Monday, March 22, 2010

Running on Empty


My body hurts. My brain feels like it's partially deflated. I'm squinting in order to make the words less blurry. I'd like to blame an excessive work schedule or an all-night writing session, but I cannot. If I could point at a crying child or excessively loud neighbors for my current condition it would make me feel less guilty.

No, I brought this on myself.

Drinking made me feel this way. And not just one night of drinking. This was a legitimate binge. It was the perfect storm of drinking conditions that caused this outburst: A holiday dedicated to green beer, a visiting friend, a basketball tournament, and a life in the unemployment line. A stronger man would have foregone some of this temptation, but unfortunately I am weak (as evidenced by my soft mid-section that is beginning to hang over my waistband).

Although the details of the last five days are blurry, here is a rough outline of my schedule:

Wednesday: St. Patrick's Day bar crawl - First drink, 2 pm.
Thursday: Arrival of friend from Minnesota - First drink, 8 pm.
Friday: Badger basketball game - First drink, 12 pm.
Saturday: Back yard party - First drink, 5 pm.
Sunday: Badger basketball game/ epic boccie ball tournament - First Drink, 11 am.

Here is a brief list of accomplishments during that time period: Drank green beer, created drinking game (Totally Taut Towel Toss), lost a beach football game, lost a credit card, lost a driver's license, danced with a pole (different than pole danced), climbed a palm tree, lost a flag football game, watched the Badgers lose badly, spent too much money, ate terrible pizza, ate a delicious street hot dog, threw a boccie ball into the street, and destroyed my body.

Here is a list of accomplishments that did not occur during that time period: Finding a job, saving money, writing, going to the gym, cleaning my room, practicing good oral hygiene, eating one healthy item of food, or figuring out what I'm doing with my life.

It was an incredible weekend, but the hangover is severe. As I've gotten older, hangovers have gotten progressively worse. When you throw in the fact that I'm unemployed, running out of money, and without a clear plan of the future, it makes things hurt all that much more. It's time for me to get back on the wagon, be productive, and get a job.

That is, at least, until this weekend.

-More to come...

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Product Pushing


*quick note: The following is an update to my previous blog posting. If you missed it;
1) What are you thinking?
2) Are you intentionally trying to hurt my feelings?
3) You can find it here, so that you are fully up-to-date when reading this entry.

On Tuesday, I went in for my second interview with the advertising/marketing company that I interviewed with last week. After arriving in the same drab waiting room, I was quickly whisked away to the wonderful world of Home Depot. There was sawdust in the air, and the color orange dominated my vision. The interview took place as we walked around the store, offering unsuspecting customer the opportunity to receive a free kitchen remodeling consultation. Most people didn't want to be bothered. They made it very obvious, yet my interviewer didn't seem to mind burrowing deeper under their skin. Here is an example of a conversation that took place:

Interviewer (I): "Are you a home owner?"
Customer (C): "Yes..." (said as they turned back to their task of finding screws or light bulbs)
I: "Great! Are you aware of the promotion that we're offering?"
C: "No, but I'm not..."
I: "We're offering a free consultation on kitchen remodeling."
C: "Thanks, but I'm not..."
I: "It's free!"
C: "Really, I'm not..."
I: "Oh, come on. Have you ever thought about remodeling your kitchen?"
C: "It may have crossed my mind, but I'm not..."
I: "Then why don't you come have a free consultation?"
C: "Because I'm just here to find some nails. Not to remodel my..."
I: "It's free!"
C: "Again, thank you, but I'm not..."
I: "What's the harm? It's a free consultation. No pressure."
C: "Can you please just leave me alone."
I: "If you don't come get a consultation, I will follow you home."
C: "You're starting to scare me."
I: "I will follow you home. Maybe I'll give you a free consultation, or maybe I'll do something else."
C: "Like what?"
I: "I'm not saying that I am going to hurt you...But I'm not saying that I won't hurt you either."
C: "Ok, fine. I'll have a consultation! Just don't kill my family!"
I: "Great! Lets sign you up."

I was uncomfortable with the process. While I haven't found many job prospects in my week of searching, I knew that this wasn't the position for me. I didn't want to push cabinet refinishing on people that were simply looking for a leisurely stroll through the aisles of the Depot. I'm not a salesman. I enjoying fulfilling the needs of customers, but I don't want to push anything on them either. Let me offer a couple of examples:

1) I worked at TGIFridays for a portion of my life. Part of their training involved an extensive exercise in upselling. Say the customer wanted a mixed drink. Maybe a vodka tonic, or a beer. Instead of just taking their order, we were instructed to try and push an Ultimate Mango Mai Tai or a Patron Cosmo Rita Shaker (these are actual drinks that Fridays sells). Our introductions were always supposed to be, "Welcome to Fridays. Can I interest you in a refreshing _____ or some delicious ______?" The blanks were supposed to be filled with more descriptive adjectives and a specific food product.

I was not comfortable with this, and would leave my customers alone. This did not please my manager.

2) I spent a summer at Abercrombie & Fitch. I did it for the clothes discount. That's my excuse. You're allowed to judge for the remainder of this paragraph, but not any further. Agreed? Okay. While at Abercrombie, we were instructed to leave the customer alone, unless we were approached. Then, we were supposed to suggest clothing items that might match the article that the customer had chosen. "Oh, you want to try on those jeans? Why don't you match them with this shirt? And maybe these sandals? You know what would bring the whole thing together? Some cologne. And also this hemp necklace."

It grossed me out. I didn't want to have anything to do with it. Instead, when I would see a customer approach me, I would turn in the other direction, effectively avoiding any potential interaction and product pushing.

This tactic lead to my manager placing me in front of the store, welcoming customers. For 8 hours, I would stand in the entryway, listening to the overbearing Abercrombie music (Smashmouth was particularly popular at that point) smiling at people that passed by. Needless to say, I wanted to shoot myself. And, my manager was not pleased.

My point, you ask? It's that I don't really enjoy pushing things on customers. This must have been overly apparent to my interviewer. By the end of my hour in Home Depot, while I was making a I-just-smelled-a-fart-face, she told me that she had some concerns. She said that she thought I would fit in really well, but that she was worried that I wasn't very excited about the job. I hesitated for a moment before telling her that she had made a fairly accurate assessment. We said goodbye, and I headed back to their office.

I met with the office manager when I returned. We had a brief discussion and I told him that I wasn't interested in the position. Despite the inflation of my ego during the first interview, I managed to avoid the trap during the second. We shook hands and parted ways.

He and my interviewer went back to pushing product.

I returned to the unemployment line.

More to come...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Ego in Flight


My ego is vulnerable. My ego is large. My ego is fragile, but it's an essential part of me.

No, I'm not quoting lines from the "Ego Monologues". I'm simply reminding myself of the dangers that my large, vulnerable, and fragile ego gets me into. Every once in a while, I need to refresh my memory of this fact, otherwise I will find myself in the middle of Home Depot, hawking cabinet refinishing for my next job.

I had an interview today. Over the last several days, I sent out countless resumes to a wide variety of job openings. When I received this interview, I was initially confused as to which position it was for. Was it for part-time tutoring? Maybe the data entry position? Could it be for the administrative assistant role at the publishing company? I had no idea.

After a few minutes of conversation, I remembered that the job was in entry-level advertising. Previously, I had looked over the company's website, and was intrigued at the possibilities. I've always considered myself a fairly creative person, and there was a period of my life that I imagined myself creating marketing campaigns and writing advertisements. I took the interview, and was looking forward to the opportunity.

I entered the office suite, and was greeted by a relatively drab looking reception area. There were hole marks in the walls, dust everywhere, and fake plants that looked like they were dying. To add to this, the company that I kept in the waiting area, was not all that reassuring. I was told that the dress for the interview was "business professional". I put on my suit and tie, however, my fellow interviewees must not have interpreted the message in the same way.

There was one guy in a button-down and slacks, which is close enough. Another guy rolled in with jeans, a nice shirt, and a tie. Not really business professional, but not unacceptable. The worst was the guy in the hooded sweatshirt. He carried a professional-looking black folder with him, but he appeared to have skipped the showering/cleansing portion of the "business professional" class.

Due to my first impression of the company, my initial excitement was tempered when I went into the interview. I met with a very nice woman that began going over my resume. We talked for 20 minutes or so about my various goals, employment history, and my preferred working environment. I fell right into her devious trap. She talked about how she saw leadership ability in me. That she thought I had management potential. That she was only offering the position to three people, and that I had bumped someone from her top choices. My ego was soaring. Wings spread, it had taken flight and was lifting me far out of the 80's style office chair that I was sitting in.

This all occurred before she said a word about what my actual job duties were going to be. Here's how they work. They place employees within big-box stores such as Home Depot or Best Buy. Those employees then promote certain brand names that those companies sell. My job would be to stand in those stores, trying to sell Direct TV installation packages or cabinet refinishing services to customers, from 10:30 to 7:30, including weekends.

I just threw up. Writing that was just as bad as hearing it from my interviewer. She had built me up so much, talking about my future management role, that I had almost signed a contract without learning about the job. My ego had grown so large that it was dominating the rationale portion of my brain.

Thankfully, she didn't offer me the job on the spot. Instead, she offered me a second interview next week with her manager. I was powerless to say anything but, "Okay, that sounds great." So now, I'm meeting with her and her manager, to learn more about the process and make an in-store visit to one of their selling teams.

I just need to remind myself that this probably isn't something that I want to spend my time doing. I want to write, I want to entertain. I don't want to put on an orange, Home Depot uniform. Now, if my pesky ego would just take the day off, I may be able to escape the interview without a job.

-More to come...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Back Into the Abyss


Oh, hello fine readers. It's been too long. I haven't seen you for months. That doesn't mean that I haven't thought about you. Not in the least. Sometimes I lay awake at nights, wondering about you. Not in a creepy way. Just thinking that I was neglected your needs over the last six months, and I never even had the decency to explain myself. Just like in any relationship discussion, I'm going to try and offer an apology using a laundry list of excuses. Here goes:

-I was writing a more substantial (not necessarily better) piece of work. My time and creativity were devoted to completing the project. Could that be defined as cheating? Maybe. It's a gray area. I was still writing, but it wasn't specifically for this blog. However, if you would like to read this book, I'd be happy to oblige. In the end, I was writing for all my readers.

-I had a brief love affair with the ocean, as noted here. I couldn't help splashing around like a third grader, often having conversations with Poseidon. That's not meant to be an exaggeration, by the way. I really would say things to the mythical God of the ocean.

-Lastly, I became more and more involved in work. Longer shifts, later nights, and a proposed night manager position. Business hasn't been great over this time span, and our staff has been pared down to a skeleton crew. There are only four bartenders left, which means a higher level of responsibility and less time to devote to the fair reader.

This sounds bad, I know. It sounds like I'm building to a break up. I'm not. I promise. In fact, I have good news.

-The project is finished. Well, almost. I have quite a bit of editing and rearranging to do before I will be completely satisfied with it, but the heavy lifting is done.

-The weather in San Diego hasn't been the most conducive to playing with my part-time lover, the ocean. It's frequently overcast and rainy, and the water is cold enough to turn portions of my body into ice cubes. Like those little plastic balls that you put in the freezer, and then your beverage of choice. Not something that a devoted partner should do. Shame on you, ocean.

-I'm no longer going to be employed by the bar. I've taken too many days off for travel and play, my manager is calling my commitment into question, and business seems to be following it's downward path. On Sunday, I received a subtle hint regarding my future employment status, when the schedule showed that I'm the "on-call" bartender for Friday and Saturday nights. This means that I'm probably not going to have a work shift this week.

So, what does this mean for you? Well, it means that I will have more time to write here. I haven't started on my next big project yet, the ocean continues to be cold and unresponsive to my needs, and I will soon be heading back into the unemployment line. Could there be a return to E-3, riding bicycles, and a heavy intramural schedule. Most likely. Stay tuned for more.