My Cancer Story Ch. 65 “Job Hunting”

Chapter 65: “Job Hunting”

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Sure enough, Keith and Shawn easily transferred from one Paradis Shop N Save (Fort Kent) to the other (in Brewer). I, on the other hand, had hoped to do the same with my profession as “Sandwich Artist.”

I called my friend who had managed the Hammond Street Subway in Bangor and asked if she had any openings. She told me that her boss – the owner and franchisee – was the one with which to talk. So I called him and set up an interview at his office in the back of the Brewer store. It was Thursday. When I sat down for my interview, I was – admittedly – a little nervous. I handed over my resume and awkwardly got through the first few questions. Eventually, my apprehensions melted away, and we ended up having a great chat. I left the meeting on fantastic terms, so much so that he even said; “If I don’t get back to you by Monday, call me.”


It was easier than I had ever expected. When I applied to MBNA, they had a series of three interviews with the heads of the branch, and I nervously trudged through each one of them. If I could get a job after an encounter with The Three Stooges, then I surely had this in the bag.


I spent the following weekend free as a bird knowing I was essentially a shoe-in for the job. I mean, it was a win-win for us all. The store wouldn’t have to train me in the basics of the job, only in the specifics of their operations. I already knew prep, sandwich making, cleaning duties, and food safety.


On Monday, I made sure to keep my cell phone nearby at all times. When I took a shower it was on the sink; when I went for a walk, it was in my pocket. Time was nearly running out for the business day. I knew he was working until five PM and so, at four-thirty I gave him a call.


He answered the phone somewhat harried. “Hello, this is [REDACTED].”


“Hello, this is Jamie Gagnon, I had an interview with you on Thursday, and you said that if I didn’t hear from you by Monday to give you a call. So… here I am.”


“Listen, I call you, that’s how this works.”


“O-okay. Thank you.”




I hung up quite confused. Did I piss this guy off? Did he mean next Monday? Was that another person entirely?! I had no idea what had happened only that my “sure thing” was now anything but.


I walked over to the nearby gas station and picked up the Bangor Daily News. For the second time in three months, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find a job.


The paper was of little interest to me. There were a lot of random positions, but for nothing, I had actually wanted. I, instead, went to the unemployment office so I could get proper assistance in finding a job that I could at least tolerate. I didn’t want to work at any more call centers (HELL NO), so that was out of the question. Plus, I certainly didn’t want to work at a gas station or pizza place.


Unluckily for me, the unemployment office wasn’t much help. They didn’t have a lot of leads at the time and the pressure mounted for I knew I wasn’t going to be able to live off of my savings forever.


I debated biting the bullet and applying to Paradis Shop N Save with the guys. Maybe I could do that for a while until I found something better. Screw it.


I drove down to the grocery store and picked up an application anyway. Shawn was working at the time and introduced me to two new friends he had made working there. First, was a guy named Justin; he was just as silly as us, and that’s saying something. The other co-worker was Kyle; another cool guy who was my brother’s age also liked everything we did. The case for my employment here was mounting. I could imagine that working here with all of these guys could have been a blast.


I went home and promptly filled out my application. As I sat in front of my coffee table, I again felt uneasy about the job. I didn’t know what I had wanted, except an occupation that could be flexible with my eventual school schedule. I set the application aside and continued to search for a job.


A week had passed since I called the dick at Subway and I had to make a decision. I should just work ANY job until I find a better one. The offerings in the paper continued to disappoint and worse yet, Keith and Shawn said Paradis was full anyway. Just as I was about to lose all hope I got a call.


“Hello, is this Jamie Gagnon?”


“Yes. Who’s this?”


“Oh, it’s [DICKFACE] from Subway. We’d like to get your training started on Wednesday at our Hammond Street location. How’s about nine AM?”


I will now try to approximate my face at this moment. Likely, it was an amalgamation of emotions: Anger, Confusion, Happiness, and Disgust. It was as though our conversation the previous Monday had never happened. I decided I needed the job anyway.


“Sure. I’ll be there.”


“Great. Come by my office to pick up your uniforms and fill out some paperwork. Have a great day.”


“You… too.”


As I hung up the phone, I checked my apartment for cameras. Was I being Punk’d? Ashton, come on out!


I desperately wanted to make a decent amount of money, so while summer was in full swing, I asked for as many hours as the Dickface owner would allow. That meant working at his various branches. I’d work at the Broadway Subway one day, then Hammond Street the next. Soon, I began to reach further for that paycheck. I worked at Corinth Subway a few times and eventually became a regular at the two Orono branches, one on Stillwater Avenue near Spotlight Cinemas and the other on Mill Street.


The trips out to Orono allowed me the opportunity to get acquainted with the small town in which I would spend most of my semesters. One day after work on Mill Street, I ventured further down Main and into the backside of the UMaine Campus.


The campus was massive; I hadn’t expected the enormity of the college to grossly surpass that of the disparate parts of UMFK’s own grounds, but UMaine Orono proved to be the Papa to UMFK’s baby. I tried to drive around to find the buildings that I would need to visit during my orientation the following month.


Soon after we took the plunge and moved down to Bangor, my brother, Travis, and my cousin, Jason, too moved and got a place in Caribou. They were going to attend another branch of the UMaine system, The University of Maine at Presque Isle. My brother had won a scholarship that gave him $5,000 cash each for the first two semesters. This would cover each semester’s tuition with enough left over to handily pay for books and still have some left over. Ahh, the good old days when education was cheaper.


Luckily (?), I paid for all of my pending bills via student loans. As for rent and living expenses… well, I had to work a great deal to pay for those. I hadn’t known how I was going pull this off when I began school. The only way I could possibly afford this was to dip into my student loans a bit more instead of returning the remainder. I was sure that decision would be a sound one and have absolutely no repercussions in the future…


Aside from that, I spent my days working. I’d often close the Mill St. Subway alone, and it proved rather dull. To pass the time, I would listen to the radio station, WEZQ 92.9. They would hold a weekly contest where the listeners would have to correctly surmise the connection between the three songs played during the announced block. I would usually get them correct, but the prizes were nothing that I had ever wanted.


Then, on a slow Wednesday afternoon, I had heard the prize was a pair of whale watching tickets; a one hundred dollar value. We had never whale-watched while on our Bar Harbor trips, and I thought it would be exciting.


DSC00313 copy
The slowest of slow days.


Nevertheless, I took my job seriously and told myself that if anyone were to come in the store, I’d give up, even going as far as to hang up the phone if I were to somehow get through. After all, I had just gotten this job and didn’t want to blow it especially since the boss was bipolar.


The three songs were: Get Out of My Dreams (and into My Car) by Billy Ocean, some song by Billy Joel (I was never a fan), and a song I had never heard before. It has to be that they’re all named Billy!


I went for it and sat in the booth nearest the entrance (it was the only place I had cell reception) and watched the door as I dialed (and redialed) the station’s number on my cell.








Ring… I got through!


Hello, you’re the next caller, what’s your name and where are you from?


“Jamie Gagnon from Bangor.” That felt weird to say.


Alright, Jamie. What do you think the connection is?


“All the songs are by guys named Billy?”


You got it! Congratulations! Stay on the line, and we’ll get you our information shortly. Coming up…


I had never won anything like this before in my life. Was my luck turning around? Was my boss about to walk through that door and see me on the phone or worse, was he listening to the radio that night? I quickly hung up the phone and got back to work.


At least I’ll have something fun to do this summer.

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)

This is an ongoing story of my personal battle with Cancer. My hope is that it helps others who are currently experiencing their own battles (whether it be for themselves or a loved one) or to help with early detection.

The way I’m doing it is terrifying for a writerI’m writing a publically available first-draft outline for an eventual book, chapter by chapter in weekly form. The only reason I’m doing it this way is to get the story out as soon as possible for someone out there who needs a survivor to visit them during their own treatment. If you’re reading this and need someone to talk to, tweet at me and I’ll give you a call. No questions asked. This story is for you and I’ll help any way that I can.

Stay tuned, as I will be posting a new chapter every Monday until the story is complete.

And remember if you experience any Anemic symptoms– get checked for Leukemia as well.

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