The holiday season job I didn’t want and didn’t get, part 3

I love burritos so much that I named my fantasy football team after them. That, my friends, is dedication. (courtesy of

I love burritos so much that I named my fantasy football team after them. That, my friends, is dedication. (courtesy of

[Read the holiday season job post, part 1 and part 2 so this post makes sense.]

Around 1:30, a full three hours after my arrival, an interviewer led me out of the horribly misnamed Turnover Room and into the interview room across the hall. Set up were two rows of five narrow tables, each with two pairs of chairs facing each other. She sat me at a middle table and took the chair opposite. Eight other interviews continued on amidst the general hustle and bustle of people coming and going.

She explained that the sales floor position I’d applied for only paid $8/hour, and the HR coordinator position had been filled earlier that day. I didn’t ask why they invited me in to interview for a position and left me waiting all morning while they filled it. I knew the answer… my time didn’t matter to them. Making that point wouldn’t help things. As luck would have it, my computer skills – meaning my ability to use the Internet – qualified me to be a proctor. The person in this position helps jobseekers complete online applications at the computer terminals out front. The job paid $10/hour for 40 hours/week until early January, when it could become full-time. I indicated my interest in interviewing for it.

The interviewer asked a few brief questions about my resume, nothing terribly probing. Do you have a resume? Tell me what you did at Company X. Why did you leave Company Y? I answered simply, and she passed my file on to a colleague and left. I waited, listening to the interview happening a few feet away and mentally fielding questions that seemed to stump the interviewee. Those questions would be coming my way in a few minutes.

The next interviewer dug a little deeper, meaning she actually asked questions that required some thought to answer.

Interviewer: Why is customer service important?

Me: So people will buy s**t and then come back later and buy more s**t.

Interviewer: What would you do if faced with an angry, frustrated applicant?

Me: I would slap them across the face with the keyboard then climb up on a desk and wreak havoc from above in the form of a flying elbow or, perhaps, a dropkick. It all depends on space and what I’m wearing. What do you think I would do? I’d help them. Because being unemployed is frustrating enough without having to contend with technology.

I may be confusing my words and thoughts at that moment. The border between Reality-ville and Imagination Land gets a little blurrier everyday. And neither side seems willing to cede victory in the battle of Norm’s Brain. Regardless, the interviewer accepted my answers and complimented my outfit and comport. Her implication was that not everyone she interviews is as well dressed and well spoken. She said she would recommend to the director that I be hired. The director – the last step in the interview assembly line – had to meet all potential hires personally and was unavailable at that moment. She would call me by the end of the week. I liked my chances and, in my head, started revising my calendar and my budget. Then I remembered what it’s like to punch out and take a lunch break.

I left the store around 2:00, after three hours of waiting and 30 minutes of interviewing, and bolted straight for Chipotle, Burrito Bucks in hand. My stomach was about to feed on a vital organ to keep the rest of my body alive, so time was short. The closest Chipotle sits on the ground floor of the Empire State Building, home of my last employer. The lunchtime rush had ended and the line moved quickly. I commandeered a window seat and ate my chicken burrito. Guys in red jackets tried to sell bus tours to tourists outside. Tourists resisted, as they often do when approached on the mean streets of midtown and asked for money. The rest of the world hurried by.

I feared running into someone from my old company and explaining why I was there, eating a burrito in a suit in the middle of the afternoon. Various, less-than-plausible answers came to mind involving high-profile espionage and intrigue. But in the end I opted for vagueness followed by a quick change of subject. Something like, “I had a job interview nearby. How’s work these days?” It’s this kind of deftness that got me here today. I wasn’t ashamed of my interview so much as my year of continued unemployment. Though, truth be known, I wasn’t exactly comfortable with my interview either. No one familiar happened by.

I strolled up Fifth Ave., inspired by the beautiful weather to try and think positive thoughts. Many successful business types get their start on the ground floor of a company. I could be next. Of course they usually walk through the door at the age of 22, not 37. The director’s call never came. But a friendly generic email rejecting my application did later that week. It invited me to apply again, presumably for another job I didn’t want. Spending more quality time in the Turnover Room was definitely tempting. I could bring along a pillow next time, maybe my PlayStation too. But I never followed up.

The holiday season job I didn’t want and didn’t get, part 1

The holiday season job I didn’t want and didn’t get, part 2

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  1. Kelby2012 wrote:

    These are the wonderful kind of emails I am getting these days:

    “Thank you for your interest in joining our “insert company name!” It is apparent that you have some outstanding qualifications; however, they do not match our needs at this time. We will keep your resume on file for future opportunities.

    Best regards,”

    If I was sane in my mind, I would be depressed about being stuck in “netherworld”. Netherworld meaning I am stuck between a cold dark place where my work experiences are too senior for junior job openings and my work experiences are not senior enough for senior job openings. “because of the over abundance of Mega Seniors applying for senior positions”

    It’s good to see that the job stimulus package is working…

    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:13 am | Permalink
  2. Norm wrote:

    Yep, that’s very similar to the emails I get. I’m always tempted to send a rejection email to their rejection email. It would say that due to my financial circumstances, I am unable to accept their rejection at this time and will be forced to start work on Monday.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink
  3. Underemployed wrote:

    Please hang in… you keep me sane. I fear that i wont have a job (again) after the holidays. It apparently was seasonal but didnt disclose that since it is after all commission based. $ 700 a week when i was making 85k a year. And i already mentioned the cost of doing my business…. a tank full of tank of gas every third day, $100 cell bill but its a job right? no more. even that piece of shit job had an expiration date. how do you do it? how do you keep your strength? i cant do this annymore. i so plagued with “dangerous” thoughts and tired of being a burden and not wanted to socialize because if the conversation of employment(“So, what do YOU do for a licing”? comes up i will lose it….I loved Amandas post (YOU GO GIRL) and would love more of her insight and how she deals with this all…

    all my best.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  4. Tina wrote:

    I feel Underemployed’s comments reflect how many of us feel at times when we’re going through this insane time in American history. I stumbled across this document today, written by someone a good 20+ years older then I am. The candor and insight made me feel a shade better. Take a look…her closing sentence is the bottom line in getting through this.

    Friday, December 4, 2009 at 2:44 pm | Permalink
  5. SkyBluePink wrote:

    Thank you for putting together this blog and giving us all a place to feel like we are not alone. You hear it everyday in the news that you’re not alone, but I am tired of just being a statistic. I agree with Kelby 2012 -sometimes I dread the emails. Other times I wish they would just send an email and let me know that I didn’t get it.

    I really appreciated reading the elevator pitch for the holidays — I really need to be armed with that!

    Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 1:34 am | Permalink
  6. Natalie wrote:

    I had to give up me living the good life and move in with my parents…womp womp. I blogged about it. Check it out if you want to know how it feels to be a recent graduate who has never had the chance to lose a job because I have never been given a paying job.

    Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 5:48 pm | Permalink
  7. Jon wrote:

    I saw this AP article in the San Francisco Chronicle and thought it was appropriate to this series of postings. In any case, hang in there.

    Sunday, December 6, 2009 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  8. reeb wrote:

    Monday, December 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm | Permalink
  9. C wrote:

    i had an interview yesterday, with a new retail store in the local mall.

    The guy rang me the day before and asked if I was avalible for a brief interview the following day, I was and I went along.I got there, and there another girl waiting. I thought to myself-Im just early she’ll go in and then me. Nope. 10 other people showed up. turns out it was a group interview. Turned out that it was like a acting class I used to take in High School-that took over an hour.
    When did “brief” mean just over an hour.. ESPECIALLY for a retail job..

    Today I got a msg from the interviewer “Sorry you were not selected for the position, someone else was. Please regualrly check te website for upcomming jobs.”

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009 at 9:17 am | Permalink
  10. anothercollegegrad wrote:

    Thanks for writing this thoroughly enjoyable piece. Rough day today, and I needed the laugh.

    Thursday, December 17, 2009 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  11. Suzy wrote:

    Thank you for this piece…it helps to know that I’m not alone. I hear the numbers on the radio daily, but nothing brings it home like a personal experience. It’s a great thing to be able to keep your sense of humor about it, too.

    Kelby 2012, you hit the nail right on the head. I too am stuck in the Netherworld…30 years of experience means nobody will hire me for junior positions, no college degree means nobody will hire me for supervisory or managerial positions. I’m starting to wonder just who IS getting hired these days since nobody seems to be good enough or bad enough for any position offered.

    I am going to the craft store now to get pretty fleece to make my daughters, son-in-law and their infant some hats and scarves for Christmas gifts.

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009 at 9:24 am | Permalink
  12. Laine wrote:

    Has anyone ever had this happen? I got a call from a company that already turned me down. I went on an interview with this company, took their tests and was told I wasn’t the right fit. Then a couple of months later the same company calls me back and wants me to interview again. I told them thanks but no thanks.

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010 at 7:10 am | Permalink
  13. Why do I get the feeling that you showing up with intelligence and proper grooming probably ruled you out of the job?

    when I’m in an interview like this and I feel like my time is being wasted, I wonder if the interviewer has ever been in the position of looking for work during a deep and relentless recession. I imagine that they are convinced that they will always be employed and never will be in need of courtesy and humanity during a job search. I try not to let my thoughts influence my answers (because no one wants to hire a person who is TOO honest) and I hope that I succeed.

    Monday, January 11, 2010 at 5:30 am | Permalink
  14. 7bonuslbs wrote:

    Great blog. I’m unemployed 4 mos and have totally lost my positive outlook recently, but your thoughts on sending a rejection email to a rejection email made me laugh out loud. I think that was the first time this week – so thanks for sharing.

    Friday, January 29, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

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