Sunday, February 28, 2010

Employee discounts

Friday marked my first day back in retail/somewhat steady employment. It was also one of those days when I wished I had some sort of microchip in my brain that transferred my thoughts directly to my blog so I don't have to make sense of everything later on. Timeline post? Sure, let's try that.

8:00-- Wake up.
9:00-- Seriously consider getting out of bed.
10:00-- Get out of bed, but return with cereal.
10:30-- More cereal.
11:00-- Apply for two jobs.
12:00-- Actually get out of bed and shower.
1:00-- Consider wardrobe options very carefully. During the interview they talked about the importance of accessorizing and being awesome. This is problematic since my fashion sense probably falls somewhere in between these two: <--------------|-------------->

So as I stare at my closet and lament over my current "too broke to buy new clothes because for my last job I basically wore the same thing every week because no one saw me more than once" situation, I wonder why I ever took a job in a store that prides itself on being "fashion-forward." (Okay, in the safety of the blogosphere I will admit that during the interview they asked me how I stay up-to-date on current trends and I may or may not have blurted out "Magazines!" even though I don't read them ever at all. Please don't tell them. I don't know what they'd do to me.) Eventually I settle on a dress that I really like that has some cool pleating in front and I threw on some tights and a cardigan. It was one of my favorite roadrunning outfits, so I'm feeling okay about it even though I've been desperately wanting some new clothes.
1:30-- Glance in the direction of the jewelry box, but decide against accessories. The dress has a really high neck, so a necklace is unnecessary. I go with my standard watch and bracelet.
1:50-- Time for shoes. Ordinarily I wear heels with this outfit, but it's a retail job. I throw on a pair of black patterned ballet flats and grimace, knowing they don't look good. But at this point I don't really have other options.
1:51-- Roommate texts me to ask when I'm leaving. Informs me the that the roads were slick. Awesome.
2:00-- Brush snow off my car. Leave home.
2:10-- Arrive at the shopping plaza. My shift doesn't start until 3. I forgot to bring a book. Lame.
2:50-- Exit car, walk into store. The manager is ringing up a customer, so I approach another employee who has been there forever and tell her that I'm there for training. She tells me I need to talk to the manager. The manager overhears this and calls out, "Hi! I'm ____, we met when you came in for your interview, remember?" I use every ounce of energy resisting the urge to babble awkwardly, "Yes! Of course I remember! It's just that you were busy so I figured maybe someone would just lead me towards the back to wait or something so I was just... I didn't want to bother... Of course I remembered you!"
2:52-- While waiting for the manager to finish with the customer, I wander aimlessly around the store and instantly fall in love with every single piece of clothing. Oh no.
3:00-- My training begins. First we have to finish filling out my I9 electronically, which requires two phone calls from the manager to the other store manager. Two managers, same store. Co-managers. Sound familiar? Perhaps they should just make one of them Assistant to the Manager.
3:15-- We have finished with the I9. Now I need to get entered into the system. This requires two phone calls to IT.
3:30-- I'm probably in the system. Maybe. We'll have to see. Now it's time for DVDs! The manager tells me to come get her when the first DVD is over so she can put another one on for me. I resist the urge to call her "mom."
3:33-- The first one starts with a three minute montage of scenes from Devil Wears Prada, Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic, The Holiday, In Her Shoes, etc. Since the actresses in the montage were not wearing our brand, I'm guessing the montage served as a model for the type of women we dress every day.
4:00-- Someone who's in charge of brand fashion-y stuff for the company has spent a lot of time making promotional videos about how to put together outfits for customers. They stress the importance of looking great at work because, "No one will listen to you if you look like shit." (Okay, I may be paraphrasing.)
5:00-- Finished with the DVDs! And feeling completely frumpy in my outfit. I step out into the store to do some floor training. It is then that I notice the employees' shoes. They are wearing heels. You've got to be kidding me.
5:10-- I'm actually quite impressed with this company; they have me doing register training on my first night. Other retail chains I've worked for don't let you near the register until you've been working there for three weeks and have completed a series of challenges to prove your worthiness. (I'm looking at you, Payless. It's an oversized calculator, for god's sake!)
7:00-- I leave the store. I'm supposed to call to figure out when they want me back. (If...?) It has snowed insanely hard since I arrived at work, so my car is covered in three inches of powder and the roads are a mess. (For the record, trying to figure out a route home that doesn't involve going uphill is nearly impossible.) And I have to drive around the neighborhood a few times because someone took my parking space (okay, I may have forgotten to put out my parking chair... in my defense, people have stopped using them in light of recent wonderful weather).
8:00-- I arrive home. Keri has an amazing dinner waiting for me. Now I know why people get married.

So that was my day. An exhausting mess of frumpy. The good news is that I don't work again until Thursday, so I have several days to plan my outfit. And yes, I am taking suggestions.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Family Matters

I used to think that Keri and I had an adorably dysfunctional old married couple dynamic. But tonight she locked herself away in her bedroom for two hours as I cleaned the house, cooked dinner, and thumbed through Better Homes and Gardens. I went to check on her (read: begged her to hang out with me) and she said she'd be down in "just a second" and asked me to start her dinner. Ladies and gentlemen, I am officially the mother of teenager*.

In other news, remember the bruise/double scrape that I've been afflicted with? (Not to mention the eye... oh dear god the eye!) Add to the list a burned wrist from taking my disgusting chicken dinner out of the oven. Not a good week for Allison's left appendages.

*Okay, a real teenager would have been playing WoW while skyping and blaring music. My teenager neglected me to blog about the freaking Dred Scott decision.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mother's Day

About a month ago, my well-intentioned if slightly misinformed mother told me that I left my winter coat and boots at their house. When I moved to Pittsburgh. Land of snow and slush. I had actually left the winter coat and boots I wore in middle school. Nine years ago. Naturally I was insulted that my mother assumed I would be stupid enough to do that.

Today I returned home after a visit with the family. I had a box of extra food from my parents' pantry, two twelve-packs of Bud Light from my sister, and all of my scrapbooking odds and ends that I'm pretty excited to play around with again (even though I pretty much fail at scrapbooking prettily). The roommate and I had a tearful reunion, drank some Tassimo, and decided to go to the library since we had fifty billion things on hold. (Admittedly we were only interested in one thing.) It was then I realized that my coat was hanging in my parents' closet four and half hours away. My grown up winter coat. That I wear all the time. Currently.

In further "adorably misguided parenting" news, I texted my mom, "i'm home. and i left my coat there. fml x a million." She called me shortly after to ask what FML meant. Still no mention of the coat issue. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Winter Staycation

This past weekend my roommate and I caravanned down to our college town for an annual celebration of our namesake/(depending on who's spinning it) founder. (Seriously, not using names is just getting harder and harder.) I probably had a lot of fun, but I will need to check photos to confirm. I did walk away from the weekend with a scraped foot and knee, a massive bruise on my thigh (same leg), and--this just in!--a burst blood vessel in my eye that makes me look like one of the damned. For the record, heels + ice + chardonnay = failure^1,000,000,000. It's kind of a miracle I walked away from the weekend at all.

The best part about this annual celebration of our namesake/(depending on who's spinning it) founder is that it's sort of a prom-meets-homecoming vibe. Giant dance, live music, the occasional poofy dress, and a whole lot of alumni who just really really want to be back on campus for a bit. I saw people I hadn't even glanced at since freshman year, but because everyone was so inebr-- um, excited to be back-- I had very animated conversations catching up with people I had really never spoken to. (I also learned a lot about people's wedding plans. That was actually pretty funny.) Conversely, the night was such a blur that I missed out on seeing a lot of people who I specifically wanted to see. (Hi, everyone! See you next February?) Oh, well.

I write now from my parents' house in Maryland, where I am hanging out until... TBD. I don't have any plans until Friday, when I actually have to do things for both jobs. The morning is dedicated to interviewing a seasoned interviewer who can give me pointers, and in the afternoon I start my new retail job. (If this is anything like the seventy billion other retail jobs I've had, I will spend the night staring at a computer in the back room learning about loss prevention and the importance of clocking in and out on time.) I'm actually really excited for this job. I miss people. I haven't really met anyone new since moving, so this will put me out there and get me talking to people who don't have a cluster B personality disorder. Plus, I get to look at pretty clothes all day! (Please don't let me purchase the pretty clothes.)

And, in my remaining free time, I have adopted a new (and completely dorky) hobby. I'm trying to create my own crossword puzzle. Right now I'm working on a completely lame HIMYM-inspired one to entertain my roommate at work. However, I do have some ideas for more universal themes that I'd like to try. If I don't rip my hair out trying, perhaps I can post a finished product. (In my head, that sentence ended with an exclamation point, but I realized that the world might not be ready for my enthusiasm.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Working Girl

I am now nearly trained as an interviewer! I have my work-issued laptop, intelligence test, and spit collectors. Um, yeah... I have to collect the participants' saliva. Obviously I am thrilled and not at all disgusted by this. I'm supposed to practice interviewing people I know to get comfortable with the questions. My family thinks I'm visiting in a few days to celebrate my sister's birthday, enjoy their company, blah blah blah... Little do they know that they will be my guinea pigs. (jk, Mom! I can multitask. I'll tell you all about my wonderful life as I ask you to spit. jk again! You don't have to spit! But I do need to learn about your sexual history. On second thought, let's just go shopping, okay?) [If anyone sees my mom, please pass along the message. I don't think she reads my blog. It's cool, I love her anyway.] My favorite part of the job? My supervisor specifically told me to dress conservatively and to never wear skirts or dresses. Subtext? Don't be pretty. If I don't feel like doing my hair or makeup? No problem! Nothing to wear? Just throw on a sweatshirt! The less attractive I am, the less likely I am to get unwanted attention from the crazies.

I did score another part-time job, this one in retail. For this one I have to dress up. And accessorize. No, seriously, during the interview they mentioned the importance of accessorizing. I really hope I don't get confused about where I'm supposed to be and when.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Getting Oriented

Monday I had orientation for my new part time job as an interviewer. I won't even go into the intense amount of effort it took for me to get to the orientation following the storm of the century. Suffice it to say that the commute to and from work was a harrowing tale that will make you question your faith in humanity; I woke up at 5 a.m. hating the snow and went to bed at 10 p.m. loathing the snow. (I also avoid the topic of Superbowl disappointment. As I'm sure you know, my eventual husband-to-be Peyton Manning fought valiantly, but was bested by New Orleans. I hope the NOLA residents are happy with their smug satisfaction and their life-changing beignets and their stupid voodoo shops. Mostly I'm worried that the Colts' defeat means I'll never see this again. For the record, I hate both Tom Brady and the circus.)

Orientation itself was... well, it was a pretty typical orientation. There never is much diversity in company orientations, is there? That is why I would like to suggest a new format for "Beginnings," which, as it turns out, is a completely serious, un-ironic title for my new employer's orientation process. (They also refer to career paths as "journeys." Completely seriously.) The way I see it, if all orientations wind up being exactly the same no matter what, they may as well streamline the process. I now present to you my new money-making venture.

Journeys in the Orient(ation): Your Toolkit to Working at [insert company name here]!

Welcome! We're glad you decided to join our team at [company name]! We think you'll find your journey with us to be long and rewarding. Before you start, we'd just like to familiarize you with some of our values and ideals. In no time you'll be a valuable member of our team!

Promoting an image of professionalism is very important to us. Look in your employee manual for guidelines for your specific position, but here are helpful videos with some general guidelines for the dress code:

We at [company name] value employee safety above all else. Take time to learn our company policies.

We also value efforts to conserve and protect our natural resources. Our company has several measures in place.

We hope you and your coworkers will have a harmonious experience together. To ensure that everyone is comfortable in the work environment, and to promote productivity, here are some things you should avoid.

Thanks for joining us today! We look forward to many productive years to come.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Yips

This past week was fairly productive, albeit in a slightly soul-crushing sort of way.

I have a "casual" part-time job interviewing participants for a longitudinal study on anti-social personality disorder. Basically, when they need someone they call me and I say whether or not I can go. It will keep me solvent until I find something steady, and once I find something steady it will pay my bar tab. Win-win-win, right?

I interviewed for this job a few weeks ago, and although I knew on the spot that I had it (I'll be honest, the "interview" was mostly me asking questions about the study from a man who told me, in nicer language, that any idiot can do this job) it took until the end of last week for me to officially get the offer because of the fifty billion background checks they have to do. And when the job offer finally came in, I was told that the offer was contingent on the results of a physical, as well as Act 33 and FBI clearances. The latter two I knew about well in advance, and I've stopped pondering why a girl who will be hanging out with some violent criminals needs to gets fingerprinted, but a physical? Really? So on Groundhog Day (the adorable lady who set up my fingerprinting and physical appointments was very excited that I would have such a full schedule on that day) I drove into Oakland and got poked and prodded into submission. The best part? They gave me a TB test, so I had to drive back yesterday and pay $3 for parking just to lift my sleeve up and show them I probably wasn't going to die any time soon. And I need to go back twice more for yet another TB test. Do people even get TB anymore? Come on.

Monday I go to orientation, which will last eight hours and will cover a lot of stuff that doesn't apply to my job, but I get free food and a paycheck. Slight loss-win-win! And Wednesday I begin my specific training so I know how to react when a thirty-something year old male tells me about a violent crime he committed. (Not joking, my supervisor told me that stuff like that comes up.) I'm actually pretty excited for this job a) because it's a job, and b) because, if nothing else, I think it will be a learning experience, and those are good, right?

Yesterday I also interviewed for a research job at a local college. The job would be teaching participants how to use a computer program, and then administering pre and post cognitive tests. However, considering that I sounded like a babbling idiot during the interview, I'm thinking she'll choose one of the five other people she was meeting with. I have no idea what's wrong with me; it's like I have the yips. I did the same thing during a retail interview last week. I know how I want to respond, and in my head it's always brilliant (or at least passing for human speech), but as soon as I open my mouth it all falls apart. But, hey, who needs steady employment anyway? I've already seen my future, and it involves fluffer nutter!