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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Interview # 3: The Big-Bad Interview, Part 2, October 2010

January 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

I am on my way to the Green Dragon, a bar bought out by Rogue but with limited Rogue product available so that the place retains its original, exclusive atmosphere. Because they only contacted me via email, I was under the impression that I would be interviewing for a bar tending or serving position, my interview being at a bar and all.

Not the case.

The guy who interviewed me, a 6 foot 4 inch giant, was a lawyer who was Rogue’s general council. I looked him up on LinkedIn prior to my interview. When he pulled out my résumé, he informed me that what he thought would be a good fit was an administrative position with a creative edge. He asked me if I had any writing samples. I said yes, I had a blog, non-fiction, and fiction samples, he asked for the blog address. I gave it to him, oops.

Before I left, he requested that I submit a couple of writing samples and write-up a fake press release for Rogue wet hop ale. This is what I submitted:

A few days later I received an email notifying me that “good work on the sample” and “i’m passing you up the chain.” Two days later in my inbox was an interview request for 10 am at Rogue Alehouse.

The morning of the interview.

I got up early, dressed in a suit and made my way down to the Rogue Alehouse (40 min walk). Just by chance I discovered on my smart phone an email sent earlier that morning requesting that I show up at DIFFERENT site. Now, if I didn’t have a smart phone I would have no way of knowing of the switch (it’s not like I check my Gmail for interview location swaps at 8 am).

I would have shown up at the wrong place, been directed to the right place, and shown up late. Great impression.

I make to the right place and I’m 10 minutes early. It’s a studio office with fake walls. From where I’m sitting, there’s a fake window/wall separating me, the CEO, and his current target practice.

When the guy ahead of me finishes, the admin assistant walks behind the fake wall, tells the CEO that ********* ******** is here. She tells me to come back.

My screw-up # 1.

I didn’t shake the guy’s hand. In my defense, he was sitting down, hunched over his laptop and didn’t make any motion to stand up.

I sat down and he said, “And who are you?” Despite the admin telling him my name and me hearing it from the other side.

My screw-up # 2.

They read the blog entry that I wrote about one of their employees. I had considered deleting it, but thought that they might have already seen the damn entry, and I would look bad, regardless. I decided not to cut it, because darn it if I’m not a writer and idealistic about my right to say what I want. Besides, I didn’t write anything bad.

He says: “You’re the one that wrote that CRAZY stuff about ****.”

Me: “I thought that might get back to me.”

Him: “Witness a murder? Ha. She said you EXAGGERATED a lot.”

Actually, that’s exactly what she told me. I didn’t even have to pry it from her, she couldn’t stop talking the minute she lighted that cigarette.

He looks at my résumé. “College? That’s worthless. Red Lobster, eh? That must have been miserable. So you graduated in 2007? You must be like 25, that’s kind of young.”

Me: “I’m older than 25.”

My screw  up# 3.

I had read up on Rogue, honest, I did. I knew about the company before moving to Portland, I researched the company in Portland. But when he asked me what I knew or why I wanted to work there, I just CHOKED. Most likely because his demeanor, unlike the first interviewer, completely threw me off.

I mentioned my mildly dark sense of humor. He said, “Tell me a joke.”

As if dark humor is measured in jokes.

I said, “What’s the difference between a Porsche and a pile of dead babies?”

Him: “What?”

Me: “I don’t have a Porsche in my garage.”

Yep. I told a dead baby joke in an interview. At least he and the admin laughed.

I shook his hand on the way out, even though he eyed me like that was too fucking late, and I left, miserably awaiting a rejection letter that would be sent to me by none other than the murder-witnessing gal two days later. She must have loved that.

Their screw-ups:

1.  Common courtesy, jerk. Instead of calling me like regular people, they emailed me to show up at a different site. Imagine how much worse this interview could have gone if I had shown up late. Not to mention that he vigorously insulted all of my past work history.

2. The girl either lied to me or lied to her bosses to fend off any embarrassment. Not my problem. They asked for a writing sample, I gave them four.

3. The CEO had no idea what I was applying for. He did not read my press release nor communicate with the other interviewer.

Yikes. At least I learned that maybe I should have taken a Xanax or two beforehand.

Interview #1: My first group interview, August 2010

January 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Group interview. When spoken aloud, this phrase explodes at over 130 decibels and leaves irreversible damage to my tympanic membrane.

I arrive at Buffalo Wild Wings. I’m wearing a black turtleneck, gray slacks (Calvin Klein) and some inexpensive-looking, but actually very expensive, shoes.

I am the only person at the interview not wearing jeans. If I had known that this interview was a microcosm of Casual Friday, I would have worn my Chase Utley t-shirt and my Phillies hat, not the standard red cap with an embroidered white “P,” but the spring training model. My regular hat is flat-brimmed and of course I want to look casual, not gangsta.

There are two women that are about to interview the five of us: one male and four women (I guarantee I’m the only one over 25). Quickly, I discover that I am the only one with bar-tending and serving experience.

Mr. Male  immediately stands out because he can’t stop cracking jokes from the second everyone sits down and the interviewers are eating up his cheesy witticisms, chewing on them thoughtfully, and thinking “we’ve already picked our guy, but for the sake of democracy, let’s interview these other suckers anyway.”

I have often been criticized for looking too serious and not smiling enough. Well, for the longest time I was hyper-conscious of my “bad” teeth and didn’t feel like cracking a mouth full of them for strangers. As for my serious look? I have yet to hear that pensiveness, “thinking before you speak,” and ultimate sangfroid are part of any employer’s nightmarish acid trails.

The second woman interviewer, who is around my age and resembles me in appearance, is far more surly looking and unkempt than I could ever be and her reticence suggests that she hates working at Buffalo Wild Wings.

The interviewers herald BW3’s as a place where you have to love sports. No shit. They ask everyone in the interview about their favorite team, except me. Why? Probably because I’m the only one that dressed appropriately.

Girl 1: I dunno, I guess any Portland State team. Gotta support the school, ya know.

Girl 2: I guess, like, I like all types of sports.

Guy: I like the Minnesota Vikings, I mean, I’ve always kind of rooted for them.

Me: I’m really excited about Philadelphia Phillies playoff potential and whether Roy Halladay can prove his worth in his first post-season game ever. It’s unfortunate that they traded Cliff Lee, if they had him this year they truly would have an all-star starting rotation. Did I mention that I don’t care  for the Eagles new quarterback, Kevin Kolb. If it were my choice, Michael Vick would start. I don’t care if he electrocuted dogs, as far as I’m concerned, he did his time. Is he at fault? Of course, but there are other professional athletes who have done far worse things–to people.

Oh wait, they decided to NOT ask me.

How do I know dude got the job? I saw him bar-tending through the window while I was wandering around two months later dropping off resumes, sobbing as my tears splashed on the edges of my downtrodden soul.

Crying? Machines don’t cry.

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