I meant to post this weeks ago - after I accepted the offer, before my first day of work. It started out as a summary of the interviews I had at three different companies, but it was too long, and when I had time to cut it down, I had already started the job, and I wanted to talk about that instead, but then there was the vandalism, and that seemed more important to write about, and then I got sidetracked...
So here are shortened versions of all those things. It ends up being long.
I think everyone already knows about this stuff by now, but someone sorta-broke one of my windows with a BB gun back in June, and someone (else?) badly dented the roof of car a few weeks ago (my first week at work) when they walked on top of it. Footprints on the hood, roof, and trunk. The cops managed to punch out most of the dent from inside the car, but you can still see hints of the damage.
Later that week, someone (else?) left a big fudge dragon on the front steps of my house. Yes, I'm sure it wasn't from a dog, based on the size, shape, location, and smell.
The police asked if I thought it was personal. I don't think so, but it was an interesting question, because I've had some experiences that prove you really don't know what goes on in someone else's head. Now that I've had a few incident-free weeks, I'm less worried about that, but it's not going to make replacing the window any cheaper.
And now the spellbinding tale of my three interviews
The thing I found most interesting/awful about this job search was that I did not get called in for even ONE software-related job, or indeed any technical writing job. 21 years of software technical writing experience, starting before I even graduated college, and I couldn't get an interview. I'm not sure what that says about my future, but now that I've been working in another industry for a short while, I really want back into software.
First interview: Proposal writer at a lottery systems company in Providence
No parking or validation, not even for visitors, at a company that has a parking garage in the building. The staff were unfriendly and inconsiderate. They didn't ask to see my writing samples, and were obsessed with telling me about the overtime. If I had gotten the job, it would have been strict office hours (plus tons of take-home overtime), no telecommuting, an annoying drive, expensive parking (or a short bus ride from East Providence, not cutting enough time out of my drive to actually get any reading done), and two bosses with no personality. The building, which is supposedly the company's world headquarters, also has no cafeteria. I guess you go to the Providence Place mall for everything - parking, lunch... I wonder if the company provides office supplies, or if you have to buy those at the mall too.
Second interview: Appraisal writer at a metals appraisal company in Lincoln
The interviewer on the phone gave inadequate directions to the place ("look it up on Google," but the building itself was difficult to get into and there was no hint as to what floor the company was on). He asked me if I had kids (not a legal question). The office was in a dumpy old mill building among a bunch of other dumpy mill buildings, with a rubbly parking area ("lot" would be a gross exaggeration) that promised to be dark and creepy in the evening, much like the inside of the building itself.
They didn't ask to see any samples, and they asked me repeatedly if I was cool with lots of overtime. (How the hell do you answer a question like that?) The guy who had interviewed me on the phone asked again if I had kids. Then he explained that they had to know if I had any "childcare issues" that would interfere with aforementioned overtime. (That version of the question is legal, but only if you ask it of all candidates, not just the female ones. I don't know whether he would have asked that question of the male candidates too.)
I've been dealing with overtime throughout my adult life; it really isn't a big deal, so it annoyed me to be asked this at two interviews in a row. But I really don't want to work for a company that's too rinky-dink to have someone on board that understands basic EEOC stuff. (No HR department.) Of course, I was in no position to turn down a job, regardless, and it seemed like interesting work. But they had no idea whatsoever what a technical writer does. I explained that it was essentially the same as what they do: obtain information from many different sources and distill it into a form that's meaningful and actionable for the intended audience. But I guess I wasn't convincing. Maybe they had already decided on someone.
When I was rejected, they told me it was because they wanted someone with "more of a narrative style." Huh? What would they know about my narrative style? They never mentioned that during the interview. I have a narrative style. I saw their appraisal documents, and they didn't require any more "narrative" than technical manuals do.
Third interview: Where I work now
This one's not even a writing job. Despite being called "technical publications editing," the pubs aren't particularly technical, in my opinion, though they are extremely dull. And I'm not sure I'd even call it editing so much as formatting.
But what I liked about the interview was that the people were friendly and nobody made a big deal about overtime (though they acknowledged that it exists). I also liked that my future boss was impressed with my attention to detail - a quality that some ex-employers have found annoying, and which didn't seem to delight the other people I had interviewed with, who got impatient when I asked them detailed questions about the position other than the overtime.
It's not the best-paying, most interesting, geographically convenient job I could have wished for, but in thinking back over the three interviews I had, I'm glad this is the one that panned out.
Okay, so I kind of hate it right now. I've got deadlines all over the place, but I still don't have most of the software or source files I need to complete any of the work, and the atmosphere is often much more schmoozy than I would like. But it's much better than working with people who act like they have broomsticks shoved up their butts, so that's nice. I just wish they'd dial it down a little when I'm trying to work. Instead, it becomes more schmoozy when the Government Airplane Agency (GAA) guys are around, which is usually when I'm under the most pressure.
And my boss thinks I'm too impatient, which might have something to do with the fact that I'm trying to get some work done instead of participating in the stupid banter. She's right - I get very short with people when they prevent me from getting my work done so that I can go home. It's an hour each way, so the thought of staying late because I had to wait for one of the managers or GAA guys to finish telling some lengthy, non-work-related anecdote so that I can get some urgent piece of information really pisses me off. (I used to be such a procrastinator. Now I can't wait to finish things. Maybe it's the ADD treatment. It's nice to finish something on time and then goof off guilt-free afterwards and not have to put in overtime. On the other hand, when I had more ADD it was easier to tune people out instead of getting mad when they were wasting my time.)
But it'll get better when I have all my equipment, software, source files, etc. and can do some of this stuff from home. At least I hope so.
I don't know how long it will last. The company may be in trouble. Some high-ranking partner in the company was recently charged with securities fraud that took place a few years ago when he was a partner in another company. He's also being sued by former employees who weren't paid for their last two weeks of work before that company folded. (Link to interesting website removed for security purposes because the management is understandably keeping tabs on the website too. Email me for URL if you're interested.) He was also allegedly in on a deal in which some employees' insurance and retirement account contributions were diverted for some other purpose. This worries me because I'm working for the same company (same money and same people), just with a different name.
The company has lost some contracts lately, and at least a few of our accounts payables are way overdue, so I have reason to be a little nervous about the future there. The company's strategy is to spend more money to provide greater services than some of our competitors, but if nobody wants to pay for those services, we're screwed.
Oh well. I'll continue to ride this gravy train (bouillon-cube gravy at best, I assure you) as long as necessary and/or possible.
But wait - there's more!
That is, there's more in this Notepad file that I write my blog posts in, but I'm going to have mercy on you and wait a few days before I post more. Actually I am going to post them now but tell Blogger not to publish them until later; if I don't do that, then who knows how long it'll be before I get around to it again, and then I won't want to post the stuff I've already written.