Tag Archives: jobs

Changing jobs

I changed jobs a while ago. The restaurant I had been working at for a couple of years decided, amongst other poor decisions, to ignore the advice of the Department of Health. “I’m going to come back here sometime in the next few weeks,” the health inspector said, “and if I don’t like what I see …” then the restaurant’s C grading would stand. For anybody that doesn’t know, all New York City restaurants are given an annual rating of A, B, or C. So the restaurant changed nothing, the guy came back, was like, “are you kidding me?” gave them the C, and left. As punishment, the general manager came downstairs in a cocaine-fueled rage, fired the closest busboy, screamed out something like, “and there’s more where that came from!” to the rest of the staff and then disappeared.

So I figured, yeah, you know what? As much as I adored my indentured servitude, maybe a change of scenery would do me some good. But I wasn’t sure. I needed to make a list, some pros and cons. OK, so, pro: all you can eat ice cream. Believe me, I took advantage of that one. Pro: Only tourists came in, meaning no regulars, meaning if I didn’t feel like acting nice I didn’t have to, because even if they did complain, pro: the managers didn’t do anything except hide out in the office, and wouldn’t know how to deal with a pissed off guest anyway.

But the con side of the list brought everything into sharp relief. No benefits, no regular schedule, constant yellings and screamings from the psychotic GM … whatever, I don’t feel like reliving my lousy job by complaining. I do enough of that in real life.

So I went online and checked out some job listings. One restaurant immediately caught my eye because they offered benefits, something pretty rare in the service industry. I walked in, went through the interviews, and here I am, new job. My old job didn’t take it so well. Even though I gave a five-weeks notice, the general manager looked me square in the eye and told me I’d never work in the restaurant industry ever again. Seriously, what a nut job.

The only problem I had in switching, and it sounds like a minor detail, but there is always so much time spent waiting around while you’re filling out applications. It’s almost enough of a deterrent in itself to actually finding a new job. I walked in the door of the new restaurant. I had to introduce myself to a hostess and tell her I’m responding to the open call. She gives me an application and tells me to take a seat somewhere to fill it out. There are like two hundred other people filling out applications. First of all, I don’t get this application stuff, because it’s all right there on my resume. Why don’t you just take a copy of my resume? Everybody puts so much weight on the resume, but every single time I’ve interviewed somewhere, they always make me waste twenty or thirty minutes refilling out everything by hand on some generic application form.

Whatever. I filled it out. I handed it in. “Thanks a lot, somebody will be with you in a second.” And I hate to ask, but I know from past experiences that I have to, “Where should I wait?” because if I don’t ask, I’ll just kind of wander around aimlessly and try not to look like I’m too worried that I’m waiting in the incorrect area. And then the waiting starts. People are being selected at what seems like totally random to sit down and chat with somebody in a suit. I wonder why people who came after me are being interviewed first.

I tell myself, don’t think about it Rob. Get out of your head. Just act natural. But acting natural only works if you’re not thinking about it. And if I really wanted to act really natural, I’d be at home on my couch taking it easy. That’s a little too natural. So I always engage in an anxious type of weird self-coaching. Sit up straight. OK, not too straight. Stop furrowing your brow. Stuff runs through my mind like, where do I look? I want to look engaged with the world but not scatterbrained. I want to look focused on something without staring off into space. I don’t want to seem fidgety, but I don’t want to be like a statue.

Finally I got called. The manager gave me a brief interview, looked at my then-current former job and said something like, “Wow, you must love it there. That place is really busy. Why are you leaving?” and I have to make up some crazy sounding answer about wanting more flexibility or growth opportunities or something like that. Nobody wants an interviewee to start badmouthing their current job. You have to stay positive. So the manager tells me to hang tight while he gets some more papers for me to fill out. More waiting.

Maybe fifteen minutes later he comes back with a personality test. It was one of those “1 for strongly disagree, 5 for strongly agree” type of tests. Stuff like, “I just hate being bossed around by women,” and I’d mark a number one. My thing is, even if you’re the biggest sexist on the planet, can’t you see right through that question? Don’t you realize that any job is going to want you to say, “no problem?”

I fill out that test. Then came an intelligence test. Then they set up another interview. Then another one. Then a uniform check. I get through all of them. What I can’t believe is that I made it through the waiting in between each round. Just showing up at the restaurant, I’d immediately be directed to a seat to wait. Indefinitely. Then someone would come with something for me to sign. “I’ll be right back to take that from you.” Half an hour of more waiting.

I got to thinking that all of that waiting had to be a part of the interview process. They had to be looking specifically for people that could go for long periods of time while sitting still. Anybody who knows me knows that that’s not who I am. So I just had to fake it. I had to clench my fists as tight as I could while trying not to go for my phone every ten seconds to check if that email wasn’t maybe something more important than one of the twenty-five emails Barack Obama sent me asking for some more reelection campaign money.

I got the job. All is well. I just feel like a lot of what inhibits me from going for new jobs is stuff like spending hours waiting around doing absolutely nothing. I know it’s incredibly shortsighted to not want to go out there because you’re afraid of waiting. But can imagine how awful I would have felt if, after all of that sitting around, they just left me there? They wouldn’t even tell me I couldn’t work there, they’d just ignore me, keep me waiting, the restaurant getting busier and busier until finally, a hostess or a waitress would come up to me and be like, “Can we help you?” and I’d try to explain that I’m waiting for somebody to come back with some papers, but they’d never show up. The dinner rush would end and finally someone else would come by and be like, “We’re closing up. Locking the doors for the night. Let’s go.”

And none of that happened. But it all went through my mind as I was sitting there, wondering what was taking so long, hoping I didn’t misunderstand some social cue, worrying that I’d somehow been overlooked or forgotten about.

Quarterly performance review

I know that we told you we weren’t going to have any performance reviews this quarter, but here we are. What’s the deal, right? Well, upper management decided to trick the staff, to tell everyone that we’d skip the performance reviews this time around, to lull everyone into a false sense of security and comfort. We wanted you all to work and to perform as if you thought nobody was watching, or writing everything down, or timing your bathroom breaks, or keeping track of how many bathroom breaks you’re taking during the day. What we were really after, besides a comprehensive analysis of your bathroom activity, was to observe you all during these past few months closer than ever. What are your natural work habits like? How are you likely to perform we’re not watching?

So, yeah, another performance review. Surprise! One thing corporate has specifically mentioned that I should ask you is, why are you using so much hand soap during your bathroom breaks? Good personal hygiene is certainly of the utmost importance to management, no doubt about it, but do you really think that the amount of soap that you’re using is appropriate for the workplace? Before you object, I should let you know that we installed tracking devices into each soap dispenser, giving us an unprecedented look into the soap usage of all of our employees and, while we’re pleased to inform you that your time spent in the bathroom falls well within the acceptable parameters of daily use, we’re quite frankly alarmed at the disproportionate amount of soap that you seem to be using after each trip. Why are your hands so dirty anyway? In the future, let’s try to keep it down to one or two pumps on the soap dispenser, and even though I just said one or two pumps, giving you the option of one or two pumps, try to choose just one pump, OK?

Which brings me to my second point: microwave usage. Management might seem pretty lenient in regards to its office kitchen policy, but I’m afraid that some of you lower-level employees are abusing our complimentary appliances. We’ve noticed specifically that, every day, you bring in some sort of a Tupperware container filled with a homemade lunch. You come in every morning and drop off your food in the office refrigerator. Fine. But then at lunchtime we’ve noticed your habit of heating up your food for an inordinate amount of time in the microwave. If you wanted your food to be hot, why are you spending so much time keeping it cold in the fridge? Freon doesn’t grow on trees, you know. Maybe you wouldn’t have to use the microwave for a whole four minutes if you would just leave your pasta on your desk all day. Listen, the company isn’t made of kilowatt-hours. You’re going to have to be a little more conscientious with how you utilize corporate resources, not to mention corporate refrigerator space. You know what? Let’s just go ahead and say that, from now on, rule of thumb, no more than two minutes on the microwave. Let’s call it an unwritten rule. But in case you forget, I’ll have the temp post some signs in the kitchen.

Times are tough. We’re all concerned about the dire state of the economy and it’s effect on morale. That’s why we’ve decided to cut wages across the board. I know, I know it’ll be a lot harder to make ends meet now that you’ll be making a lot less money. Management empathizes with your situation. We’re like a family here. I personally have always thought that you would make an excellent second cousin. We’re not going to leave anybody behind. Which is why corporate is reaching out, providing each employee with the opportunity to work extra hours each day. I know, more work. Well it’s either that of we’re going to have to start letting people go. You don’t want that do you? You don’t want us to fire anybody all because you can’t deal with a little downsizing, do you?

By the way, we’re getting rid of the custodial team. Management feels that the staff takes for granted the time, money, and effort that we spend trying to keep your workspaces clean. Frankly, we’ve grown dissatisfied carrying the onus of responsibility, constantly picking up after all of you. The bathrooms, the closets, the hallways – why should we have to subsidize your own cleanliness by paying for a whole staff of janitors? From now on, you’re all going to have to pitch in at the end of the day to keep things up to a satisfactory level of sanitation. On each floor, next to the fire extinguishers, you’ll find vacuum cleaners, dust busters, and other cleaning supplies. Please be aware that cleaning up after yourselves is something that’s going to have to be done on your own time. Don’t think that just because you’ll be here for a few more hours every day that you can take care of your chores on the company dime, because you can’t.

Another surprise: this isn’t actually a performance review. Corporate designed these meetings to assess how our employees might react to a surprise performance review. Unfortunately, a team of evaluators has been reviewing this mock-performance review, and they’ve issued a report about your performance during this meeting. And they’ve just emailed it to me. And it’s just as I feared. The mock-performance performance reviewers feel like you haven’t grasped the severity of the issues I’ve presented you. We feel that you haven’t shown a genuine engagement or a personal investment in this fake performance review. You’ve barely said a word this entire meeting. Don’t you care about your job? It’s obvious that you don’t. Which is why, geez, I really hate to be doing this to you, but, we’re going to have to let you go, effective immediately.

I know, I know, it’s tough. In this economy. It’s tough. It’s a tough economy. We’re in a tough place. Jobs. Real tough. Numbers. Super, super tough. The private sector. Markets. It’s all so hard right now. Job creators. Europe. Bonds. Interest, obviously, data. America. Emerging markets. Retreating markets. The market is in retreat! Class warfare. Taxes. We’re getting choked here. Profits. Recession. Totally choked here. Depression. China. Libor. Numbers. Numbers! Supply-side economics! Can’t keep your eyes off of Red China for a second. Economy. Bust. Socialist social engineering. Bull. Sell. Trade. Derivative. I know. It’s tough. I know. I know. It’s tough. It’s a tough time. I know. It’s a really tough time.

I’ve got to tell you that, I’m just getting word here, I’m getting word that a team of severance reviewers is studying this meeting as we speak, and, well we’re all very impressed by how your taking this bad news. It shows real professionalism. You’re a real professional kid. You’ve a got a real future, you know that? You know what? I’m thinking we’ve got enough room in this company for someone like you. Someone who’s hungry. Are you hungry? Because we’ve got an opportunity for you. It’s an internship. It’s non-paying, but there’s a small stipend for travel. But it’s a very small stipend. Actually, we’ve lost it, nobody can find it. I told you, it was very small, very hard to lose small things, but if you can find it you’re more than welcome to have it. You’d have to notify corporate first, if you find it that is, because it’s company money. But what do say? It’s a real promising opportunity for someone like you, a motivated go-getting self-starting team player who also excels individually, like yourself. Who knows? If you play your cards right, well, I don’t want to make any promises here, but this could lead into a steady full-time temporary position. And those temporary positions always point right to where you just were, right back at your old job, with benefits. Did I tell you about our full-time employee kitchen benefits? Great benefits. What do you say? Go get ‘em champ. Welcome aboard.