Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Ruffian Image

Been a long time, eh? I kind of got disheartened when I found there weren't any comments left for my previous posts. Since my last one, I have had a regular urge to write another entry despite no one reading them, as one day someone just might. Soon the gap will be too large for me to justify posting again, so I figured I better get on and do it now. 

Last time I spoke, I was preparing for an interview as a support worker. After I was kept waiting half an hour past my scheduled interview time, I was invited into a poky room with two women.Why does it take two people to interview, these days?

My first question was "Name as many disabilities as you can," followed by "What do you know about disabilities?" These questions embarrassed me. Interviews are stressful when you're asked questions you haven't prepared for, but I was so concerned with my words, being diplomatic, yet hoping it wasn't too much or too little for me to answer the question sufficiently. As for the list of disabilities, I could answer it for so long, but then my mind went blank, and I started wondering what could be considered a disability. After I had made my way through about ten, I paused as my mind searched, and I actually contemplated whether Dyslexia would be considered a disability.

Despite what was my worst interview up to that point, I got a call back. I didn't go. The role involved going to care homes and bathing the residents, dressing them, feeding them and so on. I didn't think it was for me.

About a month later, I managed to land myself another job interview and I felt positive that I would get this one. It was for a new jewellery shop that was opening in Kingston. I wore the same as I did to my last interview: Black Uggs, tights, black and white Zara skirt and a black V neck jumper that I've had for years, from Dorothy Perkins. I don't own a suit, and I can make myself look pretty formal in this get up if I sit and stand in the right way. It was a cold day so I was wearing my Topshop parka. It's pretty big and unflattering, but I'd take it off for the interview.

When I got there, there were two other girls, suited and booted. They looked smart. Sophisticated, even. I felt underdressed. When I was invited into the interview room, there were two men: One pretty young, maybe early thirties, and the other going on fifty. "That's a big coat," was the first thing the younger guy said to me after the initial meet and greet. My face must've reddened. When I took it off, they both looked me up and down. I think I lost it right there. The interview went on for about 15 minutes, which is quite long in my experience. From the very first question I was asked, the younger guy just seemed to not be interested. He never held eye contact with me, something that I always make sure I do in interviews, and he said "Yeah," after every three words I said. I'm guessing to prove he was listening whilst he tapped his pen and spun his gaze over the walls. The interview, question and answer wise, went well. A little over a week later, for the first time in my life, I received an email telling me I didn't get the job. I was disappointed and I wondered what was so different about this one to all the others for me not to get it. All I can put it down to is the way I was dressed, and that kills me. The other girls didn't even have coats over their suit jackets, and it was freezing outside. It made me feel a bit of a scum bag. Not that I looked like one. All imperfections weren't visible to the naked eye, such as the white deodorant stains on the top I wore. It was only a bloody jewellery shop. I didn't even wear a suit to that internship I did up in London. And that was a big deal.

After that I continued to do the rounds with my applications only to be met with the same old story of no response. My 21st Birthday came and went in April, and I was still unemployed. About a week after, I signed up to some temping agency for bar and plate waiting work. The ad made it sound really exciting and a bit of a doss, saying it was for special events like weddings and functions, and you just brought the plates out basically. I was asked in for an interview on Friday morning at 9 am. The day before I had been out with my dad, something we often do. We went up to London to run a few errands, then spent the rest of the day getting pissed up. We went to this amazing pub called The Windsor or something, I can't remember, but it was full of pictures of famous people from Eastenders actors, to Mick Jagger, to Johnny Cash to the Queen Mum. It was wonderful in there, and I got talking to one of the staff who said she was leaving. I got really excited, and after drinking a six pound bottle of cider from a previous pub, I fantasized about working there, talking to the punters about the pictures and waiting for Mick Jagger to one day walk through the door. In the old light of sobriety, this obviously was impractical as it was about two hours away from home. I got mashed with dad. We went to that pub where Dickens used to go, and we went to The Tipperary. When I got up the next morning, I was hungover and still drunk. 

I walked into the office and was faced with a twenty something lad in a big coat. There was a fluffy dog running about the place. I was giving about four different forms to fill out. The dog kept coming up to me which put me in a strange position as all I wanted to do was cuddle it. I don't know how they get anything done with the pooch jumping around, all playful and adorable.

After the form filling, the guy tried to give me my first job. "What are you doing today?" he asked me. This terrified me, as I'd have to answer before I knew why, and if I said yes, I could be stuck with something awful. I gave a vague response. "I've got a job for you, from eleven 'til five." He paused and looked at me sheepishly. "It's washing dishes in a school kitchen. At a Private school." It being a private school just seemed to make it personal. I made my excuses and left. To this day I have not done a job for the agency. Everything that comes up, though it hasn't been washing dishes, has been in random places like Wooton which I couldn't get to without driving. 

Last month I came across an ad for an internship at this magazine dedicated to female writers. I applied to it and I got an interview, which was arranged for the following day. I started freaking out, then I realised that the interview was to be conducted by phone. I could wear what I want. A woman with an American accent called me, who happens to be the editor, and I awaited a call back. It didn't come. The phone barely left my sight, in fear of missing the call. Then last Thursday I logged into my email and found a message from the magazine. I thought it would be to turn me down, but it wasn't. I had got the gig. The whole thing is done virtually as well, so there's no travel expenses at all. I simply do my research at home and report to the editor about how I'm getting on. There's meetings every Monday on Skype and that's about it. No cost. Barely any sacrifice as they only want a day of your time each week. This continues until the end of August. I'm not really quite sure what I'm going to get out of it. It is unpaid, there are two other interns (both yanks), and it seems that the whole magazine is a labour of love, so I'm not expecting a paid opportunity after this. I guess it's just something to put on your CV, which may provide the foot in the door for what I want to get into.

So that's a piece of good news, and it gives me an alibi when I'm asked that awful question of "What are you up to at the moment?" Instead of skirting around the oh so dirty word that is 'unemployed,' I shall say "I am currently doing a three month internship for a magazine which promotes women's literature and expression." Lovely. Oh, and my specific role is as a blog coordinator, which means I'm head hunting women writers to contribute as guest bloggers to the magazine. I find that kind of ironic (not too ironic) as I evidently write a blog. Maybe irony is not the word. 

So I have an alibi but no wage, therefore making me still officially unemployed. I can't see how I can get an internship for a magazine, which would be a high in demand opportunity, where people from the states and here have applied, yet I can't get a job in a jewellery shop. If it weren't for me managing to get the gig for the internship in London last year, I'd start thinking it's cos I look like some sort of ruffian.

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