Sep 142011

I’m starting to get nice and settled into B.A.D.G. (I’m still in my probation period, but I’m getting comfortable). The house has come together nicely. The Mr. is on his second week of school. Now it’s time for my annual job search! I have to find a new job every year because most employers are not down for my 6 week jaunt to Alaska followed by extensive relaxation and vacation time. So I always have to quit. Don’t feel sorry for me, it’s totally worth it.

So here I am running the gauntlet. Are you unemployed and searching for a job? You can probably relate to the ludicrous questions asked by the online automated “pre-employment screening” that just about every company is using these days. I’m here to gripe about it. Sure, we all know the economy sucks and employment opportunities are few and far between and you are either under-qualified or over-qualified for damn near everything, but that does not give potential employers the right to degrade and belittle us in our desperate searches.

To be clear, I’ve only been searching for about a week. But I have spent the majority of the last 2 years unemployed and desperately searching for work. So I do know what I’m in for. During some point last fall, I found a job description on craigslist that I felt would be a pretty good match for me. However, the employer had me balling my fists before I even finished reading the post. “Attention ladies: you must understand the difference between classy and trashy” is just plain shitty (offensive) to say in your advert. The boss already sounds like a prick. So I went ahead and wrote him an email saying so (no wonder I can’t get hired?). Here are some of the questions I’ve had lately (all in strongly agree/agree/disagree/strongly disagree format):

I have not had my feelings hurt in the last three years.

When my friends have  a problem I am the first person they call.

My family disapproves of my lifestyle.

I am often sad.

I enjoy being the center of attention.

I strongly considered dropping out of high school.

It doesn’t matter if I work hard or not because this job doesn’t matter.

People are often hurt by my actions.

By way of this “integrity testing” they get a full psychological evaluation before they’re even done with your application. The purpose of this survey in the employers eyes is to “spot applicants who share attitudes with criminals who have not been caught and convicted”. God forbid that when the survey asks me “You work best at a slow but steady pace” I merely ‘agree’ when the only acceptable answer in is to ‘strongly agree’. Well, yesterday I got a couple real gems. Types of questions I have never even dreamed possible on a job search (and I filled out a 96 page eQip form for homeland security)! Both were multiple choice with different numbers ranging from zero to “I lost track”: ‘Number of times you have been involved in a fist fight with a co-worker on the clock’. What the fuuuuuuuck? Would anyone be honest about a fist fight at work? Anyone? The other: ‘Amount in dollars you have stolen from your employers in the last five years’. If you stole money or “time” or merch or “secrets” from your previous workplace, would you fess up to it later? Is this to weed out the insanely stupid?

(If you are interested in reading a sample “integrity report” I went ahead and posed as a potential employer so I could see how these answers are translated into scores. You can download the report here.)

How about those tedious and asinine questions asking you to “describe a time you delivered excellent customer service” or “describe your greatest accomplishment in a leadership role”? Am I alone here? What do they want me to do? Escort a bunch of blind girl scouts to a kitten petting zoo?

I’ve also noticed that there is almost always a field for planned vacations (am I the vagabond responsible for this?). They ask me what days I plan on taking off in the next 6 months. Well, six months is a damn long time. And my birthday happens to be in it. As we derby people know, sometimes you gotta go out of town to watch the Western Regional throw down (because no matter where you live, you always have to fly there.. grumble). Bouts and training camps spring up all over the place. Besides derby, my personal philosophy is to vacation as much as you work. In fact I already have plane tickets to winter in Mexico and I’m not even working yet. No way in hell will I admit this on a job application.

What is up with the credit check? Employers now require not only background checks and drug screening… but credit checks. That’s none of their fucking business. Maybe if we are talking about a position of power or some other seat that may give you abilities to steal massive amounts of money to pay off your gigantic debts (federal reserve?) or a job that gives you coveted information you could be bribed for by evil terrorists… but you know what? That job isn’t at fucking Starbucks.

Now, I’m a great employee if my conditions are right, and by “right” I mean not exploitative. Which evidently is a lot to ask. For example, if you make me pray at work, I’m going to be an asshole about it (oh believe me, this has happened). If you don’t pay for my mandatory overtime, I’m going to make you real sorry.  If you are reasonable with wage increases and time off requests I will be very good. If you give me a benefits package that covers my husband I will be even better. I am a person damnit. And I do not suck dick for $10 an hour. It’s time for potential employees to lay down some ground rules. Companies get fat and rich asking the world of low lives like me and giving nothing in return.

Today I declare bullshit on the “job market”. Show me some money and an environment of mutual respect.


Jun 112010

No booze this week. No guns, either.

Today is Friday, and my team has a bout next Saturday, versus Southern Misfits of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Tonight and tomorrow night, I have dinner plans with friends – teammates, of course – and will inevitably end up drinking more wine than I meant to. Followed by more bourbon than I meant to. Followed by several hurried pints of water before bed, to stave off the hangover. But starting Sunday, I’m going to do everything I can to make sure that I’m an ass-kicking machine at that bout, including, possibly, abstaining from booze.

I do this pretty often – avoid drinking the week before a bout. Now, I’m no champion drinker, but I have two or three beers or cocktails more nights than I don’t, and a bigger night of inebriation once or twice a week. My days are numbered here in the Rouge, and that makes it harder to go home like a good girl on a school night. But this upcoming bout is one of my last with RSRD – I have 2-3 home bouts left, depending on my moving schedule, plus just one travel bout. It’s important to me to do really well in this one, and if being really, really hydrated is going to help, then I’m going to commit to that.

I'm in red. Nervous, much?

However. I can’t say that the bouts where I’ve abstained in the pre-bout week have been my best. Every time I forgo that wine at dinner, or decide to go home rather than go out, I’m varying from my usual routine and underlining the fact that oh god, we have a bout this weekend. So I start getting nervous far earlier than necessary. And once, I threw this tradition out the window entirely and ended up drinking from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. the night before a bout, and I felt like I skated better than ever before. I think it was the desperation that did it, and my willingness to put myself in a LOT of pain while jamming, as penance. I just lit a fire under myself and went for it – I didn’t overthink, I didn’t look at that gigantic #4 blocker and hesitate, I just clawed my way past her because I knew if she hit me I’d throw up all over some poor guy in the crash zone.

This week, I think I’ll stick to my usual plan of not drinking (or drinking very little). But I need to find a way to frame it differently in my head, I need to figure out how to prepare my body without over-preparing my mind. I want to show up on Saturday with that motivating desperation, that mindless drive to just GET. PAST. THOSE. BITCHES. If you have any tips on avoiding overthinking in pre-bout week, leave ‘em in the comments. And wish me luck!

Image credits: Pokey Dad’s Flickr photostream, writer’s own.