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In the summer of 2011 the writer DW Gibson set out across the country to speak with Americans who had lost their jobs. The following account is adapted from Mr. Gibson’s July 12, 2011, interview with Dominick Brocato of Kansas City, who had been fired nearly two years before from his position with DST Systems, where he had worked successfully for 20 years. The full interview, and more than 70 others, are collected in the forthcoming book and documentary film “Not Working.”
Mr. Gibson describes Mr. Brocato: “He is 58 and has lived in Kansas City all his life. His shirt is pressed and tucked. His hair is definitely not gray, nor do I think Dominick would allow it to become so. He carries a notepad encased in a leather pouch. His appearance is immaculate and I can confirm it is not easy to remain so well turned out in the July humidity that grips this city, wringing composure from those who are exposed to it.”
Between April and August I have filled out and put in resumes for about 380 to 390 positions. I probably had 45 to 50 different meetings that I would just initiate on my own, asking someone, “Can we just go have coffee, or just go to lunch?” I spent a lot of money doing that. The majority of people, where I would say, “Can we just go to coffee?” … I didn’t get a lot of response. If I’d say, “Hey, let’s go to lunch; I’ll buy lunch,” I got more takers.
And that was O.K., if I thought it was going to work to my benefit. Sometimes I would say, “You pick the place.” I did that a few times, and after a $40 lunch I realized this isn’t going to happen anymore. This is not fair. I guess I was really shocked that people would allow me to go ahead and pay knowing they’re working and they’re with a company, but again, I made the offer, and I was willing to do that. And I’d always try to end every meeting saying, “How can I help you?” And quite a few would take me up on that. I wrote out personal thank you notes, sent cards, had cards made with my name on the front. So I did all those things that I don’t think the average person does.