Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I have one of those jobs. (And if you've ever started answering your cell phone in your best "Corporate Accounts Payable - Nina speaking." voice you know what I'm talking about.)

In addition to being one of those jobs that completely numbs my mind to the point where the only thoughts that are going through my head when I'm doing it are "Has it been more than thirty seconds since I last said something to this guy?" and "Did I remember to repeat his question back to him?," its also one of those jobs that has a great work to check ratio - insofar as Check > Effort. the day that Check < Effort i will run screaming from the building leaving a trail of flames in my wake.

Or something like that.

When I took this job I knew that it was just A Job and certainly wasn't anywhere near The Job, but I was OK with that, since I was only looking for A Job to keep me from dwelling on the fact that M was, at the time, considering swallowing his gun and, for that A Job would do. To boot, since I was on the rebound from A Really Crappy Job that got mad at me because I took three Monday's off during the five months I worked there to attend funerals of all things, I figured A Job working Anywhere But There would hit the spot. So I applied at precisely the kind of place that employs people like me - "Some College" (because I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up), "Exceptional Technical Skills" (because while I wasn't thinking about what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was staring at a computer screen) and "Extensive Customer Service Experience" (because my parents fear no child labor law) - strip malls, coffee shops, book stores and big chains.

Guess what? None of them would hire me.

The process was always the same - fill out their disturbingly long application and questionnaire, all vaguely personal while being completely pointless and insane and turn it in to the nearest person in khaki's and hideous polo. Wait. Receive phone call from the Happy HR Department. Schedule interview. Attend interview. The interview's all went soemthing like this.

Interviewer: "What makes you interested in working for the Starbucks Corporation?"

Me: "You know, I've worked in coffee shops before and the best thing about any of them was always the fast pace and meeting new and interesting people on a daily basis. Plus, never before more than twelve steps from a double shot of espresso never hurts."

Me - On The Inside: "Because I am 21, don't want to get a real job where I have to be accountable for what I do and this is seven blocks from where I live."

Interviewer: Phony Laugh. "Good answer. What do you know about Starbucks?"

Me: "That I love a good Latte." Phony laugh from both of us now. "No, seriously, mostly what I know about the company doesn't go far beyond the green aprons."

Me - On The Inside: "I know that as a corporation your earnings are solid enough to keep this location afloat for another six months, which is all the longer I want to work here. I also know that your employees are completely miserable - but I'm going to be miserable either way, so I'd rather be miserable while being payed for it. I also know that your cash counting policies are lax and that you use a machine to weigh your change at the end of the night so I don't have to count it - thank fucking god, because I never want to see another quarter again."

Interviewer: "Fair enough. Let me give you a little run down about the company because, with your experience, I think you'll be management material in no time..."

And that's the point where it all falls apart. My eyes glaze over as Overly-Caffeinated-Part-Time Night-Manager tells me about how many new locations they open each week and how he thinks that, given my management experience, I could be looking at my very own store in less than six months. He seems very excited about this. I am less so. He starts telling me about the benefits package for a regular employee, then waves his hand in a completely heterosexual way and says "What am I thinking?" before shuffling a few papers and getting out the managers benefits package. He is very excited about this. Predictably, I am less so. After about twenty minutes of me feigning interest, he starts to get that I have no intention of turning my potential job at Starbucks into a career choice and that's the end of that.

I repeated that process at no less than a dozen big name chains - each of them sending me the same letter that pretty much read like this: "Your resume was great and you had tons of potential but, by the end of the interview, we could totally tell that you thought you were too good for us, you misanthropic bitch."

At the time - I was furious. I couldn't for the life of me figure out why companies that employed a slew of 16-year olds who couldn't handle showing up for work on time and often didn't know the difference between an MSDS and the Employee Handbook wouldn't hire me. I completed "Some College"! I slogged through almost two years working my way from "we might have a shift for you on the weekends bussing tables" to "you're one of the only two managers we have that we can count on and I need you here for 16 hours today - puh-lease!" My customer service skills are so fucking sharp I should be a god damn hostage negotiator. Why the hell don't you trust me to fold a fucking sweater if i'm willing to work for the same $7.50 as the rest of you idiots? And then I realized that it was totally the part about them knowing that I knew that I could have a better job and I didn't want one...and then I stopped resenting the situation.

Nonetheless, when this job came around, I knew that it was still just A Job despite the higher payscale and slightly larger name tag and I was OK with that. I figured it would never hurt to have a big name company on my resume.

Internet, I feel as though I have been seriously wronged.

A Job that I would keep for six months, long enough to figure out what I wanted to be what I grew up and find something that didn't try to crush my soul with authorized bathroom breaks, cherokee red cubicles, a boss that doesn't think Hawaii is part of the United States and co-workers who think I'm not only insane but also a liar when they say "Check out this cool picture of a raptor" and I say "Raptor bird or Raptor plane?" becuase "What the hell are you talking about Raptor plane? There's no such thing as a Raptor plane." [Just for the mother fucking record, Internet, I am neither insane nor a liar.] That job - does everyone remember that job?

That job is dead and what I'm left with is the rotting carcass of that job - no more self-respect, no more dignity, no more soul. You see, about a year into A Job, M lost his job. To be fair, he had A Job too. His job had been a somewhat longer tenure but it had the same pay, the same hours and the same soul deadening qualities. But, when M lost his job, he didn't just lose his job, his boss enrolled him in a magical government program that allows me to feel like I'm taking back just a fraction of the money I send to the IRS every year and getting to spend it on M's education. You see, M is currently enrolled in an all expenses paid Associate's Degree Program, a period during which he is also being paid unemployment. This is tehAWESOME because M never would have gone back to college were it not for being forced to decide between free school and finding another job right away. This is also tehSUCK because he only brings in about 2/3rds of what he used to bring in, and that means that we are no longer in a position where we could live in the lifestyle to which we've become accustomed on his income alone. We're making it work and, really, I kind of like it better. He's at home for a large part of the day which means I no longer have to interact with laundry, dishes or the vaccum cleaner and, if we get in a bind on a weekend, he can hit the grocery store during the day, sign for deliveries and bring me lunch when I'm jonsing for someplace that doesn't deliver. Having someone at home has made things a lot easier for us - and, since he's not working and going to school at the same time, he has tons of time for all of this while still keeping up with his homework.

The only complaint I have (other than that all this time home alone makes him really really really really chatty when I get home and he's constantly looking for someone to banter about the future robot war with) would have to be that, all of a sudden my job became so much more important. I could no longer entertain the notion of talking back to my boss. I could no longer get up on a Tuesday morning and just decide not to go to work that day. I have to be working and thats incredibly oppressive for me - a person who has, thus far in life, worked for six months, squirreling away money all the while, and then quit my job, living off the fruits of my labors until they were gone only to repeat the process again.

This knowledge has actually driven me completely insane. Two months ago I started doing this:

Originally uploaded by waxwingedfae

Yes, that is The Flower Pot Formerly Known As Pencil Cup and Monkey Munch Holder holding about 30 paper cranes. Why is TFPFKAPCAMMH holding about 30 paper cranes? Well because I've gone crazy, silly. When I was a kid I once read a book about a cancer kid who had tons of children sending her paper cranes because legand holds that if you make 1000 paper cranes you get a wish. The kid died, I think.

I wish I didn't have to work here anymore and the collection - it's growing.

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