Thursday, July 26, 2007

We put our mouths up to some dangerous drinks.

So, yes, I have a couple of friends who could technically be my kids, if I had been incredibly unlucky in high school.

Digression: Seriously, I have no idea how I successfully used the most unsuccessful birth control method for so long. Sincere thanks to whomever or whatever was responsible from both my parents and me. Especially from my dad who had a bet with the rest of his family as to which kid would get knocked up – or do the knocking up - first. Funny, the person at the top of the list (me) is one of three who STILL does not have children.

Almost a month ago was P’s 22nd birthday, 7/7/7. Unadvisedly, he decided to have seven shots, seven mixed drinks and seven beers starting somewhere around 11:00 am. That morning I sent him a text advising that he avoid “up” drinks and go for mixed drinks with juice or soda. He did indeed take this advice, as well as a mid-day nap. Later that night, M and I met him, his girlfriend and several other friends of theirs around 10:00 pm at a college bar in Oakland, heretofore referred to as CB, as I do not feel the need to admit to where I spent part of my Saturday night. However, if you really want to know, there will be clues a-plenty, including the fact that it semi-recently changed names and I hadn’t even been to it’s predecessor.

Since I hadn’t had much to eat that day, M and I opted for some O fries, which I haven’t eaten in, oh about 10-15 years. Yes, they were good. Yes, I got cheese. Yes, I’m planning to wait another 10 or so years.

In one of the O windows there is a poster for some sort of alcohol with a white background and an airy table set with pastel colors surrounded by open windows with curtains flowing in a gentle wind. Yep, the top floor looks just like that.

At CB, the kid at the door carded me and I asked if he was joking. For some reason, this always bothers M just a little but I do it anyway. The floor is dirty plywood, dirty as only years of spilled beer, puke, cockroaches, piss, grease, cigarettes and spit can make a floor dirty. I guess not so different from, say, the Electric Banana before it became Zarra’s or the Upstage before it became for-rent office space. Where we part ways is that instead of people who would be my friends wearing black boots, these are typical college kids in flip-flops. When I used to go to the Upstage (shut up) and my friends would dare to wear any form of sandal, I would tell them to think about the floor and what may or may not be on it, especially in the bathroom.

In typical college bar fashion, CB offered up an abysmal selection of beer. To their credit, CB has $1 Yuengling bottles and Guinness drafts. No Guinness in the summer for me, thanks. Give me a dark and stormy night and I’m there, but not on a summer evening with a low temp of 65. It does seem to be a trend now that crappy college bars have 1-2 decent beers on tap, possibly for kids to impress their friends with their stunning taste in beer, possibly for kids to impress their friends with their stunning ability to throw cash around, possibly because it deludes them into thinking that they will now attract a higher class of people.

To the left of the bar and fastened (stapled?) to the sloping ceiling is a giant drink list of sorts. There are about eight different specialty Bacardi drinks to choose from, each with their own color coding and sexual innuendo name. I am repulsed and it’s gonna get worse. Scanning the room, I see that these color-coded sexual innuendos are served in plastic mini pitchers with a straw. At the end of the bar is a tall, stocky, early 20-something guy wearing khaki shorts, a blue oxford shirt and flip-flops, holding a pipe in one hand and a mini-pitcher of something blue with a straw in the other. (Readers, I cannot make this shit up.)

After scanning the bar and finding no decent whiskey or gin, I decide that a black russian might be nice. Both ingredients are available and it should be quick and easy to make. This is seriously an attempt to be nice to the bar staff. M orders a Guinness, I order a black russian with Absolut (no well-liquor, but with Kahlua, the taste of the vodka won’t be noticeable so there is no need to go higher) and we proceed to have a conversation. When the drinks are delivered, he has a Guinness and I have some sort of frothy, creamy thing in a collins glass.

Look of shock and horror

Pretty Blonde Bartender:

That’s not what I ordered.


I ordered a black Russian.

But . . . can’t you just drink that?


Why not?

Because it has cream in it.



What did you want?

A black Russian

Isn’t that what it is? Pause. Did you want just (mumble that doesn’t sound like “Kahlua”) and . . . (voice trails off on what I think is the word “vodka”)?

Now there is a five-minute discussion between PBB and the ABB (attractive brunette bartender).

Clarification: For purposes of this blog entry, “pretty” means that she could wear a sundress and have lunch with your mom; “attractive” means that she could wear a low-cut black dress and beat the crap out of your little brother.

ABB proceeds to angrily grab a glass, fill it with ice, grab a cocktail shaker, pour in Kahlua and, without asking, pour in well-vodka. Now, both PBB and I look on in horror. ABB looks up with a scowl. PBB tells her that I asked for Absolut. Seething, she makes another.

For some reason, M feels the need to leave a tip.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

You're pretty good with words but words won't save your life



Dear [IWI]:

Thank you very much for spending the time to participate in our interview process. We appreciate having the opportunity to meet with you and discus your interest in employment with [Company Name].

Although you possess many of the qualifications we are looking for, we have identified other candidates who we feel are a better match for the position. [Company Name] will retain your resume on file in case our recruiting requirements change.

Please feel free to call our office if you have any questions regarding our decision making process.




Dear [IWI]:

Thank you very much for spending almost two hours in our office inputting all of the information from your resume into our system and taking 6 different computer tests: one personality test; one cognitive ability test that we cautioned you would kick you out after six minutes but you finished in about 4; one Excel test, low-ability; one Word test, low-ability; one Windows test, remedial level; one Outlook test to see if you know how to send email. We appreciate you sitting in the conference room with the phone ringing and our very nice but ill-dressed and barely skilled receptionist fumbling through explaining her job (the job that you would be doing when we promote her) to you. We are sorry that we did not note, at any time, that the job includes reception duties.

Although you possess many of the qualifications we are looking for, we realize now that we should have better read your resume and that in doing so, we would have then known exactly how completely and utterly overqualified you are for this position. We are sorry for not posting any information in our newspaper advertisement, as having done so would have saved both of us time and energy. We have identified other candidates who we feel are a better match for the position, as they seem to have no problem answering phones and making coffee. Also, they do not feel the need to edit the reports produced by the “professionals.” [Company Name] will retain your resume for further consideration, should we have a position that would better suit your skills.

I’m still a receptionist until I find a suitable replacement.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Saint Barbara I'm calling your name.

Please - cross your fingers, pray or do whatever it is you do. I just had an interview for a job that wasn't yet posted at one of my favorite places in Pittsburgh. My friend S send me an ad for position A for which I sent my cover letter and resume. They contacted me within 24 hours (!!!) and offered an interview for position B - a position that I really would love to have. It seemed to go very well and I'm hoping that everyone else thought so as well. Of course I thought of a million things to ask . . . on my way home.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I think you got something in those cigarettes.

AKA, the placement agency blues.

In addition to a resume, placement agencies (and sometimes companies) make you fill out forms with almost the exact same information on them, but in tiny spaces and handwritten (read: messy) instead of typed. (Suggestion: why not have a form for people without resumes to fill out and one for people with resumes that includes only the few extra questions?) Invariably, there are inappropriate questions on these forms. During my most recent trip to a placement agency (Monday), I was given a two-sided half sheet of yellow cardstock to fill out. After the first three inappropriate questions, I began to take notes. The following is the resulting list:

1. Birth Date
2. Height
3. Weight
4. Home: Rent or Own
5. Have Auto (this didn’t bother me but the second part did) Type and Year
6. Smoker: Yes or No
7. Family: Spouse’s Name, Children’s Names and Ages

I could write 10 pages about why these are wrong. But I won’t because you’ll just be bored and stop reading.

Then comes the interview. Mine was interrupted twice, and each time I had to go back to the waiting area and wait. The office is full of sections like large alcoves each with four oversized desks pushed together so there is no privacy whatsoever. Everyone around can hear everyone else, including the interviewees. If this agency hadn’t placed me in a great job years ago, I would have walked out.

Then they made me take FOUR tests. At least I could do them from home. Or so I thought. The typing test (yes, I said it) was accessible, but of course I got a lower score than I wanted. Maybe that was because I was sitting on my bed with my laptop on my lap. Not in the most desirable typing position, but I haven’t moved things back into the other room (with a “desk” and chairs) because the ceiling has yet to be finished. Why I felt competitive about a typing test, I’ll never know. My advice to most people is to never let anyone know you can type. It’s true. Don’t.

The other three (Word, Excel and PowerPoint) were not accessible BECAUSE I HAVE A MAC. When I called to tell them, I had to explain it because they didn’t know. They then had me make an appointment to come in and take the tests there. Damn, I’d have to go back downtown in the middle of the day, this time taking the bus ($1.75 each way) instead of paying $11 to park. (Note: Regardless of footwear and proximity to destination, do not park in the Kaufmann’s/Macy’s garage during the day, choose the PPG or the Blvd. of the Allies garage.) I then remembered that H sometimes works from home and has a PC. So I called and walked over to her place to take the other three tests.

Woe to me for not reviewing the “tutorials.” Apparently, the system waned me to do things their way, not necessarily my way. So I lost points because I think differently than the testers. Actually, I’m glad for that. Not so sure I want to think like the test makers. But I’m guessing that if I had reviewed the tutorials, they might have told me how I was supposed to answer. Wow, I'm acting like I care and believe that they will come up with a job that I might actually want.

Next post: my Saturday night with the early 20-somethings.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I'm gonna have to go with whoever's gonna get me the highest

On hold for the placement agency woman and therefore listening to “Smooth” by whatever that mid-90s band was and that Santana guy. I know that she doesn’t want to deal with me and my resume chock full of random experience and my salary requirements and the half hour that we’ll have to spend talking with each other. I have too much experience for anyone to take a chance on hiring me as an admin

Digression re: hiring an overqualified admin
1. I really will leave for a better offer, unfortunately, that is extremely unlikely. Note current job search.
2. I have too many skills to let them push me around like I’m 18 and scared with a GED and associates degree from secretarial school.
3. What company wants to “work” to keep admin/keep admin happy? We are expendable.
4. Nobody REALLY cares if we’re good or not. As a matter of fact, they really want us to be “skilled” (aka know our way around Microsoft Office and answer the damn phone) but stupid (no asking questions or noticing inequities).
5. An admin with a B.A. does not want to make your fucking coffee.

and not enough for anyone to take the chance of hiring me for something more. We both know that this is a waste of our time, but it’s our job to go through the motions.

On a lighter note, Armando is about a foot away from me and twitching as he dreams in the late afternoon sun.