60/60 How many musicians and painters have found inspiration in life's toughest moments - a broken heart, the death of a loved one, and, these days, the loss of a job?
That's what happened to Sean Christian Woods, an unemployed shipping-and-receiving clerk who used to love his job. Woods, 42, also loved to draw, so when he lost his job in August, he picked up his pens and began to sketch.
"I spend more time stressing out," said Woods, of Philadelphia, who supports his daughter, a high school senior. The two of them now live with his mother.
"I start drawing," Woods said, "but then I wind up on Monster and CareerBuilder."
Woods designed the T-shirt he was wearing - black with a white robot etched on it and the words "Unemployed Android." That would be Woods.
"You are in the world," he said. "You live and you work, but if you want more, if you want to give yourself [on the job], it is often 'do this, do that.' You may be an employee who was not appreciated."
When that happens, the worker, whether he's a clerk or a white-collar professional, becomes a "cookie-cutter robot," Woods said, more android than human being. And when that person/android is shown the door, he becomes an Unemployed Android.
Woods worked at his last retailing company for nine years - a simple error cost him his job, but he wonders if the error actually happened. No one was ever able to show him that it did.
Shipping-and-receiving clerk might seem a simple job, and it was. It had many satisfactions, including the friendship of coworkers.
"If anything was broken, I would take care of it," he said. "I would weed out the bad [merchandise] and fix up the good."
- Hometown: Philadelphia.
- Profession: Retail clerk.
- Experience: Processed orders; received
merchandise; managed reports and inventory;
assistant drugstore manager; worked
for a comic-book distributor.
- Education: Community College of Philadelphia -
associate's in graphic design,
illustration, and visual merchandising.
- E-mail address: Scifiside@aol.com
In retail, "the economy used to be that you could lose one job, and your friends would say, 'You can come and work here.' But that doesn't happen anymore," he said.
People tell him that he should try to market the furniture he paints or the murals he creates. The shirts are for sale online. It's an idea, but at this point, he is concentrating on trying to find a job and using his art, his gardening, his friends - even walking the dog - to keep depression at bay.
"People say I should go back to school," Woods said, "but it's hard to go back to school when you have a child who wants to go to school and her dreams are right now."
The Inquirer is not endorsing this individual as a job candidate; potential employers should conduct their own background checks.
Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.