Frying Pan (Part 2)

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Blog bonus day! Today I’ll tell the rest of the story of my experience at a very strange interview for a job at a souvenir shop. As the saga continues, I’m about to get the details regarding the drug test I have to take.

You’ll have to pass a drug test, the manager told me, which I already knew from my friend who worked nearby. Can you pass one today? she asked in a lowered voice. I told her I could.

She handed me a thick stack of papers. In the stack I’d find the company handbook and forms to sign saying I accepted the cash register policy as well as the other policies in the handbook. There were other forms to sign granting permission for the drug test and the background check. She left me at the lunch counter to sign the forms.

Reading the company handbook made me privy to more policies.  Any employee parking too close to the store would be fired. Employees’ purses, backpacks, and lunch bags had to be made from clear plastic. If I lost my nametag, I’d be charged $25. If I lost my timecard, I’d be charged $25. If I forgot to punch in or out, I’d be docked 60 minute of pay. If I quit before I’d worked there 90 days, I’d be charged for my drug test and background check.

I’d never had an employer charge me for a lost nametag or time card, and a $25 fee seemed excessive. Also, losing an hour’s pay for not punching in or out seemed like a harsh way to teach a lesson. I wondered if these policies were even legal. Who were these people I was considering signing on with?

The manager came back, and I had a few questions for her. What hours was the store open? How much did the job pay?

Her answers gave me hope.

The store was typically open from 10am to 6pm; occasionally it was open a couple of hours later. She thought new hires started at $11 an hour, but she’d have to double check.

I gritted my teeth and thought I could deal with some weirdness for $11 an hour and a schedule that didn’t require a 4am wake up.

The manager wanted to know when I could start if I passed the drug test and the background check. She said an employee had quit and the store needed a new worker right away. I told her the new schedule for my current job had just come out, and I’d want to give notice and work the days I was expected there. The schedule was only for a week, so essentially I’d give five days notice. I also offered to come in to the souvenir shop for training a couple hours on the days I would be working at the fuel station.  I figured getting some training in before I started working at the souvenir shop full time would give me a head start when I was actually on the schedule.

The manager had a urine specimen cup in her hand. I’ve only been drug tested for work a couple of times—once for a temp job and once when I was trying to get hired for a work-at-home job with U-Haul. (I got the temp job, but was not hired by U-Haul because the internet was too slow where I was staying.) In both cases, I was sent to a business that specialized in urinalysis. I was handed a cup upon arrival and was sent to a bathroom stall where I provided my sample. The whole process was quite professional.

Now the manager handed me the cup and ushered me into the employees’ restroom. I carried my (small) purse in with me. The manager left me alone in the dark, damp room. If I’d need to provide a clean sample from someone who didn’t use drugs, I had ample opportunity.

The sample cup was unlike any I’d ever seen. It had some kind of protrusion on it, almost as tall as the cup and maybe 1½ inches wide. I think the protrusion was what showed the results of the test.

I peed in the cup, no problem. I wiped off the cup with toilet paper. I set it on the sink while I washed my hands and adjusted my clothing. Then I stood and stared at the container of urine. The manager hadn’t told me exactly what to do with it.

 In medical offices, there is sometimes a small metal door in the wall. The patient opens the little door and leaves the sample behind the door. A medical professional can open the door on the other side of the box and retrieve the sample when it is convenient. There was no small metal door in any of the restroom’s walls.

When I’ve given samples for jobs or drug studies, a professional wearing latex gloves had been just outside the door of the stall, ready to take the sample as soon as I walked out. But what to do today? Should I leave the sample in the restroom? Should I carry it out to the manager? I felt awkward in my uncertainty.

I decided to take the sample with me. I poked my head out of the restroom door. The manager was not standing there waiting for me. I walked over to the lunch counter. The manager was not waiting for me there either.

The young woman (perhaps still a teenager) working at the lunch counter indicated a napkin on the counter. She said to leave it there, the young woman said, so I set my cup of urine down a few feet from where tourists were enjoying hot dogs and Frito pies and milkshakes. Gross! I don’t know much about health codes, but setting a cup of urine on a lunch counter where people are eating has got to be against at least one of them.

When the manager returned, she peered at my urine sample, pulled up a photo on her phone, and compared my sample to the photo. Wait! What? The manager of the souvenir shop would by analyzing my urine? She would be the one to determine if I was drug-free? Was she trained for this?

This interview was growing increasingly weird.

The manager said this was going to take a while. Did I want to wait?

I really didn’t, so I said I thought I’d head out.

She said she’d call the company’s secretary and give her the information for my background check, but the results might not be ready until Monday since it was already almost 3 o’clock on Friday afternoon. She said if I hadn’t heard from her by Monday afternoon, I should call to check in.

I left feeling really weird about the entire situation. The manager talked as if I were already hired, but I still had the results of the drug test and background check hanging over my head. Was I in or was I out? I suppose I was officially in limbo.  

I spent the entire weekend going back and forth about the job. On the one hand, $11 an hour was more than I was currently earning, but on the other hand, I didn’t agree with having to cover drawer shortages that I didn’t cause. On yet another hand, the hours at the souvenir shop were much better than what I was currently working, but on the other hand (how many hands was I dealing with here?) there were the policies about being charged for losing things. Was I about to jump out of the frying pan and right into the fire?

On Monday afternoon, I called the manager of the souvenir shop. She hadn’t heard back about the background check, so she couldn’t offer me the job. She asked again when I could start if I was offered the job, and I again told her I felt like I needed to finish out the week I was already scheduled for.

The owner of the company is really on me to hire someone who can start immediately, she told me. Everyone I’ve tried to hire wants to give two weeks notice, she complained.

I felt she was pressuring me to walk out on my current job. I didn’t want to walk out for a number of reasons. First, I thought it was unethical to leave everyone working in the fuel center in a lurch. Second, I didn’t want to burn my bridges. The company I was working for is a huge corporation with stores across the country. Walking out without notice would probably mean I could never get a job with the corporation again. Third, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to work for the souvenir people.

I’m sure the owner doesn’t like it when his employees quit without giving two weeks notice, I told the manager. Surely he can understand people wanting to give notice.

It happens all the time, the manager sighed, referring to people quitting without notice.

I wondered if because it happened to him all the time, the owner of the business had come to think of this behavior as normal. I also wondered why his employees walked out without notice all the time.

The manager and I agreed I’d check in the next day, but the conversation with her didn’t leave me feeling good. I discussed the situation with The Man and my sibling.  The conclusions I reached? I didn’t appreciate being pressured to do something I thought was not right. If the manager and owner of the company thought I was a good fit for their team and a good investment, they should be willing to wait five days for me. I did not feel good about several of the company policies. I decided I didn’t want to work in the souvenir shop after all.

I chose to text the manager. I didn’t really want to talk to her again. I didn’t want to discuss the situation or my concerns. I just wanted to be done.

Here’s what I texted to her: I understand your need to fill the position immediately. Since I am unable to do that, I am withdrawing my application. Thanks.

Several hours later she responded, I’m sorry to hear that, but thanks for applying.

It looked like I was staying in the frying pan for a while longer.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

8 Responses »

  1. Oh hell no – sounds like you might have dodged a bullet! Sounds super sketchy. I’m sure something better (will/did) come up!

    • I’ve got a potential something better coming up, I hope. For the moment, I am still at the fuel center.

      But yes, hell no! Everything about the souvenir shop was so weird, and I am glad I didn’t end up there.

  2. Follow your gut. YOU did the right thing. What a mess. I understand your need for more money and are willing to work for it, however, not there! Something will come up.

    • Yes, I am waiting for the something better. I have a potential opportunity in the next couple of months. We’ll see how that works out.

      It’s not the more money I wanted so much as better hours, and a nicer work environment. For now I am still at the fuel center, keeping on keeping on.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Wow, so much of what they were doing there is illegal, yet people are so desperate for work that they’ll put up with just about anything. Legally, they can’t make you pay back any missing money from the drawer. Legally, they HAVE to give you a half hour of paid time off for lunch, plus two paid fifteen minute breaks, for EVERY 7.5 hours you work. Putting that pee cup where they did is a health violation and just plain gross. I have worked plenty of these jobs, and if you thought getting the job was weird, once in it gets even weirder. Be glad you dodged that bullet, because I’d bet good money they’d find a way to NOT pay $11 per hour later.

    • I guess people don’t put up with the “anything” at the souvenir shop in question because they quit without notice quite frequently. I do believe what goes around comes around.

      I wondered if those things you mentioned are federal laws or state laws. (I really don’t have time to do the research now.) I found out the company I currently work for (a huge corporation with stores in many, many states) is not required to offer sick time in the state where I work. So if people are out sick, they either have to use vacation time or they don’t get paid on the days they don’t work. I think that probably means sick people who should be at home come into work anyway.

      Thanks for your input and for reaffirming my gut feeling.

  4. I agree with your other responders that you did the right thing. That was kind of a tough decision at the get-go, but that manager kept making it easier and easier for you. Urine on the lunch counter…That’s incredible! A “visual” drug test is pretty incredible also! Best wishes on that potential opportunity in the next couple months also! I am enjoying your blogs. I used to blog a lot on myspace back in the day lol.

    • HI Mark! Thanks for reading and commenting.

      You are right, the manager kept making the decision easier to make. It was like the Universe whispered at first, “don’t do it,” but than started speaker more and more loudly and then SCREAMING so I would get the idea!

      The urine on the lunch counter was just over the top. If I saw that scene in a movie, I would say, “that would never happen in real life,” but happen it did.

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