Wednesday, May 2, 2007

You down with PPT?

This morning I woke up having had about five hours of sleep. Right, my own fault. I was anticipating two interviews. The first interview was to be at a software company, a few miles away from town from me. I was expecting it to suck. When I talked to the interviewer, he seemed like he didn’t really know what he wanted for the position and used a few phrases that I’m OVER OVER OVER qualified for, like front office and reception and etc. The second interview was a few miles on the other side of the city from me, in a suburb that I despise, and which would also mean driving and horrific traffic. The job responsibilities sounded a bit better and actually kind of fun.

I arrived at the first interview exactly on time. They had me fill out an application, during which I almost left more than once. The first time when it asked my date of birth (illegal!!!) and the second when it asked for my salary history, which, not only do I not know off the top of my head, but I just don’t remember at all from 1996. Then came the interview and the manager was extremely nice, explained more about the job and we had a generally good time talking. I even go to use some of my recently acquired trivia – that astronauts get paid for travel time when they are in space. (This American Life) I asked some questions that showed I knew what he was talking about regarding some of their software programs, at least a little. Oh, and it’s a woman-owned business. Not sounding too shabby, but I’m not holding my breath because I can’t imagine that they’d pay me what I want to do what they want.

So, I run to the Kinkos across the street and have a resume and references page printed out –from my ipod. (I adore the fact that I can use it as a flash drive or whatever.) I drive home, snack on some granola, wash my face, brush my teeth, fix my hair and pet the kitties. (That sounds like a euphemism, but it’s not.)

Then I’m off to the North Hills. I really do loathe the North Hills, but I have a positive attitude. It’s warm and sunny and the sky is practically cloudless. No traffic and I arrive early. I take a few minutes to relax a bit, re-read the names of the people I’m supposed to meet, check my teeth just in case.

I drive down the side road from the mall access road (sign #1, no?) and into what looks like a housing plan of condos but is an office park. I see a bright yellow Hummer (sign #2!) and somehow keep the positive attitude. Inside, it looks like an apartment building with one wall lined with mirrors, fake plants and cheap wooden doors with big numbers (sign #879457). Okay the plant may have been real. I’m greeted by a smiling woman and look around to an array of cheap, shabby “wooden” desks with an array of unpleasant, bargain basement dressed, fake-happy women with terrible hair styles. It’s quiet and miserable and reminds me of smoking rooms and the 1970s all-brown TV shows (Fish, Barney Miller, Welcome Back Kotter, you know). In the meeting room, at least the chairs are nice, I sit and talk with the greeter, who I am informed has been there for 18 years, and the manager of the admin staff. I sit with my portfolio in front of me and tell them that I brought a PowerPoint I had just made for a friend to use in a meeting and it’s on my iPod/flash drive. They just look at me. (Like I’m lying and I’ve brought someone else’s work?) They never ask to see my portfolio – the big fancy-business-looking binder on the table in front of me.

They ask me about my PowerPoint experience. They seem a bit surprised by my stance that the training courses are a waste of time and money. I mention relevant articles I’ve read and a relevant controversy from a few years back. They have no idea what I’m talking about. They don’t make backgrounds. They don’t talk about slide transitions. I ask if they use linking for their tables. No. I ask how they lined up the text boxes with the chart and get no answer. They only want to know if I’ll pass their PowerPoint test. Their test is to recreate two slides, one of which is a table that, in my (much more expert than their) opinion should be linked from Excel. So, no, I can’t do it – BECAUSE IT’S STUPID. It doesn’t make any damn sense. The other is to make some graph that I’ve never made before, but I’m also supposed to figure out the font (Ariel, thanks) and colors and sizing from the example they’ve given me.

Somebody, please tell me why I wasted all that time there. Please. In retrospect, I should have given it a nice dark background, basic slide transitions and changed the fucking font. Generally made it a nice view-able presentation. Unfortunately I could hardly breathe or think or have any real brain function in that office. I'm surprised that my heart continued to beat.

I’m calling them tomorrow to ask what in my resume made them think that this job was a good fit. SO I CAN REMOVE IT IMMEDIATELY. And to tell the greeter that she can stop her fake smile and get the fuck out of there because that place is surely hell. It’s odd thinking about it now, she has this smile during the interview, which was almost a plea for me to grab her and make a run for it. Get me out! Grab my arm like I’m your Raggedy Ann doll and run as fast as you can until we’re out of breath and away from this place. Or else it was valium and that office embodies the problem that has no name. Christ – did we exchange ironing and canning and scrubbing for the repetition of tan walls and business casual polyester and upper management that thinks we need to be watched like children?

I still can’t believe it. I was slack-jawed for hours. Do people really live like this? Please, let it be an anomaly.

Tomorrow, I’ll let you know all about my first day (maybe) of contract work for an art gallery! Won’t that be fun?


alienspice said...

WOW lady, that was some good writing! maybe you should be a novelist? :)

good luck with the job search---I'm sending you good vibes all the time.


Kono said...

You need to read "How to be Idle" by Tom Hodgkinson. Unemployment like the dole is a gift from the gods, i milked it for almost a year after i got laid off.

Coporate America is unfit for animal, vegetable or mineral. If you are a sentient being run as fast as you can away. I work at the Big World Bank Machine and am classicly underemployed but also find the time to go to the bar for lunch, eat painkillers, get stoned all while on the clock and return to work laughing at the automatons who would self destruct if they lost their precious job.

My wonderful gig affords me time to read alot of books, handicap horse races, listen to music, stare out the window at downtown streets and play on the internet. And yet still there are days when i want to bludgeon everyone i work with.

In the words of the guy with the funny nose from Digital Underground

"do what ya like"

and don't worry about what it fucking pays. hence the book.

ItWasInevitable said...

Thanks for the support, BYAFGA, and the kind words - you know, I probably learned from reading your blog!

Kono - I'll eat up all your candy and your licorice - thanks to you too.