The trolls are asleep, and now I can scribble........

Couldn't get into my posts to create the latest episode in the ongoing saga of job hunting. Every time that I tried, it would give me an error message instead of a nice clean slate to work upon. But, the trolls must be sleeping now, so I will take advantage of the peace and try to enumerate the events of the day.....yesterday.

The first stop was in an area that I am very familiar with, so absolutely no sweat with finding the place. Well, I found it readily enough, but had to make several laps around the block due to road construction equipment blocking the intersection and driveway entrances respectively. It seemed that they knew I needed to get in there, and moved accordingly as I made my way around for yet another approach. Watching the clock ticking away in the car, I feared, that after being admonished repeatedly about what sticklers this potential employer is about attendance and punctuality, that I was going to start off horribly on the wrong foot, being late by travelling around the block. Finally saw my opening, and I darted into the parking lot, cutting off some poor slob coming the other way and probably adding to his store of gray hairs. Finding a parking place was fairly easy, as the office strip appeared to be largely vacant. So what else is new in the world of real estate? The entrance was not clearly marked and I feared that I would be wandering up and down peering in windows looking for the proper place. But luckily, the logo from the web site was featured on the door, not very large or prominent, but sufficient to assure me that I was finally in the right place. My escort for the morning activities was front and center, right at the reception desk. We exchanged the usual pleasantries, and she ushered me into a side room with a computer for my typing test. It was unique. Nothing like anything that I have seen to date. It appears to have been from the Mavis Typing System learning programs that parents and schools are fond of. The test consisted of a crawl line of seemingly unrelated words and punctuations in the middle of a screen of graphics that looked more like a video game. My hostess explained that if I made an error, I should feel free to backspace and correct it, but that I would know an error had occurred, because something on the screen would explode. Am I supposed to be watching what I am typing, or the graphics here? She assured me that it was more like a game than a test. I came prepared for a test, not gaming. Anyway, I found the graphics in the background to be very distracting, almost like when you are driving and catch something in your peripheral vision that you can't readily identify. The test didn't go badly, and it was much shorter than others. I walked away feeling somewhat grateful that when I learned to type, the focus was not on making the process entertaining. I don't think I would have learned anything with the colorful scenes changing in the background. What happened to our parents and teachers always admonishing us that you simply could not focus on doing homework at the same time that you watched TV? Yet now, they teach materials by embedding it in 3D graphics, and wonder why kids don't perform well on standardized tests. Must be that the SAT and ACT don't have the cartoon entertainments accompanying the questions.

Next, on the morning itinerary was to observe other employees performing the routine tasks that would be part of this position. I felt like I was on safari, observing the flora and fauna around the water hole. Actually, the observations proved that the tasks are pretty straightforward once you know how to navigate through all their assorted screens, and where to find the resource materials. After about half an hour, I was ushered back into a conference room, and my hostess introduced me to another person, who after greeting me, proceeded to sit at the far end of the table. I began to feel like flora and fauna now. Person #2 did not speak. Person #2 did not ask a single question. Person #2 scribbled furiously on a pad on a clipboard and I was reminded of a court reporter. Not a single word or inflection was being missed. Anything you say can and will be used against you. We spent a good deal of time discussing what I have done in the past, and as I have a goodly amount of work experience, the discussion was probably longer than both my hostess and Person #2 were expecting. But they did ask for specific examples and detail. There were also the usual descriptives about training, attendance, work schedules, and the like. Training consists of an extensive and intensive crash course in banking terminology complete with daily quizzes and tests, all of which must be completed with an 80% or higher score....I wasn't sure at this point if I was supposed to find that daunting or not? I elected to go with a response which indicated that I understood it was so important for them to be continually sure of how much materials the trainees had mastered. I listened to the usual company spiel. Would anyone seriously trash the company that they represent to any potential employee??? At the conclusion of our little talk, I was given one additional task to complete.

My hostess gave me a legal pad and asked me to answer several questions regarding my interview process. An essay test! Handwritten, no less. Unfortunately, as we are all pretty much prisoners of technology, I can't tell you the last time that I had to write more than the date and my name at any one time. Beyond those two essential items for depositing or writing checks, I simply don't have occasion to practice penmanship. And with the advent of cashiers who can just run your blank check through a machine and your account is debited the absolute exact and correct amount, I don't know how much longer I will need even the rudimentary signature.....Anyway, I commenced to writing my synopsis of the understanding of our interview conversations, trying to hit all the high points without literally having to write War and Peace. I focused on the company policies regarding attendance, testing, advancement, the time frames for training, the order of the training activities. Then I was asked, "Why do you want to work for this company?" I had to scramble for my best beauty pageant response that didn't include an end to world hunger and peace on earth. Completing the task, I notified my hostess, who collected the paper and gave me a business card with the instruction that if I was still interested in the job, I need to call back before noon the following day. That seemed to be an odd conclusion, but there it was. Have no idea what my hostess really thought, and even less about Person #2, as he seemed to vanish off the face of the earth after exiting the conversation portion of the interview process. I did try to include him in the conversation by acknowledging him with face to face interaction while answering questions. Based upon his reaction, I would have had about as much success trying to do a stand up routine to a bunch of traffic cones. Oh well....., had other fish to fry, so am not going to agonize.

I decided that as almost 3 hours had passed since my coffee and any visits to the rest room, I would see to both items before calling my second potential interview of the day. I was certain that I didn't want to drive all the way home and back again. Simply not worth the gas and tolls, so I located a nearby McDonald's for a bathroom visit and a fresh cup of inexpensive coffee. Then I placed my call, only to be routed into voice mail, with no indication of how long it might take for the response. After all, the initial call came in after 6:30PM the previous evening. What to do while I waited presented a problem. I had already map quested the other destination, and then, while seated in my car in the parking lot, realized that there was a better and shorter way to get there aside from directions online. I was debating the best approach when my phone jingled, and my second appointment of the day was trying to firm things up. I asked if it would be better to use the online directions, or if I would be better served to come in on the alternate route that I had figured out.
Turns out that the person I am talking to is not from this area at all, but in from another state entirely, and couldn't tell one route from another. They also mumbled something about wanting to wrap this whole interview thing up so that they could get back home. I didn't find that cheering somehow. Their motivations to do this interview were not really the greatest. I asked about what time would e convenient, and I was told 3:30, but I should come a bit earlier to fill out paperwork.......Great, now I have to kill time and probably find something to eat as well, because stomach noises just don't mix well with interview questions. Also, I didn't have any acid pills with me to head off a potential GERD flare up. And no, coffee at McDonald's will get me by in a pinch, but eating there is not something that my digestion wants to play roulette with, particularly if I am to appear cheerful and enthusiastic at interview time.

I elected to head down the road to a grocery store. Figured I could knock out some of the grocery shopping (as long as I didn't buy perishables), and pick up a few items from the in store pharmacy-vitamins, protein powder, acid pills.....While I was there, I actually found a book from one of my favorite authors, and it was on the clearance rack too....Yippeeee!!!
Now I have a way to fill the time until the next interview. I elect to buy one of those protein fitness bars and a large water bottle for a lunch that shouldn't cause distress.
I checked out, loaded the car, and started out to my second destination. This one was fairly easy to find, although farther off the main cross streets than I expected. I almost turned around and went back the other way until I spotted the building around a curve ahead. Pulled into the parking lot with well over an hour to spare before I could even show up for the recommended early time. Started to read my book, but was concerned that I would get wrapped up in the story and forget about the time. (I am known to do that, which is why I seldom start a new book in the evening-you are likely to find me in the same spot at 5:00AM, muttering: "Just one more page! Just one more page! At the end of this chapter. Really!" Hence, I don't usually read excepting on weekends where I don't have to be anywhere specific in the morning, and don't have to be particularly sharp and functional. So after a few fitful starts and stops, I put the book aside. Decided to update my calendar/day planner while waiting, but that didn't take too long. The problem with being disciplined and organized is that it doesn't leave these little tasks to fill time gaps productively. The calendar was already pretty up to date; unless I am going to go through listing every birthday of friend, family, co-worker, and general acquaintance that I can possibly remember. Maybe I should start carrying the Christmas cards in the car, working on them between interviews. At least they will get in the mail before Christmas, unlike last year, when things went so haywire at work, and the overtime became so extreme. I abandoned the Christmas card tradition entirely. By the way, that is why I already have Christmas cards to address-I never used up last year's. I would have to remember to put the address book in the car as well, and I suppose that it might not be too early to compose the annual Christmas letter. After all, other than the fact that I am unemployed instead of my husband, it is pretty much same old/same old around the homestead. Change the names, but the story is the same.

Finally time to go in, and I gather up the folder with resume, purse, keys, checking that I have a working pen. (See. if I had the Christmas cards, I would know that the pen worked properly). At this point, I am remembering why I don't usually wear these dress shoes. If it had been for the morning only....no problem, but we are now talking about 8 hours total in shoes that I don't think I have worn for more than an hour on any given occasion. My feet are in complete rebellion, but yet if I were to take the shoes off, I fear that they would never go back on. I purposefully walk to the building, press the intercom, and am buzzed in by an invisible voice. Walking purposefully is a nice way of saying that my feet hurt so badly that anything that minimized the number of steps as well as the time the feet actually had to support weight on those shoes was to be avoided at all costs. Dress shoes are a modern day torture device, no matter what Stacy London and Clinton Kelly try to tell you.

Reaching the office, I am greeted and ushered into yet another conference room and given the old fashioned, traditional application....A paper, fill-in-the-blanks, kind of thing. Very old school, but also very redundant as I have filled out an online application much more extensive than this, as well as uploading resume and references. In fact, I even gave the receptionist hard copies of the above noted items. What in heaven's name do they need this paper application for? Well perhaps the printer is down, and they can't make copies. Who knows?! It just seemed a tad odd. But I dutifully filled each and every blank, in my finest, easiest to read, printing. the receptionist took that too, and then instructed me to make myself comfortable in the lobby area. My interviewer, the one who seemed to want to go home more than interview people, greeted me a few minutes earlier than the agreed upon time, but by this point, my feet were literally going numb in my shoes. Hopefully, starting early means ending early. Before we can sit down, up pops another person carrying a clipboard. Great, Dilbert, from this morning's meeting, obviously has a relative employed by this company. Fortunately, this person actually spoke with me directly and even interjected some questions and provided some answers. When I ask how quickly they hope to fill the position, things begin to waffle around. After this urgency to come in and interview and fill out an old school paper form, they don't really know about time frame, because this is a brand new position and brand new program for their company. The are merely putting together a stockpile of quality candidates that they can refer to if the program takes off and flies.....All this urgency was for a maybe? I could have gone to an agency for this, and maybe this company should consider a relationship with an agency. Somehow, the reality of a fishing expedition is a bit more depressing than the notion of outright rejection, although I am not sure why, unless I have just been worn down that far by my miserable feet. Actually, this is the postion, of the two, that sounded much more interesting.
Pay for both is pretty similar, give or take a buck or two. So the one that I could see getting my hopes up for is in actuality just a big "maybe!" We conclude our meeting, everyone shakes hands, and I am on my way out the door only 20 minutes past my scheduled interview time of 3:30 PM. And my two interview buddies walked out of the conference room as if instead of shaking my hand, they had waved a magic wand and I had immediately disappeared. Not sure how to interpret that one either. Neither of my interview buddies was willing to given me sufficient information to send the obligatory "thank you for having me come and interview" speech. Truly felt like, "out of sight/out of mind. All I could think of was dumping the miserable shoes.

This morning, I got up and really debated with myself about Job #1. I also began to feel like Monty Hall was asking me to swap the trip to Tahiti for what was in the Box on the display floor. I would hate to get involved in a training program, and be contacted by the other-expecting me to quit and come over to their side of the fence. I actually have ethics and would not want to welch out in the event of another and more generous offer. That would probably mess up my credibility, and certainly neutralize my stability and reliability from the resume. But, I caved in and called before noon, only to get my hostess' voice mail. The time of noon was so adamant, non-negotiable, and then I get the voice mail...And they didn't call back to indicate that they had received the message either. So, I guess that I am kind of back where I started from.....waiting for the phone to ring and the next round of how many places can you be at one time before cloning becomes necessary?

Filed under: The Job Search

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