The Free Lunch Was Only The Beginning Of The Perks

, , , , , , | Learning | April 20, 2021

I’m completing the final year of my apprenticeship for my company. They come around and ask us if we could volunteer to attend a school event to promote the company and potentially encourage the next generation of apprentices.

As soon as it’s clear that this won’t be paid as overtime and only for an extra day off, most of the guys refuse to help, moaning about “free labour.” However, I volunteer as I reckon that four hours worked on a Saturday for eight hours holiday is probably still a good deal.

We do the event and I enjoy it way more than I thought. Inspiring young minds and seeing how they handle the tasks is enjoyable. I help a few of the school kids and get some good feedback on the day. Plus, we get a free lunch and I am already planning what to do with my day off.

When I finish my apprenticeship, the other in my year and I are interviewed to see where we will be placed. There are a few hotly contested areas so we all want to do well.

Interviewer: “Sorry, but have we met?”

Me: “I’m not sure, sorry.”

Interviewer: “Didn’t you do that school event?”

Me: “Oh, yes, sorry. I recognise you.”

Interviewer: “I remember. You really took charge that day. I was impressed.”

Apprentice Manager: “You know, he volunteered that day without pay.” *Smiles at me*

Interviewer: “Really? Oh, that really shows dedication. Listen, we are going off track, but there is a really promising role in [department]. They have been looking for someone who is willing to learn and succeed. It’s not strictly an [ex]apprentice position, but I think they would consider you. What do you think?”

Me: “That’s great, thank you!”

It took some convincing, but I got the job! A couple of the other guys in my year tried to lodge a complaint, saying that they would have volunteered if they had known, or something, but it was thrown out before it got anywhere.

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You Thought The Customers Were Bad?

, , , , | Working | April 14, 2021

After the better part of twenty years in customer service and retail jobs, I’ve had it. After I complete a couple of data entry contract gigs, my wife gets a new job and we move. I send out my resumes and get a nibble. Everything’s fine until the interview comes to an end.

Interviewer: “We’re not able to pay as much as your last job—”

It’s $2 less, but it’s within our budget.

Interviewer: “—but we think you’ll be a good fit. Our next orientation is in one week, and this is the address for our phone bank.”

Me: “Oh, is your training facility there?”

Interviewer: “No, you’ll just be shadowing for a while before we put you on the phone to call clients.”

Me: *Pauses* “Am I being interviewed for the right position? My resume specifically said I was looking for data entry, not customer service.”

Interviewer: “Right, and 90% of your work will be data entry.”

Me: “And the remaining 10% is customer service, which is a dealbreaker.”

Interviewer: “It’s not customer service!”

Me: “Are these clients business associates, or am I taking requests or troubleshooting from people outside the industry?”

Interviewer: “Well, you’re cold-calling people, but you’re offering them great deals!”

Me: “That’s customer service. Do you have anything where I won’t be interacting with the general public?”

Interviewer: “Uh, we have a records entry and verification area, but that’s—”

They describe a pay that’s an additional $3 cheaper, which is much harder for the budget, but better for my sanity.

Me: “I’d like to interview for that, if I could.”

Interviewer: “But this pays more!”

Me: “And it’s something I specifically said on my resume I was not available for and would not do.”

Interview: “Fine, I’ll see if they’re hiring. We’ll call you back.”

They did not call me back.

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How Dare Unemployed People Seek Jobs!

, , , , , | Working | March 11, 2021

Years ago, I was laid off from my IT job along with about twenty others. It wasn’t personal; the company was experiencing a downturn and simply didn’t have enough work for all of us. One of the nice things the company did was to connect us with an outplacement agency. The idea was that the agency would help us fine-tune our resumes and practice our interviewing skills.

Outplacement Agent: “One question interviewees always get asked is, ‘Tell me about yourself.’ This is an opportunity for you to do a thirty-second ‘commercial’ on how awesome you are. Now, you were all laid off, and even though it was due to no fault of your own, it’s something that your ‘commercial’ should include. Your interviewer will find out about it sooner or later, and it’s better coming from you.”

So, I come up with my “commercial” and I make sure that it mentions the fact that I was involved in a layoff due to my former company downsizing. I get an interview, and this is how it goes.

Interviewer: “Tell me about yourself.”

I think, “Great! Here’s my chance!”

Me: “I worked for [Company] for eight years. Earlier this year, I was part of a mass layoff due to the company having to downsize.”

I continue to speak for about twenty more seconds.

Interviewer: “Mm-hmm. Tell me about your current position.”

Me: “Um… well, my former position at [Company] was—”

Interviewer: “I said your current position.”

Me: “As I mentioned, I was part of a mass layoff earlier this year—”

The interviewer stares at me.

Interviewer: “Oh. So you’re unemployed.”

She says this with the same tone that you’d use to say, “Oh. So you have LEPROSY.”

The rest of the interview stumbles along, but it is clear that she’s lost interest in me. Then, she mentions this gem.

Interviewer: “Our employees work very hard. They never take coffee breaks, and if they take lunch breaks, they always eat at their desks and are back at work in fifteen minutes.”

Me: “…”

I desperately needed a job, and if they’d offered it to me, I would have taken it,but I can’t say that I was heartbroken when that didn’t happen. I got an offer from a different company eventually, and eighteen years later, I’m still there.

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Sometimes Karma Is A Little Less Instant

, , , , | Working | February 11, 2021

I apply to work in a call center for a major bank in the USA. I have worked in call centers for years and figure I have a decent shot at it.

During the interview, I have the usual “interview jitters” and am a little nervous, but I do pretty decently. The interviewer tells me that they will let me know in the next few days if I’ve got the job and what the starting date is, so I feel pretty confident leaving. My sister interviews right after me and is given the same parting discussion.

Maybe three days later, she gets a phone call offering her the job and I do not. A few days after that, I call and ask if they have decided to go with another candidate. They apologize that I have not been called and state that since I did not reply to them within twenty-four hours, I am no longer eligible. That’s within twenty-four hours of a call I never got, mind you. 

Fast forward to about two years later. I am working in a super-maximum-security prison with death row and segregated housing populations. Thank you, snarky call center, for rejecting me; I am so much happier now!

My sister calls me up and we talk about our respective jobs. She says she is considering moving to join me and asks what the application process is. In the twists and turns of the conversation, she asks me if I remember my interview for the call center. I say I did and she comments that she ran into our interviewer a few days ago. I am surprised that in two years, she only just now ran into her again, but then again, it is a building that literally takes up four square city blocks with sky paths over the roads.

My sister asks if I want to hear what she found out about why they picked her and not me. Of course, I am curious, given that they pinned the blame on me not calling them at the time, which was clearly a cop-out. Their conversation went like this:

Sister: “Hey, long time no see. How have you been?”

Interviewer: “I’ve been good! Glad to see you’re still with the company. I knew I picked the right sister!”

Sister: “Oh? Well, they told her it was because she didn’t call them back to accept the job offer, even though they never called her.”

Interviewer: “Yeah, that is what we tell the types that just don’t have the confidence and assertiveness to work in such an intense work environment such as this. She was pretty timid and clearly would let a customer just run right over her.”

Sister: “Right. You do realize she isn’t timid at all, right? She was nervous, while I was half-drunk during my interview so I didn’t give a flip. Oh, well. She has a better job now, anyway, so it was a blessing in the end.”

The interviewer completely ignores everything my sister just said.

Interviewer: “Well, I hope she found a good job. Where did she go? [Third-Party Call Center down the street] or [Time-Share Scam Call Center]?”

Sister: *With a huge smile* “Neither. She works at a SuperMax as a guard with their death row and segregation populations. Doesn’t seem that being timid and unassertive is really an issue she has.”

The interviewer loses her fake cheery smile.

Interviewer: “Hmm… Maybe I dropped the ball there. Can you do me a favor and not make that too public? I had to convince a lot of people that she was too timid to work here because she was a guaranteed hire based on her work history alone. I could get in trouble if they found out I was wrong.”

Sister: “As long as I work here, I will never volunteer that information to anyone. Don’t worry.”

About four months later, my sister put in her notice as she got hired on at the prison to be a guard, as well. When she moved in with me, I asked her one night if she kept her promise or if she told them. My sister laughed and told me the interviewer had demanded she do an exit interview. 

During the interview, the Big Boss asked my sister why she was quitting. My sister told them that she was joining me at my job which was better and for the state. They asked her if I was the same sister that had applied to the call center with her, and she told the Big Boss that I was. At that point, the interviewer started trying to end the exit interview, but the Big Boss told her to be quiet as she was the one who had insisted on it after my sister initially refused one.

Big Boss then asked my sister what type of job it was. My sister told him she was to be a guard at a SuperMax one state over, and at his prompting, she told him I work in the segregation unit and with death row on occasion.

Big Boss got a dark look on his face and asked if my sister had anything else to say. When she said no, he told her she could leave but the interviewer must stay. My sister, when leaving after packing her desk up, watched the interviewer getting walked out in tears.

We had a good laugh, toasted her for rejecting me and pushing me to pursue my dreams in corrections, and then moved on with our lives, as I hope the interviewer did.

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Honesty Is Emergency Route To Success

, , , , , | Working | January 14, 2021

I am job hunting. A local temp agency has a job listed, so I apply. They call me that afternoon, and I can smell the desperation through the phone. Apparently, I am the only Excel expert who has replied at all.

I interview the next day. Let the parade of facepalms begin!

The large company needs to update their emergency escape maps so that, in the event of a fire, employees and visitors know where to run and where to gather. Doesn’t sound much like an Excel job yet.

They have hand-drawn maps of some sites, architectural drawings from some sites, and pictures from a helicopter of one. And they had one electronic file! Some gifted employee had drawn a map in Paint, put it in an Excel file (for reasons never explained), and sent it in.

The project manager, a brilliant but non-technical guy, looked at all this and decided that Excel must be the tool to use. And they needed an expert, because, well, experts make them look better.

I have a policy to never visibly facepalm during a job interview. I follow my policy but the temptation is so strong.

Me: “Excel, while an awesome tool, is absolutely the wrong tool for the job. You’re trying to drive nails with a CNC lathe. I recommend that you find somebody who is good with MS Visio.”

We shake hands and I leave.

The temp agency calls while I am driving home.

Temp Agency Rep: “Can you please spell ‘Visio’ for us?”

I do. They call me back again later that afternoon. 

Temp Agency Rep: “Do you know how to use Visio?”

Me: “I do; it is really pretty simple.”

Temp Agency Rep: “The boss you interviewed with was impressed enough with your honestly suggesting he hire someone else that he wants to hire you.”

So, I spent six months tracing Google Earth images of worksites and figuring out which escape routes fit our state’s fairly vague rules for emergency escape maps. Easy work, nice people.

The job could have been done in a fraction of that time by a decent graphic designer, but they wanted me, I wanted the paycheck, and the work got done.


This story is part of our Best Of January 2021 roundup!

Read the next Best Of January 2021 roundup story!

Read the Best Of January 2021 roundup!

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