I got the best temp job I ever had off of Craigslist. I sent an email, then talked to a lady on the phone. I never went in for an interview. In fact, I think the company I was working for was in North Carolina. I was in Austin, Texas.
My job was to give out food samples at supermarkets. The company was going to send me what I needed. Whatever they didn’t send me, I would pick up at the supermarket before my shift.
It was all rather disorganized. I wasn’t told what to wear until after my first shift. By that point I realized no one from the supermarket knew I was going to show up, much less expected me to wear any sort of uniform. The folks in North Carolina were certainly not organized enough to check up on my clothing. I wore my sweet cowgirl boots, tights, a short skirt, and whatever cute top I had at the time.
Prior to my first shift, the company shipped a large box to me. The box contained napkins and small plastic cups. Once I got to the store, I checked in with the folks at customer service (who seemed to have no idea that I was scheduled to be there that day), then went off to find the snacks and beverages I was supposed to serve. The snacks were different kinds of mixed nuts. I put the nuts into tiny plastic cups and arranged them on the table the store dug out of the stockroom for me. The beverages were a variety of flavored seltzer waters, fizzy, but not very tasty.
It was fun to offer snacks to folks. Most people were willing to try the nuts. Nuts are healthy, packed with protein, everybody knows that.
The real fun began with the second of my three shifts. The box that arrived at my friends’ house prior to my workday contained not only napkins and plastic cups, but also individually wrapped cookies. There were oatmeal raisin cookies and chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies. Yum!
Once I got to the store, I found the beverage customers would be sampling: a store brand bottled Frappuccino type coffee drink.
I set up my cookies and my coffee/sugar drink and waited for customers to approach. Whenever anyone came by, I asked, Would you like to try…? Many people did want to try, but a surprising number of people did not. I tend to try whatever is being given out, but if someone offers me a (full-sized) cookie, I have to remember to be polite and not yell out, Fuck Yeah! So I was a little startled whenever anyone said no thanks to my offer.
One lady actually told me, No thank you, I’m not hungry. I ask you, what does being hungry have to do with eating a cookie? (Maybe not knowing what being hungry has to do with eating a cookie explains why I am fat.) But come on…the cookies were individually wrapped. Even if she wasn’t hungry for the cookie right then, she could have taken it anyway and eaten it later.
My favorite person was the little old lady, who, when offered a choice of cookies, said she couldn’t make up her mind and asked if she could try both. YES! I was so glad she was bold enough to ask for what she wanted. I happily gave her two cookies.
After the first Saturday of cookie sample distribution, no one at the company asked how many cookies I had left or made any indication that I would have to return the leftovers. YES! I’d just just acquired at least 30 delicious cookies.
At the second (and last) cookie giveaway, I still offered cookies and coffee drink to everyone I saw, but I quit feeling personally offended when the cookies were rejected. Every cookie not accepted was one more for my larder. After my second cookie shift, I had at least 50 leftover cookies stashed in my van.
The company I was working for seemed really disorganized. Not only did they not tell me what to wear until it was too late, but they shipped a box of supplies for a demonstration I never agreed to work. I found out just how disorganized they were when it came time to get paid.
After working the last of my three shifts, I realized that I didn’t know when I was supposed to get paid, so I sent an email to the woman with whom I’d been communicating. She explained that because of when I worked, I’d be paid during the next pay cycle. Well, ok, I had no choice but to accept that.
I must explain that during this time I had no savings and very little income. I was living rent free with friends, visiting food banks as often as I could, and generally living hand to mouth. I needed the money I was owed.
When the time frame for receiving my check came and went, I contacted the woman in North Carolina again. She acted as if my check must have gotten lost in the mail and said she would send out another one. Before I could contact her again about my pay, I received an email that was obviously written to several employees. In the message, the woman I’d been talking to apologized for the pay being late and said she’d been negotiating with the owners of the company to get the checks sent out. That’s when I got mad! The woman lied to me about my check getting lost in the mail. This email made it obvious that no one had gotten paid.
At that point, I was about to leave Texas. I sent the woman an email giving her the address that she should send my paycheck to. I also told her that if my pay weren’t waiting for me in my mailbox by the time I got there, I would be forced to contact the Texas Workforce Commission and let them know that I had worked a job and not been paid. Sure enough, when I got to New Mexico, there was a postal money order waiting for me in the amount owed. I was glad to have it, but had to wonder, what kind of business pays employees with a postal money order? I wonder if the other workers ever got paid…
Handing out free samples was great fun, and I sure did enjoy eating and giving away those leftover cookies.
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