Tuesday, July 26, 2011

No Furniture at the Shoppes

Last week I was interviewed by two large men in polo shirts who looked like they spent most of their free time at the gym. The job was one for which I was neither particularly well- nor particularly ill-suited in that it required basic competence but no specialized skills, and I wanted the job because A)It paid money, B)It would be a stepping-stone to something else, and C)It probably offered some form of health insurance.

Salem North Shoppes is a small shopping center off the interstate with individually-sloped roofs and natural-colored siding that attempts to evoke the architecture of a bygone era when in reality it cannot be more than a decade or two old. Brittle trees (one of which afforded me some shade to park my car under) grow among thin sections of mulched land sloping out of its half-empty parking lot, for these are professional offices far removed from the retail and residential sectors. A single pizza place services the plaza; a poor substitute for the lunchtime options of a mixed-use downtown area.

A girl in a hooded sweatshirt was working behind the front desk when I walked into the office. It must not have been her desk, because next to the computer was a large and very ‘80s photo of a middle-aged woman with bright, obviously-dyed blond hair. There weren’t any other pictures or pieces of furniture in the room, so my eye was repeatedly drawn to the photo. Inside the owner’s office, the entire back wall consisted of large windows, evoking that of a powerful executive’s office in a tall skyscraper. Unfortunately this room too had only a desk and a chair for furniture, destroying the architect’s vision. An office can hardly be called professional if there is not enough furniture to fill it.

This was a relatively new company whose owner did not seem particularly experienced in giving interviews. I could almost see him glancing over at the sample interview questions on his computer, often interrupting the flow of a conversation to move on to the next one. He seemed confused about why someone from the education world wished to enter his field, and I spent a long time explaining how my skills were relevant to any line of work, real or imagined as this argument may have been. There was also a very noticeable attempt throughout the interview to see how I would fit in at such a place. He asked me what I did for fun, and I said that I enjoyed reading, movies, and hanging out with friends when in reality my hobbies are so numerous that I often have trouble listing them. What did I read? My mind flew to the very dry book on Russian history I’d been reading that morning. That may have been a bad answer for this situation. A better answer would probably have been something physical or sports-related.

At any interview there is always that extremely awkward moment of saying goodbye when applicants resort to excessive politeness in an attempt to make up for their shortcomings. I thanked the owner profusely for his time, bowing from force of habit as I walked past the girl at the front desk (the middle-aged woman’s photo still smiling at me), again saying that it was nice to meet him, and it was nice for him to meet me, and I looked forward to seeing him again, and he was thankful that I had come, and I wished him luck in his business, and he told me to have a safe trip home, and I told him to stay cool on the hot day, and then the door was closed and I was free once more.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Job Opportunity

Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 18:39:06 -0400
Subject: Attention New Hire
From: staff-ID-I751@myemail7.cjb.net
To: ----------@hotmail.com

Thanks for getting back to us to let us know your interest in the positions we had listed on monster.com.

The postions your submitted resume matched to were.

Office Administrator- $16.00 - $18.00 Per Hour
Front Office Medical Receptionist - $12.00 - $16.00 Per Hour
Office Receptionist/Clerk- $15.00 - $17.00 Per Hour

We are in the middle of processing applications and currently we have 7 other applications along with yours that we are considering, so you can consider yourself on the short list to be hired.

Please help us to express-process your application by performing one of the two mandatory steps that our company must take for all new employees. Since we run both background and credit reports to verify work history on all applicants, you can help us by obtaining your own current credit report, speeding up the process immensely. We have found it's best if you have it in advance to make sure there are no surprises on it and confirm that your work history is correctly listed.

Both myself and the company would prefer that you use This Company to acquire your credit history because they're offering the check at zero cost to you (unlike other places) and their results contain the most precise details I've come across, but feel free to use any service that suits you.

When your finished please e-mail me back at (job-c42345@hotmail.com) with the subject "My Availability" to let us know you obtained a current copy of your credit history along with your availability and which job you are applying for and we will contact you the begining of next week to arrange an interview.
I'm looking forward to your quick response.

Warm regards,

Kara I | HR Dept.

From: ----------@hotmail.com
To: staff-id-i751@myemail7.cjb.net
Subject: RE: Attention New Hire
Date: Thu, 14 Jul 2011 19:00:20 -0400


You scammers make me sick. Kudos for trying though; at least your message used proper grammar and did not appear to have been written by a text-messaging seventh-grader. Here's a few tips that might help you next time:

1. Include the recipient's name. Job seekers become suspicious when a response is not addressed to them personally. That was my first clue.

2. Always include a company name. This one's so obvious you probably didn't even think of it! The first thing job seekers will do after getting a response like this will be to research the company, and if there's nothing to research, they'll smell a rat.

3. Know your characters. Does "Kara" have a last name? How about a phone number? E-mail address? Company name listed in her signature? (See above.) What professional would sign an e-mail like this with only her first name?

4. Avoid Excessive HTML. You guys just never learn: real people NEVER use a title to denote a website in an e-mail. Why? It's faster just to type a link as-is. And writing "This Company?" Come on! At least include a fictitious company name!

I could go on, but I think I've given you enough constructive criticism for one e-mail. Besides, I've got real job-searching to do tonight. Again, I would like to reiterate that you are all ignorant fools incapable of emulating the writing style of a real HR department. As a writer myself, I take great pride in my ability to copy different styles, and feel I captured the cold professionalism of an actual company e-mail in a blog piece I called Corporate Takeover: http://awaveofthehand.blogspot.com/2010/05/corporate-takeover.html.

Again, words can not properly convey the disgust I feel at your pathetic attempt to manipulate job seekers desperate for any lead they can get. Apart from getting caught for the illegal nature of your project, you deserve to be dragged out of your beds in the middle of the night and beaten with a blunt object as punishment for taking advantage of others.

I sincerely hope that you cease such reprehensible behavior and find something productive to do with your life,


A Job Seeker

Thursday, July 7, 2011

On One-Night Stands

In the left-front pocket of my pants I carry a small notebook in which I write things I'd like to remember. These things may include, but are not limited to, names, quotes, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses, physical addresses, roughly-sketched maps, ideas for the novel, ideas for short fiction, ideas that could be placed within fiction that hasn't been conceived yet, ideas that could be placed within nonfiction that hasn't been conceived yet, reading recommendations, passcodes of various sorts, and the occasional To-Do list. The other day I opened to a recent page and found this:

Blog idea: On one-night stands

Usually the sight of this kind of note is enough to jog my memory back to whatever I was thinking of at the time. However, in this instance, I cannot think of what I could possibly have meant to say about one-night stands. I don't think about them often (the concept itself is rather cliché), but I do make the occasional one-night stand joke that may or may not be funny.

Someone told me several months ago (citing Spike TV's MANswers as a source) that women in Sweden have more one-night stands than women in any other country. I have never been to Sweden, but would like to visit.