Archive for July, 2007

30
Jul
07

Hot flashes and other inapproriate interview topics

I interviewed an applicant this morning who responded to an ad for a part time job.  She was a whirlwind, coming in 20 minutes late and blaming the traffic (see post “Summer in Saratoga”).  Out of breath and scattered, she filled out the application and sat to talk with me a bit. 

At first it was just her multi-colored eyes that threw me (right brown, left green), but then she started flamboyantly fanning herself with a copy of her resume.  I was ignoring it as well as I could, but she kept pointing out what she was doing — giving me a narrative of her actions.  She wanted me to know that she was aware of how she was acting, lest I think that she may actually be peculiar. 

She thought it important that I know she was having a hot flash.  One that started down at her feet and worked it’s way up her legs, into her torso, then to her face.  She told me that her legs and neck were sweaty.  Oh yes, and she also wanted me to know that she has no problem working in a professional office, one where she could perhaps report directly to a vice president or someone else who she could “pick up dry cleaning for.” 

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At that point, I was scanning the room for the hidden camera.  I must be on some hidden camera show, right? 

In all fairness, she isn’t the worst I’ve seen.  I’ve worked in my position in staffing for over 4.5 years and at last count, I’ve conducted at least 3,500 interviews.  Here are some things to avoid while interviewing:  (ps. these are just from the last 2 weeks)

–Why you were fired from McDonald’s, even if it wasn’t your fault that the younger males in the kitchen complained sexual harassment against you (as a woman)

–Giving details about how that felony statutory rape conviction came to pass, calling yourself “sleazy” in your own interview

–Exhibiting obvious disinterest in any position which requires a drug test

–Using profanity before listing all of the homes that you’ve been kicked out of in the last 6 months

–Having a violent, boiling hot flash and admitting to it while brazenly fanning yourself with your own resume

 The list continues, but I only have so much time and space here.

What’s most curious is that if you were to ask these candidates if they EVER would do such a thing in an interview, they most certainly would deny it.  They’d probably say that only fools self-incriminate and I’ve never interviewed a self-aware fool.  Except for that lady today who knew she was having a hot flash. 

Occasionally I’ll catch a candidate contradicting themselves.  I point it out.  They usually claim that point number two, the most recent comment they made, was the actual truth.  That first point was…well, they didn’t really mean that. (Insert waving hand gesture to signal their blowing off of their own words).

This isn’t to say that I don’t interview many normal, delightful people.  They speak well, they speak appropriately and they speak consistantly.  I suppose I could write an entry about a good candidate, but would you read it through the end?  I wouldn’t.  I may not even write it though to the end.

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27
Jul
07

Summer in Saratoga and what it means to ME

I work in downtown Saratoga Springs, NY.  I look out a third story window onto Broadway, the main street going down the center of the city.  It’s entertaining all the time, but especially this time of year when the Saratoga Racetrack opens. 

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People flock here from all over the place.  Most of the license plates are from the east coast or Kentucky.  I covet my reserved parking space because drivers squeeze their cars in wherever they can.  Every lost out-of-towner for themselves!  During lunch I’m entertained by watching couples bicker in the front seats of their SUV, one holding a map and the other making frustrated hand gestures.    I munch on my sandwich while they try to figure out how to be relaxed around here. 

They come for the track, but they also come for the relative glitz and glamour of Saratoga Springs.  No, it’s not Rodeo Drive.  However, there is a lot going on around here and a lot of neat places to go.  The horsey culture makes some older women wear big hats.  AND not just the ones from Kentucky!

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Horse status have been popping up around Broadway this summer.  My least favorite would be the all black horse with the Pepsi-can-lined saddle.  (Huh?)  The mirror horse is my fav, whatwithallthe reflecting and whatnot.

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But just below the guilded surface of Saratoga Springs lie the people who make the city tick.  The chambermaids, the waitstaff, the receptionists, the data entry clerks, the delivery drivers.  I interview them everyday.  Most live within a 10 mile radius of downtown and they’re usually hesitant (i.e. afraid) to drive on Broadway.  Most live just above the poverty level.  They don’t like track season.  I hear a lot of, “I would do it, but you know, it’s track season.”  One time I answered, “I KNOW!  Isn’t it exciting?!”  From what I remember, I got an uncomfortable chair wiggling in response. 

All this to say that Saratoga can’t pull one over on me!  The ritzy horse owners and gamblers come and go like migratory geese, dropping their money along their annual flight to upstate NY.  After they’re gone, it’s me and the unemployed chambermaid, talking about what’s next for her and how much quiter it’s been.

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26
Jul
07

Tiffany and the tsunami

The title of my blog may be a little confusing.  I ought to have explained this earlier.

 I got the idea for the title from one of my favorite cartoon blurbs of all time, aptly named Tiffany and the tsunami.  I don’t remember how I first came across Tiffany, but she stares at me everyday at work from the side of my computer.  Though Tiffany may be an extreme case of self-involvment, I printed out the picture and stuck it right next to my screen to remind myself that it’s not all about me

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One of my ideas for this blog is to continue to look outward, rather than posture bent in on myself.  Afterall, my everyday life is repetitive.  I generally like routine.  Who wants to read about that?

24
Jul
07

Half-Inch Proverbs

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When I grow up, I’d like to work at the Yogi Tea factory in California.

Though I do like their tea, I LOVE their teabags. Thanks to Yogi Tea, life’s vital proverbs are attached to the thin white string dangling over the edge of my tea cup. I’m astonished a ½ inch piece of paper can even hold such weighty truths! I once learned that “Only the enlightened can lighten” and that “Knowledge flows from within to the river of wisdom.” Tonight’s tea-bag-tag reads “Greatness is measured by your gifts, not your possessions.” Close my eyes and meditate. Drink tea and think about greatness.

What is greatness?

Greatness would be landing a job as a “proverb writer” at Yogi Tea.

Someone must be writing this stuff, and I doubt that it’s Mr. Yogi himself (who has some interesting (confusing?) things to say at http://www.yogitea.com). I’d be interested to know the application process for the position. Hopefully it wouldn’t take much more than an example list of original proverbs to demonstrate your skills. In just 2 minutes I can come up with:

If your hands say yes, then your mind is right
Wisdom is gained when folly fools the fool
Speak last, then whisper, “truth”

Why, thank you Mr Yogi, I’m pleased to accept the position. I’ll move from stinky SGF right away!

Now that I work at Yogi Tea, I must pretend that I actually believe what I’m writing. I sit at a long table with 30 other proverb writers. We don’t talk to each other, but sit wearing togas with hundreds of ½ inch pieces of white paper between us. When we’re inspired, we grab a piece and scribble furiously. Beatrice down there just came up with “Honey and milk are poisons to the greedy.” After groans from the rest of us, Beatrice tosses the paper into The Abyss, where the reject proverbs go. (They must be destroyed, lest life begin to reflect our proverbs). But when we come up with a good one, the author immediately staples it to a thin white string, destined for the tea bag factory. Hi fives all around! We go out for tea after work.

Yes, life could be far worse than writing proverbs for Yogi Tea.

22
Jul
07

The Rock Hill Bakehouse

The Rock Hill Bakehouse is a privately owned bakery in South Glens Falls that specializes in breads. Lots of really good bread. Their menu states “We are real people who like real food.” They have a large bakery located right off of exit 17 on the Northway, and a restaurant/coffee house in downtown Glens Falls. In the bakery they have a sign by the register that demands SMALL BILLS ONLY. Once I had a $10 and received a sour look from the white-bearded man who owns the whole place. So much for customer service.

I have a couple memories that were made at the Rock Hill Bakehouse, and I had a great one happen just today.

I ate there with my grandparents. We were served by a teenager with lip and nose piercings and sat right next to a classical guitarist. I thought it was pretty neat, but then again I didn’t have to look at him while we were eating. That was grandpa’s treat.

The guitarist looked like John the Baptist, 2007. He was unkempt and wild. His hair was in a pony tail and his beard was messy. He wore very short denim shorts…too short. His hairy legs ended at grimy toes and flip flops that had fallen onto the ground below his stool. I liked my sandwich and grandpa liked his, but we hadn’t left the parking lot before the hairy legs were mentioned. They are real people who like real food.

In a place like that, or in any whole foods store for that matter, I usually feel sorely out of place. I feel like an antiseptic wipe in a petri dish. Like a Mary Kay rep at the Ingles’ doorstep, like Paris Hilton on the Appalachian Trail. They sell me things because my money is as green as they next guy’s, but must think that I could be “greener.”

Now, I’m not wearing Prada or Versace. But I’m not wearing a do-rag over a braid. It’s a subculture that I’ve never tried to infiltrate and probably never will.

Our sandwiches today were $10 each. Indeed, the ingredients were “real” and were served by “real” people. I also suspect the white-bearded man is lining his all-nature leather wallet with real small bills.

22
Jul
07

A lousy bloodhound

I live in a stinky suburb of a small city in upstate New York called Glens Falls. My suburb, South Glens Falls, is stinky because there are two papermills a few blocks from my place. Each night around 7pm they omit a sulfuric gas that slinks its way down the streets, over driveways and backyards, through the screens of my windows and into my nostrils. Sometimes I get angry about it. It would be nice to live in a town where the air smells like regular air ALL THE TIME. However, most of the time I succumb to the putrid odor and I’m defeated by it. I can’t fight the air.

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It was about a year ago that I learned that the odor came from the papermills. Before that, I thought it was a low-tide type of smell eminating from the Hudson River, just a stone’s throw from my place…well, a LONG stone’s throw. I would walk along the river, sniffing. It was stronger over there…but also over there? I was a lousy bloodhound.

The most bewildering part was that I seemed to be the only person in South Glens Falls who noticed the smell. In the midst of the poisonous stench, others were going about their routines. Talking, laughing, yelling at dirty children, drinking beer, etc. Normal SGF stuff. How could I be the only one bothered? Maybe I had yet to develop the tumor, caused by the gas itself, that would keep it’s vicitms from detecting it’s very presence? Time was ticking and I was raging against the low-tide tumor.

So one day I asked someone who would know — my grandfather. He worked for one of the papermills for over 20 years back in the 70s and 80s. He told me that they’re cleaning out filters and we’re smelling the outcome. They’re supposed to do it overnight when residents would be oblivious and sleeping, but apparenlty 7pm qualifies for ‘overnight’ in Glens Falls. People do go to sleep early around here.

Most of the blog entries you read here will be composed while I’m marinating in the eggy stench. Unless, of course, there is a breeze blowing away from SGF and in that case this little suburb smells just like everyone else’s.

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