Monday, August 15, 2011

Day 28

I'm quite proud of this blog, which is really annoying.

Today I had an interview with a local chain of coffee shops. I don't exactly know what they were interviewing me for, but I got the feeling it was as a kind of marketing person for their brand, which I am so down for. I also got a feeling it might be as a shift manager for one of their shops, which I'm not. My experience and skills outpace me for that job, and I'm not going to tie up 40 hours a week doing something that I'm overqualified for unless it pays REEEEdikulously well and I don't think schlepping coffee is going to do that. Nope if you want me, you have to challenge me and pay me. I just spent almost 2 years managing a cafe for a company that basically turned that art into an algorithm. It wasn't good. It wasn't good for me, I wasn't performing to my skill level, and I was bitter whenever I crossed from the carpet to the tile. I hate to admit that, but...i've had this conversation with my GM so at least she isn't reading this going "Whaaaa?"

I made the conscious choice to go to the interview in business casual. That is an unusual move for me. I'm a shirt and tie interview kind of guy. I believe you dress for the job you want, not the job you're interviewing for. For this one though, I kind of wanted to send a message. That this was a conversation not an interview. And that I was as much interviewing them as they were me. I think I mostly wanted to send this message to myself, because the one thing that keeps me from ripping my hair out and sitting on my dining room table singing Yankee doodle in a diaper is the idea that I should be able to segue this into something better. Something that moves me forward. I need to believe I have value, because...well...I do. I may have forgotten over the last 3 years mostly because of personal reasons (another blog, another time perhaps) but Professionally, I'm a catch. When I put my mind to it I'm remarkably capable. I just...forgot that for a while. #cockyrantover

The interview was with an owner and a manager, both of whom I would love to work with. they seem so nice, even if there were moments where I thought the owner was going to take a nap ( I should state that he is obviously a very busy man and the fact that he would give me 45 minutes of his time, is something I really do appreciate, I know when I interview it's like, 20 minutes...ooops time to go, I'm service manager now, so owning three locations its gotta be intense but truly, i thought he was sleeping for a second there.), the Manager was cool as cats. I enjoyed the conversation a great deal. Toward the end the Manager asked me a question:

"So outside of work what do you like to do, what hobbies do you have, what are you proud of?"

MY BLOG! came instantly to my mind, and then on the exhale I realized, I want prospective employers to know I blog? Is it a good idea to let them see a time when i've yelled at a customer, okay fine he yelled at me first, but am I putting a good face forward here? How would I feel if I were a business owner and I was interviewing someone who would publish the decline of my business? So I just said writing. I mentioned comic books and music and reading in general. And of course coffee.

I've made the informed decision to keep as many people as I can in this blog unidentified except myself. I also decided to start it after the company was officially going to liquidate. And I don't divulge any numbers or trade secrets. I've tried very hard to be informative but also professional. I'm just not sure a prospective employer would care. I just wonder if I'm sewing the seeds of distrust by this very act?

Something about me which might be or might not be obvious,is that I'm an open book. I will tell anyone anything about myself no matter how personal or how private, if they ask me (and I feel we have a connection that merits the information). I have deeply personal conversations with friends. Acquaintances, I'll be honest with my opinions. Not Dick-move-radical-honesty type stuff, I try to be mindful of peoples feelings and responses, but I don't tend to pull punches, I do try to soften them into handshakes though. I'm also almost embarrassingly self aware. Perhaps this is some kind of narcissism, I don't know. I have tried throughout my life to teach me the skills of not lying to myself, sometimes i've failed, or learned the hard way, but its always been an important trait that i've tried to cultivate whenever possible. I think this explains some lack of success i've had in some areas of my life as most people are precisely the opposite, and I probably make them uncomfortable. I'm unguarded and open, and most people are profoundly not that. I can see why I'd give them the wiggins. And employers are DEFINITELY not that, so I'm left to wonder, am I a risk?

It's this bizarre thing, because I think in another context I would absolutely scream out "BLOG" but in this context i'm not sure I should. Its annoying.

I'm really encouraging conversation here. I want to crowdsource these questions, because i don't have the answers. I need the help, so please, please please, comment below and give me your feed back.

Borders is a weird thing. It's a hard thing to walk away from, yet...people do. They've gotten tired of it's nonsense over the years, they've been forced out from the myriad of restructuring we've had in the last half decade, they've been one incident away from being terminated and leave while they can still be friendly with their supervisors. But I think something about it makes people want to come back to it. I did. I was gone from borders for about 4 or 5 years, but I came back. I remember during that 5 years I said to many a person, well if I fall on hard times there is always borders, I should be able to walk into that place and just start working. I'm sure a lot of people have said that who are reading this. Its so comfortable, it's like a dysfunctional relationship, well it might not be the best for me but it works. It can be a trap, i've seen it. But now that it's gone, It's strange. I'm going out into the field without a net. It's intimidating and liberating all at once. I see people who work with me going out and finding places that are better for them, either because they'll get a discount on pet food to feed their ravenous critters, or because it's a school that will nurture their particular brand of creativity, or because it's a retailer that will fill in that missing bit of info that will bridge their time from Borders, to being self employed. There are moments when I think this is a good thing.

There are moments when I think maybe, 11,000 people are getting a chance Borders could never give them until now.


  1. It's interesting that you thought of the blog first. I've found over time that I would rather work on my blogs than do art, most of the time, even if blogging is more work, time-wise.

    Its an indication how much you're getting into it and how you're starting to think of yourself as a blogger/writer.

  2. My instinctual guarding response would have mirrored yours.

    I'm not saying you should keep it a secret! Your blog is a wonder and a gem and should be shared and widely.

    It's just that "MY BLOG!" is an exclamation best left to a later stage of the employee-employer relationship. Much like not blurting out "I LOVE YOU" until you've at least ordered an appetizer on the first date.

    That's what the interview is, after all.

    After you've gotten to the third or fourth date -- after the exchange of paycheck for effort expended becomes routine -- that's when you polish up the shiny rock of "writer" that you offered earlier on and present it as a gift of trust.

    By then your boss/partner/whatever should know enough about you to not have a wiggins at the news. So to speak. They'll have seen you in your everyday professionalism and discretion, not just wearing the shiny suit of enthusiasm and passion. Revelations always go down better in an atmosphere of trust.

    That's my 7.31 cents adjusted-for-inflation, anyway.

  3. I personally wouldn't hide it. If someone's going to hire me, they're investing in who I am. Why bend the truth? If an employer is squeamish about your honesty, it isn't a good fit. Be yourself and you'll be happiest where you end up.