Sunday, November 1, 2009

Workers, Unite!

I realize I never mentioned the results of my Teamsters interview.

I drove to the office, which was a bit of a hike, and was greeted by a woman somewhat older than I who got me situated with an application form in a side room. it was small, older one-story building that reminded me of a VFW post: small rooms and paneling. The room I sat in had a table covered with union pamphlets and information. It felt kind of old-fashioned and cozy. The receptionist brought me some coffee. I was feeling optimistic.

After I'd turned in the application form, three people came out to meet me: a younger man who was the head of that office, another, middle-aged man, and a woman, "Marcie," whom I recognized as the woman I'd spoken to n the phone, the one who'd called me for the interview.

"Oh, yes; we spoke on the phone," I said. She just stared at me. I was not getting Good Vibrations.

We went into a large room with a big table. They sat on one side, I on the other.

"Kind of like a Congressional hearing," I joked. Then I remembered who this organization was, and prayed I hadn't hit a nerve.

The head man, John, gave a brief description of the office. It was a non-profit benefits-administration center for the Teamsters. He gave me some background on the group: it had actually predated the Teamsters but was absorbed when the Teamsters rose to power. I caught myself starting to say, "so they made you an offer you couldn't refuse," but bit my lip just in time. The Teamsters aren't known for their sense of humor. Also, I was getting a very odd vibe from this group, especially Marcie, who seemed to just be glaring at me from across the table.

"So because we operate as a nonprofit, the pay is in the range of $8-$12 an hour."

And folks, here is where I got mad. Because you see, in their job posting, they had asked applicants to submit a salary history and salary requirements. Which I did. And in my cover letter, which I'd labored over, I explained that I did not require the salary I used to make, but I did require x. And people, the number I gave was certainly not the crap they were dangling before me. So not only was this representative of a union whose job it is, among other things, to secure GOOD WAGES for its employees, asking me to work for garbage, he had clearly disregarded my resume and cover letter, and now here I was, after taking the time to get dressed for an interview and driving halfway across town, and filling out their tedious three-page application form for a job I would never be able to support myself on. For the pay they were offering, I could walk down the street and check out groceries.

But then I started to wonder: why was everyone acting so weird and distant and awkward? It was exactly like a blind date where you walk in and your date gets all stiff and formal and clearly is not interested but is making a polite show of getting through the evening. Only in this case everything they needed to judge me on had been given to them when I responded to the ad, so what the heck was up? On some level I realized that I had never been a candidate for this job, and I was tempted to ask how many candidates they were bringing in to satisfy some internal policy on going through the motions of interviewing external candidates so that they could hire someone's sister, which was the plan all along.

Then Middle-Aged Guy said, "I see you graduated college. When was that?"


"But your resume starts at, like, 1997. What happened during all that time?" I stared at him. He was serious.

"Well, it's generally not customary to list every job that isn't relevant to the one you're seeking, and it's also not customary to go back more than a certain number of years. And my resume would be fairly long if I were to include every job I've ever had since college. But I can tell you now, if you'd like."

"Sure." There was an air of challenge in the word, as though he were calling my bluff on some big lie.

"OK. Do you want me to start from college on or from the resume back?" While this guy was annoying, given that I knew I was never going to get the job and didn't want it anyway, I was now in Smartass Mode.

"College onward."


And I rapid-fired every job I could recall, which included domestic in Somerset, England, special instructor for the Profoundly Retarded, receptionist at a turnkey office in London, warehouse worker, museum staff, veterinary kennel tech, bagel server, catering waitress, hotel operator, shelter worker, etc. I've had lots of jobs. I took pleasure in watching this guy's face as I went on and on.

"So you see," I concluded, "I didn't think it was really necessary to include them all, as many aren't really relevant to this job, but yes, I did work between college and 1997."

He smirked and said I'd been very informative. I also sensed a newfound respect.

Needless to say, I did not hear from them. I hope Marcie's sister enjoys her new job.

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