Friday, March 19, 2010

This is longer and more profane than usual, but believe me, it is both justified and worth it.

Those of you who know me personally may already know this story, but it is a story that bares repeating.

When we first moved to Seattle back in December of 2006 I was desperate to leave the retail job I transferred with and find a job "within my field" (whatever the hell that actually means for a person who studied communications).  Now it should also be noted that as a military spouse the cards are sort of stacked against me.  First, I am dropped into cities where I don't know anyone or anything about the local economy and hence have no leads.  Second, my resume reads like that of a fugitive....3 months here, 6 months here, cross the country, cross back.  (Since July of 2005 I have worked on both coasts and in 3 different states, lived in 4 different states, and had 5 different addresses.)  

So when I landed an interview with a "marketing" company in March after the holidays had slowed and I had started searching in earnest, I was thrilled.  I went online and studied their website.  It was a little vague, but claimed they worked primarily in print-based marketing and boasted some heavy hitting clients including the local sports teams like the Seattle Mariners.  So it had to be legit, right?  

At this point my husband and I only had one car.  Being as his commute involved crossing the Puget Sound in a trip totaling about an hour and half, he got the car and I relied on public transit, which was great for downtown.  However, this place was in an industrial park south of the city.  So off I went on a bus with two transfers and a total transit time of about an hour to walk a few commercial blocks, trudging across parking lots and past several storage units until I finally reached this "marketing firm."  I sat down in the waiting room of a shockingly small office that hadn't been updated since about 1977.  But I was here for an interview, along with these other people wearing suits, so it was okay.  

My entire interview with the office manager, from beginning to end, went something like this:

Manager:  Do you see yourself as a self starter or someone that requires micro management?
Me:  Self Starter
Manager:  Do you see yourself working in an environment that is casual or competitive?
Me:  I can be competitive, but I also work very well with others.
Manager:  Would you prefer working for a small company or a larger one? 
Me: A smaller environment would be preferable.
Manager:  Do you see your self working best in an office, with people, or with computers?
Me:  All three together.

Fade to black.  End Scene.

I was invited back for an observation day.  Which, despite my confusion about the four question interview, I decided to accept.  I hadn't seen any reason NOT to go, no one at the office was wielding an axe or wearing pedophile glasses.  Plus, it would be a full day away from my current retail gig peddling lingerie and looking at the breasts of middle aged women.  
I showed up on time at 8 AM and was assigned to the account manager I would be shadowing.  For the sake of this story we will call him DB (as in douche bag).  DB was also training another account manager at the time who also joined us that day.  We will call him FM (as in freaking moron).  So DB and FM chat me up about how much they love their jobs and how we were going out "in the field" today and so on.  However, it was only after I was safely strapped into DB's totally shit-tastic Mitsubishi Eclipse (circa 1993) that it is explained to me that we are driving to Auburn (another industrial region south of Seattle) to sell coupons for a local garage.  Say what?!?  Isn't this something that should have been explained to me before I was driven away from the office in the personal automobile of an employee?  Being as we were already on the road, I had no idea where I was, where I was going, or how to find a bus back home, I figured I was in for the long haul.  

So before getting this totally stellar "marketing" job FM had been a used car salesman (and apparently a really crappy one at that).  And being as DB was itching to upgrade from the lady killer that was his dented up Eclipse, EVERY time we passed an auto dealership the conversation went something like this:

"Dude, bro!  Check it out! That's my car man, that's totally my ride, tell me about it!"

And then FM would respond by sauntering up to the car in question, reading the specs of the sticker in the car window and finishing with, "Now how about you and I go inside and work out the details."

And trust me, friends, there are a lot of mother 'effen car lots in Auburn, Washington.   

Once we ran out of businesses to hustle we started approaching apartment complexes and single family homes.  DB would douche his way through a pitch, then at the next house FM would stutter his way through the pitch.  Then DB thought he would try and put me in my place and let me pitch, which I did flawlessly.  So much for him trying to intimidate me by giving me the reigns...jackass.  

As it started to get dark we approached this darling little cookie cutter neighborhood and as I was getting sad that we were going to interrupt the dinners of so many innocent families, DB was getting frustrated that no one had purchased any booklets.  (Seriously, who buys a booklet of oil change coupons for like $100 at some random local garage no one has ever heard of?)  After several no thank yous, and a few unopened doors we hit two very special houses.

At the first house a woman tells us her husband handles all the money and he wasn't available. So DB explains to me, as if explaining a scientific fact like the process of photosynthesis, that she was a total COWS...for those of you wondering what that is, that would be "Can't Operate Without Spouse." This, in contrast to the man we ran into a few doors down who said his wife handled the money.  As we left DB says regretably "Man, I wish I had the balls Spence had (the boss and leader of this not so pyramid scheme), he would have said 'Bro, don't tell me you let your wife handle the money! You gonna let her tell you what to do?!'" A part of me died.  Perhaps I wasn't "held against my will" but there was certainly some coercion and deception on their part, and now I had to put up with this chauvinistic bullshit because these two bumblef*cks were my ride home!  REALLY?

Thankfully, this was also the last straw for DB.  We piled back into his car and started to make our way back to the office.  DB turned on the CD that was already in the player.  He and FM start jammin' out to the generic sound of boys and guitars.  Then FM pipes up from the back seat.  "Hey, guess who this is."  I name the first one-hit wonder, current top 40, guy band I could think of.  "No, not them, guess again."  I name someone else.  "No not them either, think really hard, they should sound familiar.  You should totally get this."  I gave up and stopped playing at this point.  FM gets all butt hurt I stopped guessing and blurts out "It's DB!"  Apparently, DB was in a band at some point during his recent history, according to him they got some "air play out east" and clearly he thought they were good enough to jam out to in his own damn car.  Who does that?

We finally rolled into the office park again at about 9:30 in the evening.  My husband was already waiting to pick me up.  They offered me the job on the spot and I turned it down as politely as I could, although I don't think I could totally hide the bitchy and triumphant edge in my voice that said, "Shit no, Morons.  Even my godless retail gig is better than this!"

On the way home I told Nick all about my day and couldn't decide if I should laugh because it was the most ridiculous day ever, or cry to mourn the 8 hours I would never get back.


  1. Wow, that is really terrible... What do you even say to that?!

  2. That really sucks! What idiots. You did manage to inject some good humor into it!
    great post...

  3. Unbelievable!! Aw I would have been tempted to just walk the long walk home! ha ha!

  4. OMG....I would have been mortified. Hey, on the bright side, at least you've got a story to tell your future grandkids...heehee.

  5. NICE! DB and FM LOVED IT!

    Sorry that happened to you but.. dang that was funny! Don't worry I had something similar happen to me but am to embarrassed to admit what it was lol (DAMNED I WAS DUMB... for a day lol)


  6. Holy jeez that is one crazy job introduction!!! I think I would've freaked out after stopping at the car lots and yelled at them or something, you sound like you were totally cool! Ps DB and FM sound like silent bob and jay. I'm glad you didn't take the job!

  7. That is SO freakin' bizarre!!!!

    They basically kidnapped you and held you hostage all day.

    I'm just glad you made it back OK.

  8. That sounds awful. Job hunting is the worst thing ever.

  9. Wow. That is easily one of the most terrible interview stories I've heard. I'm sorry you wasted your time but glad you got to feel good about telling them no, thanks. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I'm over here following you from Patrick Tillett's blog.

  10. Ah, if you attract trouble like this, you are definitely worth visiting! Came over from Pat's link - seems he was right about you!

  11. Jeeze, you do have some crazy interview/life stories. Wow, didn't realize you've worked in so many states. I thought I was the man for working in 2.

  12. Hey Erika,
    I'm also here, and a new follower, thanks to Pat. Your writing is great! I felt like I went along with you on that "observation" journey. Hmm, I feel pretty crappy right about now too. The interview process does that to a person. [At least you found out about the gig before hire.]
    Keep faith. It can only get better. Right?!

  13. GREAT post. I would have been a total bitch and they probably would have left my sorry ass in the middle of no where. Then I would have cried.
    We had six addresses in the first 7 years of marriage- He is SO lucky I'm still around-

  14. Brutal! I can't imagine being dragged around all day by Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum like that. :)

  15. I left something on my blog for you :) hope your having a good Wednesday!

  16. OMG, you were totally held hostage!