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Ali Davis

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A New Personal Low [Mar. 20th, 2005|06:47 pm]
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So I'm still in job-hunting mode, though not with the satisfying edge of sheer raw panic that I've had for the past couple of weeks, thanks to a little proofreading work that finally materialized. I've been doing my best impression of A Proofreader Who Is Incredibly Enthusiastic About Her Work, But Not So Enthusiastic as To Be a Pain in the Ass for the Writers in the hopes of being kept on for a bit. Fingers, some of them holding a red pen, crossed.

But I only got this job on Friday morning and I didn't even know it was a possibility until Thursday night, so Wednesday I continued with full-on panic hunting and went for an interview for The Cheesecake Factory. There's a new one at The Grove and they were adverstising for all positions. So I went in and indicated an interest in the areas of bartending and table waiting and the guy who was collecting applications looked at mine and said "Fine," and I went back to my little metal chair and waited for, oh, about half an hour. Which is annoying, but still better than what the people applying for kitchen positions seemed to be going through; I barely saw any movement there at all.

Finally an enthusiastic manager type with a headset came out and I gave him my best grin-and-shake and in we went for my interview, or, rather, "interview."

The first thing he said when we sat down was that I couldn't apply for both waiting and bartending and I'd have to choose. I hate when restaurants do that. Given the choice, I'll take a bartending job over a waiting job any day, but as a rule restaurants have more openings for servers. So picking blindly risks either losing out on the job I'd like better or being shut out because all the bar positions are full and nobody's moving up until someone dies.

I said "I'm trained in both- " and before I finished my sentence he said "Yeah, but we don't just let you go down the list of jobs." OK, fine. So I asked him where he needed people more and he said "Actually, we're fully staffed in both positions."

Excuse me?

Yes. They'd knowingly had me sit there for half an hour so I could "interview" for a position that was no longer available.

"OK," I said, brimming with patience, "So is this moot, then."

"No," said Asshat the Headsetted Manager "We just want to see who you are and where you're coming from."

Terrific. Getting in some pointless chatting with someone on a corporate restaurant power trip instead of heading out to put another application in elsewhere would be just the thing, yes. I'm so glad you were able to sense that. But, urged on by my sheer raw jobhunting panic and the hopes of stepping in should someone else be unable to continue in his or her cheesecake slinging duties, I stayed game.

"So tell me about your experience," he said, and before I could get two words out he said "How long has it been since you've waited tables?"

It's been a few years.

"Oh," he said, with a full eye-roll with an accompanying chair-swing for extra bonus points. "It would have been impossible for us to have made you an offer. IMPOSSIBLE. I'm just being honest."

I asked why, and he explained that my table-waiting skills weren't "current" enough. Apparently there have been a LOT of innovations. This might have been the point where I got just a wee bit testy.

"Since we're being honest: It's not rocket science."

"I hear you," He said, and then began a truly astonshing swing into... what? Self-delusion? General assholery? I still can't put my finger on it.

"You see," he said, leaning back and getting a tiny mental boner for himself and his fine fine chain of identical corporate restaurants, "We're The Cheesecake Factory. We're the best of the best, so we hire the best of the best."

And because there is a part of me that insists on being polite and together in interviews no matter what they've devolved into, I did not burst into uncontrollable laughter. Nor did I point out that if your restaurant has the word "factory" right there in the name, your main competition is probably not The Four Seasons.

So I thanked him and left and he actually grabbed my shoulder to make sure I went out the back way, doubtless to make sure that I couldn't tip off the twenty or so people who were still waiting to the fact that they were essentially going to be used for management ego masturbation and without a job on the other side at that. I'm sorry I didn't yell out that the positions were filled and at least save a few people the time and irritation.

So I went back to my faithful car and laughed and then it hit me that I'd just been turned down for a job at The Cheesecake Factory, for Chrissakes, and sank into a fairly numbing depression for a few hours.

I told both my mother and stepmother about my Adventure in Corporate Dining and both said almost exactly the same things:

1. "Did you really want a job at The Cheesecake Factory?"

Well, no. But I do want a job, and in all honesty would have cheesed to the very top of my abilities if hired.

2. "Well, hon, I'd tell you that I'd stop giving them my business, but I never eat there anyway."

Yeah, I know. But I appreciate the thought.

3. "You know, there are a lot of stores on Hollywood Boulevard that sell porn..."

Don't think I'm not giving it some serious thought.
linkReply

Comments:
[User Picture]From: satsumabug
2005-03-21 05:46 am (UTC)

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Hi Ali,

I read your True Porn Clerk Stories a few years ago, and recommended it to everyone I knew who would find your stories funny (i.e., not my mother). Then earlier this year I found them again and reread them all, and linked them on my website. Then I googled you and found your livejournal. I second what the first commenter said: know that there are lots of us total strangers out there rooting for you.

This particular entry made me so pissed at that stupid manager, but it also made me sad because the depression you describe is such a familiar feeling, I'm guessing, to all of us. Some random asshole representing some entity we don't even care about ends up making us feel worthless. Which is stupid, and we know it's stupid, but we still feel bad anyway. I'm sorry you got treated the way you did, and I'm sorry you had to go through it.

But at least you know how stupid the whole deal was, and are articulate and discerning enough to record the whole transaction (or lack thereof, I guess) in your journal. That in itself makes you so much more smart and interesting and funny than that asshat manager, whose whole sense of self-worth (at least in this incident) comes from being one small arm of a corporation that produces restaurants called Factories and food that makes you fat.

Anyway, glad to hear about the proofreading, and hope things look up for you soon. Just know that, whatever the ridiculous headsetted managers of the world will try to tell you, you've got fans out here. Grad student fans who are insanely screwed about their end-of-quarter projects but who are interested enough in you and your life to take time out of cramming to try and give you some encouragement.
[User Picture]From: kakaze
2005-03-21 07:35 am (UTC)

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If I were you, after going through the back I would've double around to the front and yelled through the door if I had to, that all the jobs had been filled. First, to save all those people from waiting, and second, just to piss off the fuckwit manager.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-21 03:41 pm (UTC)

Food "Factory"

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In my home city there is a restaurant called 'The Spaghetti Factory', and every time I walk past it, all I can think is 'What complete dumbass thought that putting the word 'factory' in the name of their restaurant would make it sound a) fun and b) appetising?"

It would be like calling an art gallery a 'Picture Factory' or a museum an 'Old Dusty Junk Factory'.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-21 07:09 pm (UTC)

Corporate restaurant managers suck.

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For example:

During an interview, the Corporate Restaurant Manager asked the possible-employee-to-be "If you were on a deserted island, what CDs would you take with you?"

He waits while the "mark" lists off a few favorite bands. Then, after giving the impression that the question was answered correctly, he says, "And what would you play these CDs on? You're on a deserted island and have no CD player! You're not very bright, are you?"

I was not interviewed by this guy, which is unfortunate because I'd like to know what I would have said in that situation. Probably something like, "Interesting... If you had a 440 volt cattle prod stuck up your bleeding asshole while stranded on a deserted island, would you make any sound?"

Boy, do I still love working in restaurants.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-21 07:36 pm (UTC)

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Ali

Your to damn funny for a job at the cheese factory. Keep your head up and keep writing and creating. I am one fan that looks forward to everything you do.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-22 01:55 pm (UTC)

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If they're the best of the best, and hire the best of the best, does that mean their pay is the best of the best?

Didn't think so...
[User Picture]From: primus
2005-03-22 05:00 pm (UTC)

(Link)

Hi there,

I was sent here by a link in another journal; and although I don't know exactly what positions you're looking for, if you're in the LA area, take a peek at this:

http://www.livejournal.com/users/stratagos/373955.html

It's basically a list of just about every recruiting firm in the LA area. Most of those are IT or business-centric, but if you go to Barnes and Nobel and skim through the book, you might find a firm or two more suited to your chosen career field.

Note that, saying that, I've had the best bet with Monster and Careerbuilder, but you never know...
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-23 01:04 am (UTC)

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Oh, my... Well, I can tell you from personal experience that they're not the best of the best. In fact, I had a bad cheesecake incident on New Years Eve a number of years ago that left me unable to even smell cheesecake without feeling nauseous. I know how it feels to get turned down for bad jobs, but it's probably a really good thing you're not working there and soon, if you haven't already, you'll find the reason. Good luck to you!

JaneTP

http://janetheprostitute.blogspot.com
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-23 06:17 pm (UTC)

Server Jobs

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If you're willing to drive to the valley and put up with mostly tourists, Karl Strauss at Universal City Walk is hiring servers.
[User Picture]From: shakiki
2005-03-27 05:45 am (UTC)

True Porn Clerk Stories...

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Hi. I was recently linked to the TPCS link about 4 days ago by my friend (we usually send each other random funny links). I was saddened a little bit when you'd mentioned quitting the job at the video store as I was hoping to read a little more on Mr. Gentle and the other people you'd mentioned. I really don't know anything more about you, other than the fact you worked at a video store and seem to be very funny, but I've sent your link to a few of my online friends to spread the amusing stories. Thanks for writing the TPCS and brightening up my days!
From: (Anonymous)
2005-03-29 01:57 pm (UTC)

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Ali

Yup, the self-impo(r)tance of food franchise middle management is indeed an alarming phenomenon when experienced at close quarters. Maybe we should just round the little weasels up en masse and throw them into a deep hole in the ground, starve them to the point of cannabilism, and shoot the whole thing to be released as a reality tv show: "When Fast Food Middle Management Are Thrown In A Hole In The Ground and Eat Each Other"... or something.

failing that (and I know this is completely infantile but I coudln't resist it) you could google the "Cheesecake Factory" at The Grove, get their phone number and bombard them with prank calls. Sorry, I just couldn't stop myself...

Keep flying the flag for humour, humanity and honest-to-god perseverence!

Sincerely

Amanda (Lovenkiss)
[User Picture]From: demiknute
2005-03-30 01:10 am (UTC)

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Hah. As a valet who occasionally works in front of a Cheesecake Factory, I have to say that they are the most stuck up and pretentious of any middling-quality restaurant I've ever seen. They try to think they're all fancy and try to run the restaurant like a fancy place while they're just a stuck up Applebees. And they pay like an Applebees too.
[User Picture]From: lienne
2005-04-02 04:09 am (UTC)

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Like probably ninety percent of the rest of the people who comment on your livejournal, I read True Porn Clerk Stories and am endlessly enamoured of your writing style. May your life be full of interesting things, hopefully in a pleasant way, about which you can then write. Also, I believe I shall friend you.
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-04 01:52 pm (UTC)

The Best of the Best

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Being a scientist, I can't help but point out that if you hired everyone you needed before interviewing everyone, then you've done a remarkably bad sampling job to hire "the best of the best." It sounds to me more like they hired everyone who met the corporate criteria, then turned this dope loose to keep him out of trouble.
[User Picture]From: jayrtfm
2005-04-09 05:56 pm (UTC)

Send an Invoice

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IANAL
Send the corporate headquarters an invoice for your time.
And the invoice should not be for a 1/2 hour of a waitstaffs time, it should be for your 2 hour minimum as a (minor) celebrity interview.
I think the key is that the position was filled, and ""We just want to see who you are and where you're coming from."

I'm guessing that $95 would probably be an amount that corporate could pay without needing to do much paperwork.
Sending the letter certified, and with notices that "payment is due within 10 days" "interest charged for late payment" and "failure to pay will result in collections and/or legal action"
From: (Anonymous)
2005-04-27 02:39 am (UTC)

trying to contact you

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Hope all is well in sunny Cali. I don't know how often you check your comments on this journal, but hopefully it's quite often. I'm writing you from the east coast, Richmond Virginia to be exact, and I have been following your journals as they progress. I, myself am a screenwriter and just graduated from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro, with a degree in media studies, minor in english and blah, blah, blah.

The point of this message is that I wrote an adaptation of your porn clerk journals as an assignment in my "writing for the screen" class and my professor enjoyed it very much. He suggested that I contact you somehow and some way. So that is what I'm doing. I know that this is a shot in the dark, but I thought that maybe you can have a look at it and perhaps you and I can put our witty minds together and create a masterpiece...alright I know I've gone a little overboard with the masterpiece, but I'm sure it would turn out well.

I'm a full believer of "it never hurts to try" so that's what I'm doing...I'm trying. If you have any interest whatsoever please e-mail me at lilacsbloomhere@yahoo.com.

Hope to hear from you,
Rachel
[User Picture]From: rose_kennedy
2005-06-01 09:07 pm (UTC)

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wow, this sounds like a perfect opportunity to lie, lie, lie. or in other words, improv to the rescue!

just ask yourself, WWCD? (What Would Charna Do?)

;)

I normally am ethically opposed to lying, especially when it comes to important things like job interviews, but hey, if the bullshit is 4 feet high around you, you might as well start shoveling. It sounds like if you shoveled good enough they'd put you on a roster to threaten the current servers with, i.e. 'if you come in late one more time, we're gonna hire this Alee Davis girl!' and then your life would be forever changed when they placed the call to let you know that you, Ali, have been chosen to serve at the one, the only, the Cheesecake Factory!

signed,
someone who interned at IO when you were doing that game show thing with Noah et. al., around the time also when you did your show about margaret mead and the self-actualizing penises.

I never managed to strike up a conversation with you, but oh there were some awkward moments of feet shuffling and eye contact aversion. :)