Chasing a Chinaman Through New Jersey (revisited)

I wrote this blog on my personal myspace page last summer. At the time the company I was working for was going downhill rapidly and I had only been there for a year. I read Claudia's Discussion about the meaning of success and it made me think how far I've come and what a journey it has been. I think one of my strengths as a Recruiter has been being able to identify with my candidates. I've been job hunting more than I care to think about in my life and it's always fresh in my mind how scary and depressing it can be, so I do the best to comfort my candidates and make it easy for them to work with me. It's easy to treat people like a resume but they're people. I also think this blog speaks volumes about how success is measured in terms of experience. Hope you all like it!

I decided that if I ever write an autobiography, I will title it: "Chasing a Chinaman Through New Jersey," because after last night's events it completely summarizes my stupid life. Yesterday I saw an ad in the job section of craigslist for a High Roller Host in Atlantic City (the other possible name for my autobiography would be, "100 Ways to Get Scammed on Craigslist: I Know Because it Happened to Me.") I applied and to my surprise I got a call about the job. A man named Steven with a slight speech impediment (not quite a lisp but I could identify the issue) asked some typical questions and some not so typical questions, like was I black, white, or asian, which is illegal to ask in an interview. Then he asked me, this is 5:30 at night mind you, if I could come to Atlantic City for an interview right now. Now, if you wave $75,000 a year in my face, I will crabwalk down the expressway in the rain for an interview. So I told him I could. That was the beginning of the madness.

On my way home to throw on some business clothes my check engine light came on. The day before my brother checked my engine because the fan kept coming on and apparently the oil and antifreeze tubes coughed in his face. I have had plans to change my oil this weekend but apparently my car decided to alarm me about the state of it's fluids right before an interview in New Jersey. Due to impending engine situation and the possibility that I wouldn't get home until late I had my brother, Joe, come with me. Now, if the car broke down there's not much Joe could do without the proper tools and fluids for the car, but at least I wouldn't be stuck on an NJ highway by myself. Misery loves company. So I ironed a shirt and pants with such quickness and accuracy that I almost quit to join the dry cleaning business and was on my way.

I called Steven on the way and told him I'd be about 30 minutes later than I thought because I had to stop for gas and to get money out of the ATM for tolls. Steven then decides to send me to his "office" in Cherry Hill. As he is giving me directions my phone dies. I had to pull over at a gas station in some town right off the Walt Whitman Bridge and use a pay phone. What proceeded after this can only be discribed as a wild chase after a Chinaman through New Jersey. He sent me all kinds of places with piss poor directions. I had to stop and buy a phone charger, thinking this would help the situation. It didn't. Steven's directions were still crap.

Finally, around 9:45 at night I saw the bright lights of Atlantic City. I called Steven who told me to meet me at "his casino," the Trump Plaza. My brother was instructed to drive around for the next 30 minutes and stay close incase I had to escape because by this time we were both suspicious about the autonomous, elusive Steven. I called Steven from the lobby of the Trump Plaza and he told me he would be down in two minutes. I paced around the lobby of the Trump Plaza, wondering what it would be like to work in the time-space vaccuum that is a casino. The bright lights, the flash, the bells and whistles. Tired waitresses with too much make-up on or not quite enough. Bored-out-of-their mind dealers with thick Jersey accents calling out numbers and throwing around chips. High rollers, desperate gamblers, old ladies with fanny packs, retirement funds and nothing better to do. Finally a short asain man with a bad suit jacket and faded gray dockers came down the escalator holding a brown leather zip-up folder under his arms and smelling like he smoked a pack of Pall Mall's on his way across the casino floor. He shook my hand vigorously.

Over the next 30 minutes I followed him around the casino floor, observing his twitchy behavior, reading his poorly written biography, listening to him explain the job, wondering why the hell I was still following him around the casino. Basically, Steven is something of an outlaw. An ex-casino employee of ten years, Steven learned the numbers to all the games, knows how to beat the odds, knows how casinos trick people out of money, and casinos pay him to bring in high rollers because they would rather have him working for them than against them. I watched him drop two grand at a black jack table while he skittishly scared off a man that wanted to sit next to him but Steven can't focus with people sitting next to him (there was a seat between him and I at all times.) The man cursed at him in Italian and then wondered over to another table. Steven offered me $2,000 a week always upfront and in cash to be his personal assistant. My job description was never clear, I wouldn't be on the books, and my hours were odd and long. The crazy part is...I am still considering the offer.

I couldn't get out of the casino fast enough, but at the same time, all I could think about was what it would be like to make $2,000 a week. I told Steven I would think about it and I laughed with my brother in the car on the ride home. There would be no job security! But then again, there is no such thing as job security. I've been thinking about it for a while and I have been out of a job with little to no warning so often at someone else's whim too many times to count. My Dad worked 15 years climbing his way up the management ladder at SunOil until he became plant Superintendent and then they switched management and gave him the axe with no warning. My Grandmother worked 25 years in management at Penn Machine and one day, suspiciously close to her retirement, they told her after 25 years of outstanding performance reviews she, "wasn't what they were looking for." There is no such thing as job security! It's a farce, a fallacy, something corporations tell you to get your loyalty when you'll never have theirs--NEVER. So why the hell not work for a crazy, hated and feared Chinaman with an addiction to math and cigarrettes? Why not trust him? I've put my trust into so many other companies and have gotten screwed--what do I have to lose? I could come in to work tomorrow and get the axe and have nothing to show for it. I could at least get two grand out of this guy. Maybe I've gone mad but after 4 years of struggling to make ends meet and searching voraciously for "the right opportunity" and coming up with crappy, unreliable job after crappy, unreliable job I am tired of playing by the rules! I haven't made a decision yet but after four years, the only person that has offered me an out of this cylce of low income and bad jobs is Steven.

So, that's my life folks. It's me chasing down a dream of a better life. The faces and the places are always changing but the dream remains the same. To not have to worry about my electric getting shut off. To have a nice home for my son. Somewhere with a back yard where he will have his own room to play in and we'll never have to sit at a laundry mat or have wallpaper falling off the kitchen walls or eat fruit loops for dinner, in a neighborhood where I don't have to worry about someone I love getting their face smashed and left for dead on a sidewalk. Making good decisions is hard because sometimes you don't know if the decision is right until after you've made it. Is this temptation in the garden or manna from heaven? The only way to know is to taste it but I'm not sure if I'm ready for the consequences. It's just my fate.

Views: 171

Comment by Michael Glenn on March 12, 2009 at 6:00pm
Wow! Sometimes you have to watch what you lean your career ladder against.


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