Monday, January 31, 2005

Job-hunt Blues

Poppy's journal got me thinking about the suckitude of job hunting, so I'll say my say.

I was at an interview last week, but don't ask me why I went. The company is located in Concordville, which is not only the middle of nowhere but is also a 30-mile drive from my home. True, I currently work in Nowhereville, but at least I drive only 10 miles to it. Anyway, during the interview, the interviewer admitted that it's a conservative environment in which employee advancement is based more on the number of hours worked than on the quality of the work produced in all that time.

Now, obviously I don't want to work in a place that rewards attendance over performance, but the question that was foremost on my mind was this: Why would she tell me that? Does she think I'm going to say to myself, "Now THERE'S the work ethic for me!" And this chick was the boss's daughter! Honey, don't take a job in advertising, because you sure did a crap job selling your dad's company. I'm grateful for this ineptness, believe me (saves me a bad employment experience), but it makes you wonder how she recruits anyone besides people who are naive, desperate, or foolish.

Another thing that pisses me off in terms of job hunting is when employees ask you to submit a salary history with your initial letter and resume. That's pretty personal information if you ask me, and although I'll reveal it on a job application, I point-blank refuse to do it in a letter to a person whom I may never meet. Besides, there is exactly one reason why an employer wants to know this: So they can screw you. They want to get an idea just how little you'll accept, and then aim a bit lower than that. Bastards.

Still, job-seekers gather 'round, for there's revenge to be had. You know all those on-the-spot questions interviewers pose you? Well, two can play at that game, and I always grab the dice and throw. I believe firmly in asking the same kind of questions, which make interviewers squirm and give me a happy. Here's a sample of the kind of stuff I ask:

- When I was a legal administrator, my supervisory philosophy was to empower people to do their jobs and then get out of their way. What's your philosophy?

- Obviously, you're recruiting not just a set of technical skills, but a person with qualities and mannerisms, etc. What kind of person best fits into this corporate culture?

- Can you tell me about the last time you had to reprimand an employee, and how you handled it?

I guarantee that these questions, and others like 'em, are guaranteed to make interviewers squirm, and that's always fun. Given that you're not likely to get the job, you may as well enjoy yourself at the interview, right?

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Open letter to pedestrians

Before I get started, let me point out that I am a a Center City dweller who walks at least four miles a day, so I qualify as a frequent pedestrian. With that being said...

Dear pedestrians:

In case you weren't aware, when wet snow is falling on frozen streets, it is difficult for my small, light car to get traction on those streets. That means that, no matter how slowly and safely I drive, quick stopping is problematical. Therefore, when you dart out in front of my car you are risking both your health and my driving record. If you do so and I hit you, I will phone the ambulance and see to your immediate needs but be otherwise blithely unconcerned with anything but said driving record, which to this date is flawless.

Isn't that snotty of me? Too bad! I drove like a grandma yesterday, never exceeding 20 mph on the city streets, staying alert and ultra-safe, and the damned jaywalkers still nearly gave me a heart attack. I like walking and support those who do it, but I really, really wish they'd not take such obviously foolish risks. Blech.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Yummy food

Fettucini Alfredo: Dan made some of this last night, and not by adding milk to the yellow powder, as I would. He used an egg and cream and cheese and other stuff. It was munchalicious.

Tacos: I'm not a fan of Mexican food, but I can eat tacos like, well, something you can eat alot of.

Chicken: The nice thing about chicken is that it can be prepared in so many ways. It can be fried, baked, sauteed, cutleted, and much, much more, and all of it tasty. (Yes, I said "cutleted." Shut up.)

Pizza: Unlike most, I don't buy that when pizza is bad, it's good. When it's bad it's pretty fucking terrible in my opinion, but when it's right...oh yes. Dan and I had some in Boston last September than was to die for. We didn't, though. Die. Just in case you were worried.

Vegetables: These are usually best steamed, but raw is good too. Nothing like a fresh salad of green leaf lettuce with cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes, cucumbers and carrots, with perhaps a bit of chicken thrown in for good measure. Just a bit, though; no club salads for me, thanks.

Bread: Much to Dr. Atkins' horror, I am a big fan of bread, and I can even make a decent loaf from scratch. Not with a namby-pamby breadmaker, either, but with my own, non-namby hands. I've been in known to bake a loaf just in time for dinner and have bread and butter only. That's enough.

Friday, January 21, 2005

It's that time again.

Since we've gotten our first snow warning of the season, people are engaging in snow-talk, which as I have said before annoys me way more than it should.

First, let's talk about the inane comments like "Ready for snow?" How does one respond to this? For that matter, how does one really prepare for snow? Run out and buy canned goods so that when six inches falls you'll have something to eat until the rescue squad doesn't come and dig you out of nothing? We live in a major metropolitan area in the most powerful country in the world, which means that the vast majority of us have little to fear from a half-foot of snow. I know that, no matter what happens, I'll be able to face the horror of snowy boots so that I can get to Acme to pick up my Lucky Charms. Really.

Now, there are the amateur forecasts, which get increasingly dire as the day draws near. In the morning you'll hear 2-4 inches, which by lunch will have become 6-8 inches, and by closing time will be the worst winter weather since the Ice Age. Very little of it is backed by any meteorological evidence, but it's repeated with an almost breathless excitement. I don't get it. Snow will fall or it won't, and we'll get what we get. Therefore, people, talking about snow does nothing except piss me off, and unlike snow, I might actually kill you. And all the milk and bread in the world won't protect you.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

A nun teaches me about faith.

Sister Helen Prejean, as you may know, is the author of Dead Man Walking, and was played by Susan Sarandon in the movie of the same name. I heard her interviewed on NPR yesterday, and thought, “Hmm…I’ll have to read her new book.” When I heard she was speaking at the Free Library of Philadelphia that very evening, I decided to go hear her speak. I’m glad I did.

Like me, she’s ardently against the death penalty, but unlike me, she has lots of first-hand experience with the way the death penalty is meted out and how it works. However, that’s not what so impressed me about her. During the hour she spoke, I was transfixed by her eloquence, her warmth, and her tart Louisiana wit. She’s a Catholic nun, but the words she spoke rang true in this atheist’s heart. You can read a PBS interview with her, if you like.

I have lots of Catholic friends, some of whom are quite devout, but until last night I never really understood why they believed as they do. When I left the library I thought, “So this is why people are Catholic!” What I heard from Sister Prejean was not the tired old vote-against-gay-marriage-and-ban-abortion nonsense you get from this or that bishop, but a real, substantive message of hope and community redemption. I also thought, “Why is this woman speaking at a library on a Tuesday night, and not from her seat on the floor of the Senate?”

Anyway, the evening was a real eye-opener for me on the power of true faith. Truth be told, if there were more Sister Prejeans and fewer Cardinal O’Connors, both the Catholic Church and the world would be better served. I’m tempted to say that she makes me want to convert, but I’m still not on board with the God thing, and I understand that’s kind of an impediment to being Catholic.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Fun things I have done

Visiting the CN Tower. This sucker's in Toronto, and it's tall. Near the top you can stand on this glass floor and look directly down to the street way, way below. I don't care for heights, and it took me a long time to walk out on that glass so that the ceiling camera could get a picture of me and my traveling companions. The sign proclaiming that the glass could support the weight of fourteen hippos did not reassure me in the least, but it did get me wondering how the signmakers know that.

HersheyPark. Yeah, I know it's commercial and all that, but it was a place with rides and chocolate. I confess that I'm not the world's best roller-coaster rider; for me, the fun-terror ratio is nearly 1-1, so my appetite for such experiences is limited. However, I rode three that day, which for me is about ten years' worth.

Ultimate Tournament. Some years back, the gay Ultimate group to which I used to belong entered in a charity tournament out in Oaks, PA, that benefitted Siloam. It was ridiculous as we knew nothing, I mean nothing, about the game, so we were promptly and unceremoniously trounced in three separate games. Still, we were voted Spirit Winners of the division, probably because a) everyone else felt sorry for us; and b) we suffered three crushing defeats and never stopped smiling. We never stopped smiling because we had a great time.

Visiting the Beach on Christmas. I don't care much for Florida, but tromping around a beach in shorts and bare feet on December 25 is pretty darn cool. Dan and I chased the surf down the beach, and then were chased back up by the returning surf, and we dug holes that the sea smoothed away. I can't say it was a great weekend, but it was a great trip to the beach.

Chinese Food in Canada. During the aforementioned Toronto trip, my traveling companions and I found a wonderful Chinese restaurant in, of all places, a strip mall. The food was great, and so was the company. We got laughing over something that wouldn't seem funny if I repeated it here, but it kept us in stitches for ages, and can still break us up to this day.

I've done more fun things than this, but my fingers are getting tired.