Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Hunt Part 2: Desperate Times

When I received my seventeenth copy of "Oh The Places You'll Go" upon graduating from college, one of the places Dr. Suess failed to mention was back to my parent's house. I am a stereotype. An out of work college grad living in my old room and selling my plasma as a means of financial support. I am the dregs of humanity, the swirly brown stuff at the bottom of society's teacup. I realized this while sitting for four hours in the waiting room at the plasma donation center, tucked between a handsy young couple of high school dropouts and a woman who looked like she'd murdered her dog and glued it to her head (I nicknamed them the Poodle and the Canoodles). Together we watched Gone In Sixty Seconds, The Mummy 3: Curse of the Dragon Emperor, and Gone In Sixty Seconds for a second time. One a side note: Transformers 2 has now been replaced by the Mummy 3 as the Number 1 worst movie I've ever seen. Although I feel like the Canoodles weren't really paying attention.

I clutched my copy of The Brothers Karamzov in a petulant attempt to retain some small shred of my dignity. However that was shattered when I asked the phlebotomist why they wore the clear plastic face shields.

“For blood splatters.”

Great. I really needed that image of my blood spraying this poor woman like a Jackson Pollack painting.
My friend Mij keeps me encouraged at moments like this. She was the one who instigated the plasma adventure and who remarks with good cheer on how we’re saving lives with our donation.  While I am morosely quoting Romeo and Juliet to myself “My poverty but not my will consents” she will happily chat and make friends with every one around us. She doesn't refer to our endeavors as “whoring out our blood cells” and I doubt she would see the irony in me watching The Biggest Loser. Although, I must say The Biggest Loser is an upgrade from my earlier days watching Millionaire Matchmaker. At least it’s inspirational, and provides me with a variety of opportunities for sarcasm. I’m sorry but you cannot say phrases like “I wish I was half the man he was” or “I had to jump over a lot of hurdles to get here” and not expect a snarky response.

Mij also probably would have managed more than polite disinterest in the bleary-eyed Radison doorman with his high-demand O negative blood. Especially as he questioned me:

"Didn't you go to college to figure out what you wanted to do?"

Well yes I did. And no I still have no idea. And yes, I am an English major and realize some of these sentences are technically incomplete, but bear with me for the sake of this lovely conversational rapport we‘re developing. I don't know what I want to do with my life. If I did I'd like to think I'd be well on my way to achieving it, because I'm an absolute bear when I get it into my head that I can do something. But I can't see the path. All I can see at this moment is my dog Roxie who has pulled her head under the blanket and is completely hidden underneath. I understand the sentiment. Most days I would like to do the same. However, I have an 8 a.m. appointment at the plasma center, so I have to get out of bed.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Hunt

Job Hunting.

That phrase is such a misnomer. It conjures up images of stalking through the forest with a rifle, and blasting the doe-eyed little job, tossing its mangled little carcas on my back and reveling in the bloodlust . I'm sorry is that not what happens? I've never been hunting. Anyways it doesn't look anything like what I do. Everyday  I sit in Starbucks and send out endless resumes until my eyes are bleary and my fingers numb. I always sort of scorned the idea of going corporate, of working for the man, and then I experienced unemployment and now I can't give away enough resumes.

Employed people are very helpful when it comes to searching. Take my mother for instance. I've transcribed a recent conversation.

MOM: Lauren did you see that job link I sent you?
ME: The sewing one?
MOM: Ya didn't that look like a great opportunity? You could write for a sewing magazine.
ME: Mom, it says you need to know how to sew. I've got three half-knitted scarves up in the attic but that's it.
MOM: Oh, you could learn how to sew in an hour. Just apply.
ME: You have to be an EXPERIENCED sewer. What am I supposed to tell them? I always pick the thimble in Monopoly?

I'm not going to lie. The prospects have been so disheartening that I've been tempted to sell my eggs, if only the thought of several little half-children running around wasn't so frightening. And I'm not the only one. I pulled up my unemployed friend's computer to discover the following article "Selling your Health: Sperm, Eggs, Plasma, and Hair Booming". Instead of laughing we set up an appointmnet at a plasma donation center and I contemplated how much of my hair I could cut off and still remain a viable job candidate.

Of course some of this desperation was due to the fact that just the previous day I had been suckered into a job hunting scam. Apparently there are some unscrupulous companies that use job seekers as a means of free labor. The scam works like this: An advertising company posts a listing on a job board (in my case Careerbuilder) for a few immediate openings in their management training program. They bring in a bunch of people and when you get there they tell you it's a prescreening interview. The lobby is filled with a bunch of nervous-looking young graduates in their suits and skirts. They tell you they'll be selecting a few individuals out of the group for the next round of interviews which is a job shadow. You'll follow one of their upper level managers around so you can "understand the company from the ground level". Translation: you will be handing out fliers/coupons either in stores or sketchy neighborhoods and because it's an "interview" they don't have to pay you.

Fortunately my sister and best friend had also been duped in the past and warned me off before I went to the second interview, but that was after I plastered my facebook with the joyous news of my second interview, and didn't do much to allieve the anger or embarrassment.

The process of job hunting seems to be an inherently mortifying one, making a person intensely aware of their shortcomings. For another job I had to take a pre-interview assessment test that included 9 pages of math problems in a thirty minute period WITHOUT A CALCULATOR. Now perhaps they just wanted to see which goons would actually follow the instructions and fail miserably and who would take the iniative to cheat. As I stared at the screen in pure terror all I could think was, "They said this would never be applicable in real life. Dear God what's the formula finding the diameter? 2 pi times something. Is there a quadrangle in here? Why do I need to know this to work at Starbucks?"

Needless to say I didn't recieve a call back. I did however sweat off several pounds from anxiety which I promptly regained with Spaghettios and vodka. Just kidding, I can't afford the vodka.

Interviews have this way of making you feel like a complete moron. For instance in a phone interview I was asked if there were any times when I was unable to meet a customer's expectations and what did I do about it. I related an experienced when I was catering and couldn't provide something because it was against policy. A silence followed. Was there another situation where you were able to compromise with a customer? Well you just asked me to tell you about when I had to say no. So I told you a story about how I said no. If you wanted me to give you a motivational story about how it was against policy to give a customer some extra tomato sauce, but on my lunch break I went out to the garden, hand picked some tomatoes and whipped up a quick bisque then maybe you should change the phrasing of the question.

I really don't know how people remember so many examples from their work experiences. I remember the time the whole staff got busted for drinking out of the open wine bottles. I remember standing on my feet for 10 hours, sneaking appetizers off of trays, watching teens dance awkwardly at prom, getting covered in food particles after scraping a hundred plates, hauling linens up and down in a six story building, getting upset that smokers got extra breaks to feed their addiction. But do I remember a time when I had to multitask? I don't remember what you said five minutes ago. More to the point I don't remember what I said five minutes ago. Did I use the word motivationalize? Is that a thing?

Maybe I could describe my most impressive accomplishment in the last two months which was using all my letters in Scrabble for a 77 point score. Thank you "invokers".

And possibly worst: I don't have a solution. Blogs, like Disney movies, are supposed to have a nice tidy ending about the things you've learned and how everything made sense in the end. Like I got a better job after failing that  phone interview. But I didn't, and I haven't, and here we are back at square one. The only silver lining is a seemingly never ending supply of humiliating experiences to blog about. So hey, I'll keep you posted.