In the process of searching for part time work, I have found myself on a rollercoaster of emotions. I wake up some days feeling optimistic and ready to get out there and present myself to potential employers. Then when the phone doesn’t ring and my inbox is still empty, I feel dejected, redundant, and hopeless.
A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted for a position at a local video store. The position was completely meaningless and yet the prospect of having a small purpose thrilled me. I knew immediately that this was going to be interesting because the initial phone call took approximately ten seconds – this lady was a fast talker. I went in for my first interview prepared to match her speed and energy. Well done, A-plus, everything went wonderfully. That is when she announced that this was a three step process. The second step was a test in which you must achieve a minimum of 80 percent otherwise, “there’s nothing we can do for you”.
Now, I’d like to express that I find it aggravating that a company seeking a part time employee that offers minimum wage believes that they have the right to set these standards. I suppose with the employment market the way it is, the sad truth is that companies can expect to find high quality candidates that will work for peanuts. But in the end I believe that you get what you pay for and an unhappy employee will cost you more than you may save on payroll. But I digress.
I maintained my composure and asked what I should be prepared to be tested on. The lady kindly explained that it’s very simple, just a little bit of math and some alphabetization and spelling; small things that would be included in your day-to-day tasks at the store. It barely sounded like it was worthy of being called a test. And so, easy as that, I was scheduled to come in for the second step.
What I wish I knew the morning that I was casually eating my cereal and getting ready for the day, is that I should have been frantically refreshing my math knowledge. I can’t tell you the last time that I was expected to complete long division with fractions sans calculator. But the fact that I was not prepared is not the part that got under my skin.
When I arrived at the store two lovely girls introduced themselves to me and explained that the test is compiled of 8 sections that are each timed. They assured me that it would be easy because more time had been recently allotted, so both of them had passed it when it was more difficult. Then they sat me on a director’s chair in front of the computer that was on the front counter. I suddenly became very uncomfortable.
I started my test easily enough: Ok these questions are a little harder than I expected but it’s good to get this math section out of the way first. Every question was difficult enough that I needed to work it out on paper so I ended up running out of time. Moving on to the next section, I quickly realized that I had been lied to about this test. By the third section – the payroll section – I had begun to sweat. It turns out the entire test was math-based and was indeed very challenging. But again, this is not the part that got under my skin.
For the duration of my test, one of the girls was directly to my left assisting customers and chatting loudly, while the other was to my right making phone calls. In addition, they were loudly playing the first Harry Potter movie throughout the store. There were portions of the test where I felt more aware of what was happening in the movie than what was on the test. Once I finally finished, I politely said my goodbyes, got into my car, and cried the whole drive home. Ridiculous circumstances or not, I felt like the dumbest person on the planet: I can’t even pass a stupid math test to work part time for minimum wage at a video store.
I immediately reached out to my sister for support. I told her the whole story (she laughed at the Harry Potter part) then she made a valiant effort to brighten my mood and motivate me to move past this. When I continually rejected her attempts she hit me with, “Well I don’t know what to tell you right now. It seems like there’s no making you feel better about it but I have hope that you will find a job.”
There it was like a kick in the butt – I was being a pessimistic dink while my sister was trying to hold me up all by herself. I checked myself right away. Sure I was feeling like crap, but sitting around and feeling bad for myself was not helping the situation at all. There is nothing less attractive than self-pity. The only option was to simply move on.
Now I can look back with a new perspective, over-exaggerate my story a little, and laugh my butt off about the whole ordeal.
I am still riding the rollercoaster of emotions that is trying to find work. I am still wonderfully crazy. But I am so thankful to have the support that I do. I have a hard time brushing things off. I obviously take myself a little bit too seriously sometimes. But thankfully, I am surrounded with people that are willing to remind me that somehow, someday, everything will be ok. 🙂