Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Day 417 12:47PM

What They Say: Sorry for making you wait. 
What They Mean: Sorry for empowering myself by letting you sweat in the waiting area. I'm sure the receptionist's inane story about her boyfriend's band helped you focus. Have you started to doubt yourself yet? Good.

What They Say: So tell me about yourself.
What They Mean: Despite receiving your resume over a week ago and having it right in front of me I haven't pulled myself away from Facebook and TMZ.com long enough to read it. Can you tell me everything while I zone out for a few minutes? 

What They Say: Why this company? 
What They Mean: Listen, we're aware it's a recession and you've been out of work for some time. However, we'd still like to believe that we are a unique snowflake among millions of  identical raindrops and, much like a Jonas Brother on his wedding night, you've been saving yourself for us. Hence, I'd like you to spend about five minutes or so blowing smoke up my ass with some information about our company you got from Google Alerts and the press page on our web site or, if you are truly motivated, our 10-K statement.
What They Say: What are some of your weaknesses? 
What They Mean: Let's see how much your MBA program prepared you to answer some rote interview questions. If you don't say "delegation" or "I work too much" I will lose a bet and have to eat a whole quail. 

What They Say: Why did you leave your last job? 
What They Mean: If we actually go through the effort of checking your references are we going to find out you brought a hooker in on Casual Friday or were caught peeing in the espresso machine?

What They Say: What is your management style? 
What They Mean: I'm trying to figure out if you are going to be someone I can boss around; the least obvious way to do that is to flip the question around. It's a style of questioning I learned from graduate school. Or CSI: Miami, I forget. Man, David Caruso has had a hell of a roller coaster career. On the flip side, I'm happy to see Khandi Alexander get steady work; I've loved her since NewsRadio. I miss Phil Hartman [sigh].
What They Say: Where do you see yourself in five years?
What They Mean: I'm looking for someone with mediocre dreams who's not willing to shoot too high or try to take my job. Can you tell me in the vaguest terms possible if you are that type of person? 

What They Say: Do you prefer to work alone or as part of a team? 
What They Mean: I need to zone out again so I'm going to toss you this softball. If you say you prefer one or the other I'm going to get up without a word, walk out that door and promptly eat another quail. 

What They Say: How many piano tuners are there in New York City?
What They Mean: This interview is running a little short and it's also kind of boring, let's spice it up by asking you a seemingly arbitrary case question. Either you over-prepared for something like this, in which case we will learn nothing about you except how good your grad school is at preparing you for case questions (and how many piano tuners there are in New York City). Or you didn't prepare at all and I get to watch you stumble and sweat for 10 minutes (3 of which you will spend trying to guess how many people even live in NYC) and will now how a good story for the awkward Happy Hour we do once a month at the pub around the corner.

What They Say: We are looking for somebody who can hit the ground running.
What They Mean: The last guy caught us off guard when he left unexpectedly and nobody here knows how to access his Excel files or where he keeps the advertising proofs. We're hoping we can blame you for all that ASAP.

What They Say: Do you have any questions for me? 
What They Mean: Last chance to redeem yourself for that stupid fucking answer earlier. I mean seriously, who says their biggest weaknesses are parallel parking and Asian strippers? 

What They Say: We will be in touch soon. 
What They Mean: I plan on being unavailable to you for the next two weeks after which one of the company bots which send you a form rejection letter. Thank you for making me look like I do something during the day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day 390 12:28PM

TIO Tips for Surviving... The Need To Eat
  1. Plenty of bars use free food as a lure to get patrons to spend their money at their establishments. Turn this heartless technique against them by eating gratis at places like Crocodile Lounge (free pizza), Rudy's (free hot dogs), Rodeo Bar (free enormous peanuts), and People's Republic of China (free Tibet).
  2. Chinese lunch specials in NYC are a wonderful thing. Looks for deals between $5 and $7 that hook you up with soup or egg roll and a choice of fried rice varieties. Avoid the sucker orders though: any noodle dish negates the free fried rice and opting for soda means no soup/egg roll  (buy the soda for $1 at a bodega, rookie.)
  3. Embrace the Private Label. If I took one thing away from grad school (and it is very possible I did) it is that the price increase between Private Label brands and Major brands is mostly due to Marketing budgets. Sure, you may not impress you date when you make her America's Choice pasta on your Martha Stewart Everyday plates before trying to seduce her with you Equate massage oil but hey, that's what you get for picking up a chick in Whole Foods.
  4. Say what you want about Jared but that purple-lipped, effeminate sandwich whore is onto something at Subway. $5 for a footlong sangy is a helluva deal.
    • Subway tip 4a: Buy one delicious cookie right before closing. They are usually looking to get rid of them so you can probably score two or three. Oh, and STOP JUDGING ME!
  5. Celebratory parties usually have a free food aspect. For example, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs have the BEST food. Plus teenage girls dress like Thai hookers celebrating Y2K at these things. Use this opportunity to explain to them that men like you for your mind not your HOLY SHIT did you see that one???
  6. Chinatown Dumplings. Just don't try to figure out how they can make money by selling 5 dumplings for $1. Rather than estimate their margins just assume it is a loss leader. Move on.
  7. Listen, there's a reason a lot of homeless people aren't skinny. Rock the Dollar Value Menus at McDonald's, Wendy's, and the like. Mask your shame by pretending to be drunk or eating out of Tiffany's bag.
  8. Did you know that there are 94 calories and 8.06 grams of fat in one Tablespoon of Peanut Butter? You did? Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with you?
  9. Food trucks are all the rage right now. Try to rob one.
  10. This is more for the suburban poor: store water on the bottom rack of your shopping cart. "Forget" about it when you check out. "Notice" it when you get to your car. "Feel too embarrassed" to bring it back in and "promise yourself" to pay next time. Then "don't".

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Day 342 4:42PM

Owing to it's (relatively) immense popularity and the fact that I haven't had an original idea in weeks I am bringing back the Market Research Diary! Much like an episode of Fox's 24 this entry contains dubious passages of time, a protagonist that is 5' 6", and a surprise twist at the end; and like Fox's The Bernie Mac Show it contains a sarcastic internal dialogue, adorable moppets, and a cameo by Carlos Mencia.

This all takes place on Tuesday, April 20th, 2010.

6:50AM: IT'S MARKET RESEARCH DAY!!! Unfortunately my excitement is tempered by the fact that I am freelancing today. Only twelve hours to go...
11:34AM: My freelancing gig ends early and I am faced with free time. There's so much I can do on a gorgeous day such as this - take a walk along the river, visit the Central Park zoo, get blindingly drunk by myself at a German biergarten or nursery school cafeteria. I settle on a classic: spend six hours in Gregory's Coffee Shop because they have free wi-fi and a bathroom I trust.
5:22PM: Getting antsy to give my opinion on things. Unsolicited I have expressed thoughts on the chocolate chip cookies, the genius of bringing a power strip to Gregory's, and the evidence of Cialdini's Six Drivers of Influence in coffee consumption.
By the way, if you doubt the validity of these entries please note my Facebook and Twitter updates from that time below:
Facebook: The Mexican Standoff going on between the two strangers sharing the small window table at Gregory's on Park is mesmerizing. She's really stoic but I think he may be nuts... [Tue at 2:35pm]
Twitter: It took 30 minutes of appalled eavesdropping before I realized the couple next to me is prepping for a med school test & r not not kinky freaks. [3:06 PM Apr 20th via web]
6:05PM: Time to head up. The study isn't until 6:30 but as you'll see later you always want to be on time but not too early to these things...
6:17PM: I'm too early.
6:19PM: Signing in behind a guy that is way too friendly. I'm terrified that we are going to have to interact at some point.
6:21PM: Tough moment in my day. There are roughly 50 chairs in the waiting room - seven rows of five and then another 15 or so lining the room. A woman is sitting front row, far left. Over Friendly chooses closest along the wall (easiest choice). There's nobody else. Resisting all social mores I choose the fourth row, second chair in. I'm OK with this choice.
6:23PM: The receptionist tries to inspire some light banter among us by pointing out that he too has a Droid smartphone (which this study is about) and loves it. With my headphones in I pretend not to hear. Over Friendly is thrilled to discuss his phone.
6:24PM: I am somewhat mortified to discover the cord to my headphones is plugged into nothing and dangling freely by my side.
6:26PM: A proctor comes out who is a dead ringer for, coincidentally enough, Lt. Proctor from Police Academy 2. Over Friendly introduces himself though all I catch is "my friends just call me Cooper." I imagine a legion of Farmville "friends" LOLing every time this guy makes a cabbage joke on some message board somewhere. Meanwhile I struggle to resist singing the Blue Oyster Bar song to Lt. Proctor proctor.
6:29PM: The room feels different now that he is gone. Less... something. I begin to wonder: is it Cooper or Kooper?  Maybe it's Couper? Or the foreign-tinged Cupar? Or maybe he said "my friends just call me THE Cooper" due to his propensity to make or repair casks, barrels, etc. [non-crossword people just look it up].
6:30PM: I have to know so I approach the front desk with the line "did I remember to sign by my name?" in order to check his sign in. It's Cooper. All is well again. Again, this really happened.
6:34PM: Bored, I begin to play a game called "What's The Weirdest Thing I Can Put On My Browser In Case They Ask Me To Check It During The Study?" Porn was too obvious. An article about creating a homemade pipe bomb was a little reckless. Zac Efron's fan page hit a little too close to home. I settle for a YouTube episode of Designing Women.
6:36PM: I wonder what Cooper is doing.
6:40PM: In a truly jarring turn of events a screaming child is brought into the waiting room. For a brief second my heart flickers at the thought of testing a new App that somehow elicits this response from small children, cats, and people who try to get on the subway before everybody gets off. Turns out the study was for the Nintendo DS. Probably for the best; the world isn't ready for that App.
6:43PM: I wish Cooper was here. He'd know what to do with this kid. His mom tries Sprite; I bet Cooper would spit that Sprite in her face and regale the child with a song or a story or some magic. Fucking Cooper is great.
6:45PM: A mom brings a second child into the waiting room, apparently to take the study Child One has just undergone. The look of terror on Child Two upon seeing a screaming Child One is priceless. And by the way, yes ladies, I'm still single.
6:49PM: I'm called to the front and it is explained that they double-booked my time spot with none other than... Cooper! They needed to make sure he was OK for the study - which obviously he is, he's fucking COOPER. I was free to go, $125 check in hand for roughly 30 minutes of my time. And that is why, my friends, you try to show up late but not too late.
6:54PM: On my walk to the train I have time to reflect on this man we (his friends) call Cooper:
Droid owner.
Friend to male receptionists.
Spaghetti aficionado.
Market research attendee.
Barrel maker.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 325 11:56PM

I'm well aware that I haven't posted in almost a month and for that I apologize to my avid follower. I've been freelancing and consulting which makes this blog both difficult to do and kind of a farce, since I am somewhat employed. That being said, I am still mostly unemployed and certainly live like it so we press on.

It's late but I wanted to get in a new Employed Dave vs. Let Go Dave: I've recently become aware of the fact that I spend an unreasonable amount of my mental capacity on trying to figure out exactly how much money I need to put on my Metro Card so that it winds down to zero. For non-New Yorkers - and you rich fucks who stay above ground - a subway ride in NYC costs $2.25, a somewhat reasonable amount (don't let anybody wax nostalgic about the time it was a buck as that was also the time when subway vigilantes with tiny mustaches, Coney Island gangs with awesome vests, and Turk 182 owned the underground). When you put $8 or more on your card, NYC Transit sees fit to bonus you a little cash and so you receive a 15% bonus (for example, a $20 purchase gives you $23 on your card). This is where I stumble: If I in fact purchase that $20 card and use it all the way down I still have $.50 leftover. Employed Dave would let that $.50 go, chalking it up to a win for the MTA; Let Go Dave refuses to allow breakage in his already broken state and has spent, on more than one occasion, about five minutes in front of the vending machine with his credit card, his Droid calculator app, and a tiny little Asian grad student trying to figure out if it is worth it just to throw $4 on the card for two trips and no bonus or invest $9.35 which, with my 15% gets bumped up to $10.75 plus the $.50 to $12.25 which equals almost exactly five trips and one "insufficient fare, please swipe card at this turnstile again" upper thigh bruise moment in the near future.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 297 11:03AM

The Hiring Manager's New Ten Commandments (as prescribed by candidates):

I: You Shall Have No Misconception That You Are God; You Are The Hiring Manager And After This Interview Is Over You Will Return To Your Excel Spreadsheet Before Attending That Brutal 3:30 Weekly Conference Call Where Lydia Always Talks Way Too Much.

II: You Shall Not Make For Yourself Your Job Easier By Asking Candidates The Following Rote Interview Questions: "What is your greatest strength and greatest weakness?", "Where do you see yourself in five years?", and "Do you prefer to work independently or as part of a team?". 

III: You Shall Not Take Your Candidate's Name In Vain As You Wait Two Months To Give An Answer, Slowly Stringing Them Along Before Crushing Their Hopes With A Form Email Sent On A Friday Afternoon.

IV: Remember The Sabbath Day And Don't Schedule Interviews For Mondays, Especially During Football Season, If St. Patrick's Day Or Halloween Falls On A Weekend, Or If Sabbath Was Especially Warm And Conducive To Day-Drinking.

V: Honor Your Candidates and Don't Answer Your Cell or Office Phone During The Interview Even If You Just Have To Tell Someone To Take Your Name Off Their Cell Phone. Huge. Quickly. Bye.

VI: You Shall Not Murder (Really This Is Just Common Sense).

VII: You Shall Not Come To The Interview Unprepared Having Not Read the Resume, Having Not Read The Job Description, Or Having Not Put On Pants.

VIII: You Shall Not Steal Your Candidate's Pen (This Happened Once And Let Me Tell You, It Throws One Through A Loop).

IX: You Shall Not Bear False Witness Regarding The Availability Of The Position Or The Existence Of Strong Internal Candidates.

X: You Shall Not Covet the HBS Degree; You Shall Not Covet A Consulting Background, Nor Proficiency In Access, Nor Your Neighbor's Donkey, Nor A High Undergraduate GPA, Nor The Answer To "Why Are Manhole Covers Round?".

Did I miss any? Feel free to tell me in the comments...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 279 8:30AM - 2:50PM

Today I thought I'd keep a diary on my trip to NYC to be a Floater for a Market Research study on how people use the Internet to purchase products. Essentially for $250 I hang out for three hours in case anyone bails on the study. I should be a PSA for getting your MBA.

8:30AM: IT'S MARKET RESEARCH DAY!!! [hit snooze]
8:57AM: Shower? Shave? Brush? Fine.
9:22AM: Frantically trying to pick out Market Research clothes. I need something that says "I'm happy to help but I don't need to be here." T-shirt and tuxedo trousers? A button-down with my Phish overalls? I settle on the casual-corporate-white-male-winter-2009 look: Expensive jeans, button down under a zip-up sweater. I throw on some Adidas white shell-tops just to add a little "Yeah I grew up upper-middle class; so what of it motherfucker?"
9:29AM: Seven minutes spent trying to figure out if the semi-colon belongs in that quote. Still not sure.
10:31AM: Scouring my email because I can't remember what I told them I do (it can't be Marketing, per Day 250's entry). It is either Hospitality Operations, Event Planning Consultant, or Labradoodle Enthusiast.
10:57AM: Switching over to Droid voice recorder to continue diary while I drive into the city.
11:05AM: "So I put my hands up, They're playing my song, And the butterflys fly away. Noddin' my head like yeah, Moving my hips like yeah. And I got my hands up, They're playin my song, I know I'm gonna be ok. Yeah, It's a party in the USA! Yeah, It's a party in the USA!" [shamefully turning recorder off]
1:14PM: Arrive at [name omitted] with time to spare. While nobody's at reception there is a gong! Market Research companies are FUN!
1:15PM: I refuse to gong but someone shows up anyhow. He looks like a cross between the bad guy in True Lies and the kid who played Joey's nephew on Joey. I'm keeping an eye on him...
1:34PM: Uneasy flirting going on between Little Salim Tribbiani and a plainer version of the stoner Asian girl from Knocked Up. I'm killing these pop culture references.
1:46PM: Ooooh, I get the early nod. I'm going in. The next hour will be recounted from memory as they probably don't want me taking notes.
1:48PM: A kindly middle-aged woman leads me to a room with two computers, four bottles of water, and a web camera. This is exactly how the worst ever Letter To Penthouse started.
1:49PM: Apparently we will be examining an audio book web site. My first fake-bio stumble comes out as I tell her I live in the city but commute in as well. Get it together Dave!
1:51PM: A quick second stumble as I knowingly ask her if the camera above the computer is for eye-tracking research. I immediately add "I saw one on TV" since I can't remember my back story.
2:02PM: I drop my first curse of the interview. Oddly enough, it's "Ass-ramming hamster fucker."
2:06PM: To save face I go on a lengthy discourse on the pricing model of the web site. It is quickly made apparent to me that I don't understand said pricing model.
2:10PM: "That's when the taxi man turned on the radio, and a Jay Z song was on, and the Jay Z song was on." Damn you Miley!
2:19PM: We're back in the groove as I go smoothly through the purchase process with some astute comments about how well the site works. Mentally I am beating the beat.
2:23PM: I refrain from asking her about her cats, of which she clearly has three.
2:31PM: For some reason I have mentioned Chuck Klosterman an astounding eight times during this interview. If something happens to Chuck in the next month I will most certainly be named a Person of Interest.
2:36PM: My second diatribe of the interview involves a new belief that bookshelves are secretly the most egotistical thing any person can own. She is clearly concerned and gives the "If I tug my earlobe come storming in" sign to the outside observers.
2:40PM: Trying to lighten the mood by making a Dark Night joke about the two-way mirror doesn't help. We solemnly agree that Heath Ledger passed too soon. Awkward silence follows. I've clearly been placed on some sort of watch list.
2:43PM: She goes into the other room and I immediately look up Klosterman's new book on the site. What the hell is wrong with me?
2:47PM: We wrap up but not before a final stumble as I mention Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Porter's Five Forces, and the book How We Decide all in the same sentence.
2:50PM: Doesn't matter, I am paid my cash anyway. Just like Miley, for today I know I'm gonna be OK. It's a party in the USA. It's a party in the USA.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Day 273 3:10PM

I'd like to debut a new feature to Termed Into Oblivion called Recently Discovered Skills I Won't Be Putting On My Resume (working title):

Seven Bridges,   Chappaqua, NY
Snowman Engineer
•    Created and executed the development of a human representation derived from frozen water vapor. 
•    Managed cross-functional team (Operations, Creative, Quality Assurance, Neighbor’s Kids) tasked with project implementation and construction.
•    Coordinated field activities with design changes and internal scheduling. Negotiated labor’s (Sean) work schedule with management (Olga).
•    Led the acquisition of building materials from third parties, including the contracting of two buttons used for optical representation.
•    Worked with Creative to implement usage of in-house materials in order to lower project costs including using fir leaves for an awesome Burt Reynolds moustache.
•    Developed communications objectives for the project and oversaw its execution on Social Media (Facebook pictures), Internet Marketing (email to Mom), and Direct Marketing (call Mom).
•    Supervised a team of two assistants, two interns, and one toddler.