The Interview - 2
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The Interview  -  2

Having recently moved from Florida, my idealized vision of life in Colorado was unceremoniously shattered when we found ourselves in the middle of a concrete nightmare, eight lanes deep.

I had never experienced anything like it. Boxed in on all sides, bumper-to-bumper, traffic going at least seventy miles per hour. I dared not slow down. I shuddered to think of the consequences if just one car had a tire blowout or some such mishap.

In a matter of seconds, there would be a hundred car pile-up, instantly killing everyone, for at least a five-mile stretch.

It was a nightmare to get on; it was a nightmare to get off. Trying not to let on to one another of just how freaked out we were; my boyfriend and I sat in silence.

I moved forward in the seat and sat straight as a board, while my hands were stark white from gripping the steering wheel so tight, and beads of cold sweat were forming on my brow.

Indeed both our faces were white; all the blood had drained out of us from the sheer terror of this highway or causeway, or whatever it was. In the distance, Tom saw the high-rise we were looking for, and said, “Turn off here!” I had to fight to change lanes.

It seemed that when you put your turn signal on, people sped up instead of slowing down. Finally, running out of road, I became bold; I cut two cars off, but made the exit.

The focus of this perilous trip was a job interview. I found the ad in the Denver Post.

Some company called “Wolfgang Puck” was hiring baristas. I had worked for Starbucks at one time; I thought this would be perfect. I called for directions, but instead was scheduled for an interview.

The fact that I had an interview right off the bat, made me feel confident the job was mine. So on the morning in question, I donned my best outfit, assembled my references, and phone numbers in a small pocket planner, and fought my way into the city of downtown Denver on that monstrosity, called a Beltway.

When we finally found the place, I was taken aback. The building was at least twenty stories, blocking out whatever sun there was. Finishing the job that the smog could not. The building was black and shiny, and was what appeared to be granite.

Walking through great double glass doors with brass handles, so heavy, it took effort to push them; I found myself in an equally gigantic lobby, stark and sparsely furnished, made even colder by the pristine white marble floors.

I had seen so many movies about big cities, but being there in person was a different story.

In Florida, I never had a problem finding or getting a job, I thought of myself as confident, but now, here in this gigantic building with no less than six elevators, I felt very small and insignificant.

“Courage”, I said to myself, and went up to the eighteenth floor. Outside the door, I checked my lipstick and straightened my clothes, took a deep breath and walked in

.

I entered a large room, set up with long banquet style tables where ten other applicants were seated busy filling out forms. I walked straight up to the receptionist, and proudly announced that “I” was there for the interview.

The receptionist, unimpressed, handed me a packet to fill out, and informed me the interview would take place in forty-five minutes. I was baffled, but took a seat at one of the long tables and began to fill out the forms.

I counted fifteen other people coming in behind me and going through the same procedure, and then I stopped counting.

At first I thought the packet was just a standard application, name, address, phone numbers, work history, references, but then it went on; hobbies, likes, dislikes, activities, organizations, and on, what would I do in a certain situation? What did I think about the concept of stealing? How would I solve a certain problem?

Some questions were multiple choice, but some were essay questions. (I should have brought a dictionary). It just kept going on; do you consent to a drug test? A background check? Would you consent to being fingerprinted? Are you a citizen? Can you prove it? What hours/days would you be willing to work? What is your health like? Can you lift X, Can you stand for long periods? Any history of mental illness? I thought this thing would never end.

It was the most complicated application I ever filled out in my life, and the longest, it was twenty pages. I began to sour on the whole prospect, all of this, just to make some coffee? You would think that I was registering to run for Congress.

I arrived at 10:00a.m. it was now 11:00. A man came into the room and gathered up ten applicants, I was among them. Apparently, they interviewed ten people every hour.

We took the elevator up two floors, and the man motioned for everyone to have a seat at this great oval table. There were two other people already there. That made three interviewers for ten people.

This whole process confused me. I thought that even with three interviewers it would take a long time to get through ten applicants. We were instructed to pass up our packets, and the interviewers looked them over briefly.

The interviewers consisted of two men and one woman. None of them looked old enough to drive. However, they were impeccably dressed.

I started to feel a little self-conscious about my attire, but looking at the other applicants I was relieved to see that I was neither the best dressed nor the worst.

One young girl looked like she should be auditioning for a strip club, and one man looked as if he had just finished his shift washing dishes.

I was also relieved to see that I was not the oldest person there; but it was becoming hard to concentrate, because there was a nauseating scent of overpowering cologne coming from the man sitting next to me.

Then one of the interviewers spoke, he welcomed everyone and outlined what was to take place.

To my great shock and horror I came to understand that we would all be interviewed together.

We would be asked questions, and then one by one, go around the table to get everyone’s response. We were to have some respect, and not interrupt whoever was speaking; after all, this was not a free for all discussion.

Then came the stupid questions, and the mostly stupid answers. I kept my answers short and sweet, as I was profoundly embarrassed at having to talk about myself in front of so many strangers.

Some people went on and on, as I suspected, because some people like nothing more than to talk about themselves. Unfortunately, the more they droned on, the more ignorant they became.

As I sat through the monotony of this round table farce, I decided this was the most stupid hiring process I had ever been through.

It seemed to me that there were many new things happening here in Denver, which I had never experienced before, and all of it was either horrifying, stupid, or embarrassing. I decided that I no longer wanted the job. I just wanted to get out of there.

This went on for an hour. I listened to stupid people say stupid things for the longest hour of my life. As it turned out, the job consisted of getting up a 4:00a.m. To come into the city and make coffee for four hours—for minimum wage (which was $5.45 at that time). If you were lucky, you could perhaps, maybe… come back in the afternoon for another four hours.

What? Come again? All of this horseshit, for a part-time minimum wage job?

And they made the job sound so intense and complicated—a trained monkey can make a latte—I recalled my experience at Starbucks; they had it down to a science, there was not much individual thought required.

I could feel my cheeks flush with anger. Moreover, who were these interviewers anyway? Smug and pompous, with sickening toothy smiles, sitting in judgment over all these poor people, desperate for a job.

The real extent of this nightmare became known with the realization that when they were done with the ten of us, they had ten more waiting and ten after that…

I suspended my anger for the moment to do the math, ten every hour, for eight hours, for five days… four-hundred people applying for one job!

Compounded by the fact that they had other interview room’s set-up, I did not know how many more, but it became possible that the Wolfgang Puck Company would interview over one thousand people for a part-time, minimum wage job!

I felt positively nauseated, I could not breathe; I thought I would pass-out if I did not get out of that suffocating atmosphere.

It seemed the job situation in the great city of Denver was worse than in Florida, how could this be? Yet, here I was a firsthand witness to a reality I never even considered before.

…blah— blah— blah—would these people ever stop talking? “…so that’s it, thank you all for coming, we will get in touch with you one way or the other”.

Finally, I was up and out the door like a shot, I reached the elevator before anyone else, thank God, I couldn’t stand to make small talk with any of these people. An hour of listening to them bang on was enough.

I practically ran through the lobby. I pushed through the great, heavy glass doors with superhero strength; I secretly hoped that they would shatter.

Coming out into the cool air, I didn’t stop until I reached the fountains. When I did stop, I took in long deep breaths, in an effort to compose myself.

Back at the car Tom had a nice hot cup of coffee waiting for me, grateful I took a long sip and felt better, and then I took a long look at the coffee, and burst out laughing.

I related the whole episode to him while puffing on a cigarette; and we both agreed that back in Florida you could always find a job.

Tom said, “Hell you can even work two or three jobs if you had a mind to”. The fact that no three jobs combined, could pay the rent, was not the issue. The issue was that if you wanted to work, “By God you could!”


Street Talk

Well done, again.

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Someone is actually reading my stuff!

Reply
  about 1 decade ago

Build your tribe up and you will have a ton of readers :) be ready for a lot of e mail :)

  
  about 1 decade ago
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