Saturday, June 13, 2009

Job Interview Gone Wrong

I had a job interview at a large and prestigious Chicago area University the other day. I had a plan. I've been on a lot of job interviews for a lot of shitty jobs that I didn't really want to have but needed to pay my bills. I'm not even looking for a 'career job,' something that allows me to be involved in practicing progressive politics. I've been applying for 'survival jobs,' being a waiter, cashier, or office assistant.

Sometimes I would actually land an interview. I would show up, only to be told that someone with a college degree, isn't qualified to be a waiter. Apparently my 5 years of customer service experience didn't qualify me to write someone's order down, fill their water, carry a plate across a room, and collect the bill. I would be told that because of the economy being so tight, they could only hire people with so many years of waiter experience.

I have applied for about a dozen different jobs at this University and received form rejection letters for every single one. After the most recent, I snapped, and fired back an e-mail where I told them how qualified I was with my college degree and how they should have the decency to at least meet with me and then send me a personalized rejection letter.

To my surprise, the e-mail was received by a secretary who wrote me back. I was expecting it to bounce from an automated rejection letter account. Instead I was invited to meet a recruiter at the school. I agreed.

I had a plan though. I didn't want him to tell me I wasn't qualified, or that there wasn't the money, to hire me. I remembered an article that was printed in the newsletter of the Illinois chapter of the American Association of University Professors. It printed the salaries of all the presidents of Chicago area colleges. This particular president was one of the highest paid, with a salary in the six digits.

I wanted to challenge this recruiter. I wanted to wait until he told me that because of the economy there wasn't enough room for me at the school. Then I would pull out the article and ask him why the president of the school didn't take a pay cut so I could have a job and afford my expensive cobra health insurance, or my rent, or my grocery bill. I wanted to argue with him over the merits of socialism, and universal employment.

I figured that being a dick got me the interview, I needed to be a dick to get the job. Actually, I wanted this recruiter to feel bad. I wanted him to be unable to sleep at night because the thought of me starving and sleeping in a gutter. I wanted him to feel responsible for creating misery in the world. I wanted this suit wearing, 9-5 office job, shiny shoe mother-fucker to feel my fucking pain. I wanted him to feel guilty for having a steady job while I did not. I wanted him to go home to his step-ford wife in their white picket fence home and to have her to see the depressed look on his face and ask him, 'what's wrong honey?'

I was running late the day of the interview and needed to catch a cab to make it on time. I arrived at the campus five minutes early, paid the taxi driver $20, and then received a cell phone call. It was the secretary, the recruiter was sick and had to cancel. I politely agreed to reschedule the interview. As soon as she hung up, I screamed. I called my roommate and left an expletive laden message about the hypocrisy of it all.

If I, as the jobless interviewee, had gotten sick and canceled an interview, it would be held as a mark against me. Even if they went through the motions, and rescheduled another interview, they would be doubting my ability to be 'reliable.'

It's all fucking bullshit. Our entire society is based on lies. You lie about how much you want the job, while they lie about how much they think you'll fit it, or how they don't have a position for you. Our entire social structure is based on deception and half-truths. You can understand why it makes an honest person like me sick.

If we had a society that guaranteed democratic jobs to all, health care for all, the ability to follow one's personal pursuits without fear of poverty, maybe we could be honest with each other. I would start by telling a couple of people to fuck of, before telling quite a few others how much I love them.

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