Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hosed in Erie, PA

The Ghosts of Job Searches Past apparently have not been appeased, so I'll relate a magical trip I took to Erie, PA.

It all started with an on-line job application to an agency that was representing a company that manufactures fire hoses. They needed a Quality Assurance guy, so I figured, "What the heck - maybe this'll be our ticket back North!"

Now, I forget the name of the company, so let's call it HoseCo. (How many fire hose manufacturers could there be in Erie, PA?) Let's call the agency WarmBodiez Services.

I also forget the names of the people involved, so I'll make them up, as well.

"Nancy" called from WarmBodiez one day to let me know that they received my application and resume for the HoseCo Quality position.

She was pleasant enough and we had a little chat about my employment history and my desire to move from NC to PA. "Nancy" said she'd forward my information to the HoseCo rep and someone would be in touch shortly.

True to her word, "Herbert" from HoseCo called. He was the Quality Manager and was eager to set up a formal speaker phone teleconference interview.

Swell! We set a time and date.

Of course, all I knew about fire hoses were what I had gleaned off of certain bumper stickers over the years, i.e. "Firemen have giant hoses that squirt all night long!"

I was pleased to find there was enough info available on ye olde internette so that I could at least get a cursory knowledge of the manufacturing process, buzz words and associated specifications.

Came the day of the phone interview I was prepped and ready to roll.

The phone rang and "Herbert" was there with two other guys who I'll call "Larry" and "Jeff." We chatted for about 45 minutes and I gave the performance of my life!

I batted around specs and materials as if I invented vulcanizing. I painted such a glowing picture of my previous work experience that I was ready to go shopping for an expensive frame.

By the end of our call, "Herbert" said he get back in touch with me shortly.

I'm usually pretty skeptical about these things, but I had a good feeling about this one.

An hour later, the telephone rang again.

It was "Herbert."

He wanted to know if I could fly in for an in-person interview with the VP of Operations. We'd do a tour of the plant and then go out for lunch, so we could all get better acquainted. They'd have a check waiting for me at the plant so I could be reimbursed for the airline ticket.

I told him I'd book a flight and get back to him with the day, time and ticket price.

Wahoo! Am I a player, or what?
A quick word about flying out of Fayetteville, NC.

I can be done, there is a municipal airport here. It is very difficult to co-ordinate a "sensible" flight plan out of Fayetteville, NC.

The other option is the Raleigh-Durham Airport (RDU). That is a ninety minute drive from Fayetetteville, but the Park-n-Ride lots are convenient and, overall it's not all that bad.

Of course, to get to Erie, PA so as to attend a morning meeting meant booking a 6:00AM flight.

The math on this works out as:

  • 90 minutes to drive to RDU to arrive...
  • 60 minutes before boarding time, plus...
  • 30 minutes allowance for shuttle to the airport, plus...
  • 60 minutes to eat, shower, shave, get dressed.

So I'd better plan on getting up four hours before my flight leaves. That's 2:00AM!

I arrived at the ERIE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT and was met by "Herbert." He was an older gentleman, complete with hearing aid.

"Craig, there's been a glitch with the reimbursement for for ticket," he explained. "I had hoped to have a check here for you but the accounting guys say I'll have to submit the paperwork after our meeting today. I guess they got tired of cutting checks for people who dodn't show up, or something."

A minor matter, but that old spider sense was beginning to tingle.

The trip to the plant was brief and I was soon in a meeting room with "Larry" and "Jeff."

Yep, these were the guys I had "wowed" during the phone interview.

"We'll get started once 'Bill' gets here," said "Herbert.

In the door strode the Executive Vice President, who I call "Bill" in honor of his body bouble, Bill Lumberg.

"Well," quipped "Bill", "Let's get this show on the road!"

What followed was a 45 minute, nearly word-for-word replay of the earlier teleconference. I was getting the feeling I flew in and was going through the exact same paces for the pleasure of this "Bill" character. I guess it would've been too inconvenient for him to have been part of the first phone interview.

The meeting broke up and "Herbert" took me down the plant's break room for a cup of coffee, while the power-brokers went over their notes in the star chamber. I sat there, reading a discarded copy of the local paper and drinking tepid, watery coffee for an indeterminate period of time.

"Herbert" finally came back for me.

"Let's go get your suit coat and notebook," he said.

We returned to the now-empty meeting room and I retrieved my jacket and executive binder. "Herbert" escorted me to the parking lot and we got into his car.

"Hmmm, it's a little early for lunch," I thought to myself. "And what about that plant tour?"

"Well, you didn't do too bad," he said none-too-cryptically, as we pulled into the airport parking lot. "We'll see that you get that check to pay for your ticket."

Yep, there I was, back at the ERIE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT with only seven hours to kill before my scheduled flight back to Fayetteville.

No Lunch.

No plant tour.

Just a forty-five minute non-meeting and a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach.

I arrived back home at 11:00PM that night. Ah, I just love putting in a grueling twenty-one hour day for nothing!

PROLOGUE: The reimbursement check did come in the mail, as well as one of those form-letter rejections.

"Nancy" from the WarmBodiez Agency started calling my house and leaving urgent messages on my answering machine. I needed to call her back!

My window for calling anybody back was very limited, but I managed to collar her on the phone.

"Listen, Craig, we have another opportunity opening up here in Erie," she said. "Would you like me to submit your resume to them, as well?"

"Gosh, that sounds great, 'Nancy'," I replied. "But what happened with that HoseCo job? I bought airline tickets, flew in for the interview and they gave me the bum's rush out the door without the promised plant tour or business lunch."

"Oh," she replied. "They said you came across differently in person than you did on the phone."

Now, what the heck does that mean? The meeting was nearly a verbatim replay of the phone interview! Was I too old? Too fat? Too bald? What kind of friggin' code words am I dealing with here?

"Well, by all means, go ahead a submit my resume to that other company," I replied.

"OK," she said, "now before I go ahead and start that process, I'm going to have to have you take an on-line personality test."

"An on-line personality test?!?!?" I moaned.

My resume and twenty-seven years of Quality / Engineering work experience aren't enough?

I have to pass some sort of personality test?!?!?

The HELL with this!!!

"Look, 'Nancy', I'll have to get back to you on this," I said. "Thanks for your time."

I immediately went to near-by a tattoo parlor and had the word "LOSER" written on my forehead.

I figured it would save time on my next interview. (It has also come in handy for many other life experiences, as well!)

This might have saved me some time and aggravation!



Blogger weatherchazer said...

Hey- I've applied for over 20 different jobs in the past three months- Have you ever been told your OVER qualified before- I've gotten that one a lot lately!

October 18, 2007 12:03 PM  
Blogger furiousBall said...

Job hunting is somewhat akin to prison rapes, but without the niceties exchanged beforehand.

October 18, 2007 12:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

from the phone interview they prolly thunk you was black

October 18, 2007 2:59 PM  
Blogger Craig D said...

scott: A COMMON MISTAKE! I think some diversity training is needed on both sides of the table.

furiousball: At least with that prison rape thing, I'd have already gotten the gig.

weatherchazer: If by "qualified" you mean "weight" then, yes, that's me.

October 18, 2007 4:16 PM  
Blogger whimsical brainpan said...

Sounds like the worst job interview ever.

I got an 85.

October 18, 2007 9:49 PM  
Blogger Allan said...

Egads! That is the MF of all job search stories- mystery discrimination. They coulda at least bought you lunch...sheesh.

I got a 47. How is that possible?

October 22, 2007 3:33 PM  

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