Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Thanks everyone for your emails and help. I deleted the post because time has passed for the project. I didn't win, because well, I ran out of time before I could complete my whole project. It was for a focus group that I was doing for a wireless company. In the end, I just ran out of time and energy. A very neat and fun lady won. By then, knowing I hadn't finished, I knew I wasn't in the running but I gave them some good stuff. It was for an extra $100 on top of the $200. Would have been nice, but I'm not complaining by any means.

And for those of you who need extra cash, you should look up companies that do focus groups in your area and see if you can get on their lists. They pay in cash and usually $75-$250 cash, depending on what you're doing.

Now, for this comments thing, I'm at a loss. Apparently, some of you can see them while others can't. I can't, so I'm going to leave them up for this post. If you can see them, let me know.

Now, back to Ghost Hunters.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

We finally got a reprieve from the three-day heat wave. I plan to walk later in my gorgeous neighborhood, as I have a feeling many others will do. It's crisp with a slight wind and partly cloudy. Perfect.

I've had some great prospects and that's all I'm going to say for now. I'm hoping for the best and keeping my fingers crossed.

On April 15th, I was sitting smugly in my apartment, watching the news about people who waited until the last minute to do their taxes when it hit me. I hadn't mailed in my state taxes. They were finished, just not mailed! A couple weeks before, I'd turned in my Federal taxes in person at the IRS office, to a no-nonsense humorless old lady whom I finally won over enough to get one of the corners of her mouth to turn up. Just barely. Even so, I felt triumphant. I'd cracked through the iron curtain frown of a veteran IRS worker two weeks before tax time.

So, back to that night. Smug as a bug in a rug until I looked over at those envelopes. I went to my local post office and just missed the cut off time. When I walked in, they were helping their last customer, a guy who I'm sure was thinking when I was turned away, "Sucks to be you."

I waited for rush hour to pass, then drove to the post office in Van Nuys, that was staying open until midnight. When I arrived, news vans were lined up in front, newscasters readying for the 11:00 broadcast. I was NOT going to be on TV. Not a chance that I was going to be the object of someone's smugness. There were a ton of cars going into the post office lot, but parking was easy to find once in. Inside the post office, people were surprisingly cooperative with each other and in helpful moods. One guy passed out the rest of his stamps to those who needed them, and another guy saw me standing in line with a stamp and offered to by one for a dollar. I told him not to be silly, that he could just have one. He absolutely refused and put the dollar in my open purse. Feeling horrible, I tried to give it away but there were no takers. Someone said, "Play the lottery." It was funny. I just felt so bad about taking a dollar for a stamp, but perhaps it was worth it to that man who didn't want to stand in line for a single stamp.

Either way, I got them in and avoided being on TV. On the way home, I saw a horrific accident on the other side of the freeway. Firetrucks, police and ambulances everywhere, and on the other side of it, traffic backed up for miles. How close we all come to things. That was the freeway I had taken to get there. Had I waited another half hour...who knows. It didn't look like there were fatalities, but there were probably some pretty serious injuries.

On a lighter note, I took this funny video of Oliver. He makes this adorable chattering sound when I play with him with the laser. It just cracks me up. Make sure your sound is up to view the adorableness in its entirety.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

I decided to shelve the hiatus. Sorry for the false alarm. I'll explain later. It's due to a good thing, to all you who wrote worried. Either way, the blog will continue without interruption.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I went to a colleague's book signing on Wednesday. The book signing was for Evan Wright's Hella Nation. And, if you like fantastic slice-of-life stories from the fringes, this is the book for you. From knowing Evan, he's a great story teller and very funny in his descriptions of the extreme people and situations that he's profiled. I met Evan while he was in the office for Season Four of The Wire, working with David Simon on Generation Kill, an HBO Series based on his book by the same name. Evan was a great addition to the office and we shared many a conversation over the dartboard that was in my office. And, he and his wife have two Maine Coon cats.

When I got to the store, I followed an attractive tall blond man whose looks screamed Scandinavian, and his friends up the escalator. I wondered if the tall blond man was Evan's relative because of well...the tall and the blond thing. Evan is tall and blond. They took a seat in the front row as did I, and they were later joined by another friend, a hip looking guy in a gray knit cap.

David Markland of L.A. Metblogs and I had exchanged emails beforehand, as he was planning to go as well. Sure enough, he found me out of the crowd and we chatted a bit. It was great to meet a fellow blogger IRL. "In Real Life" for those of you who aren't up in geek speak. Hi David!

Anyway, I decided to see if Evan recognized me, as I hadn't seen him since middle of 2005 in Baltimore. Talk about out of context, so my bets were on no. And, my hair has grown quite a bit since last time. When he came in, his eyes lingered for a second, perhaps trying to place me but the recognition didn't come. I would later learn what he was thinking, that I resembled a woman who was stalking him and he wondered if I was her!

He read a couple of passages from his book, one which was hilarious. These are a collection of essays from his days as a journalist from publications ranging from Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and Hustler. Yes, Hustler.

When the signing started, the group of blonds and knit cap hung around for quite awhile and talked to Evan. I think David told me he thought they were Generation Kill actors, but because everyone had their heads shaved I couldn't place them, much like Evan couldn't place me. When my turn came up, I stood there and asked if he knew me, then waited a second. I then gave him some hints and it all came back.

"The dart board!" he said. Just for the record, he's the only man who could get away with calling me that. When he realized I wasn't his stalker, just a dart board, we chatted a bit, but I knew it wasn't the place to take up too much time as there were more people in line. And, he'd said he had a fever. He wrote his email address in the book and signed it, "You are awesome," which was great.

David interviewed Evan with a very cool little camera, then darted off to catch Lost. After things wound down, I met Evan's wife, whom I'd heard so much about while on "The Wire," so it was great to see people, like David, materialize from blogs and stories to real life. It was there that I showed him a picture of Oliver and learned his Maine Coon cats were alive and well. Even his wife remembered me from stories Evan had told about his time in Baltimore. She was very cool.

It was there that I learned David and I had been sitting next to two vampires. Evan told me that they were actors from Gen Kill. When he said one of their names, it all came back. The other's name I didn't recognize, I'm sorry tween girls...I'm sorry. I just didn't. Yeah, I know. I suck and am old. But, when Evan told me he was in Twilight, which I'd seen, I was pretty sure which character he played. Does that count?

Shut up.

What I couldn't believe, was that I didn't recognize the first guy, Alexander Skarsgard, the tall Scandinavian, who's on a show that I just love, called True Blood. He plays a very old vampire named Eric Northman, who owns a vampire nightclub. Funny thing was that I'd interviewed his father, Stellan, who plays Will Turner's father in the Pirates movies, on the red carpet for the second movie. The other vampire, the one in the knit cap whose name I didn't recognize, is named Kellan Lutz. Evan told me he was in Twilight, and has lots of fans and fan sites. I verified when I got home that he plays Emmett Cullen in Twilight. That came in the form of cracking up loudly on the phone to Shannon when I put two and two together. A note to the tweens...he's cute in film, but much better looking in person.

After the signing, I went to the Farmer's Market and had a French crepe filled with Nutella and banana. Sweet Jesus. I guess the vampires were hungry too, because as I ate Kellan walked back and forth from a patio bar next to where I was satisfying my appetite near a Mexican place. When I left, I saw them at a table at the bar. For those of you who haven't been to the Farmer's Market, it's an outdoor area with shops and food, and table areas throughout. It's great food, great people watching and a good time. My mom and I went when she visited and she really enjoyed it.

Once again, get the book. Hella Nation by Evan Wright.

After all, all the vampires are reading it.

Monday, April 06, 2009

To the people of Italy or those who have relatives there, you are in our thoughts and prayers today. I was up when news broke about the quake and was hoping that it wasn't that bad. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The below details exactly how NOT to have a job fair:

Don't tell people on the phone to come at 1:00 PM, then not let them participate at 1:10.

Don't call it a job fair if it isn't really a job fair.

Don't humiliate them publicly for arriving at 1:10, when it wasn't specified that people arriving after 1:00 will not be allowed to participate.

Don't expect me to walk away with my tail between my legs if you do any of the above.

You would have thought it was an April Fool's joke, but this is how I was treated yesterday at a bookstore job fair. Now, before I get into this...my experience on April 1st doesn't reflect the company's policies as a whole. This happened at THIS store with THIS manager. While those of you who are familiar with this blog can guess which company, I'm withholding names because I'm still handling the total FUCKERY that happened below. Those of you who know me personally, feel free to send me an email.

Two weeks ago, I applied at the bookstore and called a couple days ago to follow up. I spoke to the Head Manager, not the Assistant Manager whom I met when I went in the first time, who told me that they were having a job fair on the 1st and that all previous applications would be filed. I did think that was very odd. Why would someone looking for employees decide to "file" aka trash previous applications, especially ones filled out only two weeks ago? The guy told me that "We're doing things differently now" and I would have to fill out a second application. Kind of weird and cumbersome, but okay, I was willing to play. I called again on the 1st and made sure that it was still going on. I was told that the last job fair started at 1 PM.

Now, for those of you who aren't familiar with job fairs, they are usually casual and not a set time thing. When one starts is just when they start seeing people. They can consist of people standing in line to meet with a hiring manager(s) with a lot of pamphlets about how great it is to work for the company. You are given an opportunity to submit your resume, fill out an app, sell yourself for a few minutes during your face time with hiring managers. Seminars or workshops, on the other hand, may have set times, but they are advertised as having them. This wasn't categorized as that, nor was the requirement of arriving exactly at 1 PM communicated to me on the phone by the manager. I was told they were having a job fair and seeing people in clumps at three times starting at three different times today.

When I walked inside the store, there were no signs to direct people where to go. In fact, there was no indication of where said job fair was taking place in the THREE story store. I had to go to information and wait for an available bookseller to tell me where it was.

I know what you're thinking. And yes, the red flags were already up, my fair readers. But I had yet to encounter the glaring red banner with "Abandon all hope Ye who enter" written on it around the corner. That would be when I walked to the event area and saw about eight job seekers sitting in chairs, quietly writing. In front of them, an ugly, turtle-like man stuffed into his size too small suit sat beside another man at a table. He had his hands clasped in front of him, looking at the applicants as if they were students in his high school Social Studies class. Remedial Social Studies class. When I walked toward a seat, the turtle spoke.

"Are you here for the job fair?" He said, looking smugly at me.

"Yes," I said.

"Well," he said even more smugly and pointedly, "it started at one o'clock." The man next to him said nothing.

I looked at him oddly, then said, because I couldn't think of anything else to say, "It's one, isn't it?"

He looked at his watch, and then down his nose at me and said, "It's 1:10."

I just looked at him. Confused.

"You can always drop off an application," he said. Keep in mind, he had previously told me they were only hiring through the job fairs, meaning that he had already decided not to consider me for employment at his store.

"I already did, two weeks ago and was told to come to the job fair." I said.

"We'll have others," he said.

At that, I left. Humiliated, sucker punched and fuming. It was clear that he was trying to make some sort of example of out me to the other job seekers. But, he unfairly changed the rules to turn what should have been a friendly meet and greet job fair to some sick kind of Litmus test. When I'd spoken to him previously, never did he say that people arriving after 1:00 would be turned away like errant children.

I went back to the information desk and asked the same bookseller to get me the names of the district and regional manager. Instead, he called another manager over to the desk. I have a feeling it wasn't the first time he'd had to deal with this that day. When she arrived, it was there that I went off. I told her that while I know she isn't responsible and not to take my anger as directed at her, that I'd never been treated so disrespectfully and hostilely in my life at a recruiting event to which I was invited. And, that it wasn't specified that people had to be there exactly at 1:00.

"Outrageous." I said. "OUTrageous." I then proceeded to say that the manager, Richard Mendoza, (I'll call him "Dick" for short, size pun intended) had sent an open invitation which he used to publicly humiliate me in order to prove some point. I stated that I have three years experience, rave reviews from both stores and that because of him, they just lost a chance to have a great employee. As she apologized, but skated carefully around criticizing him, I said that at this point in the game I'm still a customer and he is a representative of the company and this store. Meaning, I won't shop there and encourage the people I know not to as well.

The funny thing, was when I was complaining, another guy came up, tossed his empty application on the counter and said, "I don't want to work here. That guy was completely rude."

"Exactly," I said to both of them. "For all your caring about making plan (the sales amount that corporate wants them to reach each day), you just lost two customers. Right now we're customers, not employees. Not even interviewees at this point. I've been in meetings where plan wasn't reached by the equivalent of a couple of books."

I gave her one more "OUTrageous," then reiterated that my anger wasn't directed at her, but at the abysmal behavior by her boss. And, while that I know my boycott isn't going to make or break the store, each time they miss plan, my purchases, not to mention those of everyone else who the guy offended could have made the difference.

I then went home and called the corporate customer service line that deals with individual stores and recounted the story. The girl on the phone was horrified and apologized on behalf of the company. Again, I said I knew that she was just the person who answered the phone, and that any tone in my voice wasn't directed at her, it was just my frustration at the unfair, hostile and discriminatory treatment that this person applied in his hiring practices. She seemed to agree and will pass my complaint up the chain and someone will get back to me within 48 Hours. I did add the story of the other guy and said that I bet that scenario was repeated several times that day. Again, I have no idea if it will make any difference, but I'm going to make sure it goes in his file. I'm writing letters and also calling their employee hotline. You get the picture. I won't let this go quietly because it was completely unprofessional, uncalled for and not fair. I feel so sorry for the people who work for this idiot, who clearly has no grasp of effective communication, fair hiring practices, good public relations and leadership.

So wow...who knew that a simple attempt to get out of the house, earn an extra paycheck while doing something that I enjoy would end up like that? There are other stores closer to me, yes. But I'm feeling kind of burned right now.