The reporter in me is always taking notes, a habit that dies hard after two decades in journalism.
So it took all my self control to keep my notebook in my purse when I appeared at the state employment security office last week for a mandatory job audit.
The official envelope had arrived five days before with this cheery message: "You have been randomly selected for an in-person job search review," it said. "If you fail to report...you will be denied benefits unless you show good cause for not reporting."
I was surprised to be summoned after barely two months on unemployment. After all, our unemployment rate just hit 9.1 percent -- the worst in a quarter century. Almost 320,000 Washingtonians are on the dole.
Guess I thought state workers would have better things to do than check up on a lowly reporter who lost her job because of the very public meltdown of the state's oldest newspaper. LOL.
I showed up at the crowded employment office right on time with my list of three job contacts for the week of May 16th.
"Tell me about your job search," Mr. Friendly, my very nice state worker asked after ushering me into his tiny cubicle and eyeing my list of job contacts.
I aced that question. If there's one thing reporters are good at, it's knowing how to search -- for people, documents, and yes, jobs.
Mr. Friendly said he'd done a search of his own. He'd tried to find two jobs in my field that I would be required to apply for -- and had come up empty-handed.
I smiled sympathetically and told him I understood. In the next cubicle, I could hear Ms. Grumpy, another state worker, grilling some poor soul. I wanted to pull out my reporter's notebook and ask: "What's it like to do this for a living?" followed by several more pointed questions.
Mr. Friendly referred me to a resume workshop and ushered me out.
Painless? Yes. A wise use of state dollars and my time? I'll let you decide.
(Photo: by Clementine Gallot)