The Job Hunt
I walked at least six miles yesterday. I had a 10 a.m. interview at a place called ProLogistics. What they do is find people who need jobs and match them with warehouses that need workers and maintain the symbiotic balance that allows the world to keep spinning. I saw their ad on Craigslist.com and applied online. Then, two days ago as I walked around town searching for the unicorn of gainful employment, Prologistics called me and said they had a position at a warehouse that paid $10/hr for four, 10hr shifts a week. They said the position was open, that it was a third-shift job, meaning it’s overnight hours, in this case 8 p.m. to 6 a.m., cleaning the warehouses, sweeping the floors and what not, and they asked if I was interested in the position. ‘Yes, definitely,’ I told her, trying to sound immensely interested but without coming across as desperate for the job. $400 a week? That’s in one week I’d have enough for month’s rent and food. Then I could save the rest for a few months and go somewhere else. I went back to the apartment, finished the online applications like they’d asked me to, and then I called the woman back and she set me up for an appointment the next morning, 10 a.m. yesterday, because they needed me to begin working that Thursday, the day after the appointment.
I woke up at 6 yesterday. I needed time to commute. The Prologistics office was across the street from a wheat field and I live in the center of Columbus. Luckily, the Columbus bus company, COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) has a bus route going all the way out to Groveport, the town that the wheat field was in. After yelling at COTA’s website I realized, unfortunately, that the bus to Groveport left in the morning and never returned till the evening, taking people to work in Columbus and bringing them home. Luckily, I found a bus that drove down Alum Creek, a main road connecting Columbus to some other wheat fields, but none-the-less passing by the road to Groveport. So I figured, ‘what the heck?’ I’ll take the bus down Alum Creek, get off and walk the two miles down Groveport Road to Groveport.
7 a.m. I took an excursion on foot through the ghetto. Black people sleep late I’m guessing, which I was vaguely thankful for. I needed to catch the bus way down 5th Avenue East, way past the train tracks which are so far out I didn’t know they were there. The bus stop seemed a lot closer when I checked it on my laptop and I ended up walking two miles before it was 8 a.m. The bus finally picked me up, drove through the ghetto and dropped some kids off at school and headed down Alum Creek. All was going smooth and I was the last person on the bus when the driver turns onto a side street, pulls to the shoulder and turns the bus off. ‘Why are we stopping?’ I asked him. ‘As far as it goes.’ ‘The bus doesn’t go any farther down Alum?’ ‘Not till later. I think another bus comes up in an hour.’ I don’t have that time. The damn bus is at least a mile from Groveport road, so fuck, now I’m walking this too. Of course a bridge has the cross the highway, that makes sense, but why wouldn’t they have a sidewalk, or at least a footpath, so that people can get across the highway? I walked across this bridge along a three foot wide shoulder, vans and cars blistering past and the tractor trailers, I could feel their wind pulling me forwards, sucking at me and I felt if I let go I’d be sucked under the wheels and there’s the end to this story.
I walk the three or four miles to this logistics place and I get there on time. A man out front is smoking a cigarette and he asks if I was the guy walking down Alum. It took me a moment to hear what he said (I had been pronouncing it alum-ni. He said it al-um.) He said he’d seen me walking across the bridge and offered me a ride back which I gratefully accepted, shook his hand and went inside to check in. I filled out some forms and the guy I’d just spoken with plus several more people, white and black, male and female, were seated in the lobby. They took us all back at once, administered basic tests for basic skills, showed a safety video and piss tested everyone. I hadn’t been aware there would be a piss test, well I’d known the night before, but not the night’s prior-to so I’d figured the night before that I was screwed anyway if they did piss test, so I smoked. I pissed in the cup, secured the lid and tilted it over for 30 seconds. Then the woman came in to check the results on the lid. I asked her if I’d passed. ‘Why is there some reason you wouldn’t pass?’ ‘No, no, I was just wondering, I didn’t know how to read them [the results].’ I was nervous and fumbling for an answer and I tilted the cup upside-down in my hands, fumbling with it as I spoke and some piss leaked out, dribbled on my hands and dripped onto my boots. The moment’s frozen forever, I watched her watch the piss drip all over my hands. ‘No, no, I was just wondering.’ They had been so adamant in the beginning that if you knew you would fail the drug test, to leave and not waste everybody’s time. They sent us back to the lobby and one by one began calling people into the back for interviews. One by one through fifteen people and I was the last. Finally a woman called me in. She offered me an entry level job at a warehouse, 6 a.m. to 4, sweeping floors and such for $8.50/hr. ‘Okay, I’ll take it.’ She gave me all the information, said to be there at the warehouse at 6 a.m. and to tell them I was the new Prologistics trainee, or something like that. ‘Awesome, thank you so much.’ I was grateful to have a job. I looked at the address where I’d be working and it was in Groveport, six in the morning in Groveport in some little wheat field back-ass town that no buses would ever logically run to. Great. I didn’t say anything, hoping that when I got back to my apartment I’d find a way to take the bus out there. The guy who’d offered me the ride was long gone so there I was hiking back up the road. It was gorgeous out. Cool breeze and a bright, warm sun. Perfect spring afternoon in the middle of February. Three miles later my legs were rags and I was smoking a cigarette at the bus stop. The bus ride took an hour and I didn’t get back till around 4. It took me roughly nine hours to secure a job in which, as it turned out, there was no physical way of me getting to. The necessary buses don’t begin running until close to six, well after when I’d need them. I called back and told the woman I couldn’t take the job. She sounded pissed, frustrated because my failure to have reliable transportation meant more work before she could leave. She hung up before I could ask if there were other job openings.
In good news, ‘Citizen Whores’ seemed to be well like by the writing workshop I’m now going to attend more frequently. The only solid criticism I received was that it was too up-front, to strong handed about what it’s saying, which is how I’d written it, and they at the workshop wanted something where they had to think to find the meaning, maybe a last line that ties the message together and makes them say ‘Ah-ha!’ But, it seems perhaps it’s good enough to find a political audience, but if I want the audience more diverse I’ll have to bury the message a bit.