The Cricket phone store in Annapolis does not seem like a glamorous place to work. Nestled among the car dealerships and tire warehouses, it is gray and draughty. Gretel and I spent an eternity there yesterday for the computers were down and so it took a long time to achieve the phone upgrade that was one of Gretel’s birthday gifts. We heard a man complain about a faulty air card, we saw several animated conversations take place in Spanish (cause and outcome unknown), and Gretel filled in an application form to become a part time sales rep. “Are you sure you want to work here?” asked Hector as he rebooted the Cricket computer for the umpteenth time ” It’s stressful”
Gretel nodded yes and an interview was arranged for 4pm today.
Gretel spent last night downloading apps on her new android and all of this morning (well, early afternoon. She didn’t rise until twelve) preparing to start her career in the telecommunications industry.
We rehearsed why she wanted to work in the store ( ” I use the product and I think it is good. I see how people get stressed out in the phone stores. I want to give good customer service. I like helping people and I am patient”) ; why she thought she would be good at it (“I take technology at school, I can always help my godmother when she doesn’t know how to make her phone work, I like to help people and I will not cuss them out”); and what she would do when the computer was down (” I will take their number and offer to call them back when it is up again”) and what to do when someone is screaming (” I will not get in their face. I will call the manager). We came up with examples of her honesty and reliability. We phoned her references to warn them they might be called upon. She did her hair, put on her make up and wore one of her cute new tops.
At the appointed hour, we set off in the rain. “I don’t think I want to go” she said ” I won’t be any good at the interview and I won’t be any good at the job”
“Don’t worry about getting the job” I said ” Just think of the interview as experience for a job you really DO want. You don’t need to worry about this because you haven’t got your heart set on it, and you will never see those people again after the interview. Just be an actress playing a part and see what an interview feels like” She was very silent on the way to the store.
At nine minutes before 4pm (the interview hour) we pulled up in the parking lot. “Where will you be?” asked Gretel, her eyes fixed on the shop door.
“I will be right here” I said and watched in amazement as she set her jaw to “square”, straightened her shoulders and marched towards the door.
I was freezing cold by the time she came out at 4:30pm “They didn’t ask me anything you said” she reported “How many states are there–50, right?”
” Yes, 50″ I said, slightly startled.
” I knew it” she said thumping her thigh with her fist ” But I was too scared to say. When he asked me I wasn’t sure, so I just looked at him. But he asked me who the President was and I said ‘Barack Obama’ and he said ‘good–we had someone in here who thought it was still George Bush'”
“What else did he ask you?” I wondered
“I can’t remember–I was too terrified. But I answered everything. He asked me how much sales experience I had and I said ‘none’ and we talked about camp” (New readers: Gretel spent the summer working as a camp counselor)
“When will you hear?” I asked
“He has to do my background check but he will get back to me in 4 days” said Gretel ” I guess he will call if I get it and send an email if I don’t. Hector was nice but the boss man scared me. Hector said he had been there two years but he has had another offer that pays more. He says lot of people offer you jobs when you work there”
And then she texted her boyfriend to update him on her experience–and ask him the trick question about the number of U.S. states.
For a variety of reasons, I am not sure that Cricket Sales Rep is the ideal job for Gretel but I am terribly proud of her for giving it a go. She saw a job advertised, applied for it, prepared for the interview and didn’t bottle out. She is beating herself up tonight because she was too timid to give an answer she didn’t feel completely sure of–even though she had it right. Next time, she will have the courage to speak up because that’s what practice teaches you. She will be a great member of the workforce and I hope her first employer knows how lucky they are to have her.