On July 30, I interviewed for a customer service/data entry/administrative assistant type job at an energy service company. The company looked pretty legit at first glance, but I suppose the signs were there from the start. The interview occurred less than 24 hours since I sent in my application, and during the conversation, the interviewer seemed to be relatively uninterested in my answers. She kept nodding and saying “Okay, sounds good,” and other similar responses as if to move on before I was finished. I figured I was just some hot shit who had the right profile for the job (I have very low self-esteem). In any case, they tell me I’ll be contacted for a second interview in 1-2 weeks if I qualify.
On August 12 around 4:00pm, I receive an email requesting me to show up for a second interview/training/orientation type thing the next day at 10:45am. Since I’m still looking for work at this point, I confirm my attendance and show up at 10:30am the next day. I wait for approximately 45 minutes, at which point myself and another applicant are moved into a boardroom for an orientation session. This lasts for about another 45 minutes, all of which are uneventful save for the presenter’s fondness of pronouncing variations of “frustrate” without the first “r” (“fustrating”, “fustrated”, etc.). As a freelance copywriter and editor, you can imagine my “fustration” with this.
At around noon, we’re told we are being paired with “managers” for “shadowing”. Our shadowing will be evaluated in terms of “professionalism”, “teachability”, and “communication” on various scales. I meet my manager, a slightly disheveled-looking fellow named Cain. He has greasy, matted hair hiding beneath a baseball cap; at least one tooth is missing. He smokes cigarettes literally every chance he gets during the course of the day. He tells me to then have a seat while he organizes the team, which lasts another 15 minutes or so. Finally, I’m told to come along with them. There are three other team members with us, none of which introduce themselves to me until I’m in the service van with them. Everyone is given a work shirt with the company name on it, except for me. We start to drive. I ask where we’re going. “To make money!” exclaims Cain. Okay cool, but where? “Uhh, where are we going today? Brantford?” asks Cain to Lorne, the driver. “Bradford, close to Barrie,” responds Lorne. At no point was out-of-town travel mentioned as part of this “interview”. I start to realize these are all sales agents with me. I go along since I’m basically kidnapped by now.
On the way to Bradford, we get lost several times. While Cain prefers to navigate using Google Maps on a monolithic Samsung Note, he also refuses to use the navigator function. Finally, we arrive in a strip mall for lunch. While parked in the lot, Cain spends about another 20 minutes talking with his mother on the phone, trying to convince her to let him come to their family cottage. They seem to come to an agreement where Cain can come to the cottage but will only stay for a night and will sleep outside in a tent. We then go for lunch at Crabby Joe’s.
During lunch, everyone has a beer and Cain follows his with a shot of Sambuca. I brought a sack lunch, which I’ve already been digging into during our ride, so I just sip on coffee. We argue about world politics for about an hour or so while we wait for another “manager” to show up. Cain reveals he is a supporter of Rob Ford, at which point I would have walked out if I had any idea where I was. Nonetheless, I should note all the sales agents (including Cain) are all very friendly and amicable with me, if not particularly forthcoming with any reason or purpose for my being there. Finally, my “manager” Paul arrives and we hang out for a bit longer. We leave the restaurant around 3:00pm.
We start scoping out residential streets to do the sales calls. This takes about another half hour. Once we have our spots, it starts to rain. For some reason, Cain takes an umbrella, snaps the top off, and then tries to open it. This results in him cutting his finger, revealing blood with the colour and texture of fruit punch-coloured Gatorade. He then dropkicks the umbrella and stomps on it for intermittent periods over the next ten minutes while plotting the route of houses to canvas. Remember what I said about Cain smoking cigarettes every chance he got? He had a lit butt going through this while ordeal. The mangled umbrella marks our meeting spot. Cain urinates on a residential fence before leaving for his route, but not before insisting everyone on the team gives him a fistbump.
From around 4:30pm, Paul and I canvas houses looking for people with metal water heaters. As Paul drives, he switches between several reggae songs and albums, almost all of which have that “BAH-BAH-BAHHHHH” horn featured on them. The energy services company will then offer updated water heaters with glass insulation to help conserve energy and increase the quality of the water. Paul is very adept at conversing with customers and offering products which actually do improve water quality. I mostly just stand around trying to act as polite as possible, and occasionally greet the household pets we meet. We take a bathroom break (in a bathroom), and Paul loads up YouTube videos of Doctor Mehmet Oz speaking about water quality to appeal to the daytime housewife demographic. The customers we meet react quite positively to this tactic. This research takes another 15-20 minutes, while I mostly consider suicide during this time.
We continue to canvas houses until 8:00pm. I tell Paul about how I was informed my time with the company would only be needed until 8:30pm, and it will still take at least half an hour to drive back to Toronto. As Paul has only made one sale, we continue on until 8:20pm just to be sure. At this point, we make a run to the LCBO where Paul picks up a bottle of gin and orange-flavoured Bacardi Breezers. I make no purchase. It takes another 15 minutes or so to find Cain and his crew, who has been ordering Lorne to drive around…somewhere? I’ve tuned out at this point. We end up back at the broken umbrella meeting spot. Cain then urinates at the same spot on the fence, but unfortunately the neighbour across the street spots him and starts yelling. The new sales associate runs over to us and yells “GO! JUST DRIVE!” We hightail it outta there.
Around 9:40pm, Paul drops me off at the Don Mills subway station. He tells me to give them a call tomorrow; I tell him the company is supposed to call me tomorrow? At no point is my evaluation mentioned. I take Paul’s card, thank him for the ride and walk away. I haven’t received a call from the company yet, so I can only assume I didn’t pass my evaluation.