Raise your hand if you remember walking into a business, asking for an application, filling it out (with a pen), talking to the manager and going home with a job.
Anyone?… Bueller?… (tap tap) Is this thing on?
I am either from the dark ages or I have been self employed for a long time.
While I type like a three toed sloth, I do know a whole lot about a few things. I have survived in work environments so insane that they defy description. I have put in my 10,000 hours more than once.
I am smarter than some but it doesn’t necessarily work in my favor and the hardest thing is trying to conceal the fact that I don’t play well with others. There was a reason for being self-employed, and that’s the reason.
Trying to rejoin the workforce after nine years of riding fences is challenging but I’m tired of being cold, wet, and hungry so I’m coming around like a stray dog that is ready to give domestication a whirl.
Have you applied for a job lately? If not, and you have a whole lot of time to waste, I highly recommend it.
I’ve been interviewing with the nation’s largest retailer of used automobiles. Three interviews and literally dozens of long form essay questions later and I still don’t know if I have secured the entry-level position of Buyer’s Assistant.
This job is my top pick and working in my favor is that almost everyone I have interviewed with, five different people now, are either former personal trainers or former business owners. Apparently, this is the place where desperado types go when they decide to throw in the towel and get a real job.
But since I still don’t know if I actually have the job, I take nothing for granted and continue applying at other places.
Long gone are the days of filling out an application and talking to an actual person. This is the age of the online assessment and mind-blowingly redundant questions. I just applied at Short Burst Cellular and was asked no fewer than ten times if I try to understand why people act the way they do and if I enjoy analyzing my own feelings. The other questions are, naturally, all related to how well I play with others and how receptive I am to taking bullshit from customers. I also applied at Horizon and spent thirty minutes answering questions like, “would you rather be subject to incessant interruptions OR be on the phone with angry customers all day?” Would you rather stab a fork in your eye or drop this kettle bell on your foot?
I can’t help but wonder; who scores high on these tests? According to the job description, it’s people with a passion for customer service. Maybe my definition of passion differs from theirs. I say the word passion is reserved for art and science or a cause that changes the world.
Customer service is a vital bodily function of any business. The business cannot survive without it but it is not something for which I would equate the word passion.
Customer service is necessary of course, but only so that the company can succeed at what it’s passionate about – making money. Who wakes up in the morning and can’t wait to be interrupted constantly by people who are complaining about problems that are beyond their control?
People work customer service jobs out of necessity and in hopes of getting promoted. Let’s not pretend that necessity and passion are the same thing. This is why so many people burn out when they find a way to monetize their hobby, because necessity kills passion.
But back to my original question. Who scores high on these tests?
The U.S. has notably gone down hill when it comes to producing well educated young adults with high levels of etiquette or common sense. Not pointing fingers but…perhaps it is they who have necessitated the rise of the assessments in the first place. Having limited video game vocabularies makes them easy targets for swapping the words necessity and passion and tricking them into thinking it was their own idea.
One of the questions, or rather – statements, at the end of the Horizon assessment was, “I feel this assessment gives a good initial impression of the company values and makes the company seem like an attractive place to work.” Strongly Agree. Agree. Slightly Agree. Slightly Disagree. Disagree. Strongly Disagree. Fuck Me.
Is the talent pool so shallow that the word passion has become displaced and is now being used in reference to customer service for lack of anything legitimate to be passionate about? In a world of young adults who would rather reside on their parent’s couches than blaze a trail into the frontier of freedom it makes sense.
Firmly rooted on the sofa like baby birds waiting to be fed, they would naturally have no concept of doing something unpleasant out of necessity because, thus far, they’ve spent all day texting their friends but meals still appear on the table at regular intervals.
In all fairness I may be projecting, displacing, evening blaming my hatred of online job assessments on other people in an effort to not throw my computer out the window and spend my remaining days walking the earth like Caine in Kung Fu.
I may be, or I may be the Johnny Come Lately frog to the pot of boiling water.
It is possible, after all, that the assessments exist specifically to weed out people like myself.
What will you focus on?
What does it mean?
How will you respond?
Winds of change are blowing around here. I’ve been afflicted with a desire to stop doing things all the time, to stop spending every last waking moment trying to do something.
I think maybe it’s time to reconsider my success strategy.
I closed a business three years ago. It was a business that made me temporarily rich and less temporarily poor. It was a short love with a long divorce.
I tried to bounce back but it didn’t come back. Not the business itself, I didn’t want that back, but the income – from any source at all – it didn’t come back and I’ve been so broke for so long now that it almost doesn’t seem weird anymore.
But it is weird and it’s not ok and I’m done.
I wouldn’t say that I’ve wasted my time. To the contrary, some would argue that I have helped facilitate life altering transformations for quite a few people. I would say, “that’s nice but it’s come at my own expense.”
Not one of the people I’ve helped would be willing to do what I do for the amount of money that I walk away with. Absolutely not, they wouldn’t even consider it. I show up for them, whether I feel like it or not, but my wellbeing is left to their sense of convenience. They think nothing of their work meetings and endless vacations, naturally they do what they need to do and now the time has come to turn the coin.
The answer is easy, if you take it logically.
The focus has to change to taking care of business on the home front. What that means is renegotiating my deal with the universe in regards to paychecks. The proper response is to say “yes, please” when offered an opportunity to join the world of functioning adults.
Soo…, yes please.
65 million years ago a meteor six miles wide crashed into the Earth. The residents blamed Obama and said that the meteor was part of a conspiracy to support his new world order. Choking on ash and poison gas, most of them died shortly thereafter thus turning the last page of the Mesozoic Era.
Organisms go extinct when they can no longer adapt to the prevailing climate.
Included on the short list of survivors was the winged dinosaurs and they flew on to see the dawn of a new age.
The Cenozoic Era continues today.
When I was 31, the tumbleweeds and goat-heads had overgrown the land between my back wall and the road. Being a good citizen, I called the city to complain. The bored woman on the phone said, “Yep, alright”, and hung up. The following week, everyone who lived on my street received citations from the city demanding that all the weeds be cleared from behind each respective house on the land between the back wall and the road. The land, that falls behind each person’s property but that the homeowners are not allowed to use in any way, yes, that land which was not ours. The citation read, in no uncertain terms, “Remove the weeds yourself or we will have them removed and send you the bill.”
Way to go, Slick.
I never told the neighbors that I was the one who complained to the city.
Last week I turned 41.
The previous day, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote but Donald Trump became President Elect of the United States – making this the 2nd election in twenty years where the choice of the people was misrepresented by the electoral college.
Some may consider this to be an evolutionary step backwards, like webbed nostrils or the development of genitals in close proximity to the rectum, but in the year of post truth others have a feeling that America is on it’s way to becoming great again. I say we called to complain about the weeds and, in doing so, won Shirley Jackson’s Lottery.
Be careful what you ask for, America. God won’t save us if we can’t adapt.
Home, a place with a lot of tumbleweeds and trailer houses.
In 1984, my parents bought a mobile home and put it on a piece of land out on the mesa in front of the Manzano Mountains. At the time, the nearest neighbor was a mile away and my parents thought it was glorious. Unfortunately the nearest phone was also a mile away. I saw nothing glorious about that.
We lived far from everything. Far from the mall, far from my school, far from my friends, and especially far from Albuquerque – which is where all the cool kids were.
Valencia county was generally unconcerned with maintaining the dirt roads so during monsoon season we would go without mail service for weeks at a time, we also had to make our own path through the desert to come and go because our road would be underwater.
Still, my parents were enchanted with this place. “It’s so quiet”, they would brag to their friends. “There’s no light pollution and we can see all the stars“, they would say while setting up their telescope.
Fuck that, I want cable TV.
They had purchased five acres of land and split it into two 2.5 acre lots. My deadbeat aunt and uncle moved into their own mobile home next door. They made zero payments on the trailer or to my parents for their land lease. In the meantime, they did manage to erect an impressive chain-link fence, raise some malamutes, and sell some drugs.
They got the boot.
Later on, my other deadbeat aunt moved her own mobile home onto that side of the land. She was a depressed hoarder with trash piled up to the windows and she too failed to make any payments. When my step-dad found the cages of dead birds in her living room, she was next to get the boot.
As I was going through my teenage years, this “glorious” place in the middle of nowhere turned into something else entirely. Imagine being stranded on a desert island with two people in a relationship that is going south.
As my parents grew to like each other less, the silence became a void filled mostly with the sounds of slamming doors and never-ending passive aggressive standoffs. Sufficed to say, the glory was starting to wear off.
When I was 19, the universe told me it was time to move to Las Vegas, NV. Six weeks prior to my departure, the parental situation came to head and my step-dad told my mom to get the fuck out, which she did.
But not me, I still lived there, playing marriage counselor to both of them right up until the last day.
But when I left, I left.
That was in 1995. I had no plans of going home again.
Fast forward 21 years.
My step dad still lives on the land only now he’s married to my ex-sister-in-law. Wait, what? He married my ex-husband’s oldest sister. I know… you can’t make this shit up.
After a couple years of living in Easterville, Xavier and I have decided to move back to New Mexico so I took him there for a visit earlier this year. We were planning on moving to Albuquerque, of course, because that’s where the cool kids are but I still took him down to Los Lunas to show him around. I took him out to visit my stepdad on the land where I grew up and I had assumed that he would be horrified by the place.
We have a dream of flying light, of living with low overhead and never being stressed about money, of having more freedom and less worry.
We’ve done countless hours of research on the virtues of manufactured homes.
We’ve stood hand in hand on the beach at midnight and gazed deep into the milkyway while baby ghost crabs ran over our feet and the dark ocean tide was heard but not seen.
We live in an apartment in the city now and one thing’s for sure. The rent never goes down. Constant road noise, constant alarms going off and sirens running up and down the street all hours of the day and night. Most of all, constant neighbors in every direction. Light pollution mucks up the night sky and we might see a star or two but only the biggest and brightest make it through the haze.
We talk about that night by the ocean and looking out into forever.
The desert is an ocean with it’s life underground.
And maybe it was time to reconsider this idea of going home.
Nothing but a broke down fence and a pile of trash live on the other side of the land now. More neighbors have moved in but they are still a civilized distance away and at night, the sky opens up in a concert of stars like no one living on the east coast has ever seen.
I never wanted to go back because I thought the life I had lived there could only repeat itself.
But now, I long for the quiet and for the stars. I can see a future there that is different from my past.
At age 41, I didn’t expect to discover that everything I wanted was in the place where I began, the place that I couldn’t get away from fast enough, but time is the great revelator after all and every prophet is in her house.
As it turns out, I want to go home again.