Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Christmas and more

So I had a good christmas and now I'm trying to get back into the swing of things especially with blogging. The fact is this time of year everyear has always been a vacation for me so now I'm like "shouldn't I be doing nothing right now." Its not a vacation though I'm going back to work today, and I'm not really looking forward to that. I've begun to wonder if I'll ever have a job that I look forward to going in to. Nonetheless I feel like I should write something today.

Discrimination against introverts pisses me off. I've been reading a book about introversion - I'm an introvert - that basically makes the case that both introversion and extroversion are natural temperments. Both are based on an individuals brain chemistry, in other words you are effectively born with one temperment, the other, or somewhere in-between. So why is it okay for employers to throw tests at us that allow them to figure out which one we are? Is it ethical to not-hire someone because they are introverted or extroverted. Those personality tests really piss me off. I went for an interview at Rudy's the other day. Rudy's is a combination restaurant and gas station that sells barbecue. The interview was a "pre-interview" which basically meant that they would call me back for a real interview if they were interested. The interviewer also mentioned that when I came back I would take a 150 question test.

Hello!?! A 150 question test so I can sell people barbecue? Gee I wonder what's on that test probably a few questions to determine if you are an honest theif (have you ever stolen anything from a previous employer?) (What is the exact monetary value of all the goods you have ever taken from previous employers?). Then a few to see if you can perform basic arithmetic. A few about how punctual you are and whether or not you are actually paying attention to the test and then the bulk of them in my experience are almost always personality questions. Particularly on tests that are that long. Its the 10 to 40 question tests that leave personality stuff out. Whereas a long test means they are going to ask you if you like to be around people most of the time, all the time, some of the time, never? If you like to work by yourself some of the time, all the time, never? If you are messy, if you need supervision?

All of these seem like legitimate questions to ask if they had already hired you and were trying to figure out how to place you best within the company. However they are not. They are really designed to see if you are introvert or extrovert and in some cases some of your other personality characteristics. Many tests I have taken focused on whether you were a "p" or a "j" perceiving or judging. I don't know which of these they had a preference for but I suspect most places would prefer "p's" to "j's," because they are less likely to form judgements and are more concrete thinkers. All I know is that I have hardly ever encountered an extrovert who had trouble with one of those tests. If you are extrovert you will get the job, or at least will not be disqualified by the personality portion of the interview.

Walking into Rudy's one of the things that struck me was how extrovertive the people working there who I spoke to were, which tells me exactly what said test will be looking for. To be honest I do not even want to work at Rudy's but it bugs me that I'm even encountering this nonsense at a restaurant. Out of all the jobs I've ever had only one of them required me to take a test in advance, and none of the test had anything to do with my personality type. It was just to determine how good I was at following directions and whether or not I was computer literate.

I've decided though that if a place is going to discriminate based on mental temperment (introvert/extrovert) I am not going to work there regardless of whether the discrimination is in my favor or not. I have excelled in plenty of job environments where I had to things that were more challenging for introverts and easy for extroverts, and it pisses me off that anyone would rank that over the experience I have and the hurdles I have already overcome.

Its like they are saying I have a disability and cannot overcome it. If you are an introvert you will not be good in sales... if you are an introvert you will not be good in customer service... if you are an introvert you will not make a good cashier... if you are an introvert you will not be good in retail...

It seems like more and more places are looking at personality type to figure out who to hire and who to weed out of the candidate list. But our personalities are not the final say in how well we do our jobs all they do is spell out preferences and tendencies. If I tend to work well alone that does not mean I won't work well with others. If I don't like talking to people on the phone at home that doesn't mean I won't do well in a job where I have to talk over the phone frequently. If I tend to leave the dishes sitting in the sink a few days longer than I should at home that does not mean that I will be that way on the job.

I am beginning to wish places would just put up a sign that says "introverts need not apply," because time after time I enter a place where I am easily qualified and am confident that I can do the job only to discover variations of a 150 question test that I've already taken a dozen times. Tests designed to see if I can "really" do the job and "really" fit in based entirely on my personal tendencies and opinions regarding my own nature. They usually attach some rule to the questionaire like you cannot ask an employee or the administrator for assistance, you must complete it in x amount of time, you must answer every question agree or disagree, and should not "think" too much about the answer. So if they are deciding not to hire me because my answers were not "consistent" enough based on some invisible standard, or like wal-mart because they do not like my personal opinion on the drug war I cannot even know much less attempt to reason with the people making the decisions. That is precisely what they do not want someone disputing their weed-out methods and their reasoning (or lack thereof). Its all about getting the hiring managers to not have to make actual judgements except when they feel really really "safe" about doing so.

Meanwhile every employer I've ever had wanted to hold onto me, and told me that I did a great job (even the crook), but these places don't even want to know if I am any good. They are too afraid of being sued when they have to fire a bad employee.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Gmail Advice

There is this particularly nasty person in my extended family. Of course I do not consider her "family" because my "family" is the people in my life that I love and care about. Whereas this particular person is someone who if they dropped off the face of the planet tomorrow I wouldn't even care to know that they were gone. Those of you that know me personally can guess who I'm talking about. Anyhow said person knows I do not want to have anything to do with her, and that I am an atheist. In spite of this she makes every effort to find out ways to contact me and harrass me. Usually its by simply not respecting my religious beliefs by ignoring the fact that I don't agree with her x-tian propaganda. Though of course if she can violate my explicit wish to keep her out of my life at the same time she'll do that too. So every year I usually get some email, card, or random piece of crap she bought at the dollar store that she pretends is a gesture of goodwill but in fact is her way of showing her disrespect and complete lack of regard of me as a person. Naturally I don't give a rats ass what she thinks of me as a person or if she has any respect for me. And yet every couple of years instead of my usually feeling of amusement at her impotent and worthless attempts she manages to stir in me an incredibly strong feeling of revulsion. Its kind of like when you get one of those forwarded emails from a christian-ghetto-er thats trying to guilt trip the whole internet into being better x-tians (nevermind those of us that aren't). Or when you read a really bad conspiracy theory and find yourself looking at, to put it lightly, some of the worst blind foolishness humanity has to offer, and you feel kind of dirty just having read it. So to get to the point I occassionally find myself surprised that this woman can still turn my stomach with simple words in an email or on a card. I suppose that its appropriate that a show of extreme vice should turn my stomach, however, it seems surreal to me that extreme viciousness can translate in email.

Anyhow I have actually blocked this person from all my accounts but one, but like the slithering reptile that she is she has managed to get a hold of the one address I hadn't blocked yet: my gmail account. To add insult to injury for several days I had trouble figuring out how to block her address in gmail. There doesn't seem to be a readily visible means of doing so. So what I did was I created a filter with her email address and directed the filter to bypass the inbox and deliver mail from that address directly to trash. Which is basically what a normal block does, except the block in yahoo will immediately delete the message rather than sending it to trash. I suppose it doesn't really matter because I don't ever look in the "trash" folder anyway and it deletes itself every couple of days, however it seems infinitely preferrable to me to have messages from her deleted before I even see them. I could one day accidentally click on "trash" before its had a chance to delete itself and end up seeing her name or the subject line and accidentally experience said revulsion again. Though that is unlikely to happen. So if you want to block someone with gmail the filters work well. Hopefully they will create a better block or at least a more accessible one before they open gmail to the public.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Patriot Act revisited

Today at church I got to participate in the high school RE (that's religious education for those of you that don't know) program. I was invited by a friend of mine who thought I would have a unique perspective to add to their discussion on the PATRIOT Act. Sure enough I got to be the one to interject a healthy level of suspicion into the conversation.

We had this hand out where the government was "dispelling" the myths about the patriot act. Specifically things the ACLU says are true that they say are in fact untrue. I had two important points to make:

1) power corrupts

Therefore any increase in government power and/or decrease in checks on government power SHOULD ALWAYS be viewed with suspicion no matter the intent.

2) Its easy to make people who are suspicious of government power look overly paranoid, even when they have every reason and evidence in the world to be paranoid. Given #1 and the fact that the Patriot Act decreases checks on government power specifically in regard to the 4th amendment if you don't look at least a little paranoid on paper then you aren't paying attention.

Finally and this was the point that I think resounded the most is that every law is up to interpretation. No matter how innocuous that law looks that outlaws murder or theft, or even smoking tree bark in the privacy of your own home the nature of the law is infinitely dependent upon how its terminology is interpretted. The Patriot Act defined a new crime called "terrorism." The degree to which this law or rather that section of the act infringes on the civil liberties of individuals is dependent upon how the term "terrorist" is interpretted, and how an "act of terror" is defined.

In my opinion murder is murder, and until we start calling serial killers who very specifically terrorize their victims before brutally killing them "terrorists," there really isn't any good reason to use the term on anybody else. Imagine if instead we called them "abject-fear-ists." We have coined a term out of an emotion after all. It starts sounding a little silly.

Though perhaps the term is appropriate since terrorist organizations attempt to achieve political and social ends through the use of coercion, ignorance, and fear.... come to think of it I can think of a few other organizations who utilize similiar methodology.

In fact, given that definition it is not a far cry to describe the PATRIOT Act as an "Act of Terror." Pun intended.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Light and Lively...

I am in one of those rare moods when the problems of the world just don't seem very weighty, and the problems in my life just don't seem particularly hard to solve. I have this general sense of well being like somewhere deep down I know everything is going to work out. I've got a bunch of committee meetings to go to at my church (which is scarier me at church or me in a committee?!?) and I feel strangely productive... like the world is ready to take off and the starting point is my own brain.

Usually when I'm in this mood it's fleeting, and I am ultimately disappointed. Today I think its going to be different. Okay I really don't have much basis for that statement, but when ideas are rushing through your head you feel as if you can do anything. As if nothing is out of reach or too difficult. Here I am reading another email that someone has forwarded me about how the planet and country is going to hell in a handbasked because the left's favorite regulations are getting underminded and I'm not even feeling my typical cynicism at such a limited worldview. Instead its like... yeah thats not a problem... its all gonna be just fine.

And while I've been feeling rather disillusioned regarding the limited perspectives, and understanding of a handful of leaders at my church (live oak not wal-mart for those of you who follow my posts) I also see this wide open path before me saying "come, come, this is what you can do here. Look, this is what you can do here." Its a weird feeling. Its perhaps a difficult path, but its also one I know I can take.

Where are we going? I don't know but I believe I'm going to enjoy the drive.

Monday, December 06, 2004

Separate but Equal...

Bradenton Herald | 12/06/2004 | Gays challenge military policy

The "don't ask don't tell" policy of the U.S. military is distinctly reminiscient of the "Separate but Equal" policies that upheld segregation. Eventually the Supreme Court decided that the very act of separating races by law was necessarily inequal treatment before the law. Likewise its time the courts recognized that forcing a specific group to hide their own nature, desires, sexuality, and relationships is legally forcing them into an "underclass." The military has made its homosexual servicemen into subcitizens. Its time we changed that.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

The GIGO World...

I hate it when I'm not working on writing. I feel like I'm floundering. My idea all along was to live in as cheap a place as possible, that took as little time to maintain as possible, work outside of my home as little as I could financially get away with, and ultimately spend as much time and effort as I could on improving my writing skills. The ultimate goal being to create works that I am proud of and that will sell.

So where am I now? I'm living in suburbia in a house that I couldn't even dream of having the skills and time to keep up (at least not at this point), I can't afford even the reduced rent on it so someone else is picking up the difference, I'm working overtime in an environment I consider to be somewhat hazardous (though I'm honestly not sure how "hazardous" it is), I am allergic to one of the chemicals I work with and in spite of my best efforts the skin on my hands breaks out every time I work (and having latex gloves rub up against itching and stinging blisters makes my 12 hour shift that much more fun), and the few blog entries I manage to get up is the only real writing I am managing to pull off.

For some reason I can't seem to get anything done on my days off, and then there is this nagging voice that says "your lazy, there is something wrong with you, if you wanted to write you'd write..." and maybe its right... I don't know. So I find myself contemplating jobs I could take, courses I could take, and degrees I could get that would land me jobs that would make it easier to fit in (financially and otherwise), but in the end I feel like all these things are just taking me further away from where I want to be.

Meanwhile most everyone in my life's position on my writing seems to be "don't quit your day job" (in my case "night job"), except everyone wants me to quit my night job cause they are afraid they are going to get a call from a hospital one day and find out I accidentally inhaled some acid at work or something.

Meanwhile even BilLee is touting the "this will look good on a resume" line. Like we should dedicate months and years of our life to looking exactly the right way on paper to appeal to the prejudices and biases of hiring managers. I wouldn't write essays in college to appeal to the biases of my professors even though I often had problems because of it. I failed a few tests because of it, so why would I now? In hopes of edging out an equally or better qualified candidate for the same position by being a little more clever in the presentation of my resume, or by having some little job or club I was in here or there that was completely meaningless to my personal development that just makes me look a little more savvy than the next girl/guy... FUCK THAT!!!

And meanwhile I have people telling me that I should lie on applications so that on the little personality portion I look like an extrovert instead of an introvert, because almost all retail jobs have apparently decided that introverts do not work well in their particular "sales" environment. Meanwhile I actually know of introverts who are great salesmen. The only difference is that the skill doesn't come quite so easily to them as it does to some extroverts, but when they have the skill down introverts are just as good (and sometimes better) at sales as the so-called "out going" extrovert. So all this is just more bullshit and prejudice, and I shouldn't have to lie when I know perfectly well that I can do a job and be good at a job if given the chance -especially since I am already over that particular learning curve thanks to Papa John's and Dial America.

I don't think that there is anything wrong with having to "sell yourself" in terms of convincing an employer that they should hire you (presuming said employer is rational and you are not having to appeal to irrational biases), but that really should be for the interview or the cover letter. And unless the job you are applying for is particularly sensitive to people with mental disorders (like a security job or something) there is no good reason to be taking any sort of psychological test.

If I want a sales job the hiring manager should be looking to see if I can sell him or her on me, and if I can't he has good reason not to hire me. There should never be a "I'm sorry but your personality profile doesn't quite fit what we are looking for..."

I have actually sat before hiring managers and thought "you know what, I could do your job a hell of a lot better than you." I've sat before guys who were awkward and uncomfortable trying to figure out if they should recommend me to their boss who ultimately does the hiring, and who didn't even seem to have a clue why their own job existed.

So we go from the GIGO university systems to the GIGO corporate world, and you don't have to go far to find the garbage either. And I'm supposed to try and fit into that... is someone laughing somewhere... isn't this just a big joke... and I'm supposed to try and live in a nice house in a nice neighborhood and have pretty pictures to put on my walls, and pretty curtains to put over my windows, and random nick nacks to put in random places, and completely useless pieces of furniture to store dishes I never use, and display random I items that just collect dust.

Its not that I disdain those things, or people that have them, its just that I really don't want them, and I feel like I'm supposed to. Now I look over what I've just written and I think aren't you being just a little hypocritical here or there, don't you just want to have your cake and eat it too? Aren't you just being unrealistic? What's the point?

You know what I want? Right now I want a little apartment thats easy to keep up. I want to get rid of all the junk I don't need that just clutters up my space. I want to put my own art work (and that of my friends and family) on my wall, have a nice quiet corner to work, and a comfortable living room to entertain guests in (and to just chill out in), I want to have a small managable wardrobe, a small managable kitchen, and I don't want to work in an environment that causes me to have the equivalent of a perpetual case of poison ivy. I want to spend as much of my time as I can writing even if I am barely making enough money to survive, and I never want to ever have to give a damn for even a moment what happens to be on my resume, or how it will look that I was only at x job for two months, and I kind of like the idea of being a street poet -don't know if I'll be able to pull that one off or not. I'd like to learn spanish, take some martial arts classes, get into better shape, possibly take some voice and/or acting lessons, and maybe just maybe if I'm good enough and have the time get involved with a small community theater (or maybe found one someday). Then I want to expand my family, have kids, homeschool them or found a school, and hopefully by that point I'll have a life I'm proud to bring them into, and an environment that is manageable. Is that too much to ask?