My Unemployed Life: Is It Crazy To Turn Down A Job Interview?
Am I crazy? I get the feeling that some people think that I am.
I was called for a job interview. I turned it down.
The job was located in downtown New York City, near the new World Trade Center. I was aware of this when I applied for it; but a woman I know at the company told me that they'd been allowing more telecommuting there. This gave me hope -- actually, in hindsight, I think I deluded myself into believing -- that if they wanted me, then of course they'd simply permit me to work from home. But I'd just been told, quite definitively, by the recruiter who called me for the interview that it was "not a telecommuting position."
A little background about me: Even though I only live about 15 miles from New York City, I've never been a big fan of "going into the city." I don't like the crowds, the noise, the traffic. Then, after 9/11 happened, I told myself I would never work there. I don't want to work in a place that's a terrorist target. A couple of people from my little New Jersey town died in the World Trade Center on 9/11.
These aren't the only reasons I don't want to work in the city. I know I'd be drained by the stressful (for me) routine of driving to the train, taking that train to another station, and then switching trains to get to downtown NYC -- and then reversing it later -- day-in and day-out. It's not the distance, it's the time and the aggravation caused by bad weather and power outages and accidents and presidential visits.
A friend of mine used to commute to the city. She was exhausted by it. I talked to her about it and she emailed me: "Do. Not. Do. It."
To get back to my original point: Since I've been out of work for 2½ years, some people thought I should go for the interview anyway. How could I eliminate an entire city's worth of jobs from consideration just because I don't want that commute? Beggars can't be choosers, right?
So I tried to change my thinking. I thought that maybe I could talk myself into working in the city if an interesting opportunity arose. This job really did sound like a great one for me. I thought about it and I tried to convince myself that I should go for it.
Finally, I realized that, in addition to my aversion to the commute, I also had to consider the fact that, during my lengthy unemployment, I've created an extensive life outside of work.
I really do have "my unemployed life."
For example, I expect to be co-president of the New Jersey chapter of the Association for Women in Communications for the next two years. This is a serious commitment and one that will require significant time and effort. I've also signed up to work for one of the presidential candidates' campaigns in my state. And I recently learned of a volunteer opportunity to provide communications support to a health-related organization in my area; since I have a special interest in health communications, I'd really like to do this.
In addition to these activities, I'm devoted to my longtime boyfriend, my son, my dog and my two cats. And to a lot of other people and things too: My life is surprisingly full.
All of these require -- me. A daily commute to and from the city, I worried, would leave me worn out and tired, with little time and energy left to do and be with the things and people and pets and causes I love and believe in -- to live my actual life.
That was it. I feared losing my life.
That's why I decided I couldn't go for the interview in New York City.
(And please, don't get mad at me for having a [dwindling] monetary cushion that enables me to pick and choose where I want to work. I'm not a spoiled princess; I'm a woman who was widowed at 40 and still has a bit of a nest egg left over.)
I don't blame you if you think that, in these times when interviews are hard to come by, I was foolish to pass one up. I understand that this wouldn't have been everyone's choice. I just know that, for me, it was the right one.
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Fran Hopkins is a lifelong NJ resident and Baby Boomer who’s been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff. While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations, and is actively involved in the NJ chapter of the Association for Women in Communications. Her household includes a college-age son and an assortment of pets.
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