Tag Archive | customers

Pounding More Than Pavement: My Frustrations of Job Searching

Unless you’re looking for work, there’s no way you could understand how difficult it can be just to find a decent job.

If I submit 20 applications in a week, you would think that at least one of those would result in an interview, right? It’s a 5 percent success rate. That’s what I hope for, and I’ve turned up empty-handed.

The hardest part is just filling out the application. I have to fill out information for at least 8 different jobs, more if I want to list repeat performances at the same employer. Some places expect a phone number and the name of a manager. My work history spans over 12 years, and includes a store that filed for bankruptcy and closed. At least one of my past supervisors has retired, while others have moved around to different store locations and others have just moved on to other companies. And then, one of my more recent employers happens to be the brother of my ex fiancĂ©, so I’m nervous about any biases he might have against me. If I have to fill out an application where I can’t just import data from somewhere else, I’m spending an hour flipping between tabs in Firefox just to review all of my employment information, with another tab to Google for phone numbers for all of these jobs. And to be honest, I really don’t remember exactly what I had been getting paid, other than my lowest has been $6.25 an hour and my highest has been $12 per hour.

My experience puts me in a bad spot. I have a lot of experience as a sales associate and cashier working in retail environments. I don’t have a lot of management experience. For some places, I’m going to be seen as overqualified. With my experience, I could ask for higher wages. Unfortunately, companies could hire someone who they can pay less. So if I apply for a low-rung management job, I’m up against people with more management experience than I have, which looks better to an employer. In that sense, I’m actually unqualified. It’s like the fact that I have an Associates degree, in that I’m not seen as qualified for a position that requires a Bachelors degree even if I do have the knowledge and experience required.

So if I’m not getting interviews, it looks like I haven’t done anything.

That’s when people step in and offer advice, such as, “have you tried actually pounding pavement? Some places won’t post their jobs online.”

Thank you! I did spend a day trying to pound pavement. Between four different Asian restaurants, I filled out one application, left my name and phone number at two locations, and at the fourth location I was told they weren’t hiring and just sent away. I figured an Asian restaurant would give me an excuse to work on my Japanese, possibly even whipping up okonomiyaki in the kitchen if I was able.

At another restaurant, I asked for an application and was handed one to fill out, and then I was told to complete the form outside of the establishment. This was in the afternoon, and the restaurant was absolutely not busy, so they could have allowed me to sit at their bar or one of their tables and made it look like they were working. I’m fairly certain that my application was filed in the circular filing cabinet anyway, just based on how the one waitress acted towards me.

“Well do you have any waitressing skills?” No, but I could be a dishwasher, or I could bus tables. Does it matter what my skills are? You probably asked me to apply everywhere that was hiring, even though I’ve been trying to find work related to things I know I can do.

Which brings me to my next issue, and that’s the people who act like there is someone, somewhere, who is handing out jobs, but they can’t seem to tell you who that person is. I’m already dealing with my own thoughts about my debt, the bills I have to pay, the ways I’ve probably messed up an application, the fact that I’m not getting phone calls for interviews. Adding to my stress by making me feel like I’m not already spending enough time on job applications, or that I must be making mistakes that no normal person would ever make, is not helping my situation.

And then there’s McDonald’s.

Anyone who suggests that I should work at McDonald’s is the most infuriating person I could meet. I’m not saying the work is beneath me. I will say that there are easier positions that pay more. I just worked at a call center, getting paid $11 to sit in front of a computer and call people. If they were angry, I just had to hear them complain before they hung up the phone as forcefully as they could manage. If I work at McDonald’s, I might be lucky to make $9 an hour, but I certainly won’t be given a full-time shift of 40 hours a week. If I get 20 hours a week, I’ll have to deal with the possibility of hot grease burns on my skin, I’ll have to deal with customers who are irate,…

Actually, let’s talk about McDonald’s customers. People who unleash their temper over an ingredient being put on a burger that they didn’t want, even though they’re not allergic to that ingredient. People who throw things at the employees because things didn’t go their way. People who say the workers are incompetent, even if they make simple mistakes that can easily be fixed if the customer had any patience. People who leave their trash on the tables because they don’t feel like picking up after themselves.

A $2 cut in pay and being scheduled for half as many hours is not worth having to deal with all of that. I’d rather work at the porn store and deal with an armed robbery. If you work in fast food, I really hope the minimum wage goes up and you get paid what you deserve.

If you were wondering, I’ve been trying to work with staffing agencies as well. My last staffing agency hasn’t returned my call after I found a position I was interested in applying for. I just met with another staffing agency today which has two positions lined up that would work with my skills. I’m hoping for that to be my silver lining in all of this, and even if it’s not a permanent position, it should hopefully be something to get me back on my feet for a little while.

I want to be more than I am. I just need an opportunity to show what I can do in the meantime.


Do Not Feed The Cashiers

It’s said we’re going to get freezing rain today, but so far the temperature outside hasn’t been cold enough for the rain to freeze. While I was eating lunch and gazing out the window, I watched a man walk along the side of the road with an umbrella over his head and wearing a light brown jacket. The jacket looked similar to one worn by a customer who made himself known to me when I worked at Wegmans.

Most of my time spent at Wegmans was working the cash register. One time, I was needed to cover a shift for someone who worked in the cafe area, and I did so well that most of my hours were shifted to that area of the store.

The cafe area has a buffet where you can fill a box and pay based on how much the filled box weighs. You can also get cold bottles of soda and water, slices of pizza, submarine sandwiches, and can even have a small number of regular groceries cashed out (like if you ran in for a few things for a party, then picked up your pizza and wanted to pay for everything at the same time). If you wanted to stay and eat, there were a few tables near the registers and more seating in an area that was directly above the cafe and prepared foods area.

As is true with working anywhere, there were regular customers, and you could almost set a watch or tell the day of the week by when you saw them. A number of senior citizens came in the morning or early afternoon and would stay a while. Once the lunch rush slowed down, the tables were covered in crumbs, random drops of soup or some kind of drink, newspapers or magazines, and sometimes wrappers or packages or whole trays with garbage. Customers were supposed to clean their own messes, but of course it fell onto us cashiers to clean up for the ones who, for whatever reason, couldn’t be bothered to do so. It was while I was cleaning up post-lunch that I had an elderly guy stop me and ask me about going to the dance club at the biggest casino in the area. He suggested that I should go with friends, and I just nodded and told him that was a good idea and that I’d consider it. I didn’t think much about it, as he had pointed out an ad for the club in the newspaper, and I just figured he was giving me ideas of how I should unwind after work.

I saw the guy a few more times after that. He would always come in during or just after the lunch rush, he’d sit down with a newspaper and some food, and he would just hang out until he felt like leaving. He’d ask how I was doing, sometimes asking again about going to the dance club. One time, he asked about taking me there, and I politely declined. Again, I didn’t think much of it, as he was being nice and making conversation, and maybe I just misheard him. After all, he was easily in his eighties, and his voice wasn’t loud and clear anymore.

It wasn’t around Valentine’s Day, but one day he came over to my register while I worked in the cafe and he set a bag on the counter in front of me. There was something in the Wegmans bag, and he said it was for me. I didn’t open the bag, but I pressed the plastic of the bag against the object held inside. There was a Whitman’s Sampler box of chocolates.

I told him I couldn’t accept it, that I wouldn’t take it. After my protest, he grabbed the bag and walked away, slumping a bit as if defeated and especially as if rejected. That’s when I realized my suspicions were true, that it wasn’t just that he was being nice, he actually wanted to date me. Up to that moment, I didn’t want to assume that was the case, because why would an octogenarian want someone who’s in her late twenties but looks like she’s in her early twenties? Okay, I know a few reasons. The most awkward part of it all wasn’t just his age, but it was also that he was older than Mom who was still alive at that time. So there was no way that I was going to be interested in this guy, and I figured it was safer to assume he was always just being nice.

There were actually moments when he would look for me when I was on a regular register, just to see if I was working that day. I don’t remember if he was still doing that after I rejected him. I just remember that every time I saw him after I refused his gift, he still looked depressed.

After a while, I didn’t see him anymore. Either he changed his routine so he didn’t have to see me, or maybe he passed away. I don’t know anything about him, to be honest. I never asked for his name, and I don’t know if he was ever married or if he had a family. But as far as I was concerned, he was a customer, and I only had to be nice to him as long as it didn’t interfere with my work. But it did make things awkward to be around him, so for that alone I’m glad that I don’t have to see him anymore at all.

There will be others. Not for me, hopefully, but there will be other older guys hitting on younger women with the expectation that something will come of it. I don’t blame the guys for trying, but it bothers me when they act like one woman is their last and only hope for happiness, or they assume that they will be the last guy that woman could ever want. I’ve only been around for three decades so far, and I haven’t met anyone who could fulfill all my wants or needs. Not to mention, there’s that fantasy version of a person, where you picture them as your perfect other half; the real thing is never as you hoped it would be anyway. You can either be disappointed by rejection, or when you realize your fantasy isn’t what you dreamed, but it’s always best not to make your disappointment the issue that another person has to deal with. That’s my biggest complaint.

Now that the sun is setting, any rain we get might start to freeze. Whoever that guy was earlier, I hope he’s inside now. It didn’t seem like the elderly customer I had, but I still wouldn’t wish the worst for him, even if he did make me uncomfortable.