Friday, August 31, 2012

Career Opportunities

1. I got a job this week, which is nice. It's probably about time that happened.

I'd had some leads before now. One interview in particular went really well. I had an answer for every question I was asked, I was making the people laugh. At one point I made a suggestion that I thought would increase the company's visibility. The woman turned to her partner and said, "Huh. Why don't we already do that?" As I was leaving, she said to me, "Okay, I think this will--" and then caught herself. "...Er, I think this could be a good fit." At the very least, she said, they would be in contact the next day to let me know their decision. Oh, I bet you will, I thought. It was all I could do not to point and wink at the secretary on the way out. See you soon babe.

I never heard from those people again.

The company in question made exercise videos for children. This is their website:
WHOA. Stay the hell away from my fat kid, Mr. Laze.

Another interview went so well I actually got the job. The work, unfortunately -- cold calling for nine hours a day, Friday-Sunday -- was horrible, so I turned them down. That's the thing, you rarely know the full details of a job until you actually go in to speak with someone, so it's not uncommon to be midway through an interview, and have already decided to flee the premises and never return. "Everyone spends the first year at minimum wage." "We believe in a six day workweek here." "You'll notice everyone is wearing roller blades." Whatever it is, once you hear it, the interview is over. Kinda the professional world equivalent of a girl suddenly mentioning a boyfriend.

2. For a while, I was applying so many places every day that I basically stopped reading the ads I was responding to. This sometimes led to confusion. For example:

One day I came across an ad for someone offering $50 for "young, attractive people who are unafraid of loud noises to pop balloons on camera for half an hour." Maybe some of you are smiling right now. Well, I am more innocent than you. I had no idea what that meant; I figured it was some kind of music video project. The ad asked for interested applicants to send a headshot in an e-mail with the subject line, "I'm a popper!" 

I glanced at the ad, deemed it interesting enough, and quickly followed these instructions. As a joke, in the body of the e-mail I wrote: "This is the job i was born to do."

The next day I received this response:
Thanks for replying to my strange little ad on CL!
I am making a private video for myself and all I'd need you to do is pop balloons with your hands, ass, bare feet, cigarette (if you smoke) and especially by blowing them up until they pop. I guess you can say it's kind of a fetish for me but there is nothing more involved than just balloon popping. That's it! 

I can give you a quick $50 for half an hour of your time. Let me know if you're still interested or if you have any questions.
Gahhh!!! Isn't it awesome how casually "ass" is slipped into that list?

And just three days later, I found this in my inbox:
From: ****
To: Tadhg

I am ****, 27, 5'8", 140 pounds.  I have a full size massage table and enjoy giving other guys relaxing massages.  But more to the point, I have a fetish I wish to explore in wanting to be made to be a slave to another man. I'm open to working out any arrangement with you to make this happen.  Any interest?
Which led to this exchange:
From: Tadhg
To: ****

Hahaha not at all, but I wish you the best. Dude what ad did I respond to that led to this?

From: ****
To: Tadhg

Sorry... I had posted on CL as I am seeking a straight guy to be a slave to. 
No idea how that one happened.

3. In early August, I did a strange two-day job for my friend's company. On the first day, I went around to stores in Manhattan, signing up for a different Internet service plan in each. I was accompanied in my duties by two Chinese women, both of whom filmed this process, pretty obviously, on iPhones hanging from their necks. Eventually we adjourned to their hotel room, and they recorded me as I placed customer service calls to the different service providers.

The next day we went back and cancelled the plans. In the interest of minimizing awkwardness, in each case we conducted the cancellation in a different store location than the one we'd been to the day before. Everything was fine at first. Then one of the stores said they couldn't help us, that we needed to return to the same location where we'd originally signed the plan. We looked at each other uneasily. We were all thinking the same thing.

Me: Man...I hope we don't get the same woman as yesterday.

The woman we'd spoken to the day before had been extremely helpful and enthusiastic. It took her a long time to walk me through the plan and explain its many features (explanations I'd completely zoned out on). She had real passion for her work, and I was terrified of having to face her and cancel the plan so quickly.

We walked inside the store. And of course, she was standing right at the front door. 

You could see the moment of recognition on her face. "Hey, that guy and the two Chinese women twice his age who can barely speak English are back. I wonder--oh, fuck." She knew instantly she'd been had. I braced for her to pepper us with questions, to punish us for lying to her. But it was almost worse than that. She took us through the steps of cancellation in complete silence, with hate simply RADIATING off of her. I have never felt such loathing from another human being in my life. When we left the store we all felt like crying.

4. At some point I struck upon the idea of becoming an SAT instructor. In late July, one of the companies I applied with responded to me.

Nothing much to report from this whole process, except to say that training was far more rigorous than I anticipated; this company vetted me like I was Supreme Court nominee. Also:

Four of our training sessions took place on early weekend mornings. I went out the night before one of them. The next morning was rough. By the time we reached our break for lunch, I'd been holding in a fart for over two hours.

I lingered behind as everyone got their things together and left the classroom. When the coast was clear, I stepped outside, lifted a leg, and farted for roughly 45 seconds.

One of my classmates appeared at the end of the hall and began walking in my direction.

Classmate: Hey, Tadhg. What are you still doing here?
Me: Man, to be honest, I just really really had to fart.
Classmate: Oh. Huh.

Ever bring up farts with someone before the friendship is ready? Uncomfortable.

Anyway, they hired me.

BONUS ANECDOTE: This story is not all that funny or interesting, but still it feels worth mentioning.

For side cash during the search, I applied to every focus group I came across. In late July, one of them invited me to participate.

All of the questions on the original application related to beer. One question read:

"What are your three favorite brands of beer?"

I wrote down Lagunitas, Chimay, and Magic Hat. These aren't necessarily my favorites, but they're all good, and I wasn't thinking too hard about it.

Over the course of the application process, I answered this question an additional three times (first during a phone interview, then in an e-mail, then on a form handed to me in person on the day of). Each time, I gave the same answer.

On the day of the focus group, I arrived at the scheduled location and took a seat in the waiting room with everyone else. Ten minutes later, a cheerful man appeared in the doorway and called me into the hall. He took out the form I'd just completed, and pointed at the favorite beers section.

Man: Hey buddy, just wondering…did you forget to put Budweiser down here?

Maybe the most confusing question anyone's ever asked me. Oh, did I put down GOOD beers the four times you asked me this? Allow me to rectify that.

Me: …………

He said OK, and I walked back inside the waiting room. He pulled two other guys into the hallway. From my seat, I could hear him have this same conversation with each of them.

When it was time for the group to begin, they called everyone's names one-by-one and directed them into a separate room. Everyone except for the three of us. We looked at each other and shrugged. The man reappeared.

Man: Hey guys! So it turns out we overbooked for this group. Here's your money anyway, and you can head on home!

That works. Focus groups are bizarre.

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