AdviceHelp Me Rhonda

Help Me, Rhonda

Employment Wasteland?

Last month I lost my job. The company I was working for decided that fewer people should do more work, and I was one of the people let go. It wasn’t a dream job… but hey, it was a steady paycheck. Despite having two degrees and tons of work experience, I cannot seem to find a decent job in Athens. I know what you’re probably wondering. How do I define a “decent” job? While I understand that an unemployed individual such as myself cannot afford to be too picky, I am disheartened by the bleak full-time opportunities in Athens. I guess it has been a while since I have had to hit the pavement in search of work.

To everyone out there in the same situation (or worse), I feel your pain. A “decent” job should be (at the minimum): safe, fair, moderately engaging, challenging and perhaps most importantly, a decent job should earn a living wage! I know that all of these criteria do not apply to every job, and much of this is subjective… but all I can do with $8-$10/hr is scrape by. The hand-to-mouth lifestyle isn’t my idea of a good time. The interviews/replies I have been lucky enough to get have all yielded the same response: overqualification.

Is it time to leave Athens in the hopes of greener pastures elsewhere? I realize I’m leaving out lots of details about my education, experience and career goals, but I hear a similar tale from my other unemployed (or underemployed) compadres. Will the job market really ever change in Athens, or will this town always be a Mecca for unpaid internships and barely-above-minimum-wage jobs?


I’ve never been in the position of having to look for a job in Athens, but I’ve heard similar accounts from other educated, talented, hard-working people here. I don’t know if it’s any consolation, but you’re in good company. Athens has so many things to recommend it, but there does seem to be a dearth of professional, full-time, living-wage jobs here. So, candidates for mayor and commission (and bootstrap types), take note. People want to work.

But none of that helps you right now. You need a good job tomorrow, not 18 months or five years from now. First things first: You need to stanch the outward flow of cash. If you don’t have one of those $8-$10 an hour jobs, try to get one. I know it’s disheartening and frustrating and boring, but the last thing your job search needs is an uptick in urgency brought on by a mound of credit card debt. Once you have that job, you’ll continue searching for a better one.

To answer your question, no, you don’t have to leave Athens right now, but you do have to expand your search outside of Athens. Again, first things first. Don’t overlook the professional opportunities and decent jobs that exist here. There absolutely are some. Can you consider an entry-level position in a new field? You didn’t sound thrilled with your last job, so maybe a change wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Or, maybe you’ve already searched far and wide in Athens and you’d like me to stop assuming you haven’t. 

In that case, it’s time to look at jobs in other areas. You don’t have to move out of Athens yet, but you have to be open to it. The single best way to get a job is to know someone. Call and email all your friends, family members, college buddies, acquaintances, childhood neighbors, etc who live anywhere else to see what opportunities they might know about and what advice they might have to offer.

Not Over Ex

It turns out my boyfriend is a really amazing friend. So amazing that he still semi-financially supports his ex girlfriend. They had been broken up for about two months when we met, but she had only moved out two weeks earlier. They slept in the same bed for like six weeks after breaking up!

Now he still pays the dues for the soccer team they are both on, gives her gift cards for Earth Fare (because “otherwise she can’t afford it, and she only eats organic”), and has even helped with her rent. He lets her borrow his truck whenever she wants, and she still has tons of books stored in his attic. 

She was supposed to be cat-sitting for him a few weeks ago and had a dinner party at his house, like she still lived there. I’ve told him these things make me uncomfortable, particularly because she has a new boyfriend, but he thinks I’m just jealous. To me, these feel like things 17-year-old me would have done to make sure an ex still paid attention to me—to make sure we all knew he’d still do whatever I asked. I feel like he needs to respect his primary relationship, with me, and not do these weird things with his ex. What do you think? 


I completely, fully, 100 percent agree with you. Neither your boyfriend nor his ex-girlfriend is observing any kind of boundaries. They’re ignoring the boundaries of friendship and of their current romantic relationships. And they really seem to be ignoring the boundaries of normal people: normal people do not throw dinner parties in homes they do not live in while the owner is away. She sounds like Goldie Hawn in Housesitter. And furthermore, I think most reasonable people would agree with you.

Unfortunately, the fact that you’re right doesn’t make any difference within your relationship. There are only two people in your relationship (well, it sounds like there are three, but officially the number is two) so each of you has exactly 50 percent of the vote. Which leaves you where?

Your boyfriend is being deliberately and willfully naïve about the nature of his relationship with his ex. He is still in a relationship with her. A relationship that is more than friendly. It doesn’t matter that they’re not sleeping together. He has not separated from her, and he has not made room in his life (or his heart or his mind) for a new relationship. He’s made that abundantly clear. He actually made that pretty clear when he told you they had just stopped sleeping together two weeks ago. It is not possible to build a new relationship when you still have one foot in the old one. And he’s not going to pull that foot out on your timetable or at your insistence. I’m sure he’s great in many ways, but your relationship with him is a non-starter. I advise getting out.

Facebook Snoop?

I need some “being a good friend” advice. My bff is dating this guy, and they are just not right together. Cases in point: He loves Jesus, sports, and hanging out with his friends; she doesn’t believe in Jesus, hates sports, and wants him to hang out just with her. He has recently been lying to her about his plans—he says he’s hanging out with his dad, then posts a bunch of pictures on Facebook of him hanging out with his other friends instead. This happens like three times a month. She doesn’t see this, because she just isn’t on Facebook very much, but it’s all over my newsfeed. I’ve mentioned before when I’ve noticed some shady Wall business going on, and she was more mad at me than at him. I’m afraid she’ll really shoot the messenger if I point out the inconsistencies in his story. Help!

Friend and Messenger

There’s only one thing to do in this situation, F&M. Continue to be her friend, and don’t say anything else about her boyfriend. Nothing good has ever come from snooping on Facebook, and your friend has made it clear that she’s not interested in hearing anything bad about her boyfriend. She’ll figure it out when she’s ready to figure it out. And when she does, she’ll need a good friend to support her. 

Or, she may never be ready to figure it out. Dating a guy who doesn’t line up with the parts of her that you know is her prerogative. 

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