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sure beats working for a living
just not applying myself
by robert a. melos

I did something tonight I haven’t done in about 18 years. I filled out some job applications. Now I’m not without work. I am still a Realtor and still play in the fields of real estate, but due to circumstances beyond my control I’m looking for a part time income just to bring in a little something extra.

Since I have several other obligations I was looking for something not too mentally taxing, or physically taxing, yet something that wouldn’t bore me to death. I also need specific hours, thus the point where my plan of getting a part time job hits a snag. You see in my mind part time is something you do maybe three or four hours a day. However because the last time I worked at anything other than real estate (not counting tarot reading) George H.W. Bush was the president and we hadn’t even entered the Gulf War, I wasn't prepared for modern application processes.

Back in the day you would go to a mall and walk from store to store and ask if they were hiring and then fill out an application. The jobs I’m talking about aren’t executive positions, or professional positions. I’m talking about being a clerk or stockperson. Now I know some people might not think someone of my age should be considering these types of jobs, but the thing is I have a job. I’m just looking for a little something extra. Some guys my age take a mistress, I look for work.

Just kidding. I’ll be a mistress if someone will supplement my income. I can lap dance. Anyway, I digress. The point is I’m just not looking for a career, since I already have one. I just want a couple hundred bucks a week extra; that didn’t seem to be too unreasonable in the beginning of my search.

Given some other circumstances beyond my control, the time I have available is primarily late nights. Now I was figuring maybe 4 hours a night, 5 nights a week, or even 4 nights a week. I was thinking eight to midnight, or eleven to two. I was also thinking, because of my limited hours, maybe stockperson in a grocery store would be good. This is when I found out part time on the overnight shift is not like daytime part time. Overnight part time in a grocery store is from eleven P.M. to seven A.M. and the part time comes in because it would only be for two or maybe three days a week.

This is going to be a problem because of those outside circumstances beyond my control, but I still filled out a couple of applications. Now this is where I discovered more changes in the work world.

In one grocery store a job application is simply one page asking for your name, address, phone number, education history and employment history. This was pretty standard and pretty much what I filled out 20 years ago when looking for these types of jobs. I was comfortable. Then I went to another grocery store.

The mom and pop stores are nice, but I had applied there and now moved up to the more chain-like stores. Well they have graduated to the 21st century when it comes to job applications.

Just inside the door there is a little booth resembling a photo booth, except there isn’t a camera to make silly faces at and get four photos for a dollar. Inside the booth is a computer screen and a keyboard. It has a touch screen also to start the program which will guide you through your job application experience. It wasn’t an “E” ticket ride, but it was way beyond the pencil and paper applications I’m used to.

So I sat down at this little screen and keyboard and touched the start place on the screen. The screen came to life with this man babbling about the wonders of working in a grocery store. Yeah, right, I’m not looking to eventually work my way up to owning the store. All I want is a paycheck. Skip the lecture part and click on “apply now.”

The annoying man returns to babble about my making the right choice, and then explains the process to filling out the application. I was really beginning to miss paper and pencil. The man talked and I read the screen until it prompted me to enter my name. Okay, I thought, I can handle this.

Name, address, and phone number, all the same. No problem here. Next it prompted me to enter my high school. High school? Oh right. Most of the people applying for these jobs are high school age. Okay, I can cope. I still remember the name of the high school. Year graduated? 1981.

Next came college. This is where it got dicey. I originally entered into real estate in 1982, but then went to college. On top of that I bounced from college to college like Pamela Anderson changes husbands. I graduated from a couple of them, including a community college.

Now if you meet me in person I can explain my varied educational history. “Um, I was high for one semester on Maui, or was it Maui-Wowie? Whatever. I eventually moved on to another college, and straightened my life out. And I do have a degree in photography and in occult sciences. Yes, occult sciences. You know; the metaphysical? Witchcraft?”

A computerized application just wanted dates and majors. Well, I also changed majors like George W. Bush lies. It was an almost daily change. I settled on photography and on occult sciences after English, Journalism, Art History, Marketing, Art, Design, Psychology, Engineering and Theater. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up. Okay?

Anyway, I stumbled through the education history, looking at the mishmash of my mind broadening experiences and shuddered. Next up was work history. Now here is where dates overlapped between work and college. This didn’t set well with the computer. Finally I compromised and settled on the most recent jobs. Unfortunately the most recent jobs were all in real estate. I couldn’t list my high school jobs where I learned the skills of stocking shelves and running a cash register, although the registers are now more computerized than they were in the 1980s.

I also didn’t like the choices of why I left some of my jobs. ‘Left of my own volition’ didn’t sound nice, but it was the most accurate since leaving ‘because my boss was a flaming asshole’ wasn’t a choice.

Well I finished the work portion of the application and figured that was it. Wrong. They have an “Attitude” test next. What this consists of is a series of questions you answer with ‘agree’, ‘disagree’, ‘strongly agree’, ‘strongly disagree’. It seemed simple enough.

Do you consider yourself a hard worker?


Do you like people?


Have you ever considered dropping out of high school?

What? Oh yeah. Not in 30 years. Um, strongly disagree.

Do you trust your friends?

Huh? What is this crap? No. Strongly agree.

I was losing it so the next question seemed to have guessed.

Do you anger easily?


Do you like working with people?

No. Strongly disagree.

Do you work better as part of a team?

Oh this is too annoying. Okay. Let’s screw with their minds. Strongly agree.

Do you like to talk?


Do you consider yourself friendly?

Strongly disagree.

Do you think of yourself as a people person?

Strongly agree.

The questions began to annoy me and the thought of working in any place that employed this kind of application just set me off more than I could bear. There was no way I could work in a place that was geared toward high school students, and giving me an application attitude test that read like one of those computer memes that go around the Internet asking you to reveal your intimate secrets and the color underwear you are currently wearing.

By the time it got to the question of, ‘have you ever had to choose between going on a shooting spree at work or cutting work and going to the beach?’ I was ready to snap. My co-workers were allowed to live only because I don’t own a gun, so I went to the beach. And it didn’t have a selection for ‘commando’ when it asked the color of my underwear, so I pretty much blew off the job app, and have decided I’ll stick to the less computerized application process.

I still want some kind of extra income, but now I’m considering E-Bay as a viable income. I just need something to sell.


Robert is the author of the novels Cool Mint Blue, Melba Ridge, and the recently released The Adventures of Homosexual Man and Lesbian Lad; and the creator of the on-line comix Impure Thoughts found at his web site Inside R.A. Melos, as well as having been an on-line staff writer for QBliss where he had a monthly humor column, Maybe A Yip, Maybe A Yap. In his non-writing time, when he's not studying the metaphysical or creating a tarot deck, he sells real estate in Middlesex County New Jersey, hangs out with his dog Zeus, and spends time at the Pride Center of New Jersey in Highland Park, NJ, where he is on the Board of Trustees.

more about robert a. melos


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ken mohnkern
3.3.07 @ 3:57p

Yeah, computers are terrible. Or no, people who design computer software are terrible. How is "disagree" a valid response to "Do you like people?" That's a yes or no question, isn't it?

Good luck in your search.


robert melos
3.4.07 @ 1:26a

Well, you could strongly disagree that you like people. I just found the process annoying and it ticked me off. I guess I have a bad attitude, therefore I won't be hearing back from said grocery store.

I found the computer process insulting. I'm old school. Filling out a hand written form and giving it to someone who will turn it over to a supervisor is more my speed. Playing a computer game of Q&A ticks me off, and when I'm ticked off my mind tells me to mess with their minds. Now since I'm playing on a computer anyway, messing with the minds is more or less going to take place after the fact when the human component reads my responses and questions why and how someone with my responses is loose on the streets?

Perhaps this is why I have rarely held a normal job. One where hiring me was even a question. You see, most real estate agencies will hire anyone who has a license. The interview is more or less a game we play because people are supposed to be interviewed. The reality of realty is, the majority of borkers will simply take the application you actually bother to fill out and shake your hand and say, "when can you start."

ken mohnkern
3.4.07 @ 1:14p

I once worked at a place with a real gung-ho HR director. After I was hired I was given a personality test and I didn't think too much of it.

But some time later I overheard a woman on the bus talking to a friend. She said that she had interviewed with my company and they administered the test during the interview. It creeped her out. I'd like to think I would have been creeped too.

robert melos
3.4.07 @ 11:04p

In general I find an attitude test by an employer or potential employer to be insulting. Being an employee of a company doesn't mean the company owns me or entitles them to a right to judge me based on a psychiartist or psychologist's test. The only way to really judge an employer or employee is to work with them and get to know them as a person. Work is a relationship just the same as dating or marriage or family in general, and I think a lot of people, both employers and employees lose that concept in the pursuit of money.

Sure we all need money, want money, desire and worship money (well, some of us go that far), but is the money worth it if you feel uncomfortable around the people you work with? I left several jobs because the people I worked with made me feel very uncomfortable, or I simply couldn't stand them another minute. I don't think I've ever had a job I really enjoyed outside of the writing field, and those jobs never paid enough.

I don't care what the reason for my desired employment, I won't work in an uncomfortable atmosphere.

adam kraemer
3.10.07 @ 9:03p

I might be able to get you a part-time gig watching TV for $14/hr.

robert melos
3.10.07 @ 10:53p

$14 an hour? Do I have to watch infomercials? Or are those higher paying because they drain the life out of you faster?

I'm open to most everything. I've been doing Open Houses in real estate for the past two months of Sundays (Except Super Bowl Sunday when there's no point of being a Realtor because no one looks at houses on SBS. It's like Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. Pretty much every other day is open season). Now if you've ever been in real estate you know that the chances of selling a house on an open house are more slim than Nicole Richie not purging after scarfing down a Happy Meal. Not to mention you get mostly nosy neighbors looking to see what the owners have done to make the house worth an astronomical price. I've been doing a lot of reading while I sit there waiting for buyers to wander in and act all bouncing and happy and excited to be there. You can how exciting it is for me.

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