I saw a post on Craigslist (where else?) with the subject line, “Airplane Evacuation Slide testing.” The body of the ad read,
60 positions open for a 2 day project testing aerospace equipment.
Must not be afraid of heights
Must be able to commit to both days
I’ve found that on Craigslist, the less information given, the more likely an ad is to be fake. (Although why someone would want to fake airplane evacuation slide testing, I cannot imagine.) I sent an email anyway, in the event the job was real. I’ve never slid down an airplane evacuation slide, so getting paid to do so would give me another good story in the “crazy things I’ve done for money” category.
I replied by email late on Monday night, and didn’t receive a response until late Friday morning. By that time, I’d mostly forgotten about the ad and my reply, so when I received the call, it took me several seconds to figure out what the guy on the other end of the line was talking about.
The young man I was talking to was a recruiter for a temp agency that specializes in the needs of airlines. I had no idea such a temp agency existed.
The fellow went over some information with me: when (6am on two days at the end of the month), where (at a test site not too far from the host family’s place), how much ($15 an hour plus free lunch). He told me that the company was recruiting 60 people, although only 50 were needed. He said if all 60 people showed up, 50 would be picked and the extras sent home with a minimum of four hours pay. Those who stayed would actually be sliding down slides. He assured me there would be plenty of padding all around the slide, in the event anyone jumped too high and missed the slide and ended up on the ground. Also, one part of the test would be a rain simulation where all of the participants would get wet. Was I still interested?
Sure, I was still interested. He asked me some questions about my general health, then said I’d have to go to their office with my driver’s license and social security card or birth certificate to prove I was eligible to work. I’d also have to get checked by a nurse and attend an orientation. Conveniently I could complete all three tasks that very afternoon. I was going to that part of the world anyway, to show my driver’s license and social security card to the human resources folks at the test scoring facility, so why not get everything done at one time?
I found the office building and parked in a spot for two hour visitors. I went into the swanky lobby complete with a security officer dressed like a guard, but acting more like a tour guide. She directed me to the third floor, and I asked where I could find a restroom.
There was a guy going to the same place as I was. He was standing next to me, and when he heard me inquire about a restroom, he told me I shouldn’t use the restroom because they were going to drug test us. I had been asked by the recruiter if I would submit to a drug test, and I’d said yes. I don’t like drug tests, but I can pass them, and I’ve done them before for employment. However, I thought it rather rude for this stranger to tell me not to pee. It was still twenty minutes before I’d been told I’d see the nurse, and I drink enough water to basically pee on demand (TMI? Sorry.) Strangers should pretty much mind their own business.
I accidentally got off on the wrong floor. When the elevator doors opened, I assumed we were on the third floor. I bolted, mostly to escape from Mr. Not Minding His Own Business. After using the restroom (I do what I want, mister!) I went into what I thought was the correct office. (In my defense, there was a big sign with the name of the company I was looking for on the wall.) Turns out I was at the corporate office, but I needed to be at the human resources office. Oh. Embarrassing!
So I got back on the elevator and went up one floor. I found the right office, thanks to the big sign with the company name on the wall. I handed over my driver’s license and social security card for photocopying. Once they were returned, I was ushered into a conference room and given a medical intake form to complete.
The nurse came into the room right at one o’clock and started looking at each potential slider’s medical form. The nurse was an older lady, but not a sweet and cuddly grandma type. She was more of a rough and cocky biker chick type, the kind of woman who might wear a t-shirt announcing that she’s nobody’s old lady. She started eliminating people left and right. One man got really mad at her (his face got really red) because she eliminated him for something he’d told the recruiter about over the phone. She just shrugged and said, People get hurt doing this. Yes, that caused me to have some second thoughts.
Luckily, I’m pretty healthy and I’ve never had any broken bones, so the nurse didn’t find a reason to eliminate me on my medical intake form.
Next on the agenda were the one-on-one meetings with the nurse. I was the last of the group to go.
I followed the nurse down a long hallway and into a tiny room with a table and two chairs. I told her I didn’t know my weight, that I’d only guessed on the form, so she pulled out her scale. I took off my boots and stepped on. On the form, I’d written my weight as 178 pounds. I don’t know why I picked that number. The last time I was on a scale was last September while at my yearly woman’s exam, and I have no recollection of what my weight was then. The nurse’s scale said my weight was 164.8. Hey! That’s like losing 14 pounds in one second!
As I pulled my boots on, the nurse consulted her BMI chart. She told me she’d just remembered to take it out, meaning she’d not checked the BMI of any of the other potential sliders. Upon consulting her chart, she saw that the cutoff weight for someone of my height was 162 pounds. I am 2.8 pounds too fat to test airline evacuation slides!
The nurse shuffled through the other medical intake forms (right in front of me, where I could see people’s names and weight, if not complete medical history), and found at least a couple more people with BMI’s that were too high.
I asked her if I should stay for the orientation. She asked me if they were paying me for it. I said no. I told her that if she was going to eliminate me anyway, I wasn’t going to sit through the orientation. She said she couldn’t pass me, but would call (her superiors, I guess) and find out if they could take people over the current weight limits.
I talked to the recruiter who told me there would be more orientations the next week, so I could come in later if the nurse got the ok.
I wonder if I am better off not doing this job. Sure, the money is good, but the nurse made it sound like the potential for getting hurt is fairly high. If the recruiter calls again, I will probably take the job (and hope I get cut within an hour so I can collect $60 for doing practically nothing), but I’m not going to call the recruiter.