Job Interview

So Luke, what do you do with yourself?

I lie in bed and read. Actually sometimes I read books, other times I just stare at the ceiling. Well, I don’t just stare at the ceiling, I’m thinking too. Thinking about many things. Things like how much I really want to work a minimum wage job. Other times when I’m not lying in bed reading or staring at the ceiling I’m doing my school work. I like to do my school work. Actually maybe I just like to do my school work because I want to write smart things and get good marks and impress the lecturer of my Southeast Asian history course because I have an awesome brain crush on her. Other than that I also hang around and help out with various anarchist collectives. But don’t worry about that, for the most part I’m just there because there’s a girl that I have a bit of a crush on who also goes to those things. So yeah, basically, I lie in bed listening to Magic Dirt thinking about 50 year-old Southeast Asian history lecturers.

Why do you want to work for us?

Well there’s this thing called capitalism. To do things in capitalism I need money. To get money I need to come to people like you, and hope that you will allow me to do things for you. These things may include stacking of food containers in a uniform fashion, mopping your floors in a uniform fashion, crushing boxes in a uniform fashion, wearing a uniform in a uniform fashion and making sure every person gives money (often gained by a similar process of doing stupid shit in uniform fashions) in exchange for goods. If these people do not have/offer the correct numerical value applied to a product that you probably don’t even give a shit about, it would be my duty to deny them of the right to that product. All I ask in return is a bare minimum monetary sum in line with laws that will tell you what the lowest amount of dollars per hour you are required to legally give me.

What previous jobs have you had?

I worked at Franklins for almost two years. Maybe one and a half actually. I was a cashier for a while, then I worked on the floor, stacking shelves and stuff like that.

What did you enjoy about that job?

As cashier, I enjoyed saying “Hello, how are you?” to hundreds of people without having to establish any further connection. I was able to use a standard “yeah, not bad” answer every time a customer would ask me how I was. They would always ask me how I was even though it was pretty obvious I was just doing stupid activities to get stupid money to do stupid things (such as buy train and bus tickets to get to work to just do stupid things to get stupid money to do stupid things). I also enjoyed standing in the same spot for hours and hours. I could feel myself getting stupider and stupider as the shift would progress as I noticed myself having to stare at a coin for at least twenty seconds to figure out if it was a twenty cent of fifty cent coin, even though its pretty obvious if it would be a fifty cent coin because a fifty cent coin is the only coin that isn’t round like a circle. My hypothesis is all the blood from my brain went to my feet. Which is bad for identifying coin values because I don’t use my feet for thinking.

Working on the floor was sometimes a little more enjoyable. It could be called independence. I enjoyed the ability to move around. I think it could be described as similar to when you buy a goldfish and you transfer the goldfish from the little plastic bag into the slightly larger fish tank. I was able to move around. I was able to hide in the pet food aisle and look at all the cute animals on all the pet food packaging. On the floor, I enjoyed finding loaves of bread in the shampoo section and wondering about the real identity of these anonymous supermarket conceptual artists and what messages they were trying to convey through their works. Sometimes I would also “create” similar “pieces”, for example, placing a poison product in the meat shelf – to bring awareness to the poisons in our food, particularly meat and dairy. Other temporal artworks included an installation and performance art piece in which I stacked rolls of aluminium foil in a not so rigid formation and then banged on the shelves to see if they would all fall down.

What does customer service mean to you?

When someone comes and asks you at the register where they could find a can of tomatoes or an avocado slicer, it is best to respond with “I don’t know. My experience of this store is confined to what I can see and touch from this 80cm x 40cm piece of plastic lined carpet. If you’d like to know what the PLU code for button mushrooms is then I will gladly share this information.”

That’s what I would do, and to me, that’s the most common sense way to go about customer service. But for others, it seems that customer service is a quasi-religious belief in the omniscience of the customer as summed up by the mantra, “the customer is always right”. I don’t really believe that and I wish to present an example to refute such an assertion.

One time I was doing my work when a customer came and asked me if any of the fruits and vegetables were organic. I told her that the fresh produce wasn’t my area, but considering this was a Franklins I doubted that much, if any, of the fruit and vegetables that were sold there were organic. I told her she’d have more luck at the food co-op less than  five minutes walk away or the organic shop less than a minute’s walk away. To which she replied that Franklins should stock organic food because she likes to do all her shopping in the one place.

Obviously in this situation the customer was not right. But, let’s say for instance, she was right, just for sake of argument, to test this notion of customer omniscience. So this woman was right that Franklins should stock organic food so she can do her shopping all in the one place and not walk one minute to the nearest organic shop or five minutes to another organic shop. Let’s put aside the fact that the small King St and Enmore Rd area that these three shops cover could easily be considered “one place” in the same way that Stockland Wetherill Park is considered to be “one place”. Let’s put aside the fact that she is incredibly priviliged to be so close to not one but two organic shops. Let’s put aside the fact that, really, she should be blindfolded and dumped in the middle of Smithfield and told to try walk to the nearest organic shop. Of course we take the blindfold off when she’s dumped in Smithfield. We’ll put all that aside and think for a moment that yes, yes she is right because she is a customer and the customer is always right. What happens next? We throw out all the current stock of fresh produce and tomorrow receive truckloads of organic produce? We start to sell organic produce alongside non-organic produce? But where do we find the room to put the two types of fresh produce? Do we convert the staff lunch room into a special organic produce section? You see, this is where such an irrational belief leads us to!

Do you have any conditions that may limit your capacity to work?

Yes, actually I suffer from a condition called consciousness that makes me incredibly sensitive to bullshit. Bullshit may include, but is not limited to: being paid six dollars less per hour than me even though we do exactly the same amount of work – if not more – as them, simply because I’m younger than 20; watching the price of items go up every few months without any corresponding wage increase; and observing that I do much more work than the storeowner ever seems to do. This limits my capacity to work because my condition, consciousness, forces me to want to decrease the disparity between bullshit and benefits, and although I can never fully compensate for the soul destruction of minimum wage labour I can at least find comfort in attempting to bring the input of labour and the rewards of my labour (as experienced by myself and not the boss) closer to a state of equilibrium. Usually this is done by working slower, taking longer lunch breaks, accidentally breaking packets of lollies, accidentally eating those packets of lollies and hanging out in the pet food aisle contemplating the role of gender and class in the marketing of pet food.

Do you have any questions about the job?

Yeah, my hair. Will that be a problem?

Ok, thank you Luke. We’ll get back to you by the end of the week.

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