Monday, August 29, 2011

Business Professional

or don't wear jeans stupid.

     I got a call last week asking if I wanted to come in for an interview with a company called Tex Energy -CC Concepts. My major problem is I have applied for so many jobs over the last few weeks that I don't know what  or who is calling most of the time. That and lets face it, cell phones don't exactly have the best sound especially the cheap pieces of shit that I can afford. The girl on the other side said dress Business Professional which sent a little red flag up in my brain saying "A/C desk job" and "probably not qualified but fake it baby, fake it". To say I was excited is an understatement. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that I could have a sit down job again. Visions of salary floating through my head when there was a knock at the front door.
     I moved the 200lbs Mastiff out of the way thinking that maybe it was Fed Ex or UPS delivering more supplies for Crystals business to find a kid dressed in khakis and a polo shirt with a clip board under his arm and a shit eating grin on his face. Tex-Energy writ large over the right breast of his shirt. My heart sank with each passing word of his spiel on how I could save money if I just switched power companies. I soon realized what that phone call for a job interview was all about, walking the streets and bugging people at home in the Houston Heat.  A feeling of dread and disappointment as I watched my deck, chair, PC, stolen free office supplies and the walls of my cubicle covered with pictures of my lovely girlfriend and maybe a stock image of a dog were ripped from my grasp as this poor schlub went on about how great my savings were going to be if I switched to Tex-Energy.

     After I shooed him away with a story about how I was just staying here and had no say whatsoever on the electric bill let along any authority to switch I had to regroup and figure out what I was going to do. Should I go to the interview which was obviously going to be a waste of time other than some much needed practice or should I just stay at home and apply for 10 more jobs.

    I decided I could always use more practice interviews so I venture out in the 100 degree heat and see if I was right and this was going to be a shit job walking around neighborhoods getting bit by dogs and feral children. On my arrival I was sent to a room with 10 other well dressed candidates all who sat quietly and stared ahead at the dry erase board or played with their cellphones. One kid finally spoke up and asked if anyone applied for a job with these people or did they just get their resume off Not one person had any idea what they were applying for or even why they got called in for an interview.
     I told them the story about the man at the door and a few of them chuckled and some got pissed. A well dressed girl in the front row even threatened to walk out of the interview if it was going to be "door to door shit". It was actually the best part of my day to set that in motion, doing what a friend from the old days used to call "stirring the shit". I knew the smell of a shit job from experience but these kids had no idea what trap they were walking in to until the wise bald old man in the room gave them the information. I hated to dash their dreams of cubicles and office chairs but it was only fair to warn them what was going to happen before the interview. Which I knew they would make sound like a peanut butter cocaine orgasm honey sandwich but you had to look close to notice the bread was made of shit.
      They started breaking us up into groups to interview us, I was called in with a kid that looked like he was 18 that I could probably have bench pressed. We were definitely a mismatched pair a balding male, mid-thirties,goatee, green eyes, glasses versus dark hair, braces, trying to grow a mustache and his girlfriend was waiting for him in the lobby. It was a strange mix to put it gently  The smarmy kid in a suit who interviewed us explained what we would be doing which is we'd get a list of people and harass them at home to switch power companies. He made is sound like everyday would be Ice Cream Sandwiches from start to finish and that if we did well in this interview we'd get a call later that day with a time in which to start orientation.
      I imagine everyone that showed up and didn't start defecating on the office floor got the "Call" for orientation. I got my call at least 3 hours afterwards and lied about being there the next day. The entire process happened so quickly but I am sure that is part of the trick to get as many people in as quickly as you can without them asking too many question and rush them through the hiring process. Mention that you are looking for managers as well but everyone has to start at the bottom and let those greed hooks work into the monetary part of the brain. I could be a manager, all I have to do is walk the streets of Texas with a list of victims in August when it is 104 outside and not die from heat exhaustion for a commission that couldn't be explained to me during the interview.
     I miss my cubicle already and I only had it in my imagination.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

They Do Things Different in Texas

     I came down to Texas because Houston has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country at the moment and I actually know someone that lives here that has an extra space for me and my weary head. Actually the later had more to do with it than the former though I have been interested in Houston for quite some time as a place to check out and visit if my cousin lived in San Francisco or New York City I would have moved years ago. Most of my relatives live in places that are just another version of Beaver Dam, KY. Roswell , NM, Jerkwater, IL, Hartford, KY and one in Houston, TX.

    So I get down here and my other cousin who works for a road construction company tells me about all the great money he is making traveling around the country, the ease of the work and how they are always needing people. I have to go through a staffing agency to get an interview which is no big deal as I was assuming I was going to have to be saddled with that anyway. Temp to Hire has been the rage since I started working in the early 90's plus it allows an employer to string people along for a long time and then lay them off just when they get their hopes up.
    I went to the staffing office and showed various ID's to prove I was who I was and legal to work in this country. All these details were taken down by a 12 year old girl with braces that was sitting behind the counter. Seems the bosses daughter was temping in the office until school started. You can tell the staff was walking on eggshells around here as not to piss of the head honcho. The office manager sat me down in front of a computer terminal and instructed me that if I failed this test that I couldn't work for them and I had as long as I needed. My nerves on fire, I started the terminal and quickly relaxed. I had taken this same test a number of years ago when I applied for another job, it was the old How Drunk, High and Criminal are you when you come to work test. Someone had to sit down and figure out how to ask in 20 different ways what drugs you take to try and slip you up. I guess it is also an IQ test because you'd have to be pretty dumb to answer honestly to what street drugs you abuse regularly or have you ever stolen anything from work. Two things you should never pay for in this life, love and office supplies but you can't tell that to the computer. You have to be aghast at the very idea of taking a pen from work or at least pretend. ACTING!
    After filling out my application with just the right amount of bullshit I went back to the conference area to be interviewed and to take a few physical tests such as how many times I could bend over and pick up 35 in 30 seconds, how many times I could do hand squeezes and climb a ladder. All the while the Office Manager was trying to teach another woman the ins and outs of interviewing plus the 12 yo was in there as well basically repeating everything he said to the woman. Fun never stops then came the best part of trying to get a job in the last 30 years, the dreaded Piss Test.

    I hate taking a Drug Test and not for the normal everyday reasons that most people hate it. I don't do drugs at all other than the occasional beer or Tylenol. Just the whole idea of pissing in a thimble is such a joke when I know for a fact my bladder holds at least a gallon of coffee and water in it. I have to somehow manage to fill said thimble "half way" with the control of a robot without spilling a drop on my, the floor, my clothes and so on I can only imagine that it is that much worse for women.
    To make this even more surreal I got to bring my sample back to the conference room, open the top and watch in horror as the 12 year old girl with braces tested my pee for the evil scourge of Illegal DRUGS. I don't really think I have words to describe the feeling of having a freckle faced kid with braces dipping test strips into your hot urine that was minutes early in your penis. I felt like a pedophile without having to hand out candy.

I passed naturally but I felt dirty about it.

    A week later I got the interview with the company that I wanted though the person I was to see changed twice and I was told to arrive 15 minutes early for a 10 o'clock appointment. At the time I didn't think anything about it but later I just assumed it was a way of saying be early and just encase you aren't smart enough to arrive early to an interview here is a hint. I got there early and sat and sat until another guy came in to interview for the same job or jobs as I don't know how many positions were available. He was there for a10:30 interview with the same guy.
    Finally the HR comes to us in the lounge and says why don't you both come on back here together so I can get you both at the same time. I have to say I have interviewed for a lot of jobs in my life, I think the best one was for a job I didn't even get. The owner and I just sat at a table and talked for about 30 minutes, unfortunately they hired someone with ten years experience. I have been through this process a lot but I have never had to interview with someone else in the room that was wanting the same job. Really he didn't ask us a lot of questions, mostly he asked us to say something about ourselves and what we did for a living and the rest of the time he just told us what the company did. That went on for about 30 minutes and then it was over more or less. He did ask the other guy to leave the room to ask me how much I made at my last job I think I should have lied and said a higher wage than I did. I didn't come all the way down here to get saddled with a low wage just because I come from Mayberry. Of course, now I know.
     My only advice so far about life in Texas is expect to slam a cup of piss in front of little girls and to get interviewed in tandem.



Friday, August 12, 2011

So That Is What Heat Exhaustion Feels Like...

....or How To Move Grandma and Finally Learn To Love The Bomb.

      I helped Crystals Grandmother move all of her and her husbands stuff out of their one bedroom apartment down the street into a Air Conditioned Storage building. This was my first foray into heavy labor and heat in quite some time and I totally screwed the pooch. It was hard work, Crystal came over to help after we got the U-Haul and she is a one woman wrecking crew. It was keeping up with Brandon all over again and it damn near destroyed me.

Summer in Texas

     I've never had such a case of heat exhaustion for a long time probably because I am not a big believer in going out when the sun is high in the sky. I don't mind the sun I just never had any intention of becoming a sun baked mongoloid. Anyway, it wasn't so bad after I got to Crystals, soaked in the tub for an hour and then today drank a liter of Gatorade, then bad effects started to fade.

    Later the next day my right side and back started hurting, this pain increased until the only comfortable place was down or sitting with many pillows. This was right is called back pain or in layman's terms OUCH, motherfucker. It was like having a tooth ache in my back and tooth aches are something I know a lot about after having one for over three years.
   I think I know what did it as well. It must have been when Grandmother's prized press board desk decided to snap in half under its own weight and break free of the dolly strap that was holding it at a roughly 45 degree angle. When I tried to stop the desk that can probably now be purchased at any Goodwill store for $5 is when I think my back decided to quit its day job.
   So for the last 10 days I have been driving around Houston trying not to cry from the pain of sitting in that damn car seat or when I went to an interview I prayed to Jesus or whoever that I could make it through without showing my discomfort. We will see, the worst was Wednesday night when even lying flat on my back wasn't helping no matter how many ibuprofen or heat pads I used.
   I think that was the hump though because since that night things have gotten less painful for me. All I can really say is my moving days are over for awhile.