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Friday, September 30, 2011

Adventures in Job Applications

            Over the course of the past couple of months, I have had the opportunity to go through three discouraging experiences.  I will point out that I have a bachelor’s degree and about 30 years of experience in retail sales, customer service, and small business ownership.  The degree does not relate to the experience.  I had to close a business at the end of 2008, so I have been either unemployed or underemployed since the beginning of 2009.  At the beginning of this year, I was merchandising magazines in grocery stores and pharmacies.  It wasn’t much, but it was 15 hours a week.  It was honest work, even though I can’t exactly recommend the magazines or books I was putting out as being edifying reading.  In the spring, I received an offer to score essay questions on national and state student achievement tests.  It was about 10 weeks of full time work, so the magazine thing had to be cut to four hours a week, which continued after the scoring season was done.

            With its completion, I began looking for full time work again.  After about a month, I received an invitation to an interview.  It was a group interview, and at the end everyone was offered a position, with a training program to start in a month.  After a couple of weeks, I received an email stating that the training class would be put off indefinitely.  I put it to the back of my mind, on the idea that if they needed people so bad, they wouldn’t be doing that.  Well, no job came my way in the month, and another email came with a date to begin training.

            It was paid training, which was good, as it was the most bizarre “training” I’d ever seen.  Over five weeks of Monday to Friday 8am to 5pm training classes, over 50% of the time was just sitting there while the trainers either were trying to get the class computers to operate correct, or make up their minds what to teach next, or something.  One instructor said she had taught this class for nine years, and didn’t seem to know how to teach.  What could I say?  I’m the student, and I’m getting paid.  A number of times, the class was told that the computers when we would actually do the work would not have the problems we had in training.

            Finally, training was done.  I was apprehensive given how I was taught.  Finally, I got to start to do the work.  Guess what, the computers had different problems, and it was almost immediately clear that they had intentionally taught us incorrectly, for whatever reason.  Maybe I am wrong, but that was one problem that I am totally unmotivated to struggle over.  I did, of sorts, two pieces of work and informed those in command of my departure.  As much as I needed a job, this was the ethical elevation of Death Valley.  At least in wasn’t underwater.

            In the last month, I have gotten two interviews.  One was with a major retailer whose name you would know.  Although it was early September, the interviewer immediately told me that they had finished their Christmas season hiring, but was just interviewing extra persons in case a background check came back bad.  I received a rejection email the next morning.  A couple of days later, on the state employment commission website, I saw this company still has about 25 positions posted.  Oh, well.

            The next week, I received a reply from another ad.  It was from a company that fixes chips in windshields.  Now, I had a chip in my windshield of a car last year.  I was really impressed how the method works, but that the system looks ripe for abuse, both by customers and by repairers.  First, unlike most companies in my area currently, they didn’t ask me to email my resume.  Don’t ask me what good a resume is with regard to most bottom line jobs in our society, but most companies expect it.  Anyway, they give me a time to come to their office.  The secretary looks a little like the late Amy Winehouse; not exactly corporate, in my opinion.  She hands me a clipboard to fill out an application.  There is a big screen TV over her head playing an Eddie Murphy comedy.  This office looks like we’re reshooting the application scene from “Being John Malkovich.” (I wouldn’t have seen that movie had not Rikki Watts of Regent College made reference to it in his distance learning New Testament course I look about a decade ago—albeit artistically excellent, I don’t recommend the movie).  After filling out the application, I am invited into an office, where a man about 25, I am guessing, shakes my hand, looks at the application, and tells me that it looks ok.  He invites me to come back the next day for the second part of the interview, which is seeing how the work is done.

The next day, I go back.  After being there about ten minutes, they give me an address, MapQuest directions, and the cell phone number of the person I will be seeing.  Being late enough in the morning, this 45 minute trip turns out to take 1 hour 45 in Hampton Roads traffic.  I get there, and there are two guys.  One tells me to drive my car over to his tent.  I explain that I was there on the job interview.  He says he understands.  He glances at my windshield for just a moment, and says that he spots three chips.  Here is a secret—insurance companies will pay 100% for up to three chips, so they always find three chips.  I’m trying to be nice, and it’s not going to cost me money, so he fixes the “three” chips.  He also sprays stuff as seen on TV for headlight clarifying. I’m not sure if there were one, two, three, or zero chips, but I know the lights needed that.  I can also sense a scam.  Meanwhile, the other guy is crawling up onto the hood of a semi truck fixing a chip.  I’m sure of that, as the semi driver flagged him down.  I couldn’t have gotten my body up there under any conditions.  Also, my knees are telling me that they are already complaining about the amount of standing up I’ve done.  Even if it was an honest job, I couldn’t have done it.

            I hate to say it, but I am getting a poorer attitude about the society I’m living in. Maybe that’s part of why God has given us only so long to live; too many of us will get soured by it all after six to ten decades.  Still, I believe that work is an important way to honor God moment by moment.    

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