chairs missing.


i went in for another job interview today. the location was ideal, right off the butterfield rt exit, and i could easily bike there. that's all i've been looking forward to doing lately: biking to my place of employment. this morning i drove there. i didn't really know what i was applying for. the position listed on the ca state website stated: seasonal tax clerk. the pay rate was $8.35 an hour. duties included: opening and sorting mail, photocopying, other administrative duties, etc. no experience necessary, must be at least 18 years of age, must pass a background check.

fine. i'm qualified enough.

so i went to the job interview, expecting 1500 other applicants to be applying for the same thing. as it turned out, it was just me. security wasn't even sure where i was supposed to go. i expected the words "seasonal tax clerk" to trigger some sort of response. nothing. "is this the franchise tax board?" i asked her. she looked at me like i was an escaped mental patient. "yes," she said. "just take a seat over there, and someone will escort you to where you need to go."

the interviewers were about fifteen minutes late. i expected this, since the franchise tax board building is gigantic. from the outside, it looks like a giant steel fortress, missing only a moat, guard towers and satellites. bespectacled balding men with faux leather briefcases hustled about, and women with slacks and snug fitting suits lowered their lanyards to get past the security gate. most seemed to show up whenever they felt like it. some were wearing business casual, while others wore shorts and sweatshirts. people brought small salads and styrofoam cups past the security checkpoint. they looked like they were boarding airplanes.

so this is what a real place of employment is supposed to look like.

finally, an older woman came and got me. i forgot her name. we shook hands. she led me away from the security checkpoint and into a room not far from where i was waiting. so what was the hold up, i wanted to say. i entered the room after her, and there was another woman waiting at the table. "good morning," she said. we shook hands. "oooh," she said, "must be cold out there." "yes," i said, suddenly aware of how icy my hand felt.

we sat and the two woman told me about the job. for $8.30 an hour, i would be setting up chairs and tables for conference meetings. we would ensure that our setup was "ada compliant." i liked the sound of "ada compliant." sounded like a mogwai song. the rest of it, though, left my mouth hanging wide open for the duration of the interview. "we would need to have measuring tape and ensure that all our work goes according to whatever diagram they send us." the younger woman, an asian girl, told me that the hours would vary. "sometimes we might need you at six a.m., and other times we might need you at three in the afternoon." wait, i said. this would be an eight hour shift, and i would strictly be setting up tables and chairs? "that's right," she said. "but there's also another team that does set up, so sometimes it would just be a matter of one of us unlocking and locking doors." the older woman tried to legitimize their professions. "this is important because lately, a lot of equipment has been broken, and in some cases, stolen." i nod in agreement, as if my office supplies get stolen all the time.

it is at this point that i want to take my application from them, point out the part where i have a degree, have experience, and am capable of more than just setting up chairs and tables. but who knows? maybe ada compliance is a tricky son of a bitch, and i'm really not their man.

they ask me if i have questions for them. i really don't, but i have nothing else to do this morning, so i ask them things anyway. what are your position titles exactly? (this comes off more bluntly and condescendingly than i expect). when would the position start? (we don't know). do i have to take a leave of absence after working 194 days? (yes). am i guaranteed 194 days of work? (no). have i come off as a neurotic, slightly arrogant, ungrateful and lazy, spoiled and bitter college graduate who doesn't want to have anything to do with you people? (possibly). when can i start? (we're not sure).

interview over. we shake hands again and i say goodbye rather awkwardly. i shuffle out the door and exit the building. outside, the sun is shining and the daycare kids are playing behind a brick wall.

it's been a productive morning.

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