A long streak of that bad luck

Young people finishing school and entering adulthood need a source of income. Unless they’ve inherited a fortune or have turned to a life of crime, that means getting a job. Looking for employment is often a slog, but the seeker has to be persistent. Beyond that, the processes of landing a job and holding onto it can also have unpleasant challenges – especially for someone with hidden or obvious disabilities.

As I shared in the previous post, our son Nathan has submitted a half dozen online applications to supermarkets over the last several months, with no response so far. Disappointing, but not too surprising given his lack of experience. However, the job-seeking experiences of our son Alan over the last year really have us struggling to remain undaunted. He’s had training in a few fields and gotten certifications; he’s been getting help from two government-sponsored employment assistance agencies; and has applied to many, many places. The result? The loss of one job, another job eight months later that lasted one day, and several close calls for employment.

Probably other atypical young job seekers have these kind of setbacks – but do they have this many? Here’s the rollercoaster we’ve been on:

  • The security guard firm he was working for (they had just given him a raise!) transferred him to a different slot that, it turned out, was already promised to a different employee. The firm said they would try to find another placement for him – but never got back to him and wouldn’t return his calls.
  • An acquaintance of his wanted Alan to help with his start-up supply business. It was sure to be lucrative because demand was high and the fellow already had signed contracts with clients. But after weeks of waiting for pieces of machinery to arrive so they could get production rolling, the acquaintance used Alan’s help sporadically, then found someone else who already had experience with the product. Suddenly Alan was frozen out, and never got paid for the times he had helped with set up and production.
  • Alan passed the written and physical tests for becoming a deputy sheriff, but decided not to pursue the application further once he learned a successful applicant needs to have at least one year of steady job experience.
  • A staffing agency found a position for him in a warehouse. On his first day, a pile of boxes fell on him (not his fault). The agency required him to get checked out by a physician the following day. Alan was ready to go back to work on the third day, but the agency said they don’t usually send workers back to the same place after an incident like that. They were going to try to place him in another warehouse, but that never happened.
  • Alan interviewed well for a door-to-door solar energy sales job, but didn’t get an offer.
  • He next attended a company-sponsored trucking school where he learned to drive big rigs – and he found to his surprise that he liked it! He got his CDL A permit and was doing well, until: the day before he was to test for his license, the company decided that his solo motorcycle accident 3 1/2 years ago was a dealbreaker. (By the way, Alan had disclosed the accident the first day he enrolled.)
  • He jumped through all the hoops for becoming a ride-share driver. The only problem was, the company doesn’t allow drivers to have licenses that are a mismatch with the official record at the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, and Alan’s physical license card didn’t reflect the CDL A permit (which he wanted to keep active until he could manage to get his license).
  • Alan tried another company-sponsored trucking school, where the accident was not a factor. Again he did well – the company even sent him to orientation before he tested for his CDL license. Unfortunately, when it was time for the road test, Alan developed a bad case of test anxiety. He was allowed three tries, each on a different day, but was so jittery that he failed each time.
  • While regrouping from that letdown, he was contacted by a company he’d been trying to get in with for years. (A friend of ours who works for the company had a copy of Alan’s application and would pass it to the appropriate manager when entry-level positions became open.) The stars aligned; Alan was interviewed and offered the job right then! All he’d have to do is pass the background check, physical, and drug test. What could possibly go wrong this time?

 Well, the physical exam included a grip strength test. Alan says the clinic staff member handed him a device and said “squeeze this.” Alan squeezed pretty hard, but not with 100% maximum effort. The staff member saw the first reading and said “next two times, squeeze with all your might,” which Alan did. You guessed it: the low first reading skewed the average of all three readings to below the acceptable measure of grip strength. He was not allowed to retake the physical. No job after all.

Is it really possible for someone to have this much bad luck?

Maybe. Or, maybe underlying fear of becoming an adult is leading to self-sabotage whenever he comes close to landing a job. Or maybe the hiccups in his brain’s executive function and information processing are contributing to these near-misses.

Whatever the reason, the disappointment after each fizzled opportunity is hard to bear, for him as well as his trying-to-be-patient parents. We bounce back as best we can and look forward to the “good fortune” that follows bad luck, as mentioned in the proverb. Meanwhile, we gotta give Alan lots of credit for trying different things, for seeking help from counselors, and for just plain hanging in there!


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About janet565

I've lived in the Inland Empire of Southern California since 1982. My profession involves maps and geography. I hope you find the blog useful, and wish you well....

8 responses to “A long streak of that bad luck”

  1. Nancy J says :

    I am so sorry to hear of all these struggles. it’s so unfair and discouraging to a young adult. It’s a scary thing for most of us. He sounds like a trooper. This is the first time I have seen your blog and need to explore it more. I hope all good things come along for Alan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. caelesti says :

    Suggestion- find a regular volunteer gig or some type of social hub that can be a point of stability during job hunting/bouncing. For me, I’ve been serving on the board of a small non-profit. It’s been a way for me to gain some leadership skills, and a have a support network/friends that are not strictly tied to one job that may or may not pan out. And have a steady thing to put on my resume to cover for the employment gaps! For your son who is less social, maybe working with animals could be an option.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janet565 says :

      Thank you – those are good suggestions! We have floated them to our sons a few times over the years, but so far they are not buying in. It may take some time, as with many things….


  3. Karen Gilman says :

    You may wish to speak to Gelsons/Mayfair near you re job openings as a young man recently started (this fall) at the Gelson’s in Hollywood on Franklin. Do you have a Gelson’s supermarket in your city? (I would have to look at our email history to know that answer; sorry to be lazy.) I can share the mother’s contact info privately if you’d like to brainstorm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janet565 says :

      Thanks Karen! We don’t have a Gelsons near us, but I hope others who read your comment and do live near a Gelsons will take note. It would be great to develop a list of employers who are willing to hire young people with challenges. Home Depot is one I hear mentioned a lot, in addition to Walgreens. Maybe Staples also, and Starbucks -and hopefully lots more! And PS: Alan was offered another job this week! Given the record of what has happened when he gets this far, we are watching and waiting with fingers crossed as the pre-employment processes take place.


  4. Lori says :

    Yes, I give your son so much credit for keeping at it! It’s so difficult not to get discouraged and give up. I wish him the best in his job search and pray that just the right opportunity opens up for him. Our 18 y.o. son is now taking one college class and finding that his anxiety, which he is already on medication for, is still a giant obstacle for him. He knows he learns best in a one on one situation and thinks he might be able to cope with an apprentice type of job. Not sure where to look for something like that though. At this point a regular job is not too feasible.

    Liked by 1 person

    • janet565 says :

      Thanks for your comments, Lori. I agree that apprentice-like training would be the best fit for our young people. Programs are popping up here and there, mostly geared towards those on the autism spectrum, but I believe young people with LD, ADHD and other differences could benefit from specialized training programs also. If you ask around your local special needs community, someone might know of state, county, or nonprofit programs that might be a fit for your son. PS Alan has accepted another job offer and is going through the hoops to get hired. We are watching the process guardedly – so far so good!


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