Robyn Segal, 1/27/2014
Current Occupation: unemployed writer.
Previous Occupation: working through red tape
Contact Information: Robyn Segal is an artist, writer and mother. She has a B.A in Mass Communications and a Master’s of Science in Public Administration. Her short stories and essays have been previously published in the Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review, Equally Wed Magazine, Literary Yard and Connotation Press. She lives in North Haven Connecticut with her four children and wife.
I did what they said. The article in parade magazine encouraged job seekers to keep looking for a job and not get discouraged. I am no longer unemployed, I am a job seeker. The article said to reinvent yourself. I reinvented myself into an adoption specialist, a pharmacy tech, a teen crisis counselor, a tour guide, a party planner and a patient advocate. Still there were no takers. Not even a nibble. My only comfort was the news with it’s grim faced analysts and reporters telling us, the American people, that things are as bad as we think they are.
I changed my resume. I changed my resume every time I applied for a job. Should I actually land an interview, I would have to be sure that I remembered what resume I sent for the job.
I did get a call for a job at the Knights of Columbus. They invited me to come in for an interview. I looked through my cover letters and job applications, searched through Career Builder and Job Monster but could find no evidence of my applying for a job with the Knights. As the interview neared, I upped my efforts to find out what job I had applied for but to no avail.
My hope was that maybe some clue would be revealed early on in the interview.
I prepared for the interview by searching the internet for information about the Knights of Columbus. I was surprised to learn that it was a wholly Catholic organization, started by a priest, functions through local churches, funds catholic charities. Being Jewish, Gay and a single mother, I interviewed for the job knowing I would not be going to their company picnic.
My morning of the interview I looked for the Tootsie Roll building, that’s what the man on the phone called it. As I spied the New Haven skyline I found the brown roll towers pointing towards the sky. Indeed it did look like a tootsie roll.
I attempted to park my car in the Knights of Columbus parking lot but was stopped by a security guard, who seemed to know I was coming and then informed me that I was at the Knights of Columbus Art Museum. He pointed across an abandoned lot adjacent to the building and told me where to park.
I arrived at the administrative buildings to find a very congenial security guard who treated my appearance as though I was a long awaited guest. He directed me to a small chair and informed me that I needed a photo ID, could I please look into the camera and smile.
The flash went off and when my vision cleared I stood but was told to have a seat as I would require an escort to go anywhere in the building. Still I had no idea what job I was there to interview for.
My escort arrived. She held her employee ID badge over a sensor that led us to a small vestibule where there were two elevators.
She swiped her card through a card swiper that brought the elevator to us.
When we entered the elevator I made small talk about the security in the building, sure that there must have been some kind of disgruntled employee gone rogue to necessitate my ID badge and escort. The woman, humorless in a grey suit with grey shoes and a grey shirt, seemed unaware of the heightened security in the building.
The elevator doors open and my escort led me into a small office and pointed to the empty chair across from a desk, her desk.
She identified herself as the head of human resources and asked me if I had any questions before we began. I wanted to ask which job I was applying for but I knew that wasn’t what she was asking. I had with me over a dozen resumes hoping that during the interview some clue would be revealed about the job and I could grab the right resume, but no, no clue was given. Instead I was asked to fill out a standardized test. It reminded me of the kind I took in junior high to show where I had an aptitude for a future vocation. She then reviewed at length the benefits package. It was so exhaustive that it read more like a list of prizes for a game show contestant. There were days off, then extra days off, then vacations, trips, parties, bonuses, raises and free lunch in the cafeteria. By the time she was done I wanted this job more than any job I ever wanted. Still I had no idea what the job was. My interview with the woman lasted almost two hours and when she stood. I assumed the interview was over but instead she escorted me back to the elevator and we went up two floors to the sales department. Ok, I thought, it’s a sales job.
I don’t want to work in sales but with all the benefits and the employees all seemingly happy, I could talk myself into selling things, maybe even catholic things. I was brought into a room that had a large map of the United States on the wall with small illuminated lights identifying different cities.
An older man entered the room after a few minutes and sat down across from me at a large oval table. He made no small talk. He looked me in the eye and told me he was the regional manager for the north east region of the Knights of Columbus. He asked me what I knew about the organization and I drew upon my best singular fact that I could remember from my Google search. I prattled on about Father McGivney helping out a widow back in 1881. He seemed familiar with the story but uninterested in my version.
I listened intently trying to figure out what he sold but all I got was more questions. What experience did I have with fraternal orders? Was I active in my church? Was I comfortable working with men? I covered my surprise at the questions by waning nostalgia about Father McGivney. Was I really willing to be active in the Catholic Church just to get free lunch in the cafeteria?
He then told me that he never hired a woman for this position. They were an all men department. How did I feel about working with only men? The men in the department sold life insurance. They sold life insurance solely to other men in the Catholic Church. The lights illuminating the wall map represented the territories that the Knights covered, that I would cover if I liked working with only men, only in churches. Then just when I was about the surrender, BINGO, he said it, Marketing Director. He was looking for a Marketing Director.
It was almost noon by the time the interview was over. Nearly ¾ of the interview, I had no idea what I was applying for. I met each question, no matter how distasteful with the enthusiasm of a winner. Only winners get the job and I was a winner. By the end of the interview I had nearly convinced myself that
I could fake being Catholic.
I was escorted out of the building under the same blanket of security that I was escorted in. I had to surrender my ID badge to the security guy and he walked me all the way to my car. I thought it was creepy. He wished me good luck as if he himself knew all along the job I was applying for, almost as if to say thank you for coming to my tootsie roll building, but you are never coming to our company picnic.