May, 2008

A new job! Cool! Yowza! I'm hired on the spot after a 30 minute interview, handed a sheet of paper with CONGRATULATIONS ON BEING SELECTED TO BE A MEMBER OF OUR TEAM! and directions for how to check in for further instructions on training and orientation.

I get a follow-up "You will need to attend an orientation and paperwork session!" email. I show up for this session the following week, along with about 50 other people and am walked through a shitload of paperwork and W2's and policy discussions and do's and don'ts, and Lexis-Nexis releases and Homeland Security clearance forms and so on. I'm given a direct-deposit form to fill out.

Various women describe the operation, the "mission", employee scheduling and so on. We're separated and placed at various tables around the room, depending on the areas we've been assigned to for training. We're told to choose a day in the coming week when we'll return for a full day of training and a tour of the place-- still under construction.

Then they do this "Team Building" exercise. In it, we're astronauts and we've crash landed on the moon, 300 kilometers from our designated rendezvous point. We now have to make our way from our wrecked ship to the pickup point.

You're given a list of 15 items that have survived the crash intact, and told to prioritize them in terms of their importance to getting you there safely. The assignment is to first make your *own* list-- placing the numbers 1 thru 15 next to the letters A through O. Next, you're to agree, as a group (and there were 6 or 7 of us at my table) on a *second* list, where you all coordinate your choices and make a second attempt at prioritizing the same 15 items.

On the list are: oxygen containers, food packets, containers of water, .45 caliber pistols, nylon rope, a book of matches, signal flares, parachute silk, a portable heater, a radio receiver/transmitter, a first aid kit, a compass, a life jacket, a stellar map (as seen from the moon).

So, I make my list. We all make our lists. Then we try to come up with a group consensus list. One of the items is this: "one case dehydrated pet milk", which we all interpret as being some sort of pet food. I press for this also being acceptable human sustenance, and suggest it be included near the food and water on the list.

We agree on oxygen being  #1, water being #2, food being #3, and so on, making our cases for the importance of the various things. We agree that matches are completely irrelevant-- who can light a match on the moon?-- and that life jackets are probably useless, given that we have on space suits. "But if you ain't got one on, you might float away" says one guy. "What qualities are you assigning to this life jacket? It's heavy? Weighted? Not like a regular sort of life jacket..?" someone asks. "Well, why would they give us a life jacket if it ain't gonna help us?" he asks. "Why have we got these useless matches..?" I ask.

Then there's more argument about the pet milk, and one guy offers to trade me his pet milk for my water. Then the woman calls "Time's up!" She then reads the "correct" answers. That there are actual, "correct" answers to this stuns me. I forget their exact sequence, but I think rope is deemed more important than a compass or a radio, and so on. Weird choices that didn't match mine-- or most of the group's. Matches are like... # 12 or 13 on their list, I think. We'd all made them our dead last choice.

"How are we supposed to be able to light matches on the moon?" I ask. "There's no oxygen there. Why are matches on the list at all?"

"The experts say these are the correct choices" is the only answer I get.

"Oh; they mean PET Brand milk. Like, evaporated milk ", she says, as she works her way down this "correct" list.

"It looked to us like this item was some sort of food for pets-- pets that weren't mentioned as being with us on the ship" I say, about the milk."That wasn't very clear. Can we heat it up, first, with our matches?" I ask. (This gets a few chuckles.) "Who were these *experts*, anyway?"

"I don't know. I think they were astronauts or something; scientists..." she says.

"Scientists who carry matches into space...?" I ask. "Really...!? "

"Well, let's move on to scheduling everyone for training..."  she says, and the topic is left there, like a turd on the buffet.

A few days later, I get an email:

"...thank you very much for attending our orientation session. After observing and evaluating all of the candidates through the Team-Building exercise and questions and answers, we have determined that we are not a good fit for your work style. You will be paid for attending the event, but will not be scheduled for any further training or to work for us. We wish you well in future endeavors, blah, blah, blah..."

I'm too analytical, or too assertive, or I ask too many intelligent questions or...  what...?

I guess nodding and smiling were all that they actually required.

I'm taking my parachute silk and my radio and my flares and camping out in the yard. Maybe I can get my cats to join me. I've got milk for them, after all.  You're welcome to huddle around the portable heater, and even to try on my life jacket...

Story Index


Drop me a note with any questions,
comments, criticism, cogent thoughts,
cease-and-desist orders, etc., etc...