Job search update, 09/01/14


Secretary II – City Health Department, 08/26/14

Tuesday 08/26/14:   I interviewed this morning for the position of Secretary II with the City Health Department.

My success depended on my performance overcoming my appearance.  This was the fourth interview I’ve had since becoming homeless, and the first time that my appearance was an issue.  As things went, by the time I left McDonald’s for the interview itself, my nerves were shot.

I’m never picky at the clothes window.  Maybe I’ll be pickier henceforth.  At McDonald’s this morning, I got out my tiny scissors from my toiletries bag and snipped off numerous long, frayed threads from the cuffs of my khakis.  In the course of this, I saw that, overall, the cuffs were pretty badly frayed, far more than I had imagined.  Next comes the shirts issue.

I’d picked up a new white shirt at the clothes window last night, and hung it on the corner of my bunk.  This morning, found out that somehow it had fallen off overnight — and someone’d stepped on it.  It went into the laundry bin even before breakfast.  At McDonald’s, try for a clean shirt #2:  the white shirt I’ve been carrying in my plastic bag for some time.  This one had become unacceptably soiled by other items in that bag, notably my rain jacket.  At this point, I was not smiling.

Try #3:  a white shirt I’ve been carrying, inside a zip-loc bag, inside my heavy, zippered case for some months.  This was badly wrinkled, but by far the cleanest of the three.  The more I looked at it, the more spots I noticed; including a soiled collar, what looked like coffee spots in some places, and even a small hole in the back between the shoulders.  I would NOT be able to use the McDonald’s bathroom to try to clean it up.

I felt the interview went well.  As usual, it was a “structured” interview: a panel of five people took turns asking pre-determined questions that they ask every candidate.  One member seemed to take a special interest in me, probably because she and I are both significantly “older.”  That may work in my favor.  The interview was not conducted at the job site:  it took place at what turned out to be Health Department HR HQ, literally right across the street from the mission; but the job site will be at Redwood & Charles, about a mile west of the mission.  The BIG factor in my favor: whereas City jobs are normally 8:30-4:30, at this office it’s somewhat negotiable.  If I can obtain 7:00-3:00 or 7:30-3:30, I may not need to ask the mission to make special accommodations for my work schedule.  (This work site is also closer to the cheap hotel where I may stay, if I decide to do that.)

Next steps:  as usual, they interviewed half a dozen candidates today.  It may be next Friday before I find out whether I’m the one they choose.  After that comes a physical at the City’s clinic, which normally, inexplicably, takes an entire day.  Last time, the clinic required me in turn to go to my physician’s office and get copies of a lot of my medical records.  The forms they required me to fill out today included one pertinent fingerprinting, which I’d never seen before; and God knows when and where I’ll be required to go for that.  So, it may be a while before I actually start work, and in the meantime I face having to actually do work to get the job.

(Originally posted 2014-09-01.)

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