Once I built a railroad …

One of the advantages of writing a blog is that when something really annoys you, you can immediately express your feelings, and share them with friends and acquaintances. I am writing this blog after having punched my office door a few times and after a couple of benzodiazepines to calm down. I think I have restored my Zen to its proper state, but I still want to share the trigger for my disappointment.

I will obviously not mention any of the names of the people involved. I will also clearly say that the intent of the person who commented on my behavior was only to be helpful. What bothers me is that his comments reflect reality. And as most people who know me, know about me, I really don’t like reality.

In an email intended to establish an initial communication with someone who could be supportive of an idea I had, I was asked about available times to speak and/or meet. I wrote back that I was readily available because I was unemployed. I received an almost immediate phone call from the broker of this meeting, who felt that stating as such was poor business practice because it gave an initial negative impression for the potential contact.

To say the least, I was livid. Since when is being unemployed a sin? I could use the ridiculous alternative that I am “in between jobs”. And the truth is that I am hoping for an opportunity to open up by the end of this month. But it is not 100% and I would not want to falsely represent myself. I have worked almost my entire adult life, but of late I have left two jobs based on philosophical differences with the management.

This does not make them bad people and this does not make me better people. We agreed to disagree. The reason I left these jobs was because the issue that was raised was, in my mind, a fundamental issue related to the service these companies provided. There is absolutely nothing illegal about what they are doing. On the contrary, they are following legitimate business practices. But I am a socialist, and especially when it comes to medicine, I think the rules of business should be fundamentally different. And I feel strongly enough about this to leave good paying jobs, in order to find something which I am comfortable with.

There are people who have devoted their entire lives to working miserable jobs under terrible conditions in order to make the money necessary to support their families and get their children proper educations, so that their children should be able to fair far better in this world. Occasionally, economics being what they are, factories close and other services shutter their doors and people who have devoted 30 or 40 years of their life to a company are literally left out on the street, possibly even without their pensions.

Is there anybody reading this blog, or anybody you know, who thinks that these people should feel embarrassed by the fact that they are unemployed? Is there anybody reading this blog or anybody you know who thinks that anyone should immediately pass judgment on their character or skill set based on the fact that they are presently unemployed? Does anyone think that such people should go to an Unemployed Anonymous group and talk about their shameful existence?

If this sounds ludicrous, it’s meant to. Are people even in the business world so small minded that they would judge a person based on the fact that he or she was presently unemployed rather than investigate the background of that person to understand the person’s skill set and reasons for lack of employment? Maybe the individual took a year off to spend with family. Is that a reason not to hire such a person? Maybe the person suffered a serious injury, which doesn’t limit their mind from contributing to whatever project is being discussed? Are people really that shortsighted that the present status of someone’s employment is a key determining factor in whether the person could be a valuable member of your team.

Of course, what happens is that people quickly learn the game and they make up all types of alternative  activities to justify the lack of a paycheck from a corporation. “I’m presently doing a business administration degree and will return to the workforce later” or “I am developing my own startup, and am presently focusing on the engineering and will then focus on recruitment of funds”. I fully admit that both of these sound a hell of a lot better than “I’m out of the job”. But considering that both of these could be absolute lies, once again, what difference does it make.

I personally believe that there are three factors that go into determining if a person is worth employing. As it turns out, these are the same three factors  that, in my mind, determine if a person is worthy of being my friend or even my spouse. A person should be kind. A person should be respectful. And the person should be the kind of person that you can rely on with things get rough. I really can’t think of anything else that is important. Understandably, if I want someone to be working in a nuclear reactor, a degree in French literature might be insufficient.. But given the basic requirements for a given job, what concerns me is not the person’s present employment status. What concerns me is whether they’re the kind of person that I feel I can build with.

There are a number of startups trying to come up with a legitimate method  for measuring the quality of patient care by doctors. This is unquestionably very important and could affect the outcome of people who are in desperate need of a proper physician.  So far, nobody has the magic formula to make this work. All the more so, no one has a magic formula for summing up the quality of a person. A person could be employed as a CEO of a company and could be a horror who causes  damage all around him or her. Another person could be an unemployed technician who was undervalued by his previous boss and is a prize to be collected by anyone who has enough vision to appreciate his or her skills.

My name is Nahum. And I am unemployed. And I am not embarrassed to say so

Thanks for listening

About the Author
Dr. Nahum Kovalski received his bachelor's of science in computer science and his medical degree in Canada. He came to Israel in 1991 and married his wife of 22 years in 1992. He has 3 amazing children and has lived in Jerusalem since making Aliyah. Dr. Kovalski was with TEREM Emergency Medical Services for 21 years until June of 2014, and is now a private consultant on medicine and technology.