Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Banana Man

Interview time again. Looking for a new PC tech for the ad agency. Same drill. Candidate waits in lobby. Receptionist calls me. I go to lobby for greeting.
The ad agency I worked for was nice enough to have a fruit bowl at reception. Each day it would be a different variety of fruit. That day, the fruit of the day was the banana.
My candidate had helped himself to a banana and when I greeted him, he was eating it. He shifted the fruit to his left hand and shook my right hand with his right hand. We proceeded to the conference room for the interview. I remember thinking; I wonder what he is going to do with that banana.
As we enter the conference room, there is a trash can, right next to the door. But no, my candidate took the banana with him to the granite top conference table and continued eating. I figured he was hungry so I did the talking, explaining what I was looking for and what our set-up was. He is sitting munching away. Well, I can talk longer, so I keep going.
At long last, my friend is done with his banana. I picture him gently laying the empty peel down on the table. But no. Mr. Banana does a smooth move and semi-slaps the peel onto the granite. At least the sound of it hitting the granite made a slapping sound.
Okay now it’s his turn to talk. Sadly I could not hear a word he was saying since I was picturing what kind of cubicle this guy would keep. Messy, crap everywhere. Old food containers and God knows what. Never able to find a thing. I really tried to get past the banana lying on the table, but I could not. I tried very hard to picture him working with us, but alas, no can do.
Solid advice: Do not bring food into an interview nor chew gum. And NEVER eat a banana while being interviewed. Very slim chances of landing the job.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mr. Cowboy Boots

I was an IT Director for 15 years for a large ad agency. From time to time I would have to hire new staff, which meant interviewing people. This was a difficult process for several reasons. One, it was hard to find the right people and two, the transition to a new person meant that it would take awhile to return to the service level that I wanted.
I would find candidates from various locations. LAMUG, word of mouth, agencies and the like. I would set up the interview appointment after speaking to the candidate on the phone, to ensure they have some level of verbal skills I could work with.
I had the rare privilege of interviewing Mr. Dirty Cowboy Boots. The reason I knew they were dirty was that he had his legs crossed and the one boot was stuck up where I could see the dirt and need of a new sole. Crossing your legs in an interview is fine as long as knee is touching knee, but not knee touching ankle. That is too familiar for an interview.
He proceeded to tell me all his accomplishments and qualifications. I had already decided that this guy was a slacker and I would not be hiring him. He went on and on and then I took a turn and told him about our environment and what I was looking for.
As I was about to wrap it up and get his parking ticket validated, he stopped me and said “Oh, I forgot to tell you, I also have done blah blah and know the ………” I interrupted him and said, “Yes, you told me that you Blah Blah….” I completed verbatim what he had already told me about himself. Pause. Then Mr. Cowboy Boots says: “Oh, you are smarter than I thought you were.”
Silence as I stare at the floor in disbelief. I look up at the young man and say, very slowly: “Oh I’m smarter than you thought I was. Oh. Okay well let’s get that parking ticket validated, alrightie?”

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bad Ringtones

We’ve all heard them, in the market, on the street. Annoying ring tones. But what do you do when a guy with an annoying ring tone is working in your open work space office?

Satish was a middle-aged fellow with a wife and two kids who lived very far away from the office in an affordable suburb. He gave an appearance of knowing what he was doing and he dressed nicely. By nicely, I mean clean white shirt and tie, everyday. He smoked, which meant he would go outside regularly.

He had a teenage daughter who had full access to his cell phone and was nice enough to select the “Mexican Hat Dance” as his ring tone. As if this was not bad enough, Satish was rarely at his desk and he would leave his cell phone, turned on, at this desk. He was always running around the place checking up on things or in meetings. The dam thing was constantly going off and playing the full chorus of the happy dance music.

As if the ringtone was not bad enough, he was then assigned the seat right next to me. This was torture because of the cell phone ring and because he was a bit pompous and from time to time, would mistake me for his personal secretary. There was another guy sitting behind me. We were literally on top of each other. The guy right behind me, Ramesh, was a sweet guy. However, after going out into the hot sun at lunch, his B.O. was unbearable. Satish informed me that the Indian owner of the local 7-11 sold incense. I trekked up there at lunch and bought some along with a book of matches. Upon returning, I showed Satish and he approved of my purchase, praising the high quality and excellent aroma of the incense. I fired up a match and lit a stick of the incense right there in my cubicle. Satish nearly flipped his fine head of hair. What are you doing Ellen? The smoke from the match could set off the smoke alarm and the sprinklers and then we will all be sitting here soaking wet and our laptops will be ruined! Damn, he was right. I did not want to be fined or arrested for creating chaos, thus the incense was no longer an option.

As things worsened at the job, my tolerance for Satish’s ringtone came to a grinding halt.

I did actually did ask him to change the tone several times, but he copped out saying his daughter had set it up. So, while he was oh so busy at one of his meetings, I picked the phone up and changed it to a plain vanilla cell phone ring. Being passive aggressive at times, I of course did not tell him what had done. But, at least the ringing for the remainder of the day was tolerable.

Well little Miss Teenage Daughter was really on her game. The very next day, the zippy little Mexican Hat Dance tune had returned. And there she was happily out in her little distant suburb, completely unaware of my nightmare.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Ralph the Repairman

I am sitting across from Ralph the laptop technician who is replacing a few components and getting my PC laptop back on track.

Here’s been at my house for a whopping eight minutes and I now know all about his first wife, his second and current wife, all her immigration problems, his problems with his supervisor, his clients, the economy, and how Obama ain't gonna help him.
His 3-year old daughter is now out of the hospital. She has recovered from pneumonia. Her mother and current wife blame him for the daughter getting pneumonia because he did not drive her to the emergency room, because she doesn't drive, get the picture? His whole life is a no-win situation.
As negative as his rap is, I’m thinking at least I didn't have to leave the house to get the laptop repaired. What a trip this guy is.

He goes on to tell me that he wishes he were still with his first wife. And says he hopes this doesn’t offend me: She was a red neck. She came from a family of hillbillies. Of course that doesn’t offend me, I’m a Jew. I was not worried about any anti-Semitic comments, because he probably has not met any Jews in his life that he is aware of. He and his first wife broke up because upon coming home early from an Army training mission unannounced, she had a surprise for him, in the bedroom. She was in bed with another guy.
He adds: She was the lucky one that day, my 9 mm Glock was on the dresser out of reach and not in my hand.
OK this guy is in my house. I'm alone in my house with this guy. The word inappropriate doesn’t even cover this.
I decided to change the subject, quickly.
He was just a big bully complainer.
I'm sitting pretty in my house in a swell upper middle class neighborhood and a likely suspect to hear all his woes. Clearly how could I have any problems and wasn't I just sitting there waiting for this guy to show up and get a free therapy session.
I get my laptop fixed at home along with free entertainment.
Yes, he replaced a board and a palm rest. Unscrewed a million screws, popped a zillion modules out complaining sorely about what a pain in the ass these things are. It was endless. Bottom line, he fixed it.
Oh and by the way, his supervisor is in Massachusetts and this guy is the top tech in Southern California. OF COURSE he is, just ask him.

This guy was out of someone's central casting. Let's just hope that next time, a different studio dispenses someone. Or maybe next time, I'll buy a Mac.