The job hunt thus far: thirty-something applications, twelve rejection letters (most saying “lol you’re too late, the position went in two hours”), one interview with door-to-door snake oil merchants, and one dubious job offer from a dataminer which may end in Nigerian thugs cutting off my balls. God, I hate this country.
The only vaguely promising lead – which is to say, the only one that actually emailed me back not saying “nope” – had me phone their HQ, which while evading all questions about what the job actually was, set me up for an interview in Brislington, specifically on one of Bristol’s dying commercial estates. The company was something called “HI Marketing”, and if you googled them like a suspicious fuck, you will come to the same conclusion as I did – especially if, like me, you’d come forewarned by the likes of this.
Still, beggars can’t be choosers, so on Monday I showed up to a crummy one-room operation at the wasteland end of Bristol, walls lined with too-good-to-be-true cheques and cheap plastic chairs full of awkward-looking kids. The only other candidate past 20 was a fellow student from China looking for summer work, and we immediately hit it off and started muttering suspiciously about commission basis and door to door. Then our prospective employer, a jovial wide boy in a button-up shirt, started exulting to us about how good the money was, at length, without actually going into detail about pay or conditions. Turned out “HI” stood for “Home Improvement”, and we got shown a video about an Innovative Home Improving Substance which was about as cringeworthy and patriotic as old school chemistry videos from the 80s, except rounded off with doomsayer stuff about how everyone’s houses were going to explode in the coming apocalypse. Were I a) suggestible, b) a homeowner, and c) as dumb as plankton, I might have been taken in.
(Side note: The substance in question is caulk – sealant – to put on your house. The video demonstrated its amazing waterproof abilities in a tank of water, sealed completely against the liquid but through the air bubbles pumped through it – which the commentator said “proves it breathes” in among exulting about how BRITISH an innovation it was. Correct me if I’m incorrect, but the point of “breathing” is to let water vapour through. Craigievar Castle sweated itself to death and cost thousands upon thousands in restoration costs because they used the wrong sealant. Don’t clingfilm your house, kids.)
By that point, it was pretty obvious that we were going to have to sell this shit door to door, meaning commission, meaning oh god Glengarry Glen Ross vileness. To reassure us, they then told us that pay was on an OTE basis, which apparently gave us the best of both worlds and was wonderful. When I tried to ask a question about what the rates actually were or what we’d actually be doing, they told me questions should wait for the interview. The individual interview, not in front of all the kids where awkward questions would cause them to doubt that their first job was the wonderful opportunity it seemed.
For the individual interview, Del Boy’s fat cousin took me aside and asked me about being a student. Still wouldn’t explain the actual rates of pay (those would be sorted out if they “selected” me for the followups the next day) but confirmed that it was, yes, door-to-door. After this the interview was going unenthusiastically through the motions, and the entire exercise confirmed as pointless; the only upside of it was the bus journey back into town with Zimou, the other student, in which we bitched at length about Britain, Mao, working sales, China, communism, economic regulation, the state of the world and stupid iron-foundry techniques.
I wasn’t expecting to get a call back, and didn’t; he did, however, and followed it up to confirm for me that the OTE was bullshit and it was basically all commission (without even a contract). After being fucked around, driven to the dark wilds of Gloucestershire and sent marching around areas that had apparently already been picked dry six or seven times by various other hapless kids selling various other flavours of snake oil, he quit today, unpaid.
There being no jobs at all in Bristol, the various online freelance/copy-writing things I applied to having next to no work available, and the concept of paid employment for young people having become some sort of strange anachronism in the last few years, my options for pocket money (or, well, food next year) are pretty limited. However, yesterday I got an email regarding a project which a) I’m probably best qualified in the entire world to do, b) will pay £500 for something I’d have quite happily done for free. (More on that later, but this one isn’t actually a scam.)
A confirmation of the way of the world, I fear: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. But I am pretty damn lucky in the people I know.