Friday, October 21, 2005

A job aint nothin but work

So recently I was looking for a job and I saw an ad in the paper. It said something about clerical work ideal for history majors or something. To most of you that probably sounds boring, but when I read it I thought I'd be like Indiana Jones' assistant, translating ancient texts and exploring temples. No don't worry I know I'd probably be doing gay office work but that's fine I was ready to bite the bullet. So I call about the job and they say, "How about you come in Friday at 10 (I've found that this automatically means AM to working people) and we'll get you situated." I'm trying be conciliatory so I just say sure. The woman goes, "Okay great, it's casual dress, and we're on the corner of 520 and 34." Good, cause I know where that is exactly, can I get someone on the phone to give me an even less specific address, because the "corner" of two highways is too much information. "Okay fine, so what is casual dress exactly?" "It's casual Friday so you can just dress casual." Well what the fuck is that lady? Don't just repeat the word casual to me. I'm not deaf I wanna know if I can roll up in sandals and a hoody. So I basically know nothing. I don't know where I'm going or if I'm starting work or if they're gonna send me somewhere but whatever, it can't be that bad.

I get up early on Friday and head out to whatever this thing is. I can't find the place, naturally, but I manage to get there after checking each of the 4 plazas they had on the 4 corners. Turns out it wasn't on the corner at all but a mile down the road; I think the woman gave me Brach directions. When I get there I realize that its like some staffing service, as I sign in I see that the names are alllll women. I start getting nervous that they're going to make me a secretary or something because if its one thing I cannot do its the phones. Then a girl hands me some paperwork to do. Work information, personal information, tax information...it fuckin sucked. I tell them I have a resume but she smiled and shook her head no. There's something very funny about that "no." Only certain women do it. So it's back to the paperwork. After about 45 minutes (yep, try to imagine how long that would be, I had to dredge up every bit of information including my manager from MetroMarketing, Bill Sherman, and his whereabouts) I hand in my "homework."

Next I sit down and interview (in a transparent room where all employees could and did watch) with some old lady. She makes a remark about the telemarketing gig and for some reason I jumped to defend it. I think I was just so ready for the sales pitch that I defended it by explaining, "No, no, thankfully we weren't selling anything. We were merely offering people the free service of a chiropractic examination if they wanted it. No pressure." Why was I defending a job I didn't care about that I did 6 years ago? Luckily I think this old lady was day-dreaming about her cats. So she asks more questions and then says sit tight (you always have to sit tight) and that Linda would be in to see me in a minute.

Linda walks in and I quickly realize shes the woman running this place. She's a middle-aged woman typical of Marlboro (yea you know what I mean) and she's loving my resume. I start wondering what other people they must get in this joint since my resume includes things like: "able to walk dogs" and "cleans up nice." Then she informs me that I have to take some tests. Great! That homework just didn't do it for me. She lines up some data entry tests followed by one for MS Word and Excel. I start clippin through these idiotic tests but they are way longer than they need to be. No one uses macros, cmon. By the 20th question I was just guessing cause I was so sick of being in this place. She comes in to interrupt and say she might have a job lined up for me (whaaaa?). By the time I'm taking the Excel test I'm tired, I'm starving, and I can't remember one thing from Mrs. Toombs class. I just fill in answers and brace myself for the awkwardness of her seeing me fail this remedial exam.

She comes in when I'm done and says she might be able to get me a job at an engineering office. And the best part is, the interview might be today! Super. I kinda wanted to go home and have a last weekend but fine I was already moving so I figured I'd just keep going. She gets my scores and says, "Oh you did excellent on your tests, you know Excel very well." What, I left half of them blank. The average grade must be like 17% competency. So then she asks, "But do you know how to pivot on Excel?" Of course, who doesn't!? I hem and haw explaining that it's been a while but I probably just need to brush-up. Then I ask, "So what is it exactly..?" She goes, "Oh I don't know, thats just what they need." Ha, fair enough. We wrap up the paperwork and I'm out the door, absolutely starving, and in need of a nap.

Getting my keys out at my car I hear, "Bryan!" Good lord who is screeching my name? Old lady number 1 stands in the doorway to the building waving me in. Fuck what is it now, a powerpoint test? I come back in and Linda sits me down with sheets of paper. She points to the paper, "Here's where you are going tomorrow. 902 Main Street in Belmar, from 12-4. You'll be doing mostly filing, paperwork, faxes, ya know." Alarm bells are going off in my head. Astute readers will remember that this debacle was taking place on a friday. Therefore tomorrow=saturday. What the fuck!? She's telling me I'm working Saturdays for 4 hours in Belmar? Whatever happened to asking. "And then here's the address of the engineering place, I got you an interview right now. It's only about a mile away. You can just get in your car and head over!" Oh can I? Thanks! Can I pick up your dry cleaning while I'm out?

Now I'm starving and all ornery driving over to this place but I still figure I'll check this place out and bang out a good interview. As I pull up I notice it is not a very big office. Not quite the "engineering firm" I had imagined. Instead its some hole-in-the-wall operation in Marlboro. Okay, stay calm, maybe the guys are cool. I walk in and am greeted by a 50something former hippie who is balding with a gray ponytail. "You must be Bryan. How are you? Go ahead and have a seat in his office, he'll be with you in a moment." Weird at first glance but cordial, take a deep breath, it could be okay... I walk into his "office" and sit on the loveseat that is across from his desk.

Fifteen minutes later a short burly italian-acting man walks in, "Hey how ya doin," he says before he even sees me. He turns towards me and as we shake hands he looks at me as if we've never met. Which is true, so I don't know what he was expecting, but he is clearly confused by something. "You from the area?" he says. Not sure what this has to do with anything, but he asks it in a tone that suggests that I'm not. I go, "Oh yea, I'm close by down in Freehold." "Oh," he says, still beside himself, "you look kinda young.." Hahaha. Of course, what else. Faithful readers probably weren't surprised and won't be by my response either. [Big smile] "Oh, yeah I've heard that before, sure, I look young." Fuckin tapdanced for this douchebag. If I knew it would have gotten worse then I would have been a dick to this guy but I still thought I might need a job.

His interview essentially consisted of asking me random questions off the top of his head. We spent 10 minutes talking about Lehigh, and not in the typical reminiscing alumni sense, just random questions: did you graduate in four years, what was it like there, how was the food. And of course, the do-you-know-my-random-friend-of-a-friend-w
ho-went-there game, but that game is a headache for another entry. After his engaging Q&A went on for about 15 minutes, he proceeded to take a phone call...ON SPEAKER PHONE. Sure buddy don't let me stop ya, I'll just stretch out on your creepy loveseat here. You know its bad when I'm thinking someone is too unprofessional. And this wasn't some Gordon Gecko call on speaker phone, it wasn't concise and effective. He was having some innane conversation with some female trucker about the shipments not being picked up or something. This went on for 15 minutes. He gave me the "one minute" finger once. I pretended to look around the room while I wondered if he would notice if I took out my cell phone and texted someone about this.

After he hangs up with this lady, he abruptly launches into the "core" of his interview I suppose. He goes, "Sorry. So can you pivot on Excel?" Oh boy, pivoting again. I give him the same answer as Linda: been a while...I'm smart...brush-up. So then I ask him, "So what exactly is pivoting again?" He says, "Oh I dunno." Ha, well why would ya. What the fuck is going on here. I'm not some computer consultant. How are you gonna ask me to do a job that you don't even know how to do? We're at a stalemate here buddy. Is pivoting even a real thing? That was the last straw for me. I mentally checked out and started selling myself short intentionally so that he wouldn't offer me the job right there and corner me into taking it.

When I got home I realized that she was just shoving me anywhere she had a space. Her job is to put people in jobs and one came in so she thought she was doing me a favor by setting me up there. Even when I called her after the "interview" (since she insisted) she was trying to fix things so that I would still work there. The next morning I got up to go to this Belmar job and realized that I didn't even have gas in my car. Ten bucks an hour minus taxes gas and travel and I think I'd just be breaking even to kill my Saturday for five hours. I decided to call the employment agency and let them know that this wasn't the right fit for me. In a rare moment of good fortune, I got their answering machine and got to leave them a message. I didn't get a call back until Monday, but I screened it obviously. She left a message saying, "I'm just wondering what happened on Saturday." I didn't call back. She called again Monday afternoon, I ignored it, and that was the end of that.

So in the spirit Will Hunting, "So what did I think?? I'm holdin out for somethin betta."

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