Gladys Kravitz: “Why would anyone wanna bang against a wall?”

Abner Kravitz: “Simple. It feels so good when you stop.”

Can’t tell you how many times I have heard that particular exchange, especially on the rubber-chicken circuit. Was really surprised to learn that the line originated from the 1960s sitcom “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery and Dick York being repeatedly snooped upon by nosy Gladys and her husband, Abner, played by Alice Pearce and George Tobias respectively.

My purpose here is to not once again reveal my age (the program ran on ABC from 1964-1972) or to take a walk down memory lane, but to touch upon my recent connection with a four-letter “F”-word, one that has an “a” for the first vowel and rhymes with amber ale. Let’s face it, when it came to finding a follow-up job when my P&L (profit and loss statement) collapsed at Edelman Public Relations, well I F’d…Yep, I F’d big time.

The fact that many others were in the same boat (pardon the tired cliché) really doesn’t make it any better. Misery may love company, but you were still miserable…To top it off, you make those around you miserable as well.

I was literally pounding my head against the wall and quite frankly it didn’t feel very good. In one case, I interviewed with a company 17 times only to receive in the end a terse two-line, kiss-off e-mail from a staffer in the HR Department. What’s ironic is that this company, which will go nameless, was chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of the top 10 places to work. Really?

Twice I was the first runner-up to the crown only to be humming Burt Parks music in the back of my head as the flash bulbs fluttered for my competition. Can relate to Jennifer Flowers when she uttered, “Close, but no cigar” recounting the difference in her relationship with a former president compared to Monica Lewinsky.

My pursuit was even the subject of a MarketWatch story earlier this year and while the publicity was good, the result was still the same…that is until I stopped banging my head against the same wall. What did Albert Einstein say about the definition of insanity? “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Instead of continuing my uphill battle in the face of a bleak job market as a white, Anglo male just north of the half-century mark, I made a life changing decision and in doing so, embarked on doing something I wanted to do as opposed to something someone else wanted me to do.

The decision was to sell my Bay Area house in a very difficult real estate market, transfer my equity to a lower-priced region, buy a house outright, drive down my cost structure, commute three miles each way and pursue my master’s degree in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication.

Before I go any further, I realize that not everyone can follow-in-my-footsteps, nor would they necessarily want to. Many have family commitments; spouses with jobs; children in school; no desire to ever see an academic setting ever again; or in many cases their place of residence is under water. This latter scenario is just way too common and incredibly sad.

At the same time, student enrollment at Oregon is at a record high of 23,389 or about 1,000 over last year with a freshmen retention rate of 85 percent. No doubt the unprecedented success of the football team playing in the BCS National Championship Game on January 10 is a factor (everyone loves a winner), but the economy weighs in here in a big way as well.

If the economy has decided to take two or three years off, then maybe we should do the same. Why not use this time to improve ourselves, mentally and physically? Read the best and the brightest. Learn a new language. Get in the best shape of your life. Teach the next generation. Help others. Use some of this absorbed knowledge. Be a better person.

Gee, I hope that I can do that.