A New Personal Low
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."
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.