Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Search for a Suitable Saltmine to Slave At...

Yes, yes, it's that time of year again. School will soon be over, and I am now obligated to earn some decent bread in order to lighten my parents' financial load when September brings in the inevitably gargantuan University tuition fees. The thing is, I do not have a very padded resume (the only experience I really have is two months' worth of drudgery at Safeway, and some volunteer credits from a local elementary school and my church) as well as an unfortunate tendency to believe I have a infinite knowledge of how summer jobs work, so I ignore the advice my parents attempt to drill into my brain. The combination of my adolescent arrogance and general ignorance led me to hand out no fewer than eleven applications and resumes to eleven different establishments without cover letters, and neglected to follow-up on any of them. You see, I had this obscure idea that following-up something was akin to nagging and generally being a nuisance, and at the time I couldn't see how that could help my unemployment status.

As you, dear readers, can probably guess, those eleven applications resulted in eleven large, awkward, disappointing silences. (For the curious, my failed attempts were aimed at Gap, SmartSet, Eddie Bauer, Laura Secord [two locations!], HMV, Quizno's, Second Cup, Claire's, Coles, and Booster Juice.) Of course, with the swift approach of summer swiftly swallowing up my chances, I relunctantly applied to the two jobs that, while distasteful, I was pretty certain I could snag. The first was Safeway, where I had experience, and they loved hiring kids who were incompetent. The second was McDonald's, who practically never hired someone over twenty-five, and you'd have to be blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, lose both your legs, and have an IQ under 85 to be considered incapable of working there.

I waited for two weeks for the well-paid managers of those eleven "high-class", cushy, luxurious jobs to call me back. Both Safeway and McDonald's called me right away, the day after I'd applied, within minutes of each other, to beg for an interview. Well, well. My first interview went smoothly. Lacking the good fashion sense that seems inbred into most teenage girls, I wore wrinkled navy blue work pants and a dumpy, long-sleeved, butter-yellow acrylic sweater that clung in all the wrong places. I felt that was better than the equally too-tight looked-sexy-in-the-store-with-the-fluorescent-lights-and-warped-mirrors-and-asskissing-salespeople clothes I usually wear.

Anyway, the manager didn't seem to mind. He was large man, mid-forties I'd guess, with wide, gaping nostrils and buckteeth that flashed in the artificial light whenever he spoke. I smiled and nodded and giggled and essayed youthful enthusiasm to "join the Safeway TEAM!" He was quite jovial, and seemed impressed with my previous experience, despite the fact that my conscience forced me to reveal that I'd probably have to go through the training again since I had virtually no memory of how things worked last year. The entrance wage was up twenty cents from last year, there was a good chance I'd get fewer late shifts, and the store really seemed to need the help, so I'm pretty sure I landed the gig.

Still, there was no point in taking chances. My mother, horrified at the condition of my wardrobe that had coerced me into resorting to that awful yellow sweater to "look professional", whisked me off to go shopping for a decent blouse so that I wouldn't look crappy to the management of McDonald's, who, judging by their youth, were probably more interested in what was underneath my blouse than what blouse I was actually wearing. Anyway, now sporting a sleek black-and-white shirt over a black tank top along with black wrinkled work pants, I instantly felt nothing but gratitude for my thoughtful mother that I wasn't wearing that wretched acrylic nightmare when I encountered the Head Clown of Mickey Dee's. My younger sister had worked at McDonald's before, the same year I ran price checks at Safeway, and did not have fond memories of this one. Truthfully, he did not sound very promising on the phone either, as he was about as articulate as a pet rock . (The conversation went a little like this: "Hi....This is Kevin from McDonald's....[this was followed by a mysteriously long pause, over which I felt obligated to respond "Hi, Kevin", as if we were in a AA meeting]....How about an interview?")

However, that was nothing compared to seeing him in person. My sister had regaled me with tales of his loathsome nature, but she had neglected to be more specific about how incredibly attractive he was. About five years older than me, with tanned skin, a short shock of brown hair, and slanted eyes (my sister was also certain that he possessed Asian ancestry), he looked too good to be working at McDonalds, even in the prestigious position as manager. I was even further disoriented by the fact that he was holding interviews not in an office, but in any unoccupied set of tables in the restaurant. When my interview came, my nerves jangled on and off like a busy cellphone, as Kevin was a dreadfully slow talker, despite having a voice to match his spectacularily sexy bod. He pointed out things on my resume that were completely irrelevant to the job ("So you like Musical theatre....."), and commented on the "vast" amount of "stuff" I'd put onto my resume. I figured this must have seemed long to him, considering the other people I had to compete with. He then proceeded to ask me a set of pre-written procedural questions ...("If you see a child with a spilled ice cream cone by the counter, what do you do? A)Give the kid a free ice cream B)Call the kid's parents C)....) I answered to the best of my ability, and I didn't do that badly, to tell the truth. The manager promptly helped me to schedule my "second interview", which was basically where I came in and worked for free for an hour to test me, and I left feeling confident and smugly superior.

It was only after I arrived home that I realized I'd forgotten to ask how much McDonald's paid, an omission that arose from another one of my bizarre prejudices....for some reason, I believed asking how much money a store offered was uncommonly rude and taboo. While I doubt my misstep will cost me anything at McDonald's, it only underlines the total incompetence I embodied when going about my job hunt for the entire year. How could I be so stupid, and careless, and silly? Thankfully, the management at McDonald's does not discriminate any of the previous traits.


  1. Ahhhhh, never stupid, dear girl, never stupid. You had other priorities.


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