Beer Me That Job

July 25, 2011

There are just so, so many things that bother me about the job search process.

For instance: why is it that nowadays, if you want to send in a resume to a job that’s located on a site that isn’t Craigslist, often they make you register with a multi-step process for their own stupid site, which then begins to send you more spam than exists in the entire state of Hawaii? News flash: If I’m looking for a job, I need to be checking my email account for serious job inquiries or, like, videos of kittens happily attacking watermelons sent from friends who want me to be less depressed about the dejecting work of job applications. I do not need it bulked up with requests for me to apply to jobs for which I would never apply and so, you know…I didn’t.

“Job available in your field: Prison Barber” Is it? Is it?

Or bulked up with ads directed at me, the job seeker. Alleged head-hunting agencies that—if really scammy—want you to pay to play, or—if merely sleazy, useless, and opportunistic—desire for you to go to their advertisement-marinated web page that no one actually uses to find jobs. Hey, glad that while I can’t find a job, you’re able to make lazy cash off advertisements springing up in my face like so many unwanted joke nut can snakes.

Job peanuts.

Don’t believe me that they’re not there for you to apply to jobs? Actually attempt to apply to a job on one of those sites some time. More often than not, you can’t submit what you need to, it’s unnecessarily convoluted to the point that you end up just not applying, or you have to sign up for more advertisement abuse in order to submit a resume.

Departed are the days of sending in an application directly to the company via email or in a very simple one- or two-step process. Dead and buried are the days of just going over the building and handing the resume in.

(Yeah, try this some time. Then as you leave, hide and watch the receptionist unenthusiastically use it as a great big wrapper for stale gum.) Just, really. In a vast majority of careers, the physical resume is all but obsolete in the eyes of an employer.

Which is fine. All I wanted to do was to email the damn thing in anyway. But it’s just never that simple.

There are other things I loathe about the job application process, too. For example, feeling like the worst sort of corporate whore, having to sell yourself on your cover letter to please the sadistic evil hiring machine of the non-desperate, already-job-havin’ HR dementors while they muse over your life’s accomplishments in the most trivial of manners and make capricious decisions about the fate of your life.

Or that’s at least what it feels like. I know and love a few hiring managers—family members and friends. That’s really not dementors. …that we know of… But I’m fairly certain that all the hiring managers who’ve gone over my resume and cover letter have been exactly like this. Evil suckers of hope and identity.

But most of all, what I cannot handle about the job search process is the interview. The terrible, horrible, stinking interview.

Very possibly it’s just that I’ve always been as inept with interviews as I have been with auditions or, say, blind dates. I lose all semblance of personality (or even what a human is and how it normally functions) when faced with the daunting task of “BE CHARMING AND SAY ONLY THE RIGHT THINGS.” What the hell? It’s like someone telling you, “Be funny.” Or, “Be interesting.” Or, “Be sexy.”  Uhhhhhh. Ummmmm. Buuuuuuuh. *blink, blink, rub eye, blink*

“Is this sexy or interesting?”  “No, but it is funny.”

You can’t put someone on the spot like that and expect them to perform well. Least of all me. It’s like I completely lose the ability to comprehend the fundamental makeup of humor or normal speech patterns at that moment and instead sit thinking totally functional and moderately intelligent thoughts with a horrified expression on my face, unable to make them come out of my mouth. It’s amazing—another person’s power to abduct attributes you might otherwise rock when not having to try at them. In these situations, rather than funny, interesting, or sexy, I instead break down into a grotesque amalgamation of the antonyms of all three—a character I think of as Abused Meg.

Abused Meg has had handed to her some of the most ghastly, miserable experiences known to man or woman and is therefore now no longer able to talk with the usual shape or wetness of her former mouth, cannot consider numbers or manifest emotions with certainty, can’t find an appropriate volume at which to express her monosyllabic sentiments, has never seen the sun nor heard loud noises, is constantly on the verge of tears or hiding in her own arm crevice like a sad baby Dracula, and otherwise behaves just as an abused, neglected dog might. At best, she has no personality at all; at worst she’s strange and alienating with the ability to rob anyone else in the room of a sense of normalcy. I am not good at interviews.

And the thing with interviews is, you just can’t ask the freaking questions you want. Mainly—how much will I get paid, and what are my benefits? I don’t get why this is such a taboo. You’re not supposed to ask that until right before you get the job. Why are we all wasting so much time?!

I understand that employers want a person who is right for the job and dedicated to the work. I get that. That makes for a more pleasant work experience for all and a more dedicated worker. But here’s a thought that is applicable for every single person I’ve ever met—unless there’s something truly horrific about my current job, I am leaving my job to look for either comparable pay or a vertical move of some sort, like more pay and better benefits. If money weren’t important with regards to the job, I wouldn’t be working in the first place. I’d spend my time … I don’t know … rowing a fucking boat or painting pictures of me rowing fucking boats. I wouldn’t be sitting in a cubicle taking orders from people. Right? And you—the job dangler—are remarkably stupid in not acknowledging that out in the open and right away.

So why can’t I ask on the first interview—or hell, before I go take off work to waste my time and the potential new employer’s time—what the pay is going to be? Then let’s see if I’m a good fit. Because I tell you what—even if I really love a potential job, I—like most everyone else—do not live in a career utopia fantasy. I have rent and bills to pay. I have to eat. I have a life outside of work I’d like to continue living in a similar fashion or better. I need to find a new job that’s going to pay me what I need to make in order to do all these lovely lifey things. And nearly everything beyond that is a minor deciding factor. The order of importance has to be: 1.) Do I vaguely want to perform this job/am I qualified?  2.)Does it pay what I need/want to make?  3.) Literally anything else that might be a point of interest. It doesn’t matter.

Number 1 is taken care of when I apply. I got the job description, I’m interested so far. Number 2 should be next. Number 2 should always be next. There is no point proceeding if number 2 is a deal-breaker. PEOPLE—NUMBER 2!! Come on.

So, yeah. This is the aspect of our job culture that I think I find most aggravating and wasteful of everyone’s time and energy.  And so does Abused Meg. As she shambles off into the shadows, totally freaking out all who exist there with her wide-eyed weirdness.

**I should note that this is not about a current job search I’m doing. In fact, I’m on the brink of going down to part-time work in a month so I can start full-time grad school (Yaaaaaay!). But being around others who are currently looking for jobs, it brings me right back to that same old rant in my head. Why the senselessness? Why the time-suckage? You know what? Let’s all just quit our jobs and join a commune.

Or go back to grad school.

Picture this: laughter, gaiety, pleasant company, delicious dinner on the floor, Nerf darts flying through the air, giant piles of bean bag-esque dealies to sit on—a generally lovely night all around. Queue temporary anoxic nightmare. Queue emergency room. Queue nothing. Somewhere a doctor at Edwards Hospital retreats to his/her office and admires his/her own face in a solid gold plate before delicately eating a decadent truffle off it. At least that’s how I picture it.

Alright, so you tell me where the money went.

I am having an evening with my darling male escort at the home of a few of his friends about two months back. His friend is cooking us a superb dinner (which we will then eat, charmingly, on the floor. Having grown up in a home that was additionally a daycare in the basement during my formative years, I have an affinity for floor-eating, so I am in my element). The food being prepared far outweighs my abilities in the kitchen, and so I volunteer triumphantly to take the little Pillsbury crescent rolls out of the tube and arrange them on the pan. The ones I do look like multi-layered and variously sized sticks. Huh. Not sure how I pulled that off, but at least it does not affect the taste. We eat, all is right with the world.

After about an hour and a half eyeing their cat, whose name is Tribute (as I’m told, he’s not the greatest cat in the world), my cat allergies begin to overtake my fragile little body. Massive asthma attack (oh yes—I am asthmatic, too. My mother did not breed genetically superior progeny?). No uses of my inhaler (17 puffs in about a half hour will give you the shakes, child) will take it down. I inform Darling Male Escort, who since dinner has been engaged in a lovely Nerf dart gun fight with others, that I’m just a touch out of stuff like oxygen and seem to be getting worse by even the minute. I am trying not to panic; I feel like possibly Pavarotti has popped a squat on my chest. Knowing that Pavarotti died recently, I can be reasonably certain that it’s an asthma issue and I need to go home. I pop a Benadryl that the lady of the house is wonderful to provide me with, and we are off.

Alright, strike that “home” business. We have now left the house 5 minutes ago, and I cannot catch a breath. I am panicked and coughing, and I’m concerned I’m going to lose oxygen and pass out. To the ER, Jeeves! Step lively, step lively.

So, Darling Male Escort quickly gets me to an ER, where they promptly put the Swine Flu prevention mask over my mouth—my mouth which already cannot get a breath. Thanks, guys. One of those cruel to be kind things, I wager. Hack, hack, hack, cough, cough, wheeeeeze, as a mask sucks itself to my face like gauzy kidnapping gag tape.

I am then wheeled to an ER room and given a gown and a bed. I am already feeling a little better, breathing better, certain I won’t be passing out at least. Darling Male Escort and I wait for a doctor or a nurse or something. Someone to get my information. Someone to give me a nebulizer treatment, or even just half-assedly pretend to read my blood pressure. We wait for an hour.

An hour when you are unable to breathe due to environmental causes will accomplish one of two things—1.) you will die, or 2.) you will entirely recover. I’ll break the tension here: I did not die.

No, in an hour, I got entirely better. Apparently the Benadryl kicked in, and that was enough to stave off the allergy attack, which effectively released the stranglehold on my asthma issues. Let me tell you, gentle reader, one begins to feel a little silly lying pitifully on an ER table in a gown when the doctor comes in to find you a rather lovely shade of flesh-colored, no longer wheezing or coughing, and you tell him “Hey, um, so about that breathing. All better. Uh, thanks for all your negligence; how did you know it would be just the ticket? Amazing.” You feel silly because it’s actually the truth.

Ah, well. I collect my humiliation up to use at a later date, reconstruct my previous outfit onto my newly oxygen-occupied body, returning my hour-long hospital gown to the bed, and Darling Male Escort and I ease on down, ease on down the road back to his place so’s I can sleep it off. And as I drift off to sleep in a happy haze of Benedryl, Tylenol PM, and Xanax, a cynical thought occurs to me—I sat in an ER for an hour with no treatment whatsoever. I bet this is going to cost lots of money.

I had no idea. I received the bill this week in the mail. I got charged $22. I do not think I received $22 of service. I mean, I rented a gown that doesn’t close in back and a bed without a blanket from the hospital for an hour, but I’d probably only consider that to be worth about $10. And no tip! Bastards never checked up on me. Hey MD, you got other tables to serve here, guy.

But $22 was nothing compared to what my insurance company got billed. $850! Let me repeat that—they had to cover $850!! How do you people sleep at night? Aside from, clearly, on 1200 thread count Vera Wang Egyptian cotton sheets. With people fanning you and feeding you grapes. Goodness. $850 (plus $22). For a bed, for an hour. Whores charge less, and they at least make sure you leave the bed smiling.

Jesus. I hope that ER bed is rent-to-own, or someone might have been screwed here…