Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Other People’s Job Interviews

Dear Diary,

This afternoon, I entered the Starbucks where I'm supposed to be interviewed tomorrow. I saw a young man and a young woman in Starbucks uniforms talking to one another at one of the tables.

ME: Hi, my name is Eric. I have an interview here tomorrow.

They both looked up at me, eyes wide.

YOUNG MAN: Hi, I'm Keith, the manager and this is Allison.

YOUNG WOMAN: I'm the assistant manager.

I shook their hands.

ME: So pleased to meet you both.

MANAGER (KEITH): Eric, we have one of our candidates waiting to be interviewed right now, so I guess we'll see you tomorrow.

ME: Yes, yes, you will. And you'll also see me today because I'm in here hanging out, enjoying myself with some delicious coffee.

MANAGER: Okay, you do that. Bye for now.

ME: Not really bye because I'll be over there, having fun with my drink.

I walked toward the counter and lined up to order coffee.

Moments later, paper cup in hand, I was searching the room for a place to sit. I saw that the two managers were still at the same table, interviewing a girl who looked seventeen.

I approached the table next to them where a middle-aged woman was sitting. I asked her if I could sit with her. She looked over at the empty tables, appearing annoyed but saying nothing back to me.

Once seated, I listened to the interview taking place between the manager, the assistant manager and the seventeen-year-old girl.

MANAGER (to the seventeen-year-old girl): How would you define good customer service?

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL: I would define it as being a good listener...

As the seventeen-year-old continued, I spoke out loud to the lady across from me, speaking over the interviewee.

ME: I think good customer service is when people listen to one another. Share experiences. I believe good customer service is rare in this world and that it should be cherished, and it should be relished, and it should be worshipped. I think we should build shrines where we worship some being which represents customer service. And we could sing, "Ahh ahh, customer service. Ahh ahh, I pray to thee." We could start a collection for this deity and give it all kinds of sacrifices. On payday, we could even give it ten percent of our wages. People have forgotten the God of Customer Service. If there was a name I could give to this God, it would be Custy.

MANAGER: I think we should move this interview across the room.

ASSISTANT MANAGER: I think that's a great idea.

The two managers and the candidate moved toward a table on the other side of the room.

I excused myself to the middle-aged woman and walked over to the milk/napkin station next to the table where the interview was moved to.

ASSISTANT MANAGER (to the seventeen-year-old girl): What would you do if someone wanted to return their coffee because they didn't like it?

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL: Well, I would ask them...

As I stirred my coffee, I talked over her, shouting to a male stranger standing in line across the room.

ME: Well, I would ask them...

The male stranger across the room looked at me, scared, like I was about to hurt him.

ME: I would say, "How dare you even suggest that the coffee here doesn't taste good. We are Starbucks"...

Everyone in the store was now staring at me.

ME: "We are the best company that's ever existed. And you know what, you can take this coffee and you can pour it down your pants because you're not getting another one. Not from me, you aren't."

Both managers were staring up at me from their chairs.

MANAGER: Eric, would you mind leaving us alone?

ME: No problem. I was just fixing my coffee. I've got to go to the washroom anyway.

I slipped through the washroom door beside them.

MANAGER (to the seventeen-year-old): How would you respond to a situation where another team member wasn't making coffee the way they should be or just not performing in the manner you believe is up to Starbucks standards?

SEVENTEEN-YEAR-OLD GIRL: I consider myself a team player. Before approaching the manager regarding this issue, I would first approach the team member in question...

As the seventeen-year-old continued, the door to the washroom opened just a crack.

MY VOICE (from the washroom): Sir, you've got quite the healthy pee stream. Let me just say, first off, I consider myself a team player all the way. So if anyone was not working up to standard or was making bad coffee, I would help them hide the evidence. No one would ever find out that the bad coffee had been served. If they were taking money from the till, or skimming off the top, or embezzling, I would help them fudge the numbers in the books. I'm a team player. If I found out they were running an illegal drug operation in the back room, I would help dismantle the security cameras back there. If someone killed a customer, I'd help them bury the body. I'm a team player. I'll murder someone for you.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Telephone Call for an Interview

Dear Diary,

Someone from Starbucks called today. I've applied to various Starbucks locations around the city. This is how our telephone conversation went:

ME: Hello?

WOMAN FROM STARBUCKS: Hi, I'm Lucinda from Starbucks. I'm calling about an application you submitted at one of our stores. We'd like to grant you an interview. Are you still available?

ME: Of course, I'm still available. I've wanted to work for Starbucks my whole, entire life.

STARBUCKS: Would you be available to come into our King Street store for an interview?

ME: Yes!

STARBUCKS: Wonderful. We have a few interview spots open. We've got Tuesday at three, Wednesday is wide open, and Thursday, we're wide open in the morning. What would work for you?

ME: Oh, well, umm... Tuesday at three... yeah, I don't know if that would work for me. I do have an appointment with a comic book collector. We're just going to see if I'd like to collect comic books as a hobby. I'm not that crazy about comic books. I don't see the point, really. So yeah, Tuesday at three doesn't work for me.

STARBUCKS: What about Wednesday? We're wide open all day.

ME: What time on Wednesday do you think I should come in?

STARBUCKS: When are you available?

ME: Well, umm... I'm available, I think... maybe... well, what do you have available?

STARBUCKS: We have nine o'clock available.

ME: Mmmm... in the morning?

STARBUCKS: Yes, in the morning.

ME: Whoa, yeah... That might be a little early. I plan on spending all night Tuesday night watching the entire DVD set of the second season of Gilmore Girls. I'm really looking forward to that. That'll take all night and most of the morning. So no, I can't come in for an interview then.

STARBUCKS: How about later in the day?

ME: Yeah, later in the day would be so much better for me because, you know, I'm really looking forward to those Gilmore Girls. Sorry...

STARBUCKS: What about one in the afternoon on Wednesday?

ME: Yeah, well, that's right in the middle of my lunch.

STARBUCKS: Oh, I'm sorry. Are you working at another job right now?

ME: No, no, I'll just be at home eating my lunch. And yeah, that won't work.

STARBUCKS: What time are you done your lunch?

ME: Oh, well, I don't really have a schedule for my lunch. I pretty much just have it when I'm hungry and right now, I just don't want to take the chance that I might be on my lunch, 'cause then I'll be eating my lunch, I'll be rushing, or I'll have to cut my lunch short. I don't think that's fair. I mean... it's not fair to me.

STARBUCKS: Okay, what about later in the day, like Wednesday at four?

ME: Yeah, Wednesday at four would work. Hold on! Ummm... Wednesday at four... you see, I like to end to my day at four o'clock, three-thirty. Yeah, at three-thirty, I'm usually done for the day. I usually just quit and wait for my wife, so that wouldn't be good for me because my wife comes home from her long day after my ninety minute wait. She makes dinner for me, she cleans up and I'm just done. I'm not doing anything past three-thirty. It's just not fair for me to go to an interview at all hours. So yeah, is there anything else available? You were saying maybe Thursday in the morning, maybe in the afternoon?

STARBUCKS: We do have something Thursday morning at eleven thirty. That's the last spot available.

ME: Okay... which Starbucks is this for?

STARBUCKS: This would be for our King Street location.

ME: Yeah, that's kind of far for me. I really want to work for Starbucks, don't get me wrong, but do you think that maybe another Starbucks might call me? Like one closer to my apartment?

STARBUCKS: No. Right now, this is the only Starbucks location that is hiring.

ME: Okay. Can I call you, like, five minutes before I have to come in for the interview? Like maybe I can let you know by eleven twenty-five whether I'm coming or not.

STARBUCKS: We do require more warning than five minutes ahead of time if you aren't able to make it to an interview.

ME: It's just that I don't want to put all my eggs into one basket. And I feel that maybe if there's another job opening at another Starbucks, I'd rather have an interview for that. Or if a different company calls me. I haven't applied yet but I'd really like to work as a cashier at Walmart because they're just so cheerful and it's just so much fun to shop there.

STARBUCKS: I'm sorry, you either have to confirm for eleven thirty on Thursday or I think we'll have to forgo you as a possible candidate.

ME: All right. Can you guys maybe come to my home? And maybe we can do the interview inside my apartment 'cause then I'd be totally available. I'd be more available, even though I'm quite busy right now. On Thursday, if you guys come between... umm... 11:22 and 11:37, I think I might be able to give you guys an interview.

Lucinda from Starbucks said nothing as I continued.

ME: And when you guys come, I'll still be asleep, so I'll leave the key to the front door under the mat, and if you can just wake me up and maybe bring some of your Starbucks coffee and put the coffee on, and prepare bagels with cream cheese. Not the light stuff 'cause I can barely taste it, so don't use my wife's light cream cheese. Use my regular cream cheese. And my bagels need to be toasted, but just on the inside. That would really work for me. And also, if you guys can just whisper during the interview because I may not be able to take it if you guys are talking really loud. It's just really early in the morning.

STARBUCKS: Eric, to be honest with you, you seem like you have a lot on your plate at the moment, and I'm not sure if a career at Starbucks would be a good fit right now.

ME: Really? No, please, don't snatch this opportunity from me. You know what? I'll come over to the King Street store. Heck, why not? I love you guys. But just to let you know, I'll have to run some errands beforehand, so I might have to bring all our groceries in with me during the interview, and all of our recycling, including all our compostable waste. And I might bring my Irish cousin who has the thickest accent and he's been trying to tell me something for the past week and I have no idea what he's saying so I might need your help translating. It could take hours.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Back on the Job Market

Dear Diary,

I went looking for a job this morning, just pounding the pavement. My wife told me that if I want to stay at her mother's one-bedroom apartment with our eighteen-month-old daughter, I need to contribute. I have lots to offer if you're looking for someone who can repeat everything you say seconds after you've said it (I call this skill the robot parrot). If you're not looking for the robot parrot, then I can offer you absolutely zero. My resume is a legal size sheet of paper with my e-mail address printed at the top ( and then nothing else.

My list of references consists of some of the hamsters I know at various pet stores around the city. My wife told me that was stupid; hamsters aren't people – they can't talk. I argued that I'm not about to lie on my resume and I know for a fact that hamsters have feelings because when I hug them in pet stores, I swear I can feel their little arms hugging me back. Those hamsters are the best character references I know and I'm thinking maybe when prospective employers call the pet stores I've listed under every hamster's name, the pet store employee answering the phone can vouch for me in lieu of the hamster and confirm how much I care for said hamster, how often I visit, and how long I stay (usually from opening to closing, and sometimes even after that). That's commitment. Some days I visit stores dressed up as a hamster.

I decided that the best place to stop on my way to pounding the pavement was Starbucks. I could spend all day in a Starbucks and not do much else. In fact I once did, hiding behind the washroom door as they were closing, and making myself espresso all night. They found me on the seventh night, hiding by squeezing my entire body behind a trembling toilet (I had the shakes). When they asked me what I was doing back there, I told them (through chattering teeth) that I was holding a pipe that was leaking. It took eight firefighters to pull me out by sawing the toilet in half; I was stuck that good. One of the best nights of my life.

This morning when it was my turn to order, I looked straight into the young female cashier's eyes.

ME: Hi. Listen - in all the Starbucks I patronize, I usually deal with the manager, not some low level employee. Please don't take this personally, but because of who you are, I just don't think very much of you as a person.

A male manager in his twenties walked up behind the counter.

MANAGER: Sir, how may I help you today?

ME: I want you to make my beverage for me special. I don't want any scum touching what I'm about to drink.

MANAGER: Sir, our baristas are well-trained. They can make your beverage for you.

ME: I don't want anyone but you making my beverage. You're the manager, you're better than them. You're just a better human being. Compared to you, these baristas are worm poo. Don't you dare allow them near what I'm about to drink.

MANAGER: What can I make for you?

ME: I'd like a cup of tap water. Not the bottled crap that you have to pay for. Fool me once... you know what I'm saying?

MANAGER: All right, let me get that for you.

The manager turned on the tap, filled a plastic cup with water, and handed it to me.

I took a sip, and then spit it onto the counter, and the manager.

ME: I'd like to make a complaint.

The manager was red in the face, as backwash dripped off his face, but he remained standing still.

MANAGER: Sir, I'm going to have to ask you to leave.

ME: Just because I'd like to make a complaint. I need a comment card and marker, please.

MANAGER: I'm giving you ten seconds...

ME: Don't you dare try to give me one of those free coffee cards. Don't you dare throw free coffee at the problem.

MANAGER: I'm calling the police.

ME: You're trying to shut me up. Sorry folks, no one's got any rights up in this here coffee joint. You just don't want me telling the world your tap water isn't any better than the one in the Tim Horton's toilet, after your mom's used it.

MANAGER: I just called the police. They'll be here in five minutes.

ME: Everyone, the tap water is caca in here. Don't order it! Don't order it!

A broad-shouldered male barista stepped up to me.

BROAD-SHOULDERED BARISTA: Why don't you leave, before I break your face.

MANAGER: Just go...

ME (to the manager): You know what? You're not better than any of this garbage around you. You're much worse. You're vomit.

MANAGER: Get out, or we'll throw you out.

ME: Well, before I leave, I need to do what I came here to do. And since you're the manager, then, sorry for being so nervous over here but... may I have an application? You're number one on my list today. I've wanted to work here for years.