Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Unemployment Follies (#3)

It's been a little while since the last update, largely because nothing funny has happened.  Well, when I say nothing funny has happened, I mean the normal funny stuff has continued.

When you're under-employed, it is said that your job becomes working toward being employed. It's a full time job.  Sometimes after chasing the Golden Paycheck down all day, I don't notice it's dinner time and I begin to wonder whether I've time warped or all that time flew by (when you're having fun).

The bizarre calls and emails continue to pour in. Job possibilities in all sorts of places, very few of which are in my state or commutable.  I try my best to be nice to the recruiters, even though being nice isn't one of my strong points. I reply politely that California is thousands of miles away, which puts it just outside of my range for driving (or flying).  One company has called me three times about the same job, only they can't seem to figure out if it's in north Delaware or south Delaware (not that it matters, as I'm not driving to either of the Delawares).  And everybody knows that you lose one IQ point for every mile below Wilmington, Delaware (ducking).

When I specify that I'm in security, why do you send me emails seeking an email administrator? Or a network administrator?  Or a database administrator.  Or a drive halfway across the state?

Searching for jobs is amusing in itself because when one searches for Security jobs, one gets mostly results for security guards.  It must be an interesting and exciting field, as there are so many ads, each one listing an hourly rate below nine dollars.  Hmm... I wonder if you get a gun...  One of my searches was at a research hospital and came up with Chief Monkey Handler.  Surprisingly enough, I did not jump at the opportunity (I live with enough animals as it is).


So I'm home during the day, which delights the wife (and the dog). The only problem here, besides not having a job, is daytime television.  We don't have cable tv, so we're kinda limited to broadcast tv.  Have you seen broadcast tv lately?  Will the last broadcaster turn the lights out before you leave? This is what a friend of mine used to call dog-meat television.  Yes, I love my wife, but some of the stuff she watches makes me wish I were working, so I never knew about it.

There is a show called Wendy that comes on after the morning news (which is more concerned with Facebook than actual news).  I'll try to be polite here (but will ultimately fail): the woman is about seven feet tall (plus wig and heels) and may in fact be a man.  They say the transvestites always have better makeup and clothes because this is their area of expertise and they have to work harder.  So she's tall and has a giant set of mammalian protuberances.  She hoots and hollers, at which point the audience hoots and hollers.  I knew this because my wife likes to listen to the tv at earth-shattering volumes, making it difficult to concentrate on more important things (like poking my eardrums out with a pencil).

This is considered a talk show, for lack of better term.  When guests sit on the couch, the staff fires up the Shoe-Cam and they show the guest's shoes.  This is the kind of show it is.  And now you're ready to poke your own eyes out with a pencil.

If you can imagine it, the only thing more obscene than the alleged programming is the commercials. During the day, there are two types of commercials: SUE SUE SUE, the lawyer commercials and GET MONEY NOW commercials.  It makes your head explode.  It also makes me wonder who the audience is because this stuff is targeted to them.


I got another call from a recruiter who didn't seem anywhere near as slimy as the rest of them. The job sounded interesting, the commute reasonable and if they liked my resume, the interview was going to be the next day.

The next day?

This presented a small problem:  I was with my previous employer for about fifteen years, meaning that the last time I wore a suit was about fifteen years ago.  Oddly enough, I still have the suit but I suspect, fashion maven that I am, that it may look a bit out of date. So I was brutally honest with the recruiter, who said just wear something business appropriate.  I lied and told him I had clothes that fit the description.

Let me be honest with you too: when I say I'm a t-shirt and jeans kinda guy, I'm not kidding.  I have more t-shirts than most people have hair.  And some sneakers - that's it.  I don't dress up for anything or anyone, past a nice Hawaiian shirt.  They're lucky to have me at events in the first place so nobody complains about my clothes.

So it became time to go shopping.  I instantly knew I was going to regret this but it had to be done.  As it couldn't be done without the wife, I had to jump up and down upon the bed (it was daytime and she seems to sleep about twelve hours off my schedule, if at all).  We were on the road by 6:30 (I started waking her at 3:30) and off to the local mall.  The local mall has been undergoing changes for some time.  A lot of the really interesting stores have closed, making way for cell phone shops and more women's shoe stores.

We went into JC Penneys, which was wonderfully devoid of patrons.  My wife instantly went into BUY MODE, looking at the clothes and handbags and shoes and trinkets and clothes as if she hadn't been shopping in years.  I had to keep reminding her that one of us was still unemployed so it wasn't a particularly good idea to buy that eighty dollar dress (or that five dollar trinket - she doesn't care). Eventually it hit me, bright observant guy that I am, that this store was not divided by men's and women's - it was divided by designer.  Again, I don't get out much but it seemed ridiculous because you have to walk around the entire store if you're comparison shopping for any clothing at all.  Perhaps this is the idea but it seems like a lot of wasted time and effort to me.  My wife looked at me like I had three heads, which isn't all that abnormal.  Hey - I've never seen this before.  And it's stupid.

Once I got the wife back on task, we went to find a shirt.  This task was almost impossible by itself because we'd have to find the men's section amid all the designer women's sections. When we finally located it, I had my choice of many brands in many colors.  I figured white was a good choice, business-wise.  We found it instantly but, of course, not in my size.  In fact, none of the shirts came in my size.  I had my choice between choking and too much shoulder (I chose the latter). Oh yeah, black socks (because, naturally, I only have white ones).

And now it was time for a tie.  I thought my head was going to explode.  There were more colors and designs than I've ever seen, none of which I liked.  Putting on a tie ranks just above mowing the lawn or going to the dentist on the list of things I love to do.  Finally something caught my eye: a Jerry Garcia tie.  A hideously expensive Jerry Garcia tie.  Now he was a guitar player, like me, but he's also dead, unlike me.  It just seemed weird.  And expensive.  Fortunately it was on sale.

At this point I could take it no longer.  I felt like I had multiple personalities: a child who kept saying, "I'M NOT GONNA WEAR THAT SHIT" and an adult who knew he had to but preferred to let the child vent.

As anyone who has been to a mall knows, all stores are required to have loud, annoying 'music' blaring throughout the store.  Look, I know I'm not going to like the alleged music but does it really have to be loud enough that we have to shout over it in order to ask a question?  I have amplifiers that can deafen a sales associate at fifty feet so I'm no stranger to volume. [Hey you kids - GET OFF MY LAWN!]  At this point my phone keeps telling me I have a voicemail.  Mind you there's no signal in the store, so how can it be telling me anything?  It was pretty insistent so I ran outside to check.  Apparently there is an even newer law stating that there must be loud music playing outside the store too (I kid you not). It was so bothersome that I had to go out into the parking lot to check voicemail.  Checking voicemail, I discovered I had none.  Ok, now the phone is just screwing with me.

As if ties weren't bad enough, it was time for Shoes.  Remember, I'm Mr. Sneaker.  Everything that isn't a sneaker is horrid, ugly or for people who love to pay a lot of money for many pairs of shoes. My wife was quite lovely in this regard, picking out two pairs of shoes in the entire section that she thought I wouldn't lose my dinner over (bless her).  So we took the shoe to the counter to ask for a pair in ten and a half, only there was nobody at the counter.  We waited a while and still there was nobody at the counter.  It's crap like this that makes me walk out.  How can they take my money if they don't man their counters? I suggested taking the display shoe and walking out the door, setting off the alarm. Then coming back in and asking for someone to help us in Shoes.  But I was trying to play nice, so I went and got someone from general checkout.  Not only was the place deviod of customers, it was devoid of employees.

New cashier comes back and informs me they don't have ten and a half but she brought out a ten and an eleven (I see where this is going). My choices were largely limited to tight shoes or loose shoes. I chose loose.  I'd prefer to have chosen another store but my wife's back hurt and she wasn't long for the mall.

Cashier rings us up, we hand over the card and POOF - the entire machine grinds to an immediate halt.  Rather than rebooting, checking a manual or waiting, the young lady started pounding on the keyboard and the display.  If it wasn't completely foobed before, it was then.  Her eyes started rolling like a slot machine.  Finally another employee happened by and as she was explaining it was stuck, it became unstuck. When he moved back, it was stuck again.  It seemed to like him but unforunately not enough to complete our transaction.  Unbag and over to the main cashier.


I have gone through a number of phone interviews/screenings recently.  It seems to be a relatively new thing to weed out the riff-raff before calling people in for a personal interview.  This guy didn't want to talk to me on the phone; he wanted me to come right in.  Alrighty then, appointment set. Possibly with multiple interviewers.

It was obviously Time to Panic.  Remember, like my suit, I haven't had an interview in fifteen years either.  I'm no slouch jobwise but I don't interview (or test) well. Consulting some online resources, I read about the DO's and DON'Ts of interviewing.  Combining it with what I got from phone interviews, I made a cheat sheet of stuff I'd have to remember, phrased appropriately.  Since one cannot use a cheat sheet at an interview without looking like a total moron, I had to try to memorize everything.  This was not a good thing, as I have the attention span of a pregnant ant and the retention of a Yak.  The words kept running around the paper, like .. well... words do on paper.

So it's the morning of the interview and I'm still cramming.  Things are starting to get interesting around the house, as there are two hurried and agitated people occupying it.  I also discovered that one cannot wear a shirt from the package - it needs to be ironed (this is just too much change for one person).  Wife tore the house apart for an iron while I brought up the ironing board.  Up went the ironing board then down went the ironing board with a mighty CRASH; the holding upper thingie wasn't holding up.  After a quick visual mechanical inspection, I made a temporary repair with locking pliers.

The wife also turned up some spray starch (which quickly failed to spray or starch).  The atmosphere got more tense as the people got more agitated.  The poor dog kept being in the way, as if on purpose. Where's the tie? Over there where you left it.  Hang the shirt up and don't put it on til before you leave.
DID I JUST PAY FIFTY DOLLARS FOR A SHIRT?  No, you don't look gay in those shoes. Do I remember how to tie a tie?  I think I do.  Good lord, I'm choking.  And I'm melllting......

Out the door I went, accosted by my elderly neighbor (the sane one), who clapped in approval of my bozo attire.  I left myself an hour to get there early, as any more wouldn't be worth the daily drive to me (picky bastard for being unemployed, no?).  Here's a pro-tip: DO NOT USE MAPQUEST for anything, unless you just like the colors.  Especially do not use Mapquest for directions.  You simply cannot turn right where there is NO ROAD.  Really.  I finally got to the address, which looked suspiciously like a private home, not a business building.  Giving up, I got out the GPS, which got me where Mapquest couldn't, with fifteen minutes to spare.

I sat in the lobby, cramming for the exam, checklist on my phone. I couldn't help but notice the amount of very attractive women passing by at regular intervals.  This company obviously hires wisely, as opposed to the last one, which was so severely lacking that attractive people would occasionally picket the place and demand that they hire at least one or two of them.

I met my contact and went to a room.  I'm shaking like a leaf and sweating like a person who is very nervous. Even with no caffeine, I noticed my foot tapping.  I read that in interviews, you DON'T tap your foot.  Then I started to swing the chair left and right a tiny amount, which you should also not do.  So I had to hold myself still, except for the shaking, and nod appropriately at the nice man interviewing me.

The strangest thing happened... he completely failed to ask me about myself. He did not ask me about my triumphs and failures.  What I do to blow off steam.  If I beat the wife or the dog.  Nothing.  He simply asked me how I'd go about doing the job.  He didn't even ask me if I were a tree, what kind I'd be.  There was no firing squad of interviewers. I didn't even spill my water on myself (because I put it on the floor, knowing what would happen if I tried).  He thanked me repeatedly for coming by, then asked about my availability to start.

So that's all until I hear from the recruiter.

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