Friday, June 23, 2006

Okay, um, REHIRED!

Well, not exactly.

At my previous manager's suggestion, I sent in my resume to the large-format bookstore that is one floor below us in the same mall. To my luck, the two months I spent at the small-format bookstore counted as experience to the large-format, which motivated one very, very nice employee to boot it to front of the line and right under the LF manager's nose.

I was contacted very promptly, and I just had the interview today. The first question the manager asked was about what had happened that had made me leave the SF bookstore upstairs. I'd had to rehearse that line in my head, because there were several reasons I and my family members had concocted, out of spite, self-loathing, or too many idle hours watching House M.D., which, primarily, were:

-The SF manager hired me to take the place of an employee who went on an extended vacation, and just found an excuse to fire me once the employee returned: I definitely couldn't use this one - there was really no proof other than the fact that I was hired on the employee's first day off and fired on his first day back. Besides, both the LF store and the SF store were managed under the same umbrella company, and presumably their staff communicated with each other from time to time, so badmouthing the SF Manager would hardly go well with the LF one.

-I'm a social retard who lacked the necessary communication skills to get along with the rest of the team, and the attention span to multitask with my work: This was out as well - not only was it (mostly) the result of the dip in my self-esteemed caused by being let go from a job I genuinely thought I was good at, but it would hardly pursuade the LF manager to hire me on.

-The SF Store was very high pressure, and had extremely high standards that I couldn't match up to: While at first this seems like the best response, upon closer analysis it possessed the worst traits of the first two excuses - it portrayed my former manager as a hard-ass taskmaster, and me as a hapless underachiever.

The response I ended up settling on was this: the SF bookstore was a very high-pressure workplace, as it had to compete with the LF store with a staff of only eight or nine people. Thus, those eight or nine people had to be able to learn very quickly how to do all the tasks in the store, and learn how to do several of them at once. While I was passionate about my work, and learned how to do individual tasks without too much trouble, I was, in the end, too inexperienced with retail to learn quickly enough to be a contributing member of what had to be a very close-knit and communicative team, and led to my trouble with multitasking.

I also mentioned in the interview that I had trouble with my social skills. The manager's next question was for me to explain that. I replied very honestly - the SF store job had been my first job in retail, the first job I'd ever had where people came in not knowing exactly what they'd want (fries with your burger? Butter on your popcorn?), the first job where I had the chance to suggest and persuade people to buy something from the store. At McDonald's, and the Movie Theatre, very few people came up to the counter without being sure they were going to buy some food. People coming into bookstores, however, could go either way - they were just as likely to browse and leave empty-handed as they were to find a book they liked.

Well, that was where I aced my interview. The LF Manager revealed right then that she had had a talk with my SF manager beforehand, and that she had said pretty much the exact same thing. The LF Manager praised me for my honesty and my openness, which made me feel pretty damn good. A lot of times in interviews, I (and, I presume, lots of other people) have been tempted to fudge a few facts and accomplishments (especially if the interview questions are "situation" questions, i.e. - 'name a time when you had a problem with a customer and you went beyond the call of duty to solve it'. In those cases I twist up a real-life situation, if I don't outright make up an entire interaction, in the fear that if I confessed to not being able to remember such a situation, or worse - had never experienced such a situation, I was in some way losing points with the potential employer). I didn't during this interview - and that's a lucky thing. If I tried to smarm or gloss over or explain away the fact that I didn't leave my SF job voluntarily, the LF Manager would have called me on my bullshit and that would have been that.

But I didn't. Essentially, I was hired - or, to be more precise - "transferred". Considering that I'd only been off the SF job for about a week, the LF checked the paperwork to see if I couldn't just be seen as transferred from one job to another - essentially eliminated my termination from my record, and leaving me with the same seniority and position. So, I'm being "transferred", although I do have to come in next week to redo the paperwork for my file and get my new schedule.

But still - I'm employed! Back to the 30% discount! Back to "Free Books on Loan" - and in a store with infinitely better selection!

But I can't mess this up.

Not this time.

I really, really really am going to try to get along with everyone and to do the best job I can. No dawdling while shelving books - I don't have the luxury of stopping all the time to check the cash register, because now there are specific people assigned to the cash register. No more having to deal with only one or two staff members at a time - no, now I have to tone down my seemingly uncontrollable gift of inadvertantly annoying everyone in my presence, and try to make real friends.

Because I got lucky. I might not get another chance as good as this one.

1 comment:

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