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.



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