Tag Archives: The Netherlands

Jobhunt mode

The computer drains me. I feel as if I have no space, as if a force tries to suffocate my spirit. I read at least a thousand tweets per day, looking out for that one job I can genuinely write an application letter for. A year and a half since I graduated. 2 Masters, four languages. Nothing fully paid so far.

I write about a letter per day now. I have to orient first, verify if I would want to do the job and be capable of filling the position. After writing I check the letter, then send it. Same story for the CV.

One rejection after the other, even at the most basic jobs. Am I doing something wrong? Lack of experience? Lack of guts? Wrong wording? Background too diverse? Not focussed enough on the job’s content? Wrong font? Lack of picture? Face too strange? Did I do the wrong studies? Am I not serious enough? Too arrogant? Too controversial? Is it because I don’t phone them with some smart question? Not enough initiative? Was I born on the wrong spot? Am I among the first to pay the punishment on behalf of the slave driving West?

In The Netherlands, there currently is one vacancy available for every fifth unemployed. Politicians call it a catastrophe. Ours has been called a wasted generation. We are supposedly not gaining enough self-confidence for the future job market, which puts us into a downward spiral. Some suggest our lives are already over.

So I read advise from the big professionals. Read about how other people, braver than me, start their own initiatives. I talk with others in the same situation. Help them where I can. Write my blog. Do some volunteer work. Garden. Apply some more. Get more rejections. Get stressed. Change the title of my folder from “jobhunt” into “jobsearch”. Relax again. Watch seasons pass.

If you’re out there, unemployed as I am, you are not alone. We should not panic even when people give us good advise. We shouldn’t try to run faster. It will scare them away.

I also have no clue what we should do. Enjoy life, I guess. Be creative in whichever way we can. Hope some will be lucky. “Stay positive”.

I honestly don’t know.


Graffiti and the Gravity of Gravity

By biking slowly you open up to the surroundings in a different way than when you’re quick. I am holding my steer loosely and at ease. Me at my finest. Or that’s what I believe.

The speed bump near my house does not come unforseen. Passing it every day, I know it very well. I wouldn’t say I appreciate the bump. It is a nasty one, to which I have to anticipate quite a little each time I go with speed. Tonight, I am going slowly, so there is little danger. Or that’s what I believe.

So it happens that my mind drifts where my body was an hour ago. Mr. La Luz gave us an inspiring talk on how he avoided sudden bankruptcy of his catering company by selling 50.000 obligations of 1 euro within 3 days, helped by social media.

I get called back by a shock. It was the bump. I see two tourists come from under the graffiti ornamented bridge to the right. They are about to become spectators of a struggle between my physical appearance, my bike and what Newton once framed as the attraction between two bodies.

The steer shoots to the right. That’s where the sidewalk starts. It’s stuck. I am quite surprised that I managed to lose control at this idle pace. I am an individual who commends himself for heaving escaped perilous situations. I have regained control during slip events and even when I had tyres stuck in a tramway. Indeed, when I moved to the Netherlands ten years ago, my quest was to master the bike better than the Dutch. I have learned to make sharp curves without holding my steering wheel. My traffic radar – a basic Dutch city biker’s skill – works without a flaw. I have lifted the daily need of transportation to an art. That’s how I am able to afford this looseness in the first place. Tonight, the bricks of the city of my ancestors disagree.

As I grab the steer and try to pull it back, the bike bends. The pedals capture my feet while my back wheel pushes the entire cascade forwards. Did I brake? I cannot tell, but something changed. My front wheel makes a sudden shift to the left. Up till now, the situation seemed out of control. Now it is. The saddle catapults my body, while the bike takes off below me, only to find its way back to the ground in a swift parabolic motion. I follow a similar curve, and reach out to the ground with my left hand.

One of the great things you can buy in the Netherlands, is a basket for the front of your bicycle. You wouldn’t imagine how handy they are. Gloves too hot? In the basket. Crate of beer? In the basket. Just bought a nice plant? Into the basket it goes! The basket – my friend, my friend – the basket. Or so it has me believe.

While my hands stroke the floor, my ribs discover the solid character of my precious basket in a wholly new way. The air rushes out of my lungs and some limbs fly by. It doesn’t take long until I’m safely back on the ground, knowing that I’m not sleeping on my side tonight.

In the ideal scenario, the two tourists who just witnessed my life flash by continue their pace pretending that nothing happened. I know before I look up, however, that this is not that scenario. It is perhaps for that reason that I make my groan sound as manly as possible. When I look up, I see them coming to my aid.

“Are you ok?” . “Well, I’m still able to breathe, so I think so.” and in a different tone “I have no clue how that happened!”.

“Don’t worry, man” says the guy, “it happens to everyone…”. He deserves this gaze of death.