Sometimes I think the umbilical cord got tied around my neck when I was born and I ended up deprived of oxygen for the first few seconds of life; not enough to kill me, but enough to kill off a handful of brain cells. Brain cells that never had a chance to grow into fully functioning emblems of life. The job I thought I had turned out to be a bust. I hate to sound like a victim, but the health care company where I was supposed to go to work needs a thorough proctological exam. Its corporate head is jammed up its corporate ass. Then again, what company doesn’t suffer from that affliction? Especially the health care ones!
I was really surprised to get that job in the first place. My interview was set for a Friday at 8 A.M., and I was late because I got lost. MapQuest didn’t lead me in the right direction. Didn’t they have problems with the Grand Canyon being put somewhere like Detroit or something a while back? Either way, it just proves you can’t rely on technology too much. In the old days – circa 1990 when I first went to work at the bank – you had to call the place and get actual cross street names and stuff. Either way, I arrived 20 minutes late and made the best of it. I looked at the lady in the eye and asked plenty of questions about the company itself. I’d done my research on it; even finding out their latest stock price from the day before. That kind of detail usually impresses people, or terrifies them if you’re with the Secret Service and trying to nab someone selling faux Cabbage Patch dolls. But, I forgot about it after I left; thinking that the 20 minutes late thing killed it for me. I returned home and went to bed. I was still sleepy. Thank God my truck knows its way back to the house.
Then, the recruiter with the health care staffing agency who had contacted me almost a month earlier called me late Monday afternoon. The company offered me the position! I couldn’t believe it. I’d been late to an interview two previous times and didn’t get the job. So, I was surprised. Not enough to have an orgasm, but enough to have a drink that evening. I had to complete the requisite paper work and submit to a drug screening and criminal background check. I hate drug screening tests! Can’t they just draw blood these days, instead of requiring you to urinate into a tiny plastic cup and then hand it back to them, like you’re a bartender at a dive joint? I guess blood makes some people too squeamish. The criminal background check is always intriguing. I never know if they see my Spanish surname and feel compelled to contact the Border Patrol. Damn those illegals! But apparently, a weekend of drinking only water and shredding important documents paid off. I was scheduled to start this past Monday, the 17th. What could go wrong now?
I had asked the recruiter (who’s in Florida) to whom was I supposed to report at the company. She didn’t have a name; just go to the receptionist’s desk, and someone will lead me to orientation. Okay, good. Orientation was set for 9 A.M., and I arrived at 8:35. I signed in at the receptionist’s desk log book and waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. For about 10 minutes. A couple of people came and went. No one stopped to ask if they could help me; offer me a bottle of water; compliment me on my suit. They just strolled past as if I was another cheap Christmas ornament.
Finally, the receptionist glided into the office in her 5-inch spike heels. I told her who I was and why I was there. She initially looked at me as if I was from the sewer plant; then she told me to head back down to the lobby and “wait on one of those black couches.”
“Any particular couch?”
“No, just pick one. And, I’ll call someone to come get you.”
So, I loped back down to the first level of the spacious glass-lined lobby and waited on one of the black couches. And waited. And waited. And waited. Until I needed to find a men’s room. After I stalked the halls of the first level, looking for the men’s room – hoping a ninja security official wouldn’t zap me with a taser for looking suspicious in my black suit and black brief case – I returned to that same black-ass couch. And waited. And waited.
Then, I noticed a sign on an easel opposite from me, beside a set of glass double doors. In faint, italic type it said: Orientation. Ah-hah! I found it! I grabbed the door handles. They wouldn’t open; it was a secured access area. Like Fort Knox. That ninja security was surely headed my way now. I’d better retreat to the black couch on the other side of room. Another side embedded in the wall next to the doors advised visitors to head to the receptionist desk on the second level. I’m not a visitor! I’m a new employee!
I called the recruiter. She muttered a ‘hm.’ Not one of those, ‘that’s an interesting question,’ or a, ‘I’ve never thought of that,’ kind of ‘hm.’ It was one of those, ‘Oh, shit! I don’t know what the hell to do,’ kind of hm.
“I’ll call you back,” she told me.
Please do. When you get a chance. I was starting to like hanging around that lobby, examining all the cheap artwork, and hoped I could savor it a little while longer. “I’ll go back up to the receptionist desk,” I told her. Perhaps, when I was in search of the men’s room, some tired human resources drone lumbered out of her cocoon looking for me and only found my butt print on that black couch. I think he was here! He had to have been right here!
The receptionists gave me that, ‘Oh, you again,’ look. Her feet are still recovering from walking around in those 5-inch spike heels, I thought. She started calling people; five different people. I counted. I hoped one of them wouldn’t be a ninja security official. She went off on the last person: “Why didn’t I know about this? Why doesn’t this trickle down?”
“I’m going to call my recruiter again,” I told her. I wanted to tell Trickle-down she looked cute, even though she didn’t. But, I decided it’s not worth the energy to kiss up to people anymore. I retreated back to that one black couch where my butt print had faded. I hoped I wouldn’t inadvertently make it reappear. I decided to stand, chic black cell phone in hand, looking like I was waiting for a client. I can do that very well. I waited. And waited. And waited.
I’d heard the receptionist utter the name of someone; a lady in human resources I suspected. Perhaps a life line into Fort Knox. If I could find her, I’d be free from the glass lobby. So I stopped a young woman exiting Fort Knox and asked if she knew this person.
“No,” she squeaked, before ambling away in her 4-inch spike heels. What’s with these damn spike heels?! I thought they’d gone the way of dial phones.
I asked another young woman exiting Fort Knox if she knew that particular woman.
“No,” she replied, before shuffling away in her painted-on jeans. I thought painted-on jeans had also gone the way of spike heels. They look so…so 70s-ish anyway. Especially on a fat chick.
I stopped another woman leaving Fort Knox and asked if she could let me into the area. I was prepared to tell her she looked cute, even though she didn’t.
“You have to check in at the receptionist desk,” she said.
“Okay,” I said with a gritty smile, “thank you.” Translation: I’ve already done that you dumb bitch! Let me into fucking Fort Knox!
I returned to the couch, cell phone in hand, keeping an eye out for that ninja security official. I could see my big black truck from that vantage point. It seemed to be calling for me. ‘I’ll take you home now! Just say the word and we’re gone.’
Then, that dreaded ninja security official arrived. By my truck. She stepped out of her little car with the yellow light on top and began examining my truck. My truck can take care of itself; it’s a Dodge after all. It scares Smart Cars stupid. But, I decided I needed to help it out anyway. The security official had whipped out her little note pad and was scribbling down my license plate number. Didn’t note pads go the way of painted-on jeans? I looked at her; this poor pathetic 50-something soul. She was either a virgin or a lesbian; a girl whose role as a parking lot security official or a gym teacher was set at birth.
“I’m a new associate,” I told her. Translation: I’m supposed to be here, so get the fuck away from my truck!
She squinted at me through her sunglasses.
“Apparently, there’s been a miscommunication,” I told her.
“Okay,” she said politely. She had a nice smile – for a lesbian / virgin.
I arrived back home, much to my dog’s delight, and immediately emailed my recruiter to explain the situation. ‘There’s been some kind of misunderstanding,’ I gleefully typed. Translation: somebody fucked up big time! I don’t know who it was; you or the company. But, one of you two – maybe both of you – doesn’t have your shit together!
I breathed deep.
She called me and uttered that nefarious ‘hm.’ “Let me find out what’s going and call you back.”
Okay, good. That would help to know what’s going on. Problems get solved that way.
She called me back a few minutes later and told me to return to the company for the second half of orientation. She even gave me the name and phone number of someone. Perfect!
As I headed back, my phone rang. It was a young woman I’ll call Andrea; she was with the company’s HR. “I’m sorry,” she sang. “There’s been some kind of mix-up.”
“Oh, I understand. Those things happen.” Translation: you have to be kidding me?!
She told me to wait for her in the lobby of that same building.
So, I arrived and perched myself in front of that same black couch; attired this time in a burgundy shirt and black slacks. I still had my chic black cell phone and black brief case; still trying to look like a traditional well-seasoned businessman waiting for a client. I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I finally decided to call that number the recruiter gave me. It was the receptionist; the nothing-trickles-down-to-me gal whose feet hurt from walking around in those 5-inch spike heels. She didn’t know why I was calling her, but said she’d call someone in HR to come get me. Okay, good. Don’t rush though. I’m really enjoying this art work.
A moment later a young woman wandered into the lobby. Andrea. “I’m sorry,” she sang. She was my saving grace; she knew who I was and why I was there – even if she resided in another building across the street. She immediately began calling people from her hot pink cell phone. She called three. I counted. No one knew what she did – that I’m a technical writer who was supposed to start that day. For some reason, though, she couldn’t let me into Fort Knox. “Let’s go upstairs!” she said cheerfully.
Oh sure! Want to hang out near those cool fake Christmas trees and see Trickle-down again.
Trickle-down was not happy to see us. She also didn’t know Singing Andrea. They began calling more people. They got one woman in there who tried to help. I mean, she really tried. But, she didn’t know where I was supposed to go. I couldn’t go to hell. I was already there! They lulled another woman out from the back. She must have rushed to the front; her bangs were astray. She didn’t know where I was supposed to go. They tricked a young man to the receptionist desk. He didn’t know where I was supposed to go. The first woman had disappeared briefly, then reappeared – with the names of two authority figures! If one couldn’t help, the other surely could.
I followed Singing Andrea across the hall into another Fort Knox-type area in search of this mysterious person. She wasn’t at her desk. Singing Andrea asked someone about the second woman. I followed her to that second woman’s office. She didn’t know who was or where I was supposed to go.
I followed Singing Andrea back into the lobby. “I’m sorry,” she hummed.
“Should I just wait?” I asked, clinging onto hope like a third-class Titanic passenger would hang onto a deck chair.
“No, because I don’t know what’s going on.”
Oh, God! You’re kidding me!
“I’ll just call my recruiter,” I responded with a gritty smile and sauntered back to my truck.
‘I told you,’ it said.
My dog was even more surprised to see me. I emailed the recruiter. ‘Things still didn’t work out,’ I wrote. Translation: they still don’t know what the fuck they’re doing!
I was exhausted. But, at least I got to watch another episode of “People’s Court.” I love Judge Marilyn Milian!
The recruiter called at 6:45 A.M. the next morning. “There appears to have been some kind of misunderstanding.”
Deep breath – no!
This time she had a name; someone I’ll call Donna. “They’ll conduct a special orientation for you,” the recruiter told me.
I’ve always known I was special – in a ‘Children of a Lesser God’ kind of way – so I started to feel warm and loved.
“It’s at 9; be there by 8:30.”
I wouldn’t miss this for the world. Besides, my truck is multi-talented; it can run on water, too. I arrived at 8:35.
Trickle-down gave me her best constipation-from-hell face.
Damn, girl! Are your feet still sore? “I have a name.”
Her eyes lit up.
“Donna,” and then, Donna’s last name.
She didn’t recognize the name – and didn’t have a phone number for her.
I started to get constipated.
“But, she has an email address, so let me try to get hold of her that way.”
Oh, thank God! I mean, who in a company wouldn’t have an email address these days?
I called the recruiter’s supervisor who was also in Florida. “They don’t have a number for Donna. Do you?”
“Hm,” said recruit-supervisor. (Shit!) “Let me call you back.”
Okay, good. I want to check out that art work again.
I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.
Trickle-down said she hadn’t heard from Donna yet.
“I’ve let my recruiter know,” I smiled grittily.
Recruit- supervisor told me to ask the receptionist at the lobby desk to let me into Fort Knox. I could see the lobby desk from my second level view; it was barren. No receptionist; no lesbian / virgin security official; not even a phone or a wax plant. “Just go down to the first level and wait for someone.”
I hoped ‘someone’ would have a name. So, I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. I’d noticed some people gathering in a nearby conference room. I finally decided to approach and ask somebody – anybody! – if they knew this mysterious Donna.
A young woman with coal black hair said she knew Donna and immediately tried to call her; she couldn’t reach her.
Constipation started creeping back into my gut.
Coal-black finally asked another woman who entered the conference room if she could help me out. This second woman, a smiling middle-aged lady, uttered what I’d suspected for the past 24 hours; the company often had a failure to communicate. Trickle-down wasn’t alone! “I’ll find someone,” said Smiling-middle-aged and disappeared upstairs.
I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.
A third woman in a purple sweater approached me. “Let me find out what’s going on,” she said merrily.
Purple-sweater disappeared upstairs.
I waited. And waited. And waited. And waited.
Recruit- supervisor finally called back. “They’ve decided to pull the position.”
As fate would have it, the position had evaporated sometime between the time I pissed in a cup and the day I arrived with my black brief case. It’s just that no one below upper management knew it. Until five minutes ago. Texas time.
My truck and my dog were both glad to see me. It was mutual.
This has been one of the strangest odysseys I’ve ever encountered. But, it proves what I say in my ‘About’ page: I’m just not one for the corporate environment. I’m too independent-minded. I’m a true outsider. Always have been; always will be. I’m a writer; therefore, I’m a strange little creature. I just don’t fit into anyone’s box. Other people’s rules don’t apply.
So, this it. I’m done with corporate America. I’m starting my own freelance writing business. Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do anyway. I’ve been writing since before most people started reading. I was reading before most people were walking. It’s part of my genetic makeup. Thus, I see all this as some sort of sign; a twisted, back-breaking sign. But, a sign nonetheless. You dumb ass it said! You don’t belong behind some else’s desk! Alas, I’ve come to realize it.
Now, the Chief really begins a new chapter in his life. Besides, my dog and my truck will be grateful. And, I can watch more Judge Marilyn Milian!