And yes, by "their," I mean "our." Because, yes, I'm still gainfully unemployed (for those who don't keep up here.)
OK. Let's get down to brass tacks. I'm going to be frank for a minute. (Don't worry, I'm still Mike.)
The whole scene was a horrendous waste of time. The "orientation," as it was being called, was for the sole purpose of eventually helping you find a job in your specific field, and with the state of the journalism and related job markets today, you can probably picture how fruitful the ending turned out to be for me.
At 8:30 a.m., a woman herded the small group of about 15 of us into a conference room and began to talk. She had the presentation skills of a piece of cardboard teaching kindergarten, so I immediately tuned her out. I began looking around the room at the group of strangers I was suddenly thrust into. One hot blonde at the very front of the room, way ahead of me. Dammit, I thought. The hot blondes always seem to play hard to get. Don't play with me, little girl, nono....don't play with the wolf. The wolf sees you, and he knows what you're up to....
Right. My eyes wandered around again. There's a strange Chinese woman in front of me who can't speak English and keeps trying to say something about her husband, but the presentor (and the rest of us) can't understand a fucking word she's saying, but she keeps trying. I'll give her the "A" for effort, because it's impressive that she showed up and catapulted herself into an environment full of foreigners. I'd have waited at home for a phone call if I were her, but I tried that last week and just ended up getting an angry letter and no unemployment check that week. It kind of reminded me of God from the Old Testament. "DO WHAT I SAY OR I'LL HURT YOU!"
More talking now. Fuck this, I'm thinking. Make a run for it. BOLT. NOW.
The urge to flee came quickly, but I figured there would be some kind of catch and that might not have been a great idea. I quickly overrode such thoughts with a more rational approach, but then I decided to keep a written record of what exactly was going on in this room from here on out. Any port in a storm, any way to stay sane, right?.....
The following was originally scribbled on the back of one of the myriad forms they issued out during the 3-hour suckfest.
-Stop talking to yourself. I can HEAR YOU, you wacky scoundrel. Yes, that's right, I'M YOU!
-I don't know what's going on now. Something about a website and a few options you can choose from if you work at McDonald's. Wait, no, that's not it. It's....oh, for "those who make under $1,400 a month." Ye gods. Fuck that.
-Good lord. This woman presenting just said "bidness." Did she mean "BUSINESS?" Help me.
An hour later....
-Still waiting on someone to come in here and call my name. Then they will no doubt take me to god-knows-where and do THINGS to me with a keyboard and large piece of construction paper. THINGS!!! What the fuck is this crap?! Now I have to fart. Maybe I'll just fart now. Maybe I'll just do it. Maybe they'll HEAR ME then. Maybe not.
-God dammit, who do I have to fuck to find another piece of scratch paper around here? Who cares what they think I'm writing. Oh, hi there. Wow. Yeah.
Another 30 minutes later....
-A half-hour has gone by since they left the room and told me and one other person sitting here, "Don't worry, this will go REALLY fast." The other person, by the way, is the former vice president of operations for Disney Mobile. We talked and decided we both sense something stupid brewing.
-"We're here to help YOU find a job," a man says as he walks back in the room and cracks a grin that would've made a used-car salesman feel shameful. At this point I'd be more inclined to believe something like "We're going to make getting your unemployment benefits as difficult as fucking possible. Please bend over."
-To hell with this, I say. I will run out into that godforsaken lobby and piss all over the place while screaming in Latin. LATIN, DAMMIT!!!@# Argh.
-Enough of this shit. I'm going out there and telling them this is bullshit and that I'm leaving.
Two minutes later...
-That was a bad idea. There's an angry black man out there yelling to some poor cashier about why he doesn't need to be here and when the last time he got his unemployment check was. The line was also 15 people long by now and that person at the desk was the only one in sight. It was now 12:02 p.m. and I'd gotten there at 8:30 a.m., and told I'd be free to leave well before 11:30.
-Just as I sat back down and shook my head, another man came in and asked what what me and my new friend Greg from Disney Mobile were doing there still. We said we were waiting for you to come in and help us, and that I had just gone out there looking for someone because we were tired of the wait. (Here's the kicker) -
"Oh, he said, "I don't have anything that matches either of your job descriptions at this time, but I'll stay in touch."
He offered a half-assed handshake and didn't even look at me as he shook.
I said my goodbyes and good-lucks to Greg, and got in the car. I really wanted a scotch to drown out the taste of the unholy fucking mess I'd just been subjected to, but then I realized it was organized by the government, and suddenly it all began to make much more sense....