Sunday, August 21, 2011

Serial Faxer Gets a Surprise

Are you ready for another example of fighting fire with fire, aka retaliatory rudeness? Actually, this example isn’t mine.

But first, the back story. (You knew there would be one, didn’t you?)

Nine years ago, the company I worked for closed up shop in My City and moved to the Midwest. I was out on the street, job wise, along with the thirty or so other employees who had also stuck with that place for way too long. We gambled that things would get better, and we lost.

At least we were eligible for unemployment benefits. I hated being out of work. I applied for every job that I thought I might be even remotely qualified for. I figured I eventually would get hired somewhere, and it kept the people at the Department of Employment Security happy.

I also registered at a temporary agency, hoping to land a temporary to permanent position. I’ll call the woman who interviewed me “Millie.” Five minutes into the interview, I realized that Millie wasn’t interested in my qualifications and work experience. Millie was interested mainly in Millie. After I explained why I was currently unemployed, she told me that she was tired of working and would like to retire. She then spent the next twenty minutes talking about her grandchildren and her trips to Europe and Asia.

I was so tempted to say: Well that’s all very nice; however, I’m here to discuss my qualifications and work experience and opportunities with your agency. But I didn’t because I suspected that Millie had no intention of placing me in a job. When I left her office, I was sure that I would never hear from her.

I was wrong. Millie called me a few days later tried to talk me into accepting a four-week assignment at the university. I turned it down, reminding her that I was only interested in a temporary position that had the potential to turn into permanent employment. I felt a little guilty about declining Millie's offer because, at that point, I had been out of work for three months. However, three weeks later, a non-profit organization hired me for a temporary position that turned into a permanent job.

End of back story.

Recently, I bumped into to an acquaintance at Barnes and Noble. I’ll call her “Helen.” Before retiring, Helen was the human resources coordinator for a small company. We got into a discussion about good and bad interview experiences from the perspectives of both the interviewer and the applicant. I told her about the strange interviews I’d suffered through over the years. I mentioned Millie.

Oh yes, Helen knew Millie.

Years ago, Millie had attempted to interest Helen in hiring Millie’s temps by faxing numerous unsolicited résumés   to Helen’s office several times a week. Millie continued this approach for several weeks. It annoyed Helen, but she figured Millie would stop faxing résumés as soon as it dawned on her that Helen was ignoring her efforts to drum up business. Helen’s company rarely used temps, and if and when it did, she had decided that they would not be Millie’s temps.

Millie either didn’t take the hint or she decided to try harder. At any rate, she kept faxing résumés. Her serial faxing often tied up Helen’s fax machine and, even worse, it wasted paper. Helen got tired of pitching résumés into the trash can. She called Millie and asked her to please stop doing it.

Millie didn’t stop doing it.

In desperation, Helen had her assistant fax a ream of paper (yes, 500 sheets) to Millie’s office. That tied up Millie’s fax machine for a while. However, no paper was wasted because Helen's assistant faxed blank paper, and blank paper popped out of the fax machine at Millie’s office.

And the tactic worked. Millie never faxed another résumé to Helen’s office.

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