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 (EricLikesCuddlingHamsters@gmail.com) 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.