Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Employment



Shortly after I walk in for the job interview, I am handed a coloring book and box of crayons and instructed to sit and draw what fruit or vegetable I think of myself as.

Now, I am a fairly self-contemplative individual, but I must say I have never thought of myself in quite these herbaceous terms, and I was a little taken aback by the question. Plus, well, it was just really silly. My pride moaned in agony for a good couple of seconds--this was just too much of a step down from my last job interview, with McKinsey--but then I told my pride to hush up and not be such a weenie. So I sat at the one foot high kids' table and sketched out my fruit. (no, I'm not telling) The coloring books were manufactured of a plasticky material that did not take the crayon well at all. Thinking of the hundreds of children who would be negatively affected by this, I pointed the fact out to the interviewer; but I believe my constructive criticism fell upon deaf ears. This made it abundantly clear to me that, no, thinking was not a job requirement and would in fact be strongly discouraged. I got offered the job though, and even got an extra $0.50/hr added on to my potential pay because of my experience. (Yay for my PhD!) But this ski resort, Keystone, was my third choice so I told them I needed to think about it for a week. (while I interviewed at the others)

My interview at Breck was much better, and less hurtful to my ego. After the hundred or so applicants were sorted into groups of six, we strapped into our boards and road all over the mountain with an instructor/interviewer. One of the more amusing moments was when we had to take the group and teach them how to do something. People were of fairly diverse and sporty backgrounds, so were rolling around, doing yoga, climbing moves, volleyball techniques, etc. I decided to be a bit different and put it to a vote whether they wanted to learn how to duck-dive a surfboard, skydive, jibe a windsurfer, land a hang glider, or build a human tower. The human tower, a stupid-human-tricks sculpture involving six people that I came up with at the ABL party, won out and I began instructing the team. A problem was that one of the girls was five foot tall but about 180lbs. Hmm. I asked her in private if she'd prefer to be on the base or on the top, and she chose top. I think everyone else was equally concerned, but not going to say a word. (An even slightly poorly worded suggestion would have reflected negatively on one's social skills.) I think I pulled this off OK, but I'm not great at not being blunt. The tower didn't quite make it all the way up, but it was a good effort and a fun thing to try, so it was approved of.

Anyway, at the end of the day, I was offered the job. Yip! But, then, almost the whole group of 100 were offered jobs, except for the swarthy fellow who walked with a limp and the girl with the severe speech impediment. I guess they have a very high instructor attrition rate.

The next day, all these people who had left mainstream america to come to this beautiful place and work outdoors teaching their beloved sport were made to endure eight hours of sitting in a fluorescent lit room listening to HR and upper management people drone on about stuff that was utterly useless and brain numbing. This is the first time I have ever been exposed to this, but I'm sure anyone who has worked in a large corporation is familiar with these brilliant motivational insights that are thought up by management. All I can say now is, I'm sorry; I knew, but I didn't really know. There were, however, a couple of nice moments. Well, for me anyway. The best was probably when it was explained to us (who were to be paid $9.50/hr for teaching classes of eight) that, although it may seem a bit much that our clients were going to be paying about $120 each for two hour lessons, that we must project professionalism to ensure them that WE ARE WORTH IT. Heh. I did NOT ask the obvious question of "If we are worth $480/hr, why are we being paid $9.50?" -- but oh how I wanted to. Hmm, high attrition rate is now no surprise. However, despite my efforts at self-control, I later slipped up. A question arose as to whether we would be paid for training time. Rather than simply saying "no" the head of operations asked people who had ever gone to college to raise their hands. All hundred hands went up. (Ah yes, my overeducated brothers!) Then he asked people to keep their hands up if they had been paid to go to college. I was in the front row, but I could feel the heat of eyeballs on the back of my neck. Damn, outed. I turned around and saw one other, lone woman in the back row with her hand up. ( made mental note to talk to her. :) Turned back around and could see the management guy making his own mental note: "trouble maker."

So I am now employed as a part-time snowboard instructor. This should be fun and provide some interesting social interaction a couple of days a week, which I've been lacking. Thanks to R and B for providing written letters of recommendation for my application. (R wrote what I consider to be a "perfect" letter--excellent psycho-engineering in there.) Basic training starts next Tuesday. Yip!

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gar@lisi.com