Thursday, January 26, 2012

Oops!...I Did It Again

It’s never a good day when you look in the mirror and realize it’s not only possible—but probable—you are insane.

You’ve heard insanity defined as the continuous repetition of an act with the expectation of a different outcome. And while you’re not sure where this leaves the scientific community, in the context of a job hunt it means you're certifiable.

Worse is the realization you may also be a masochist. The American Heritage Dictionary defines ‘masochism’ thusly:

• A willingness or tendency to subject oneself to unpleasant or trying experiences.

Regrettably, this definition also fits you like an Anne Claiborne dress shirt.

In this lottery of emotional impairments, you're a grand prize winner—only you don’t get to meet Linda Kollmeyer.

A notice arrives in the mail informing you that Kohl's is opening a new store in your area and are staffing it now. Because the above-named conditions remove the shield of impulse control, you apply to Kohl's a second time.

The flier says to expect great things. You make a note of it.

Since you have a lingering hangover from previous cashiering and customer service positions, you opt for an opening under Replenishment. The word evokes pleasant images of a gentle, fragrant rain nurturing parched earth.

The position requires you to place consumer goods on store fixtures in a neat and attractive way.

As you recently shaved and successfully returned the can of shaving gel and a razor to their rightful place on a shelf in the bathroom, you feel reasonably qualified to perform this job.

This doesn’t even take into account the innumerable household items you regularly restore to their proper place on shelves throughout the home. Yes, you have this putting-stuff-on-shelves thing down cold.

As instructed, you arrive at a hotel twenty-minutes early to fill-out the same forms you filled-out online. You sign sworn affidavits attesting to the fact that if hired, yes, these are the hours you are available.

So help you God.

You agree to drug tests and credit checks and criminal history checks and past employment checks. Every conceivable type of check but the ones beginning with 'pay'.

To your chagrin, the first question on the application asks if you have applied to Kohl’s before. Ignoring images of a guillotine in free fall, you answer ‘yes’ because you are an indomitable force of nature. You will not be denied a second time.

Applicants are then informed by a harried twenty-something that these positions are temporary. The room collectively deflates like a punctured tire. You are positive the word ‘temporary’ did not appear on the flier.

You are correct.

You wrestle with the fact you are auditioning for a twelve-hour a week, near minimum-wage job. Then you wrestle with the fact you have no choice.

The fact wins.

Returning your attention to the form, you attempt to fit the names of previous employers, their addresses and telephone numbers in boxes similar in size to the ones coupons list their expiration dates in.

The form then asks you to explain all periods of unemployment. Rage wells up inside you.

You want to answer that you abandonded your previous job to burn through your inheritance while on a meth binge in the Caribbean, accompanied by a dozen Las Vegas strippers.

But that would be snotty. Or unprofessional. Or both. And we wouldn’t want that.

Thankfully, you are not asked why you want to work at Kohl’s. You wonder if you could design job applications for a living. But then, you have an IQ.

The same twenty-something is now reading names from a list, which are followed by a number. You are assigned to group one. Group one then trudges listlessly to a meeting room.

At the group interview, you introduce yourself and attempt to put a positive spin on things. You try to sound youthful and vibrant. You want to impart the idea that yes, you are amazing. And if not that, employable.

But if you could do that, you’d be earning a bundle doing PR for Francesco Schettino, captain of the Costa Concordia.

When asked about recognition from previous employers, you respond that you hit speed and accuracy targets as a scorer of educational assessments and received multiple performance bonuses.

One of the women sitting at the table in the front of the room hears this and scribbles furiously. You allow yourself to believe you have made an impression.

Silly you.

A sharp knock on the door startles everyone. The interviewer announces they will have to abort the interview because they are running behind schedule. She reminds you to submit your completed applications before leaving.

As you walk through the vacant lobby, you cannot shake the feeling that you were at a dress rehearsal for an interview. You cannot imagine what kind of meaningful insight Kohl’s could have received from this exercise.

A week later, you find out.

Despite demonstrating “many qualities”, Kohl’s is unable to offer you a position at this time. You smile to yourself because you know what qualities were demonstrated, and you want no part of them.

This is insanity, and you are a masochist to pursue it. It is time for something different.

You have only to figure out what that is.

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