Interview #4: Meat Eater for a Day, December 2010

February 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

As most of my friends know, I am a vegetarian, not vegan, pescatarian, or vagintarian. I don’t have any real ethical reason that I am a vegetarian; when I’m confronted with the “why don’t you eat meat?” question, my responses dabble a bit in environmental reasons or animal slaughter practices, neither of which I know much about, not even enough to bullshit a somewhat educated or persevering carnivore . Even after reading Fast Food Nation, I still ate meat for a few years. So what happened?

Red Lobster happened. After working at a restaurant that routinely boils lobsters alive per order and customers/employees who sloppily suck the meat out of crab legs with tons of butter, licking bits of meat off their fingertips–well, I just never saw meat the same way again. I don’t possess, however, any affectations of false superiority or animal rights activism delusions, there is an evolutionary reason why I have canine teeth (or whatever the scientific name is); and when the zombie apocalypse comes, I will be among the first to steal a 12-gauge from Wal-Mart to blast my way out of starvation (morbid).

Let’s just say, I don’t wholly agree with the meat-producing industry.

I received an email in December regarding a job I didn’t even remember applying to:

On Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 7:03 PM,  <*******> wrote:

Hi *******,
My name is *****e and I’m part of the hiring team at ****s Island Grill. I’m sorry it’s taken so long for us to respond we honestly were too busy to even check the inbox.
If you are still interested we would love to have a group interview with you on Thursday night the 16th or Saturday at 3pm. Please let me know what works best for you.
Thank you for your time,

Naturally, I was excited, even when I saw the interview (and job) would be in Tualatin, OR, a 20 minute drive or a 45 minute public trans commute–guess which one I was privy to?

One bus and train transfer later, I arrived at my site. I was 12 minutes late, due to the train stalling on the tracks, and although I called 7 times, no one picked up the phone at this “quaint” little Hawaiian grill. I later discovered that they didn’t have a damn phone and I was calling the catering line.

I apologized for my tardiness only to see that I had walked in on ANOTHER GROUP INTERVIEW. Three guys, a girl, and me. One of the guys had below average intelligence (?) or was cognitively disabled in some way, which made me feel like a total asshole who definitely didn’t need this min wage food service job as badly as the guy to my left (compassionate).

This interview frustrated me to the point that I don’t even want to write about it in complete sentences.

We each were given a food item to describe:

  • Dude 1 (Potato): “Umm, it’s oval or roundish, dirty, and lumpy.”
  • Dude 2: “Well, the orange chicken dish here is my favorite because it’s soooo good.”
  • Me (Apple): “My favorite apple is the Cortland apple, characterized by a deep red, chewy skin with bright white flesh that is crisp and juicy.”

We played three “team building” games:

  • Shove-all-five-adults-on-a-towel-and-find-a-way-to-turn-it-over-without-touching-the-floor.
  • Memorize the contents of a plate, whisper them to one teammate, who whispers it to another teammate and this person goes back to plate and gives a thumbs up or down as to whether the “telephone line” worked. Repeat if there were any mistakes.
  • Line up in order of importance to the people in your interview (you’re supposed to form a circle).

We were required to write on a note card 5 words that described us best:

Me: Compassionate, generous, reliable, corny, and morbid (Those last two are from a Jets to Brazil song off their album Perfecting Loneliness, “Wish List.”)

Some people say I’m corny or I’m morbid.
I always thought I was touching, I was tragic.

If those lines don’t sum me up, I don’t know what could.

We sat for awhile in between interview sections. Our time was generally wasted.

I smiled and cooperated and laughed and pretended to enjoy myself during all 1 1/2 hours of the interview (corny). I understand that orientations may need team building exercises or a longer chunk of your time; I used to teach a 4-hour  orientation class, but only AFTER we had hired everyone–my transfer wasn’t even good anymore!

The interviewer (owner’s daughter) told us that the reason for the team exercises was to show us how working in a restaurant requires communication and poor communication can lead to frustration and impatience with your coworkers–NO  SHIT.

I had no idea what it was like to work in a restaurant until I had been smashed against 4 adults trying to flip over a goddamn towel. In total, with transit time, I was gone from my apartment for 5 hours.

Two days later I received this email:

I really enjoyed meeting you the other day. I was wondering if you’d like to come in for a second interview? We  have a spot open on Wednesday night at 6pm and again on Thursday night at 6pm to meet the owners. Do any of these times work for you?

One bus and train transfer later (reliable). When I arrive, the manager tells me that ******* and the owners are not coming. No courteous phone call OR email telling me to not show up, just waste 1 1/2 hours of a possible employees time (I thought that was only acceptable after you get hired). “It’s okay,” the manager says. “It was more of a formality. What you need to do is write your availability and phone number for *******.”

Me: “I’m not going to be around for Christmas or New Year’s, is that going to be a problem?

Manager: “No, we won’t start training until after the New Year.”

I comply. Meanwhile, he asks me if I’ve ever eaten at the Island Grill before, to which I reply “No, but I’ve heard great things.”

Manager: “Well, pick something off the menu and we’ll get it for you to go.”

Truthfully, I was not hungry, but I thought that my brother-in-law might want something (generous)  so I requested the orange chicken, based on group interview dude #2’s recommendation. The manager comes back out and picks up my availability sheet which he had me write on the back of an envelope. He says, “I’ll make it for here, that way we can chat if you sit behind the bar.”

My big eyes got bigger, ruminating. What was I supposed to say?

I’m a vegetarian–Then why did you ask me for the orange chicken–because I thought my brother-in-law might like to eat your food instead of me?
I’m a vegetarian–Well, how to you expect to describe food to our customers if most of our dishes are meat based?

I really needed a job, any job. I sat behind the bar, smiled and chatted, was sure to bounce my pigtails back and forth, and graciously choked down half a plate of orange chicken.

After New Year’s, I emailed ******** about rescheduling to meet the owners. She never emailed me back. Perhaps if I had emailed again and again I would have received a response, but 45 min away for 8.40 an hour to work for people who don’t even show up for their own interviews and make you play childish games?

At least I got a free meal.

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