This process turns everyone into a 14-year-old girl. I walk away from an interview and obsess over what was said. I measure facial tics and draw wild conclusions. I start to get angry with my phone’s stubborn refusal to ring. Why hasn’t he called!?
I wonder if Seventeen magazine has any suggestions on how to cope.
Today I got a ride to the Old Town bus depot from a friend of Sam’s, an extremely chatty pothead named Aaron. “What are you all dressed up for?” he asks. I tell him I’m looking for bartending jobs, which he takes as an invitation for an endless, morale-crushing speech on how it’s impossible for boys to get behind the bar in this town, even before the recession. Apparently, he tried for three years, and even he couldn’t do it.
“You might as well walk into a hospital and ask if they need a brain surgeon,” he says, more than once, inexplicably pleased with this metaphor.
I’ve run into this attitude a few times here, not just that it’s hard, but from people utterly unable to see beyond their own experience. “My God, if I couldn’t do it, you certainly can’t.”
This guy is an ass, but all the same, I’m widening the scope of my inquiries. I hated being a server, but I’ll do it again. I may have to.
My résumé keeps getting better, despite the fact that I haven’t worked for 11 weeks. It’s like magic.
The bar I used to work at was crazy busy on the weekends, so it’s become “18 months of high-volume experience.” The Italian restaurant before that was a neighborhood hole with pink paper placemats and enormous portions, the decor stunningly classless in the way that only Italians can really be, but in the last week it has morphed, on paper, into a fine-dining restaurant. I, too, have morphed from a server-bartender to the head bartender, the restaurant’s contact for the wine supplier, and creator of the cocktail list. I’m quite something.
My favorite item is my tequila bar-back gig up in Venice, California. I was a bar-back there from late ’05 to May ’06, three days a week for about seven months before Angelica Houston got us closed down (that bitch). I wanted to be a bartender but was never promoted — at least, not in reality. On my applications, however, I worked full time and was either a bartender or a server, depending on what job I’m applying for at the moment.
God bless that tequila bar. It becomes whatever I need it to be. It’s the stem cells of my professional experience.
I tried a new approach today by composing a long, pleading email to the GM of Cowboy Star, a steakhouse downtown, the substance of which is that I want to work there very, very, very much. This is not a lie. He responds quickly and kindly, graciously commending my enthusiasm, but he’s not hiring. He says he’ll keep my résumé on file.
I hate that file. My information is lurking in the files of about 50 places all over San Diego, sitting in the dark with other people’s information, waiting for someone to recognize its inherent worth.
I need to invent a résumé that beeps, like a dying smoke detector, until you call the number on top. I’ll be rich.
I’m still emailing people off craigslist, even though it’s an embarrassing waste of time. There’s only one type of place I won’t respond to, and those are the ones looking for a résumé paired with a “current photograph.”
I’m reaching the point where I’d take a job embalming the dead, but I don’t know what to say about a restaurant that requests a head shot. I’m not sure what they’re looking for, but I know it isn’t me.
Today, we broke through the ceiling of absurdity. There was another open interview, this time for the San Diego branch of a chain of enormous dive bars called Dick’s Last Resort. Their logo is an angry cartoon drunkard, and they’ve carved out a niche for themselves by being very rude to their customers. That’s their gimmick. Come, order wings, be abused.
I arrive to find every employee dressed as if they’re going to a fraternity costume party. The girl with the bullhorn has balloons in her shirt to look like the gargantuan breasts of an anime character and underwear over her pants that read, across the ass, “I Love Dick.” One server is dressed to look like a tennis player in the ’70s, and another has a two-foot-tall Mohawk wig.
Sailor Moon is barking orders at a poor girl onstage named Emily, an applicant unlucky enough to have drawn attention to herself, her face the color of a cherry tomato as she tries awkwardly to be a good sport.
She dances goofily, with no music. The lawnmower. The sprinkler.
“ACT LIKE A TREE!”
She mimes growing, her arms trying to figure out how to make more branches.
“NO, ACT LIKE A FIR TREE!”
She pauses, and tries, fails, to somehow grow differently.
“SWIM! SWIM THROUGH THE OCEAN!”
Relieved for an obvious movement, she swims through the air for about 30 seconds before letting her arms fall to her sides, hoping this horrible exercise is finished.
“I DIDN’T SAY YOU WERE DONE SWIMMING!”
The employees must wait for this shit all year. There are a few customers out on the patio, but for the most part, the entire cavernous restaurant is their torture chamber.
I grab my bag, intending to leave, because fuck this, seriously, but am interrupted by some sudden semblance of order. We’re given instructions by a woman named Betsy, whose khaki shorts and Hawaiian shirt are doing no favors to her rather equatorial figure. She hands out applications, saying that the interviews will come after, and when we’re done, we should find her and turn in the completed paperwork. “I won’t be hard to find,” she says. “I’m the one with this bright shirt.” I wonder how mean we’re expected to be and decide to let it go.