No Jab, No Job: The Struggle to Find Employment in Post-Covid America
by Lenora Thompson
AMERICA: The Blog
I didn’t even think of it. Didn’t crack the Top 10. But this isn’t 2004 and we’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. Now the jibby-jibby-jab is one of the first things potential employers mention and I, being disgustingly honest, am losing job after job by replying with just two little words: “religious exemption.”It all began one fine Autumn day when the perfect job was mine. Well, almost mine.
”Oh, by the way, did you get the shot?”
As most of you know, my decision to move to The Big City and get a regular 9-to-5 job and an apartment with Michael wasn’t planned. It wasn’t strategized down to the last agonizing detail as this ultra-organized German usually does with, well, everything in her life. It certainly wasn’t budgeted for. It suddenly became necessary and in a moment, the die was cast and the wheels were put in motion. Damn the torpedos! Full speed ahead!
Within one day, one day, of coming to The Big City and settling in to the very welcoming but surprisingly expensive AmericInn (the only local hotel who took dogs and didn’t have roaches) to search for work and lodging, I received a wonderful job offer from a long-time friend to be the caregiver for her sister, LaVerne (not her real name), who had suffered a stroke and desperately wanted to leave the nursing home and return to her own lovely house.
The job was perfect in every way. Not only would I be paid, but food and even laundry facilities would be thrown in for free. It felt like God was looking down and smiling, conveying his approval of our decision by blessing me with instant employment.
LaVerne’s family were as thrilled to find someone to care for their ailing sister as I was to have such a wonderful opportunity drop in my lap. I had the family’s blessing. LaVerne’s rescue chihuahua kinda-sorta sometimes liked me. The final hurdle was to actually meet LaVerne at her nursing home for lunch (Taco Bell!) and hope she liked me.
She did. And I liked her too from the moment she dropped taco meat in her lap and said, “Oh fuck.” That’s when I knew we’d get along fine.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Just as her sister and I were carrying the Taco Bell bag through the sliding doors into the nursing home, her sister casually turned to me and said, “Oh, by the way, have you had the shot?”.
My stomach flooded with so much adrenalin I was afraid I’d be sick…and that’s when I knew I’d lost the perfect job. Or to use LaVerne’s vernacular, I knew I was well and truly and totally fucked.
The family talked it over and decided they weren’t comfortable with an unjabbed person putting their jabbed sister “at risk” after all of them had been jabbed and boosted. Or as I prefer to call it, been complete idiots and committed slow, eventual suicide.
But after wielding the stick, they also offered a carrot. If I took the jab, the job would be mine. In other words, they offered to pay me to commit suicide. They offered me a few measly shekels to cast aside my life cheaply. Yes, that is exactly how I see it and it stinks to High Heaven!
I don’t hold my life so cheaply. You see, I rather enjoy being alive and I don’t believe I have the right to cast away this precious gift of Life that God has given me nor do harm to Michael’s wife. Thus, I declined and hoped God would honor that decision with another great job offer...and soon!
And so I was back at Square One with no job, no prospects, mounting hotel expenses and, being surprisingly superstitious, a nagging doubt that maybe God didn’t approve of my decision to move after all.
“Oh yes, 99% of Religions Exemptions Are Approved.”
Fast forward two weeks and, again, the seemingly perfect job rolled around. This time it was for a position at the very eye clinic where I received my monthly Eylea injections. I knew and liked everyone there. Everyone seemed to like me. If hired, I’d be the only person on staff who’d actually received the injections, knew what it’s like and could calm down a terrified patient. With that niche working for me, how could I fail to get the job!?!
The interview went well until THAT moment. It comes in almost every interview. The fateful moment when they simper and say, “This company requires all of its employees to receive the Covid-19 vaccination.”
That’s when I say, “Do you offer a religious exemption, because that’s the route I’ll be taking.”
And that’s the moment I lose the job. Their mouth may be saying, “Oh, yes. No problem. Ninety-nine percent of religious exemptions are approved” but in their mind they’re saying, “And another one bites the dust.”
I have bit the dust during my recent job search over and over again simply because I have a silly aversion to death by blood clots! How eccentric!
The Word on the Street
At some point, you get wise to your sweet self and stop hitting your head on the same brick wall. That moment came for me when Michael and I bundled up and went to a Winter Parade. Yes, Minnesotans are crazy…but we’re also really nice! Minnesota Nice! It was free entertainment with free hot chocolate. What’s not to love!?!
We fell into conversation with a local man and I explained my employment woes to him. “Oh, you’ll never get a job at the eye clinic,” he said, casually. “They only accept religious exemptions from existing employees but they won’t hire anyone new who hasn’t been jabbed.”
I was gobsmacked. Little Nell from the Country here hadn’t realized Human Resources was lying to her.
Another gentleman told me exactly the same thing last week. His father recently retired from The Place That Rejected Me (Four Times!) and Shall Remain Nameless. He worked there for years and came under extreme pressure to accept the jibby-jibby-jab. He didn’t cave and retired shortly thereafter. His son told me flatly, “They’ll never hire you if you haven’t been jabbed.” The “religious exemption” thing is all wind and whitewash to keep them from being sued.
And so the two biggest employers in The Big City, employers who post gobs of job openings every single day, are off my list. I choose life over money and thus still don’t have a way to help pay the bills let alone afford groceries. Michael’s SSDI covers the rent…but not much more! And to add insult to injury we keep being blindsided by unexpected costs, like $416 last month for prism lenses with trifocals to correct Michael’s double/triple/quadruple vision.
Still No Jab…Still no Job!
It’s been almost two months since coming to The Big City.
Every day, I apply for new positions. Every day, I send out my résumé. Every week, I have multiple interviews, have my background checks come back clean as a whistle, send “Thank You” emails, place follow-up calls. Sometimes the jab is mentioned, sometimes it isn’t.
Surprisingly often, the interviewers blindside me with something that wasn’t mentioned in the job description. One classic comment was, “Oh yes, you’ll have to drive the shuttle back and forth to the airport.” It’s the size of a small bus! I can’t drive a bus! I’m nervous enough driving the Impala.
Another doozy was, “Do you mind being yelled at by psychologically disturbed patients? Oh, by the way, you’ll be alone in the office while they’re screaming and swearing at you.” Michael had some very choice words to say about that one! Something about, “No wife of mine is going to be screamed at.” Bless him!
If you too find yourself suddenly seeking employment for the first time since the Covid scourge was purposely released on the world, be ready. Gird your loins! This isn’t 2004, Baby. Your pure, clot-free blood may not block your arteries but it will block you from gainful employment.
Oh, and if you wear glasses and an employer requires masks, well, you can kiss that job goodbye too. (Did I mention the anti-fog spray contains a carcinogen?)
And so the search continues! All I need is one good company who can think outside the jab and see what I offer as an employee, even if my blood is (gasp! horror!) clot-free and I’m not going to fashionably “die suddenly” at my desk.