Thursday, January 29, 2015

My Three Worst Job Interviews Countdown

#3: I answered an advertisement for a sport clothing salesperson with a major distributor (think t-shirts, shorts, polo style shirts, sneakers, flip-flops). I should have politely declined when the hiring manager asked me to meet him at a Wendy's fast food restaurant (in a pre-Starbucks-in-every-city era), but I was fresh out of college and fairly desperate for employment.

At Wendy's, I met at a small table for two with a poorly groomed, sweaty, not very confident recruiter. He opened a binder and began showing me pyramid shaped distribution charts, I immediately clued in that this was a multi-level marketing scheme; not a job, but an investment opportunity, that I did not want in the least. Within five minutes I wished the poor guy well and made a hasty exit. He called out after me that I wasted his time. I resisted the urge to reply that he should not have misled me about the "job" and thus wasted my time. He made me sad for many reasons, chiefly because he looked like the opposite of success, the antithesis of aspirational.

#2: The manager (this time at a bonafide, brick and mortar, workplace) met with me in her corner office. She did all the talking, telling me about her history with the company, and how she rose through the ranks after starting as a lowly receptionist. I hardly got a word in edgewise. I'm not sure she asked me many questions, but I guess I said enough to impress her, or at least did not spoil the delusion that I was a younger version of her. I left thinking I totally blew the interview.

I got the job, staying there for about eighteen months, one promotion, one huge raise and one annual bonus. It was a terrible fit culturally, but impressive work experience and financially lucrative. Had the interviewer/my boss bothered to let me speak more, we both might have realized how out of sync the job was for me and I was for it.

#1: Fresh from a former retail management stint, I interviewed at a very cloistered, but very well respected workplace that was founded as a family business in Texas and grew beyond the state's borders. I met first with a young man who didn't bother to explain what his role at the company was. He shook my hand, said his name, and started talking. He asked good questions. I answered them well. First indications pointed to a good job match.

Then the young man asked if I could meet with another person and essentially have my second interview right then and there. Sure! After a ten minute wait, during which I completed application paperwork, a lady appeared in the office. She was not introduced to me, but began having a conversation with the young man as if I wasn't in the room. Context clues led me to believe that this was the man's mother, also his boss, and the heiress to the family business. Later sleuthing confirmed all of this.

After a few moments of ignoring my existence, she glanced at my résumé, and said, "What's J.Crew?" Before I could answer, the son let out a micro-sigh of exasperation and said, "You know what J.Crew is. You have clothes from there." Then the mom asked why I only stayed employed at J.Crew for four months. I politely, but firmly stated that I was employed at J.Crew for two years and four months. "Oh, I misread that," she said with a dour expression and no apology. She asked if I had any children, displeased when I said no. She asked if I had pets, and completely tuned out when I started to talk about my two cats (at the time). "I don't hire cat-people," she barked dismissively. I defended my love of all companion animals by saying that I wanted a dog, but my rental agreement didn't allow it. She seemed somewhat appeased, and said that I would have to submit to a background check and drug test. No worries. I leaped through background check hoops with flying colors when I got my Securities Exchange Commission Series 6 License a few years before.

After leaving the interview, I knew the job was mine, but that Mama Bear and I would continually butt heads if I worked there. Within the hour I called Baby Bear (the son, with whom I interviewed first) and told him to please pull my application from consideration. He seemed surprised, and asked why. I couldn't tell him that his mom/boss was awful, and that I could never work with her or for her. I said I'd rather not give a reason, and thanked him for his time.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bad Decision

I made a bad decision. I took a job that I now hate.

I was in a semi-desperate, sleep-deprived state of on-call, part-time employment, when the recruitment offer came. My former employment situation was somewhat similar to being in a cult, but without the support network or uplifting sing-alongs. I allowed myself some magical thinking when the new job offer came on a day I had worked at my previous employer from 3:00 AM to 8:00 AM. I saw the monetary benefits and the promise of more reasonable working hours at the new/current employer, and loved the idea! I also fell victim to a bit of bait and switch, thinking that I was hired as the visual coordinator (a.k.a. the make-it-pretty-boss) at my new/current employer. In reality, I spend most of my working hours assisting customers and dealing with customer service issues when other employees over-promise and under-deliver.

I'm a bit of an introvert with an outgoing personality. I put on a good show of loving people and handling interpersonal challenges efficiently, but too much time interacting with people drains my energy. I need quiet time to finish projects and think about things, versus a constant barrage of interruptions and forced interactions.

An unreasonably irate customer called the store today. Unluckily, I answered the call. He proceeded to yell at me, curse at me and then tell me to quit apologizing. One of his verbal gems, "I don't know what the hell to do, maybe jump off the roof. I want the damn jacket I ordered." I managed to finally get the man's name and phone number, told him not to jump off the roof, and that I would research the situation before getting back to him. I did research the issue and outline some good possible solutions. Then I begged another more-seasoned, male employee to call the awful customer back with some options for problem resolution. The customer apologized profusely to the older male employee for how he treated me, even offering to apologize to me directly if I wanted to call him back. No. I never want to talk to that awful customer again. Never, ever.

The majority of my working life has been spent in retail, thus reflected on my résumé. The job offers I get are for retail or sales positions. And I never want to work in retail or sales again. Never, ever.

I'm going to speak with a career counselor before I jump into another job. I never want to be the square peg forced into the round hole again. Never, ever.

Now I need to figure out how much longer I can bear to stay at my current job. I never want to utter the words, "I don't know what the hell to do, maybe jump off the roof." Never, ever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas

hazy shade of winter tidings

candy cane ribbon & outdoor ornaments, oh my!

the wreath that won't fit under the security door

close-up of our needle-thin living room tree

stockings hung on the pub mirror with care

dining room runner with modern touches of gold, incense & myrrh

throw some green & red on that ottoman

ancient wise one (17!) with her holiday flair pillow

tiny floor chandelier in the bedroom with pastels aglow

snail reminds me to slow down, reflect, and enjoy Christmas

As I struggle through days as a retail manager/visuals coordinator, I wish you and yours the merriest, most peaceful Christmas. Be kind to one another. Quit shopping and snuggle in for a few days.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Made Some Pretty

I styled a bookshelf for a property management group. They wanted a neutral color palette with minimal objects, and some of the minimal objects needed to be lions. I think it's great for a modern office setting. Also, I got paid!

Then I made it snow in downtown Austin. It involved climbing ladders, lifting, peeling, sticking, stapling, stringing, scattering and unrolling. Oh, and redressing some mannequins.

After I finished the winter windows at work, the tailor from my store came and gave me a hug. For context, I should mention that English is his second language. He said, "You the best. Congratulations!" 

I replied, "Thanks. Why?"

He explained with lots of hand gestures, "Those windows. Everybody on the sidewalk stop and look at the sport coats. You the best!" 

Then my store manager who seldom doles out compliments, said the windows looked "great" and thanked me for updating them. Also, I got paid. 

I miss having free time to go to the gym, have hobbies, socialize and keep the 1952 House sparkly clean, but I like getting paid. Also, I like compliments on my work.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Working Downtown

(The only open lane, on the far right) MUST TURN LEFT
PARKING GARAGE (for which I pay $160 a month) FULL

And that's just on the way into work. Today was a rare occasion when Chad and I carpooled into downtown together, because he had fancy meetings of minds.

Chad met me at my workplace at the end of the day. As we stood at the busy intersection across from my urine-and-vomit-scented parking garage for which I pay $160 a month, a man came walking towards us calling out, "Brian, Brian. Hold up, Brian." The walk sign lit up, and several people including Chad and I started across the street. "Brian's friend" started walking into my path, stopping when I stopped and slowing when I slowed, effectively herding me out of the crosswalk. I stopped and took a step backwards, saying, "please, after you." Brian's friend stopped too. Finally, I just made my way to my destination curb, not caring if he tried to get in my path. Brian's friend said to Chad, "give me a dollar." Chad replied, "sorry, I don't have any cash." The whole time, we walked in stutter steps as he tried to herd me off of the sidewalk, never touching me or stepping on my feet, but barely missing. I had pepper spray in my hand, trigger finger on the spray button. With my other hand, I must have touched my hair, because Brian's friend said, "That's it. Run your hand through your hair, girl." I stopped, turning to face Brian's friend fully, giving him a steely (yet terrified) gaze. He responded, "Oh, are you gonna call the cops on me?" I thought he had a novel idea, so as loudly as I could, (remember I am a trained actress who knows how to project my voice) I yelled the name of my work building's security guard, "Bruuuuuuuuce!" Brian's friend did not care for this. He stopped in his tracks. Took a few steps backwards and looked at me as if I might be mentally ill. Good. Once I got into my car in the parking garage, I gave in to a slight fight or flight meltdown after locking the car doors. Then I drove Chad and myself home in terrible traffic.

I hate downtown.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Aging, Wealthy & Rocking Out

Last Saturday Chad and I got to rub elbows with the rich & infamous at a Formula One concert event starring Duran Duran. I won the pair of tickets courtesy of a media conglomerate by retweeting a message about their sponsorship of the event. (Thanks, media conglomerate!) I would never purchase such extravagant concert tickets myself, as the face value for the pair was $1350. *gulp*

The event venue, ACL Live, (Austin City Limits' huge new-ish studio) is impressively cavernous with great sight lines from every seat giving the convincing illusion of an intimate space. I won't complain about the open bar or elegantly artful catered buffet of appetizers on the mezzanine level. Nor will I complain about our fabulous reserved seats. Duran Duran put on an amazing performance, still very talented, still very gifted musicians and showmen.

I will, however, complain about the aging, wealthy, drug-fueled fellow-concert-goers: people old enough to know better, but apparently too rich to care. Side note: I have never partaken of an illegal substance, but have heard anecdotal evidence from those who have, and certainly read many studies, essays and fictional works about recreational drug-users. If I can look at the sad, over-botoxed, over-self-starved, woman dancing by herself wearing a sequined mini-dress and know with 90% certainty that she took more than one hit of ecstasy, that is beyond sad. If I can rebuff the aggressive, 60-something year old man, wearing his khaki cords with shoes matching belt and tucked-in plaid button-down, who repeatedly pulled on my elbow telling me to stand up and dance, knowing that his frivolity is cocaine-powered, that is also sad. If I worriedly watch the 40-something lady with her 60-something hairdo, shakily climb the stairs to the exit after she danced and yell-sang along with the entire concert with multiple fresh drinks in her hand throughout the show, that is sad, and she needs to fire her hairdresser. I hope all of these drug-addled & alcohol-addled people were within stumbling-distance of their hotels.

I enjoyed seeing Duran Duran perform, loved the venue and had the handsomest date there. BUT, 85% of the people around us made me sad with their aging, overindulged states. I never want to be that person.

I want to nest in my little sanctuary of a cozy house, and maybe just listen to Duran Duran's greatest hits next time they are in town, especially if the tickets are that expensive.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Chad's Frankenstein's monster homage is so expressive and evocative. My headless horseman woodcut style pumpkin is perhaps too meta and overwrought. Once again, Chad wins pumpkin carving.

Happy Halloween. Be safe. Have fun.