie replied.”
“Is your boss a man or a woman, Mark asked?”
“A man, Jeanie answered.”
“What’s his name, Mark asked?”
“Janus, she said.”
“Ja-nus, Mark enunciated, that’s different?” Jeanie laughed.
“Never heard of him, Mark said.”
“Did you think you would, she asked?”
“I don’t know, it’s a small world maybe, Mark said, shrugging his shoulders.”
“I know but we have to be flexible Mark, there are those times when I have to work that meet the needs of the company, you know how it is, Jeanie replied trying not to sound defensive.”
I will make allowances for you, so you do whatever you have to as long as it’s the best interest of the family, he promised.”
“Thank You Mark, Jeanie sounded relieved.”
“How much notice do they have to give you, before you know about your schedule changing, Mark asked?”
“I’ll don’t know I haven’t even started yet, but as soon as I found out, I’ll tell you, Jeanie said, wanting to change the subject.
“What’s the name of your company, Mark asked?”
“Second Nature, Jeanie said.”
“Never heard of them, Mark responded, who are they?”
“I think there a magazine that specializes in the benefits of natural herbs, holistic healing, and the promotion of public awareness to bring about social changes, Jeanie said.”
“Wow, you already sound like a spokesperson, Mark said.”
“No, I just read the brochure, Jeanie laughed.”
“What kind of social changes, Mark asked?”
Jeanie handed Mark some of the material she brought home with her on Global Warming, Acid Rain, GMO’s, Depletion of the Ozone Layer, Alternative Medicines, and Natural Remedies with an emphasis on herbs and yoga.
Jeanie herself had an extensive background with herbs from both the Eastern and Western cultures, so she was curious to read what they had to say as well.
“Are you familiar with any of this stuff Jeanie, Mark asked?”
“I haven’t’ had much of a chance to look thru it but the company had an entire range of products besides herbs, such as computer programs, videos and audios to help people quit smoking, improve their memory, lose weight, get motivated… “A Magazine devoted to New Age Science, Mark read out loud.
“They have everything from Learning Aids to Meditation Programs, Jeanie confirmed.”
“It sounds “New-Age” all-right, Mark confirmed skeptically.”
“I’m curious, do you know how many positions were available at the company, Mark asked?”
“I don’t even know how many people applied for my position, but there was maybe thirty people waiting with me in the lobby, if I had to guess, I assume they were doing a mass hiring for multiple positions.”
“Well if they weren’t credible people wouldn’t buy the products, Jeanie said.”
“Do you know how long they’ve been in business, Mark asked?”
“I think since about 1982, Jeanie confirmed.”
Why is it that a company I have never heard of before, also says they have been in business for like 40 years, after I discover them by accident?
Jeanie laughed, “You know with the rising costs of insurance and deductibles many people are seeking alternative forms of medicines and treatments, she replied.”
“Mainstream media, and society refers to the ancient practices such as yoga, herbs, and meditation as “New Age,” but, it’s been practiced for centuries, Jeanie said.”
I guess, Mark said, not impressed.
“It’s hard being objective while working for the company, but everything comes with a money back guarantee so that’s always a good sign.”
“Yea, for as long as the company stays in business, Mark said.”
“Well I think this is their third or fourth franchise, so they are expanding, and that’s why they’re hiring in the first place, Jeanie said.”
“Well, I hear he’s supposed to be some marketing wizard, but I don’t know exactly with what, computer software, networking, advertising, maybe everything,
“Does he seem like someone you could get along with, Mark asked?”
“Well, I just met him at the orientation, but yea, he’s seems nice, why wouldn’t I, Jeanie asked?”
“Some bosses are cool, and others are real hard-asses, like my boss Gerald Ross, Mark said.”
Jeanie looked away suddenly without meaning too, “Well, we just met, but he seemed cool, maybe even shy, Jeanie said.”
“Shy, Mark asked?”
“Yea, I can’t explain it, almost reserved, Jeanie replied.”
“He was probably just as nervous as you were, Mark said.”
“He was only there to welcome everyone as a group, just to say Hi, and welcome them aboard.
“He didn’t make any extra time for his personal secretary, Mark asked?”
“Administrative Assistant, Jeanie corrected, and no, he did not.”
“I would have, Mark said, looking at Jeanie appraisingly.”
“Right now, I’m not even that until after the training.
“Do you yourself have an assistant, Mark asked?”
“No, I do not, she said.”
“Still that seems it seems like a lot for one person especially for one just starting, do you think you’ll be able to handle all that responsibility, Mark teased?”
Mark, I won’t have much for you during the transition period, but I’ll try to get home and have dinner started for you, she said?
No, don’t worry about that, you drive safe, that’s all I care about.
You don’t worry about my dinner, or anything else, I can make my own dinner, maybe yours as well if you can stomach it.
Ewwwww, Jeanie made a face, and Mark laughed, kissing her and then rolling on top of him playfully.
“Mark, let me go, you’re hurting me, Jeanie said trying not to laugh.”
“I am not, Mark said, ticking her.”
“You are, your being too rough, Jeanie insisted.”
Mark let her go and put his hands on her wide hips and rested them on her naked bottom.
“I’m sorry baby, it’s just that you make me crazy sometimes, he said.”
“I sorry too then for not having time for you, Jeanie said.”
You just tell him your spoken for, Mark asked?”
“I always wear my wedding ring, and she stopped short, she was about to cry.
Suddenly Jeanie wanted to tell him everything, the guilt was killing her.”
What ‘wrong baby, did I really hurt you, Mark asked?
“I just want everyone at work to like me, Jeanie said sadly.”
“Why wouldn’t they, Mark asked?”
“Oh, you know the other women in the office, Jeanie said.”
“But you’re the boss now, the office manager, so you don’t have to worry about them, they have to worry about you, Mark said.
Jeanie kissed him, “I don’t have to worry, she asked in her little girl voice, vulnerable, scared, unsure, and needing confirmation.”
“No, you do not, because I am here for you, and always will be.”
I just don’t want it to be like high-school, Jeanie said.
It won’t be, he assured her, “Jeanie, this isn’t high-school, you are not the one trying to fit in, you are paid for doing a job, you remember that, he said gently lifting her chin, just like Gerald had before, so that he could meet her eyes, and kiss her. Mark kissed her gently on the lips.
“Yes, I know Jeanie said, looking away, so she didn’t have to face him, she thought she might break down and start crying hysterically if she did.”
“I’m so proud of you Jeanie, I love you so much, I never should have doubted you I’m such a fool, Mark said.”
Jeanie started to cry, she felt so ashamed, why couldn’t he have said this to her before, now she couldn’t even look at him for fear of him seeing her guilt.
“Jeanie are you okay, Mark asked concerned?”
Jeanie nodded, “It’s just that I’ve been waiting for such a long time for you to say that.
“I have always felt that way, Mark said, If I never said it it’s only because I thought you always knew.
I know but sometimes a person needs to hear it as well, Jeanie said wiping her eyes.
You will he promised, and then he kissed her.