DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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August 8

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau


I’m trying to go confidently in the direction of my dreams, H.D. But still have to pay the rent. Today, was one of the most ridiculous job interviews ever! This one was in San Diego. Nice to go in the other direction for a change. And, grateful that the Universe provided me with an opportunity to interview for a writing position, that actually involved writing – what a concept – and not some hybrid marketing/social media job that’s mostly stalking Twitter and Facebook for mention of whatever company with whom you’re interviewing.

So, I get to the interview and the first thing the HR gal does, with barely any greeting. is park me in front of a computer for three tests. First is an aptitude test, similar to several I’ve filled out during my joyful online job searches with the loads-of-fun online applications. It asks simple questions like you would find on the SAT. This one is pretty much a piece of cake.

Then it’s on to the hiring assessment, which again, is similar to those I’ve filled out several times online for various jobs –strewn with trick questions, double negatives and all sorts of ridiculousness. One of the questions actually asks when it’s OK for employees to steal company property. Only when you get to the fifth option does it say, “Never.”

Then, there’s the icing on the cake: a personality profile that lists two groups of four qualities over and over again. The first option ask you to pick which one you are the most like at work; the second option asks you to pick which one you are the least like. And, the four choices are something along the lines of this, over and over, ad nauseaum: bold, adventurous, timid, talkative or obedient, submissive, brave, courageous. The company obviously wants to see if you’re a team player or a lone wolf going commando through the corporate world with a loincloth and a machete. They could just ask you, point blank, “Are you a team player or do you prefer to work independently?” But they have to beat around the bush and use all this psychobabble and o-mi-god, ridiculous!!

Then, as you finally near the end of the test, the four words have almost exactly the same connotations like: peaceful, content, positive and amiable. So, there’s almost no way to choose between them as to which you are most like and which you are least like. This, they tell me later, is how they really discern your personality. Really?

So, at the very end, when a little box popped up asking if there were any comments I wanted to provide, to clarify the yes-or-no, fill-in-the-blank questions, this is what I wrote:

I raise ferrets for street fighting. I once turned in my co-worker for stealing a Twix from the breakroom vending machine. I steal all sorts of office supplies when no one is looking, but only the obscure things like string and pencil erasers (who uses these anymore anyway?) I’m a joker, a toker and a midnight smoker.” Oh wait, that’s Steve Miller, but I think they got the gist of my true personality.

The kicker? After all this ridiculousness, and please excuse the over-use of the word “ridiculousness” in this chapter, it just fits!! The kicker: When I finally get to interview with a live human being, which turns out to be the person I would be reporting to and the nicest guy ever, we first connect over our mutual background in journalism. We commiserate about the slow demise of newspapers. Then, this is what he tells me about the female CEO, whom he reports to directly, and whom I would be working with as well: That she has absolutely no journalism or writing experience, but she is uber-controlling, demanding and hands-on. In fact, she is so controlling that she has coined her own ridiculous term for the kind of writing she prefers: “Breathless.” I thought he was making this up for a laugh. He was dead serious. He said this CEO, who reads everything he writes, wants every sentence, when read aloud, to be read within one breath. Hah!! First of all, who in this day and age reads anything they see anywhere out loud?? Nobody!!

Then he proceeds to tell me that she is so demanding and argumentative that they once had a row over the use of the word “the” in a particular context. From what he described he handled it very diplomatically and she eventually came around to seeing it his way. But is this what I want to give up my newfound and highly-cherished freedom and autonomy for? Yet another controlling woman in the workplace? And, this one is the CEO. So she would take the biscuit of control!!

What is it with these women? What are they not getting in other areas of their lives that they have to overcompensate for by being so controlling at work? Plus, this particular woman is married to the son of one of the company founders. So she’s not going anywhere soon. Purr-fect!

I sincerely doubt I will be hearing back from this company anyway after the note I wrote about the online assessments, but is this the CEO I want to work for? Hell no!!


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