It has been 2 months since my last update, so where to start?

There still has been no decision on the 191 case yet. Yes, over 7 months and still waiting. However, this new Nebraska press association called the Flatwater Free Press wanted to do an article on NDCS’s misinterpretation of the 191 good time law and they published 2 articles on it. (article 1 and article 2) The reporter, Natalia Alamdari, arranged to meet with me during one of my passes and we talked for over 2 hours at The Mill. She did a very good job with the 191 story. Another reporter from Flatwater did a rather critical piece on the Parole Board that basically accused them of not even coming to work to do their job. Flatwater then followed up with an editorial to publicly show how the Parole Board attempted to intimidate them into not reporting on them. I am very happy to see some news outlet is finally shining a light on Corrections and Parole. *smile*

Speaking of Parole, I have my annual Review in early March. My Hearing is still set for March of ’23, but this was just an annual Review called a Keystone Review because I have a Hearing date set. Reviews only require 2 members of the board. A year ago I had Ms. Cotton and Mr. Langon, things went great and they set my Hearing for ’23. This year I had Mr. Langon again but the session was led by Mr. Twist who is notoriously hard on anyone with a sex offense (I’ve been told he has said he would never vote to parole any sex offender). I wore a dress shirt and tie and Mr. Langon made the comment (the only positive one of the Review) that I was dressed for success. Then Mr. Twist launched in to a polite but condescending and cutting dialogue. “Did I expect any opposition.” “No.” “Well, anyone can submit opposition in any way they want and we take it extremely seriously.” Or: “What are your parole plans?” “I am getting a job now and will be living with my parents when I get out.” “I don’t think a 50-some year old man should be living with his parents.” And then: “You were sentenced to 7 to 14 years. That’s a long period of parole eligibility. Do you think the judge did that intentionally?” The clear implication of his questioning was that he was looking for any excuse to not grant me parole at my Hearing. So that’s 1 vote out of 5 that I won’t get. But then again, I was probably never going to get his vote anyway.

In preparation for my re-entry into the community and for my Hearing, I have started seeing Dr. Schutz. She used to lead the iHelp program before it moved to OCC but is now in private practice. One of the guys I’ve known since OCC, Robey, was seeing her before his Hearing and he felt that it was because of her testimony that he was granted parole. So far things are going really well with our sessions. We’ll see if she is willing to testify at my Hearing too. *cross my fingers*

For the past 5 weeks I have also been on “job seek” status. Usually, you only get 2 weeks to find a job but my case manager has been willing to give me longer, because of the kind of jobs I’m trying to get, with the understanding that I have been paying the $12/day rent since week 2. I had been aiming for a desktop or IT support position or at least some kind of office work but anything other than manual labor and food service requires a lengthy application process. I would go to use the computers at the TRADE program or down at the American Jobs Center and apply to 15-20 jobs every day for the first 3 weeks. I used Indeed, the state’s jobs board, and UNL’s jobs boards mostly.

I made it clear in my resume and cover letters that I was on Work Release from Community Corrections so most didn’t even respond. A lot sent rejections immediately. But 2 customer support positions called me back for phone interviews: Allo, and Nebraska Book Store. Allo, the local fiber internet provided, wanted a Tier 2 customer tech support person. NBS wanted someone to provide support for their proprietary software to their customers. I was surprised by Allo as they are closely affiliated with Nelnet and Nelnet won’t hire felons but I new NSB hired people from the Center to work in their warehouse at least.

I do well at interviews so the initial phone interviews went well. I then heard back from Allo about doing a second, video interview which I arranged for the 31st while I was at home on my first home furlough. It went very well. I had a good rapport with the guy who would be my manager. NSB eventually wrote back that, though I was very qualified, they were proceeding with other applicants. That disappointed me because NSB would have been regular business hours while Allo support was 24/7 and I would likely end up on 3rd shift to start with. After 2 weeks, I finally heard back from Allo and they declined to hire me. So, I waited 5 weeks and didn’t get a job I wanted. *grrr* The top employer I wanted to work for was Firespring, a media house that does print but also web sites using WordPress. I applied for a customer support position and even two manual labor positions running the signage printer. They took 5 weeks just to reject me without even a phone interview. *sigh*

At this point, I have to take any job so that the administration doesn’t freak out so I am going to work at Jimmy John’s, a sandwich shop, for $10.25/hr. I could have gone to Smithfield’s, a meat packing plant, for $19/hr but I really don’t think I’d like being in a refrigerated meat packing plant all day.

Plus, I don’t plan on staying at this job for very long so the $10.25/hr will motivate me to keep looking.

I did have an in person interview at StarTran (the public transit system) yesterday for an administrative assistant position at $15.28/hr. It went very well I thought. I even knew one of the 3 people interviewing me for the job, or rather, he knew me. We had both worked at the Cornhusker hotel in the late 80’s and 90’s. He was a Bell Captain and I was a Banquet Captain. Unfortunately, I have a very poor visual memory and don’t remember his face but he remembered me. I hope that’s a positive. LOL! I would say that I answered all but one of their questions perfectly. For instance, they asked if I would be able to give someone directions for using the StarTran map and local knowledge of landmarks. The day before I had been in the facilities van coming back from my appointment with Dr. Shutz and we picked up a guy who had just interviewed for a new job. When he got in the van he was asking how he could get to and from work as we can’t use the facilities transportation. I pulled out my master bus map and showed him how he could take the 51 from just north of the Center to downtown. He’d get off at Gold’s Galleria, which he knew from doing job seek at the American Job’s Center across the street. Then he would switch to the 13 bus and get off that one when he saw the Pen, which I also knew he could recognize. I told them the whole story, including both bus numbers from memory. I think they were duly impressed. *smile*

The one question I probably will get docked for was what to do if you’re on the phone, someone comes to the window for assistance, and another line rings. I said I would indicate that I would be with the person at the window in a moment, switch to the second call and ask them to hold, then finish with the first caller. Yeah, I didn’t think that one through completely. I should have just let the second caller go to voice mail and dealt with their request later. *sigh* Well, no interview is perfect, right? But I felt I may have missed out on the Allo position because I failed to elaborate on the all uses of the Ping command for troubleshooting different problems, from straight connection, to latency, to DNS issues. So maybe I am extra sensitive right now about getting everything right in an interview.

I also had a phone interview for an administrative assistant ($18/hr) at Midwest Holding, an insurance company that mostly sells annuities. It is waaaaay on the SE side of town near Holmes Lake but I can get there by bus. If I pass the first cut, they will call me back for an in person interview next week. Ultimately, I will keep looking until I find an office or IT job that I could actually put on my resume, as opposed to slinging meat at Jimmy John’s. *chuckle* At least I couldn’t choose a better time to be re-entering the job market with Lincoln unemployment rate at 1.1%.