I have officially fallen down the rabbit hole......

The last several days has reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, and I am trying to figure out where the hookah smoking caterpillar is. Suddenly, I have been inundated, literally deluged with responses for phone interviews. It all started after the Bait and Switch interview, which I have ranted about previously. (And yes, I am going to be a piss ant about it, and make you go back through other posts to get up to speed here.) Soooooo, I decided that I needed a bit of retail therapy, coupled with the fact that I had a couple of Kohl's cash coupons to spend due to early Christmas shopping for my kids....(decided if I am going down the dumper financially, at least I can make sure that there is stuff for the kids at Christmas.) While traveling to the nearest Kohl's location, I spy, with my little eye, a huge banner outside the brand new restaurant that everybody around here has been waiting to open. The big banner says: "NOW HIRING", so I make a quick adjustment into the designated parking lot, and after a host of helpful contractor types continually pointing further down the sidewalk, I locate the ever-so-out-of-the-way doorway, an emergency exit actually, with a piece of paper taped to it stating "applications here". Wondering if I should have left a trail of bread crumbs (whoops! wrong fairy tale) to find my way back to the main parking area and my car, I pry the door open, breaking two finger nails in the process. Because it is an emergency exit, there are no handles on the outside of the door. The chaos of last minute construction details is going on all around. There are card tables and folding chairs and a very frazzled young lady trying to organize the confusion. Application forms are stacked on the window sill in two piles-one English and one Spanish. The poor frazzled young lady is trying to speak on a cell phone above the confusion, presumably confirming personal interviews for those who have already filled out their forms, and trying to instruct us by pantomime where to sit and complete our applications. Simple, straightforward, one page....I am feeling that this is just fine, thank you. Return completed application, nicely, neatly printed to poor frazzled young lady and make sure to smile. (Right about now, she needs the smile more than I do, which is saying a lot!) But before I even get to the door, Frazzled is asking if I have computer access at home....and of course, I answer with the affirmative. She is sending me an online assessment to complete....For real? To work as wait staff in a restaurant? Is there really an assessment for this sort of thing? And it actually must come in bilingual format. I am most certainly and completely blown away. The ultimate example of technology overkill. Seems to me that I worked in restaurants starting in high school, and the only requirements were that I could count without having to take off shoes and socks, and I could prove that I was over 16 years old and actually had a social security number. It might help if you could walk, talk, carry things, write so that other people could read it, but I certainly do not remember taking any sort of tests.

I junked the retail therapy idea, and returned home to find the promised assessment in the inbox. And of course, I promptly sat down, because curiosity was killing me. The first part was another of my favorite exercises in HR people practicing Psychiatry without a license. And as usual, I don't agree with any of the selections in most cases, but am required to answer something. Hidden in this mess are the "Stoppers!" as I call them. The fact that these questions have any place in the hiring process just amazes me, and the idea that any sane human being with a sincere desire to get hired would answer them in the positive staggers me. "It is sometimes appropriate to lose your temper with a customer." "It is OK to curse and use profanity in the workplace." And those are the minor issues. Have parents completely abandoned the notion of courtesy and the Golden Rule in rearing children? Am I truly a dinosaur in that I remember being told that if you can't say anything nice, just don't say anything at all? Am I the last of a generation who either had their mouths washed out with Ivory soap or their tongue singed with hot sauce for saying George Carlin's 7 words, or anything that even came close to the seven? Now I am a grownup, and yes, I do have my whole arsenal of "words you can't say on television during prime time" (by the way, that list seems to be getting shorter all the time), but somewhere along the line, folks learn context and appropriateness in their responses. You couldn't go to church spouting profanity like somebody afflicted with Tourettes, and you aren't going to give your boss a "piece of your mind" if you intend to continue working there....It just isn't done. Judging from this assessment, I have determined that the Ten Commandments have been scaled back to one or two strong suggestions, but not strong enough to cause anyone any angst or damage their psyche.

For good or ill, the assessment completed, I commenced to wait, as I have in so many other instances... not getting my hopes up too high at all. First thing the following morning, the frazzled lady is on the phone to do a phone interview. At this point, I decide on total, unvarnished honesty. Why do I want to work in a restaurant? Simple, I want a job and a paycheck. I have done my share of restaurant work in the past, not recently, to be sure, but nevertheless....And I list off the various restaurants, from chain style to family owned and operated diners. What makes this particular restaurant attractive? Well, it is brand new, so it will need lots of new people to work there, and it is right in my neighborhood, so I won't be dealing with the huge commute issues. I mean, how involved can this process be? How many questions can be asked regarding taking orders, delivering food, busing tables. It is not rocket science, nor does it require security clearance. But the steps must be followed. At least at this stage, I am able to let her know that I couldn't complete the assessment as moving from one section to the next resulted in an error message from the assessment provider. Even following the FAQ helps didn't resolve the issue, so I only managed to complete half. Seems that most of my fellow applicants had the same said difficulties. I, being a very empathetic kind of soul, suggested that they demand a rebate from the test provider for the faulty assessment and the useless FAQs. Upshot was that I now have an personal interview for
late in the afternoon....At least these folks are moving right along, but they have a scheduled grand opening too.

Personal interview was in the same room with the same emergency exit door. (The one without the handle) And this time I am speaking to one of the owners as he is juggling my interview along with several messages from assorted contractors and vendors. Using the notes from my previous phone interview, well, what was really left to say? It was brief and a bit awkward, although not anybody's fault. So, as a result, I am handed an assortment of paperwork to fill out, W4 forms and such. Guess that means that I have a job. Present my proof of right to work in this country. (Please tell me how the illegal aliens manage to get jobs and jobs that pay better than I will be making?) I submitted driver's license, social security card-both the one issued with my maiden name and the one issued when I got married-my birth certificate.....exactly how do they do this? Usually at this part of the procedure, I am concerned that immigration is coming to deport me! Turning my forms back in, I am handed a sheet of "rules of conduct" (which was part of the packet of stuff that I filled out and signed) and asked to make an appointment for orientation. So, I elect for the very next day, and am told to make sure that I have all my identification with me in order that it can be verified again. (I guess this is where they are able to weed out the fake ID?) I am also given information regarding uniform requirements. Now I get to shop for black pants, black shoes, (non skid of course, and if I remember correctly "cushy" is also necessary), black socks. I will need white shirts with button front and collars.....think that plain white might be the one type of shirt that I don't actually have....So much for a wardrobe of professional business and office casual attire....should probably hold the garage sale before the new job starts.

Orientation.....a roomful of assorted people who don't know one another. Always a good time. And I feel older than dirt, because the lady sitting next to me was born the year I started 8th grade, but that isn't the upsetting part....the fact that her adult daughter is sitting across the room in orientation for a different position in the restaurant.....I have come to terms with having a son who is almost 25, and in fact, I am looking forward to that wonderful birthday as it means that he is off my car insurance, and I can stop driving cars just because I they are cheaper to insure with an unmarried, male driver who is under 25. But, I also have a 12 year old, which means that I still have to be fast on my feet, or at least smarter than the average bear to survive round two of the hormone roller coaster. The paperwork,which we had filled out, is gone over by the lady in charge of HR, and we now can put a name with the face of the person who is responsible for our time cards and pay checks.
We receive a more detailed handbook of conduct and behaviors and the disciplinary policies. I am grateful to have everything clear from the start, but once again.....do we really have to explain this to people? Have things really gotten that bad in society? Does somebody have to be told that bathing, brushing teeth, using deodorant and mouthwash are essential to dealing with the public, and that failure to do so could result in disciplinary action? Wow!

Interesting item is brought to our attention during the discussion of pay, pay periods, time clocks, etc. There are no benefits in terms of insurance offered, and they don't know if they are going to in the future. As a server, under Illinois law, you get $4.65 per hour and should have no problems making up the difference between that and minimum wage.......I am a bit disturbed that my goal has become getting up to minimum wage. Don't know how many bills are going to get paid on time with minimum wage....and it seems that initially, everyone is on trial, and therefore everyone is considered part time. Maybe I won't even earn enough to lose my unemployment, which is kind of depressing. Paying close attention to the discussion of scheduling, I get the distinct impression that the goal is to schedule so that nobody even has to be given a break time....there was mention of things like split shifts where you might work a couple hours, but if things were slow, be sent home early. Of course, you might well be called back if things got very busy later in the day.

Next step in this process is the training session next week. A portion of this is computer training, and I am sincerely hoping that means learning to deal with their cash register. I am having a tough time imagining what skills such as carrying bus trays, or trays of multiple drinks can actually be taught by computer, but I am certainly curious. We are to wear our uniforms (a uniform inspections of sorts) and there was even mention made of tests. I simply do not remember any of this being part and parcel of working in a restaurant previously, but then it has been quite some time since I have done so. It ought to be a fascinating time. Have to let you all know.

Filed under: The Job Search

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  • I would have hired you only because you know what "down the rabbit hole" means.

    Too bad you were not applying for President of the United States. Or Mayor of Chicago. We all know now that you need no qualifications to get those gigs.

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