I thought it was about the peanut butter …………..

170209_peanut_butter

 

So I interview candidates.

I am one of those non-people-persons who seems to have stumbled into making a living that requires me to be a real people’s person all day.

Interview days are particularly difficult.  It is like all my energy is being pulled ripped out of me.  By the end of the day I am not literally weeping, I am actually weeping.

I am quite low on candidate numbers so I have booked three interview days per week from January through to March.  I may need to go and relook at that, as I realised today that I might not survive.

I am incredibly patient with candidates — at the end of the day I need to get the best out of her.  I spend valuable time with her to be able to get to a point where she is a candidate I can present to a client and at the same time  I try to give her some tips and suggestions and maybe see if she can see a situation from another angle.

I have had a lot of really bizarre interviews in my time, and I tend to forget them within 24 hours and not let them bother me again.  I usually do not talk about my clients or my candidates with anyone — it’s my work stuff.

Today I experienced a truly magic moment of epic proportion.

It might be that I am severely sleep deprived – insomnia has been kicking my arse all over the show for the last 4 – 6 weeks and I am really not coping during the day.  I have had medicated sleep for the the last 5 years so I know how this goes, and my medication is usually and has been just right.

But for reasons of many — right now my brain is fighting me.  The result is I struggle to fall asleep and my sleep is broken.  When the morning comes, I am pretty much broken.  Every morning.

So back to the interview — I go into a lot of detail with candidates.  I am patient.   I offer guidance, a little hug if they need it. I am Mother Theresa but with better hair, and jeans.

The candidate today is talking about why she resigned.  Candidates often go into wild detail, and run all over the show when in actual fact the reason they resigned is often a fairly simple one.  If you are able to cut through all the noise and get to it.

I have huge amounts of respect for the candidates I work with — I let them tell their story, I offer advise and encouragement.  I do a lot more than just interview.

This candidate is lamenting the fact that her previous employer only supplied bread and peanut butter spread for lunch every day.

{keep in mind I am sleep deprived, I am hopped up on caffeine and ritalin and my people skills got left at the school kerb this morning —- I am one step away from flying over the cuckoos nest myself at this point — I have murder on my mind and that was because I have been awake since 06h10 ….}

I nod and she just goes on and on about this peanut butter thing.  I am trying to identify with her as the victim.

I explain I hate peanut butter. Like intensely.

Then in a very gentle tone I explain the onus does not rest on the employer to supply lunch.  If an employer supplied bread, tea, coffee and a spread — then great.

It’s been given to you — they do not actually have to supply it.

There is a perception that an employer must supply lunch and thus an expectation, but the reality is that it is not a right.The issue I am having is that not only is she expecting lunch, but she is unhappy with lunch —- and I am trying to understand the situation.

Listen I have heard stories from candidates about employers that really make your jaw slacken —– and usually your facial features are arranged in a WTF?  So in this I am not trying to vilify anyone, I am trying to understand the situation — the actual situation — and then understand where her dissatisfaction crept in.

I explained I have never worked a job where they gave me lunch.  I told her that my first job was at a bakery — the irony was at lunch time we had to go the bakery next door and buy a pie, because the bakery we worked at was not interested in our shit, and they were not going to give us a roll.

She is still muttering about her peanut butter.

This peanut butter issue clearly goes deep.

I am nodding, and making all the coo’ing sounds and what ever else you need to do in a hostage negotiation process.

Then I think, okay let’s move this on.  Let’s find out what the solution would have been instead of say, resigning from that job, because you lost your shit about there only being peanut butter on the menu.

I ask her, okay, what did you expect your employer to supply you for lunch —- she is still muttering about peanut butter — so I say it again with a bit more force — what would you expect your employer to supply you for lunch?

I make eye contact with her, I lean in.  I nod and smile in an encouraging manner.

I show her my compassion for her peanut butter issue —- I encourage her to just tell me what it is that her employer should have given her.  Which might have prevented her from resigning, and now being unemployed.

I sit there and wait for her to build up the courage to impart this secret to me — this yearning she has carried.  This feeling that life has not treated her well, that somehow her employer was not doing right by her.

She looks at me — I can see we are about to have a break through moment …..

 

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I am tingling a little –  this conversation has gone on for a very long time, I am heavily invested at this point

 

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………………… “polony” ………….fucking polony

 

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She wanted her employer to give her polony and not peanut butter. So she resigned.  Over polony.

 

I can’t —– I actually can’t.  And you think your job offers you opportunities to grow into a stronger person. Mine is “Postcards from the Edge” material.

 

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You know that exact moment in the day when you sit there, reflect on your life, the choices you have made, and the series of decisions that has brought you to this moment and you go ………………… polony ………….fucking polony …. my job is about polony.

 

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How I don’t kill more people I will never know.  I deserve an award some days.  Not today.  But some days.