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Today has been a kindof hard day.  I just gave an assistance application to an employee who, as it turned out, was looking for help paying for the funeral of her son, who died yesterday.  I don’t know any of the details, because she started crying just saying that the entity the funds would go to was a funeral home.  And then, when I gently tried to inform a job seeker that daily harassment of HR personnel who do not actually have any information to give him (i.e. me) was not an effective way to promote his job application, and in fact would have the reverse effect, the job seeker stormed off in a huff, loudly proclaiming his intention to never apply for a job with us (not much of a loss), or ever use our medical facilities (less thrilling, particularly since he seems like the type to trumpet his perceived grievances far and wide).  And, well, there’s not much I can do about that.

If there is anything I could say to prospective job hunters, I would ask them please, please do not call to “just check on your application,” particularly if you just applied last night.  Hiring processes take time.  They haven’t looked at it, and they probably won’t for at least a few days, maybe longer.  When you applied for the job (online, because the company decided that all job applications must come through the corporate website), you created a profile, which you can log in to and see the exact same information about your application that I can.  I don’t have some magical portal that allows me to read either the hiring manager’s or the recruitment team’s mind.  I’m not on the recruitment team, and it wasn’t my decision to make all the applications online.  I have no influence over that whatsoever, and yelling at me about it will not increase your chances of employment.  No, I will not transfer your call to the hiring manager, and I will not give you that person’s name.  You don’t get to harass them like you’re currently harassing me.

If you are nice to me, and have put in your application a while ago, or have put in multiple applications, and if I have time to do so, I will check in the system to find out whether perhaps the job you applied for has been offered to someone else, or see if there is any other information I can give you.  If you physically come into my office, you make a good impression with me (clean, polite, competent, pleasant to work with), and if I have time, I will sometimes email someone at the next level up, and call their attention to your application.  Sometimes.  I have a lot of jobs to do, and frankly, job applicants come pretty far down on my priority list.  There is a reason why they moved most of those responsibilities onto another team.  I can’t do everything, and if it comes down to passing your resume up the food chain versus making sure one of my existing employees has their benefits in order, I’m going to choose the existing employee every time.

I just found out that another employee’s father just died.

And then, I don’t know how closely you guys have been following the news out of Connecticut.  I’ve been following things pretty closely.  I can’t seem to help myself, even as I cry every time I read something new.  It’s everything from the principal who told other teachers to get back even as she went out to confront the gunman (whom I refuse to name – he doesn’t deserve it), to the librarians barricading children in their storage room with file cabinets, the teacher hiding her children in the classroom bathroom and refusing to open the door until the policeman who had come to their rescue slid his badge under the door, and the tiny girl who was the only one in her classroom to survive, who came out covered in blood and told her mother, “Mommy, I’m alive, but all my friends are dead.”  I think of my sister AnniPotts, who teaches first grade, and all of the other teachers I know, and it does not surprise me one bit that all of the adults who died at the school were women trying to protect who they saw as their kids.  But I am grieving for the fact that they had to die, and that even their deaths could not stop so many children from dying.

How about this: how about for Christmas our big present is that nobody dies.  No funerals, no mothers weeping, no little boys having to go to bed without saying good-night to their twin sister.  For one day, nobody dies.  Except I know that wouldn’t really be a good gift.  Sometimes death is a good thing, the fitting end to a good and full life.  Sometimes death is a mercy, the end of suffering.  But even then, even when death comes as a friend, it still brings sorrow and weeping in its wake.  We won’t really see an end to death and the suffering it brings until Christ comes again, and “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelations 21:4)  One day, that really will be our Christmas present.  I can take comfort from that.