Monday, January 05, 2009

11 Days of Fail: Day 4

In 2008, I had eight job interviews and eight rejections, making me the Michael Phelps of Failure. For those of you who are new to the sweatpant-clad shambles I call my life, I've spent the better part of two years 'freelancing', which is what people with a B.A. call 'unemployed and spelunking the sofa cushions in the hopes you'll find enough crumbs to make a whole tater tot'.

Despite having to scrimp and pinch like the Quimby family, largely subsisting on the types of prefab foods that most people only crack out of the can during when the power goes out, I've really only missed having a for-real job on three occasions:

1) During Fantasy Football season. At my last office, my team "Angelina Ate My Babies" was a two-time champ, riding the meaty legs of LaDanian Tomlinson to both victory and an engraved paperweight that was sadly abandoned in a dusty corner of my cubicle as I hurriedly collected my belongings and allowed the HR director to escort me out of the building.

2) The time my sister came to visit and, shortly before leaving, excused herself to the guest bathroom where she quietly unwrapped an entire roll of Pillsbury Brownie Batter and dropped it in the toilet. She was halfway home when I found it and I immediately regretted that I no longer had an office where I could do the same thing. I also regretted not taking pictures.

3) Every time I have to buy toilet paper. Offices are always full of oversized rolls that--if you take the time to pluck them from their plastic orphanages--are ready to be taken to a loving home. Granted, it's almost as cottony soft as a handful of aquarium gravel, but it gets the job done. Kind of.

Just because I'm skeeved by All Things Office, from the unflattering fluorescent lighting to the breakrooms that offer nothing but bleach-scented tables and signup sheets for day trips to the yarn factory, that doesn't mean I stopped looking for work, even the kind that requires an embroidered vest and less personal hygiene than I'm accustomed to, as this journal entry reminded me.

January 16, 2008
"Went to Borders to check on my application. Talked to the manager and may have blown it by using the word 'temporary' but tried to recover by throwing in a bit about 'but if I like it I'll stay forever like it's that hotel from The Shining'. He's supposed to call me for an interview but I'm not optimistic."
Anyway Oh Eight started with the prospect of a jobby job at a photography studio as a coordinator, which--other than terminated--is the word that appears most frequently on my resume. They called me for an interview on a Sunday afternoon at their studio on the darker side of downtown where the graffiti is misspelled and and the litter is from off-brand products.

I smeared on some eyeshadow and wriggled into my nice pants--the pair that hasn't been stained with EZ Cheez and disappointment--and hoped I'd land somewhere between 'impressive' and 'pathetic' which is what the forty words in the classifieds seemed to crave.

The owners, a married pair of photogs with equally abstract names and matching pairs of chunky eyeglasses--the ones people wear because they can't scrawl "LOOK HOW CREATIVE I AM!" on their foreheads--were cordial but cold and immediately expressed some hesitation when they learned how long I'd been out of work.

We ticked through the standard questions about my experience, my education and why I had a dryer sheet clinging to my left breast before digging into what they called the "meat and potatoes" of the interview. My "meat", they said, would be to manage the studio and prepare it for their client, a local manufacturer of multi-packs of socks and underwear. The male photog--I'll call 'im Testes--quietly asked if I would be comfortable with partial male nudity, which is a question I haven't heard since prom.

I nodded. "Sure, I'm cool with meat," I said, scratching at my face trying to find the UNDO button.

The "Potatoes" of my day would take place in the kitchen, Ovary (the she-tographer, natch) said, leading me to a well-appointed room in the back of the building. It was all stainless steel and granite, the type of spread showcased in ads in magazines for the kind of life I don't have. Testes pulled a complicated looking bowl out of the dishwasher and grabbed a bag of fruit from the fridge. "Arrange these," he said, dumping several varieties of apples and a couple of oranges onto the counter.

" a picture?" I asked, an honest question.

"No," Testes said with a roll of his eyes that was exaggerated by his Douche Bigalow glasses. "For our clients to eat."

"Well, uh, OK," I said, immediately dropping an apple and kicking it across the floor. "Obviously, I can juggle too." I gave them a smile faker than Ovary's tits.

"Wash that," Testes said as I retrieved the apple from under the counter. I rinsed it, dried it on my sweater and stared hard at the bowl, like I expected it to grow feet and race back to Crate & Barrel. I approached it from a couple of angles before making a haphazard fruit pyramid, presenting it with a fluttery hand gesture I'd seen either on QVC or at a funeral. They nodded, saying nothing.

"Now. Coffee," Ovary said deciding that my feeble mind couldn't handle sentences with a subject and a predicate. She shoved an unopened package of French Roast at me and I dutifully answered questions about my typing abilities while fumbling with the grinder, unceremoniously dumping the beans into the machine. I was so sorry I'd changed tampons for this.

As the coffee brewed, they asked about several items on my resume. "And why did you leave your last job?" one of them asked.

"They, um, let me go." I said because I love both euphemisms and lying. "Downsized."

"And the one prior?" Ovary poured a cup of coffee, grimacing after the first sip. She'd barely swallowed before she emptied the rest into the sink, handing me her mug to wash.

And that's when I gave up.

"That place? Got fired. Stole a sofa from the lobby."

Ovary sighed as Testes bravely poured coffee into a mug with their picture on it.

"Well. OK then," he said, choking down a swig of coffee and taking Ovary's cup from me. "We appreciate your giving us your Sunday. We'll be in touch."

He pressed a hand into my lower back, guiding me toward the door with more force than necessary. We were halfway down the hall when I heard the sound of several pieces of fruit plopping onto the floor and rolling across the reclaimed wood. Isaac Newton, for the win.

Neither one of them would shake my hand as we stood on the sidewalk. I didn't care. They watched as I backed into their sign as I left, knocking it into a small patch of grass where their logo--a cat's face--stared at me with the same dead expressions I was getting from them.

I didn't stop.


X-Country2 said...

I can't imagine who they finally did hire. I say you dodged that bullet. Good luck in '09!

DiaryofWhy said...

I aspire to this level of fail. Keep up the good work!

Arielle said...

You should have thrown the coffee in their faces.

Beth said...

Well, then, you need to start sporting 8 of these:

Beth said...

Ah, let's make that URL a little easier to manage:

lacochran said...

I HATE interviews with tests. Screw 'em.

~ ryeginald said...

I am SO RELIEVED I am not the only "Freelancer" of this ilk. Thank you for making feel slightly less bad about myself.... until the next mass-job-rejection e-mail.

c.watson said...

I too am looking for a job. I never honestly answer that I left my last place of employment because I got into a screaming match with my bitch of a boss who then was too scared to fire me herself so had to have someone else do it. But it sounds like your interview was tons of fun.

Angela said...

I'll have you know that over the course of the past two weeks I read your ENTIRE blog, in chronological order, from first fail to the last. There is only one other blogger that I have done this for (Mrs. Mimi from It's Not All Flowers and Sausages). I tend to skim over most blogs looking for the meat, but I go line by line on your blog because your word choices are so apt (eg, someone looking like rotten squash). How do you come up with this stuff?!

I'm sounding a bit like a mentally unsound stalker, but this is my first comment since discovering your blog a few months ago, so I might as well make it a memorable one and confess my deepest feelings. I actually miss you when you don't post for a few days. Please don't issue a restraining order against me, k?

You are one talented writer. Seriously. Best of luck to you professionally and personally. I will now make an attempt at having a personal life that doesn't involve a stranger who once chronicled her failures as a shoe store employee. Ouch. Now THAT's pathetic. Whew, I feel better.

Mike said...

Those two sound like they belong together. They're saving two other people from a life of misery.

jax said...

"I was so sorry I'd changed tampons for this."

LOL...that is good. close to a 'total waste of makeup' but even better.

Butter Chicken said...

Did you get the job?

theloosemoose said...

Chin up, J-Money. You are far too talented to stay unemployed. If you charged a nickel a laugh you'd be a multibajillionaire. You've even made me eager to menstruate, just so that i can steal your tampon line!!! (Not your actual tampon "line", like the stringy hangy thing, 'cause stealing that would be both unhygienic and seriously bizarre. But "I was sorry I'd changed tampons for this" - THAT line!

Sharon, The Queen Blogger said...

I gave up my thriving interior design business to start my blogging career [please insert air quotes]. My mother can't even say blog without making it sound like Blaaghh!

She keeps asking me "how do I get into the Blaaghh?" as if its an underground bunker for lunatics. And it is.

emmysuh said...

I'm going to say that you were straight up better off spending time watching reruns and eating Vienna Sausages than working for those Artistes.

chia said...


So this is what I have to look forward to in the life of unemployment.


Rachel said...

Check out my latest blog entry. It's not funny, but maybe encouraging. Or maybe it'll be fodder for a joke.

Dexter Colt said...

Oh, I DARE someone to ask me to arrange some fruit during a job interview. Bring it on.

Good Girl Gone Blog said...

real-jobbies (not to be confused with real-boobies) are totally overrated. With lines like "she dropped an entire roll of Pillsbury Brownie Batter in the toilet," Hollywood is sure to come a knockin'. :-)

As usual, loved this post.

Beamer said...

those fail stains are a bitch. my best pants were covered with them in my last city of employment.

Leah said...

This is one of the most hilarious post I have stumbled across.

I marked your blog awhile back in my cool blogs to visit when I have free time folder, I'm so glad I clicked on yours today!

I'm officially going to make the effort of adding your blog to my reader!

GYL said...

Being an Aussie I was a bit confused about the brownie batter bit, like 'was that an euphemism? or did she really put batter down the dunny?' LOL

Changing tampons - pure gold!

Now I am just trying to figure if you really stole a sofa ;) (too much sun addles the brain)

punchlinewalking said...

How awful would it be to work there? And is it bad that I'm happy there are still 7 more days of fail? Happy New year!

Andy said...

"Sure I'm cool with meat." You should've ran with that- a good sexual undertone can be a game changer.

If you want to take a break from your fail, stop by my site today and receive some minor glory, award style.

margie said...

i prefer to wait for the opportunity to do the interviewing. i just don't give good interview so i have given up and now i stay at home.

Tony said...

As a fellow "freelancer," i found this hilarious. Hopefully you will get a job soon, and one that fully uses your talents, not some crappy admin job.

J-Money said...

x-country2: I hope the actual hire liked wiping up spills, organizing the fridge, and working for schmucks.

diaryofwhy: It takes YEARS to become this inept at life.

arielle: I think the way it tasted was probably punishment enough.

beth: Obviously, I'll be going to Kinko's and printing several of those babies out.

lacochran: I hope the other candidates were challenged to use a Swiffer WetJet or to wipe from front to back.

ryeginald: Freelancers need to stick together! Especially if you'll share your ramen with me.

c.watson: Ryeginald and I have some ramen for you.

angela: That is quite possibly the nicest thing anyone's ever said to me. Please come back.

mike: Sometimes the universe provides. And sometimes it crams two intolerable people into the same organic burlap tote.

jax: If this happened today, I think the phrase would be "I'm sorry I got out of my Snuggie for this."

butter chicken: Well obviously. Why wouldn't I?

the loose moose: Um. Thanks! Thanks? Yes, thanks.

sharon: My mother uses the same tone, although she makes "blog" rhyme with "I'm not sure why you had to go to a liberal arts university for this."

emmysuh: Although it's spelled "Artistes" it's pronounced "Insufferable Wankers".

chia: C'mon in, the unemployment's great!

rachel: If your husband continues to talk to pieces of ham, you may want to contact the authorities.

dexter colt: From now on, I'm making it a prerequisite at interviews. "Oh sure, I'd be glad to come in, but you'd better have some bananas and a handful of apricots waiting for me."

good girl gone blog: Hollywood doesn't have to knock. I told it where I keep the spare key. Confidential to Hollywood: WHERE ARE YOU?

beamer: I know, right? Dockers Stain Defenders my ass.

leah: YES! I'm out of the folder and into the reader. SUCK IT, OTHER BLOGGERS.

gyl: No, it was actual brownie batter and not a euphemism for, um, toilet brownies. And no, I didn't steal the sofa, but only because my trunk wasn't big enough.

P.S. Do Aussies call them trunks? In the back of the car? Or is it a boot? A flinger? A blinkie? WHAT IS IT?

punchline walking: We'll be lucky if there are just seven more days of fail. This could go on for another, oh, 29 years.

andy: I was unaware that there was any other type of glory. Thanks in advance for thinking of me. I love you, in the creepiest internet way possible.

margie: I think I've just made this my latest resolution. "Stay home until I am interviewing my own employees".

tony: Here's hoping my talents involve making out with Hugh Laurie.

mrs. mary mack said...

LOL Dammit I love your blog and I love your "tweets" on Twitter even more!

Steve Stenzel said...

I'm sorry, but "Michael Phelps of Failure" is FUNNY!

Good luck out there!!

Jamie said...

This is a bit off subject, but I really was just thinking the other day about the Quimby family and why the author decided to make them so poor. The dad was the manager of the frozen food section of a supermarket, I think? And I remember that the mom had to wear a second-(third, fourth?) hand maternity dress to her own sister's wedding. Some nonsense about "a neighborhood only needs one nice maternity dress" or something. Does this really make poor people feel any better about themselves? And then I became frightened of how many specific details I remember about the Ramona books I read 20 years ago. And now you probably are, too.

inflammatory writ said...

Anyone who makes a Ramona Quimby reference wins the internet in my book!

amindinmotown said...

Ah, "freelancing." Sounds more fun than working for those two at least.

Sharon, The Queen Blogger said...

Oh, you are going to be so jealous ... my son is going to work for a mortuary. Can you imagine how much material you could skim off a place like that? Not to mention, it pays pretty well.

Why don't you look into it. How are you at applying pancake foundation?

Liam said...

I used to work at a hospital where supposedly the comfort of the patient was the top priority... I say supposedly because they continue to stock the sandpaper TP and kleenex... wtf?

GYL said...

We call it a boot. But we know what a trunk is ;) Although to us a trunk is more like a storage a chest. Something you woulda taken on the Titanic.

Well, I am glad that your trunk size prevented you from entering into a life of crime....or did it?

....also my dad is a pom and he calls his bathers/swimmers/togs/swim-suit/budgie smugglers/swimming costume 'swimming trunks' Riiight.

KT said...

Thanks for the mega-laugh. And I may regret asking this, but I don't think it is an entirely stupid question: Did you really steal a sofa?

Tracer Bullet said...

I got fired from my job at the Burlington County Times (eat a dick, Ron Martin) because I called Ron a flamenco dancer. Now I make $10,000 more per year and my job is sending me to San Francisco next week.

"I'm cool with the meat." I would have hired you right then and there.

WendyB said...

The stain of disappointment is so hard to get out of clothes. I recommend soaking them in cold water for an hour.

mehorsecrazy123 said...

Your link to the Quimby family wikipedia page took me right back to 4th grade.

Thanks. Good luck finding employment! :)

*Akilah Sakai* said...

"I was so sorry I'd changed tampons for this."

First time visit and what a welcome! You are a fan-freakin'-tastic writer I must say (but I'm sure you already know that well).

This post was hilarious. It's always a pleasure to wake up and have a good laugh!

Teej said...

You succeed at the fail! Not to mention you are a good sport about it. I'd have thrown her mug in the trash.

This was the funniest thing I've read all day.

Brandon Szuminsky said...

Frankly, I'm just glad I'm not the only one who cleans up with aquarium supplies after using the bathroom...

Anonymous said...

You suck at life.

Mike said...

So the person that thinks you're no good at life doesn't even have a name. Talk about life dumping on you. "Can I have a name please?" NOPE!

Miss Cellaneous said...

I awarded you the Premio Dardos Award. See here:

Errant Gosling said...

That was the funniest thing I have read in quite a while. Well done, and thank you. said...

I am horrified. Don't get me wrong, I've been laughing for the past however long it took to read this - but equally horrified. It's people like that who give "creatives" a bad name.

Booga said...

It greatly saddens me to come across such a witty, entertaining blog only to have it ruined by statements such as this:
"on the darker side of downtown where the graffiti is misspelled...".

J-Money said...

booga: There's nothing implied with my description of the studio's location other than it's in a bad part of town. If you found something in that paragraph that "saddens" you, you're looking way too hard and projecting something onto the page that isn't there.

In the future, I'd appreciate that you didn't make (incorrect) assumptions about my intentions. I'm a comic, not a social critic. Additionally, if anyone else has this kind of concern, feel free to email me directly at thetyping [at] gmail [dot] com.

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