Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Job Search

So, what have I been up to the last couple months, you ask?

Searching for jobs, for one thing. I use the plural because I'll need three of them to pay my increasing debts and bills. Right now I'd settle for one.

This is how it's been going.

Telemarketing jobs seem to have dried up from just a couple years ago-- most sent to India. (I've been having a lot of bill collectors in that country phoning to say hello.) For those few ads which do appear you seem to have to call within five minutes after the newspaper comes out, or you've missed it. They must be flooded with calls from all the out-of-work ex-telemarketers.

I have my resume all over town in my old field-- what I did back in Detroit. So far, not a nibble. (It helps to be from a city and to already know the principals, which I don't here. Or, maybe people have been googling my name!)

On one job possibility that a friend clued me onto, I'm waiting for a background check that never seems to clear.

There have been ads for laborer jobs way out in the burbs. The ads say you have to be able to stand in one place for eight or nine hours and regularly lift fifty pounds. Sounds like fun! $9 an hour. These kind of jobs paid more than that twenty-five years ago! Back when CEO's made a hundred-fifty grand a year. Now they make $15 million.

As a sign of desperation, early this morning I traveled to take an exam for low-level government jobs (4-12 shift processing paperwork). The government! Yes, I know, I know-- but either that or McDonald's. I took a train, then rode on a bus along an avenue to the far-flung outskirts of Philadelphia. Was the bus crowded? At least as many people in the aisle as in the seats. Workers and students (some reading paperbacks). The overloaded lower-class transport chugged along. The ad had given an address on the avenue where the tests were to be held-- along the road a couple miles away from where the government people worked. I watched the street numbers. I thought it'd be easy-- see the number and hop off the bus. But then we got to the part of the city where the buildings don't show their addresses; where the structures are set back from the road, behind bunkers, all sidewalks vanished, with no way for anyone without a car to get around. I watched-- saw a number before the one I wanted, then nothing, then a number beyond it. I'd missed it! Now I'd have to get off at the next intersection and take a bus back in the other direction. But the bus traveled on and suddenly left the avenue down a side road. Oh shit! I was getting farther away from the place. I hopped off the bus into a snowbank.

Fortunately a bus came chugging along going down the side road in the other direction. I fished into my pocket of tokens and got on that. This one went past the avenue-- so I got off at what looked like a decent place. I walked toward the given address. Looking at the numbers, I saw I was still at least a mile away-- with no place to walk-- just cars whizzing by close and an unbroken succession of snowbanks.

At the next intersection I got on another bus, this one headed south. I passed where the testing place was SUPPOSED to be but still saw no number-- just a strip of buildings set back from the road. It was some sort of scam, I figured, to make getting to the test on time as difficult as possible-- friends etc perhaps clued in. Or maybe the government had figured 40,000 people would show up, and they wanted to discourage as many folks as possible. Regardless, I was already too late, so I stayed on the bus. I'd seen, by the way, the government complex where employees processed paperwork on the 4-12 shift. It was fenced and as well-guarded as Fort Knox; cold, eerie, and quite isolated. I'd done some research, and knew that if you didn't catch the bus that went by after midnight you were stuck. No bars across the street from it. Nothing. It didn't look like a cool place to work-- no wonder government people were so stoic.

The bus I was on took me to Frankford Terminal, where I got on a train to take me back downtown. A foxy working class redhead sat next to me. Well, at least the day wasn't all bad, I thought. On a scale of 1 to 10, she was a 12. She was reading a newspaper. I discussed with her the news of the day, and horoscopes. Then she got off. I did soon also.

Anyway, I'll be fitted soon for my Micky D's uniform. I'll keep blog readers notified as to location. Maybe Franzen, Bissell, Lapham, and Moody can drop in to say hello!

13 comments:

- Leopold said...

Ugh. I feel your pain. If your bus trip was made into a kid's story it would be called Kafka Searches for a Job.

I spent 8 months living w/ my parents after graduation with no luck. I moved to Ottawa where, with no money to my name, rented a room in this guy's place who was just really creepy. I was afraid to go to sleep worrying I'd wake up axe-murdered. Ended up going back to Staples making $6.50 an hour.

Before I got that job, though, I answered an add in the paper. Was way out in the burbs and took forever to find. The interview was really odd with this big, unkempt black guy who spoke slang through the whole thing and it lasted about 2 minutes. What the actual job was was really vague - factory work, it said. I was told to show up the next day.

Next day there's 12 or so of us and they pair us up with one of their current workers. It's all strangely informal (all the workers cheer when I get hooked up with the one blond woman) and the guy who gave me an interview has already given everyone a nickname and is being really buddy buddy.

Not sure what the hell is going on, we're seperated into groups, packed into people's personal cars, which are falling apart and when we ask where we're going, they say to the warehouse. But we all thought we were already at the warehouse... They're also being super buddy-buddy (what's your favourite beer, etc...) like they're really pushing for us to feel like we're having a great time. All the while we're getting farther and farther and farther away from the city. They're vague about all our questions.

So, in the middle of -30C February (about 30 degrees below freezing for you farenheit folks), we stop at these factory houses way out in the middle of farmland and they go to the back of the car, open the trunk and it's full of the sort of 2$ knick-knacks you find in dollar stores. Basically, we were supposed to go around to these factories in the middle of nowhere, barge in and sell this crap for like 20$. It was a total scam and they used all these tactics to emotionally strong-arm us into wanting to do it. Some fell for it, but I refused.

The way it worked is our 'guides' would 'train' us and then we'd work for them - she'd get a share of my profits - and I'd have to bring someone else in. Plus, we were stuck out there all day with no way to get home until they'd harassed the entire town. Fucked up!

The best part was on the wall of their office were several letters from the Governor General (our figurehead for the Queen) thanking the company for it's dedication to hiring young workers. Fuck me.

Anyway, someday I'll write a story about that.

Jackie Corley said...

Frankford, ay? I remember that place from my Philly days. Tough neighborhood.

I also remember getting stuck at the 69th Street terminal alone at 2 a.m. Definitely not a good place for a female to be traveling alone at that time of night.

Why don't you go for some reporter gig? You convey your thoughts well. And you'd be getting paid to write.

Adam Hardin said...

And the winner of the First Believer Magazine Book Award is:

Sam Lipsyte, Columbia M.F.A. Professor.

Adam Hardin said...

Heidi Julavits and Vendela Vida, both are co-editors of the Believer Magazine as well graduates of the Columbia M.F.A. Program, and Ben Marcus Heidi Julavits' husband is a Professor at Columbia with Sam Lipsyte.

There were four other nominees. I suspect very much that this is a fake award.

Adam Hardin said...

One last interesting note is that Thomas Beller, a Columbia Graduate, published Sam's First book through Open City.

It pays to go to the right school.

Tim Hall said...

Karl:

That totally sucks. You're too valuable and smart to be wasting away in min-wage hell.

I agree with Jackie (hi Jackie), she beat me to it: you should be working a beat for a local paper, at the very least. I know you prefer pushing the spotlight onto others, but it's time you kept a little bit of it for yourself!

Adam: [in my best Jim Nabors voice]: Surrr-PRAHZ, Sur-PRAHZ! The BELIEVER, that bastion of Eggers Cult-Worship, that temple of toadyism, that Mecca of Mighty Fine Artistes, that showroom of the SUV pretentiousness of the Luxury Consumer Education Complex, awarded their "prize" to a buddy of the editor's husband? NO. Say it ain't so, Adam!

Tim Hall said...

Karl:

That totally sucks. You're too valuable and smart to be wasting away in min-wage hell.

I agree with Jackie (hi Jackie), she beat me to it: you should be working a beat for a local paper, at the very least. I know you prefer pushing the spotlight onto others, but it's time you kept a little bit of it for yourself!

Adam: [in my best Jim Nabors voice]: Surrr-PRAHZ, Sur-PRAHZ! The BELIEVER, that bastion of Eggers Cult-Worship, that temple of toadyism, that Mecca of Mighty Fine Artistes, that showroom of the SUV pretentiousness of the Luxury Consumer Education Complex, awarded their "prize" to a buddy of the editor's husband? NO. Say it ain't so, Adam!

Tim Hall said...

Karl:

That totally sucks. You're too valuable and smart to be wasting away in min-wage hell.

I agree with Jackie (hi Jackie), she beat me to it: you should be working a beat for a local paper, at the very least. I know you prefer pushing the spotlight onto others, but it's time you kept a little bit of it for yourself!

Adam: [in my best Jim Nabors voice]: Surrr-PRAHZ, Sur-PRAHZ! The BELIEVER, that bastion of Eggers Cult-Worship, that temple of toadyism, that Mecca of Mighty Fine Artistes, that showroom of the SUV pretentiousness of the Luxury Consumer Education Complex, awarded their "prize" to a buddy of the editor's husband? NO. Say it ain't so, Adam!

Tim Hall said...

Karl:

That totally sucks. You're too valuable and smart to be wasting away in min-wage hell.

I agree with Jackie (hi Jackie), she beat me to it: you should be working a beat for a local paper, at the very least. I know you prefer pushing the spotlight onto others, but it's time you kept a little bit of it for yourself!

Adam: [in my best Jim Nabors voice]: Surrr-PRAHZ, Sur-PRAHZ! The BELIEVER, that bastion of Eggers Cult-Worship, that temple of toadyism, that Mecca of Mighty Fine Artistes, that showroom of the SUV pretentiousness of the Luxury Consumer Education Complex, awarded their "prize" to a buddy of the editor's husband? NO. Say it ain't so, Adam!

Tim Hall said...

AYEEEEE!!! My browser's gone crazy!

Sorry for multiple posts, not my intent at all!

-Tim

King said...

When the ULA crashed Housing Works, Mike Jackman and then-member Chris Z ridiculed Lipsyte in conversation. I don't remember is his was the story about a candy bar or a tree.

Working as a reporter would change my focus and end this blog, and much of my work for the ULA. An old burnout like me only has so much mental energy.
For much of my life I've had trouble fitting into bourgeois society. I feel like an Indian who's walked off the reservation, but occasionally returns during blizzards for mere survival. This entire System leaves little room for true individual freedom. I disdain it heartily.
Bill Gates is right that high school education is a joke-- but he wants students to be MORE processed to fit today's computer-heavy System. The goal is always to make the individual conform to and serve the Machine. The Machine isn't designed to serve us.
p.s Defense contractor Raytheon is doing a lot of hiring. Large ads proclaim their activity, new missile systems and the like; more ingenious ways of killing people. Business is booming!

BradyDale said...

Since I'm looking for a job in Philly right now so I can leave madison, this makes me feel greeeeeaaaat....

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