Monday, March 10, 2008

You Don't Have to be CRAZY to Work Here...

I had an actual job offer this week and turned it down! What, am I crazy? I thought-- I'm pretty much down to trying to make a pack of Top Ramen last THREE days, and I'm turning down work?

I answered this craiglist ad where you just had to go in the office in person and fill out an application, thereby weeding out people who couldn't get it together to get to the office or come up with two forms of ID. It was for a messenger job-- out a law firm, I think. The office I went to was a temp agency. They didn't really tell you that in the ad. Or the pay. You always have to wonder why they withhold crucial information from some job ads-- are the jobs so bad they have to trick people into applying for them?

I had a brief interview and tried to convince the woman interviewing me that yes, I DID know how to use the subway. I didn't feel like I convinced her, so I was surprised when someone called me from their agency the next day and offered me the job. The thing was, it paid $7.15 an hour, it was a temporary job, but it was long term, though no one could say HOW long term. But they wanted someone to COMMIT to the length of the assignment. Though no one could say exactly how long that would be. Now... what is wrong with that picture?

I suppose there was nothing to keep me from lying and saying I WOULD commit to the length of the assignment-- then at least I'd be working, and if I found something else I could just say I'm doing the American Thing-- going where the money is. But the whole idea was distasteful to me-- not to mention the $7.15, which happens to be minimum wage in the state of New York. When someone offers minimum wage it's like saying, we would pay you LESS if it was legal to do so. It doesn't give you very much confidence that they will value you or anything about you.

I acted like I didn't get the significance of $7.15 an hour. "Seven FIFTEEN?" I faked incredulousness. "Why not just a round figure? What's the extra 15 for... Vaseline?"

I didn't say that, but I swear, some day I WILL say that kind of thing. But when will that day come? Maybe it isn't really anything to aspire to. What I did say was just my honest assessment of the situation, on the spot (I was on the phone). "To be honest," I said, emphasizing the honest, "I can't COMMIT to a position at such low wage, because if something came along that paid better, I 'd want take that."

Am I crazy to try to approach situations like this with some kind of integrity? And is it really integrity, or is it just me wanting to retain the upper hand, even if it means not making ANY money? Anyway, things can't go on much longer like this... I mean, money-wise.

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