Sunday, December 5, 2010

The job situation: December 2010

To date, not one of the people I contacted for a kitchen job has called me back. Not all that surprising for those who just said to drop off a job application. A bit more surprising in the case of Matt Woolston of The Supper Club and David Feldman at Matteo's Pizza and Bistro, since they had been communicating up until I met the enigmatic Mr. Feldman.

Granted, I was asking them for something, not the other way around. If they'd never said to keep in touch, or that they would contact me, I'd have no issue. But they did. Shouldn't this mean that they should at least follow up with an e-mail?  

I would have understood if he'd said, "We only hire people with previous restaurant experience, and being in a culinary arts program does not count." Even, "Call us when you complete the program." Even "Go away and never come back." That would have been direct and straightforward. But "I'll contact you when I'm not busy" leaves an expectation that my qualifications were acceptable and that hiring at some future date could be a possibility - and that further communication would actually happen.

I continued for a while to send updates to Matt Woolston, who had previously replied almost immediately. Now, the rule had become absolute silence on his part. Ditto for Mr. Feldman, as the messages were cc'ed to him.

I find it very strange that prior to actually meeting them, these people replied quickly to my e-mails, and were more than willing to communicate. Yet, strangely after meeting with Dave Feldman, neither he nor Matt Woolston would even acknowledge my existence. My past experience hadn't changed - in fact, I'm more qualified now than I was then due to having completed more lessons and prepared more dishes in class. Yet, absolute silence.

I started to ponder what factor could have caused such a drastic change of attitude. I had gone to the interview well dressed, with short, clean hair. I spoke clear English, and did not ask for an advanced position nor too much money (unless "anything minimum wage or above" classifies as "exorbitant").

Could it be that I was not the typical nineteen year old student looking for his first job? Could it be that actual experiences and a life were a liability? Could these people actually be practicing age discrimination? If David Feldman was not practicing age discrimination, wouldn't he have asked me to fill out a job application as proof? He could always trash the application when I left, but at least I'd have felt that he was at least somewhat sincere.

I talked to some friends about looking for work when you're no longer under 25. One said to die my hair, the darker the better. Another said to eliminate all college degrees from my resume. "Lie about your restaurant experience" added another. One wise person said, "Do all three. It can't hurt, and since they're not hiring you when you're honest, what have you got to lose?". Another said, "Too bad they only want people with no experience or other skills that could really be useful - like photography and sketching. Not to mention having eaten food in a lot of restaurants in a lot of different places so they know what it should taste like. Guess they just want young and cheap." As opposed to older and cheap, I suppose.

Perhaps saying "I'll get in touch when I'm not busy" is equivalent  to the "emergency powers" clause of a banana republic's constitution, where all kinds of rights are granted to the people, but can be suspended under certain conditions. All the dictator need do is declare the conditions present and suspend all constitutional rights indefinitely. So, presumably he knew he would always be busy, thereby negating his need to ever recontact me. This still doesn't explain Matt Woolston's silence, but at least it's an explanation that any Vulcan would accept.

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