Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Day Without the Car

What can I tell you about my day, given that I try not to "overshare" in certain areas of my life? I'll say this much: it was not the Worst Day Ever, nor yet the Best Day. But it certainly qualified as an Interesting Day.

Today was the day when I dropped off my 1994 Eagle Vision at the garage, ostensibly to have the air conditioning clutch and compressor replaced. This was originally supposed to happen yesterday, but somehow the part hadn't been ordered. That made things tricky, because I had an appointment with a potential employer already scheduled for this afternoon. The mechanic/co-owner originally hoped to have it ready for me in time to make my appointment, but that was before he found out why the car has been overheating or threatening to overheat. He said something about a radiator fan and a blown fuse and I'm not sure what else: two motors, I think. The estimate of $450 jumped to $750, and the prospect of driving to my employment assessment was out the window.

So here's what I actually did today. First thing this morning, I drove the dogs to the garage, because the walk home is a little over a mile, a walk with the dogs is less tedious than one without them, and it was a chance to get them out and about. It was only 84 degrees, but the humidity was quite high by Tucson standards, 40%. Not a dry heat. I soon wished I had a cloth for wiping the dripping sweat off my face.

Okay, yes, I know. Oversharing.

Anyway, we got home, I watched the President on tv, and then I walked down to the Safeway shopping center, a little less than a mile away in a different direction. The plan was to have the hair salon fix my hair color, but it turned out that they don't do coloring at all there. So I went to Cato and bought a white blouse for my interview. There was a slight delay as they had to reboot the credit card merchant computer. By the time I made my purchase and ate a 6-inch sub at the nearby Subway, I doubted I had time to take two or more buses to my appointment, even if I could figure out the routing quickly.

Plan B: a cab.

After my third mile of walking in the Syracuse-like humidity, I took my second shower of the day and washed my hair, in the hope that a little hair color would wash out, which it did. I had called a cab already. The driver arrived well ahead of schedule, while my hair was dripping wet and I was utterly failing to find either pair of halfway decent shoes. I made do with the black athletic shoes I wear every day, and off we went. The minimum fare was $10, and it was worth every penny. Even after pausing outside to brush my hair, I was still almost 20 minutes early.

It turned out I was the second person to arrive. This particular company, evidently a high-tech one in more than just its product line, screens all job applicants in groups, having them sit at computers for a wide-ranging series of tests. These resembled what I imagine the SATs would be like now, or maybe a MENSA application, because much of it was a real challenge. Seriously. Everything but the personality assessment section was timed, and I think I only finished one or two sections before the clock ran out.

The test is proprietary software for this company, so I won't tell you any actual questions, but there were mathematical word problems, questions of vocabulary and fact, several kinds of pattern recognition, and a self-assessment of mechanical aptitude (I have none). Their process was to the similarly time-consuming application I did for a local car dealership what an iPhone is to a rotary phone: far more advanced in every way.

I was told I would hear back in a week or so, a promise I appreciate very much. Too many companies just don't bother to tell you whether you're still under consideration or they've hired someone else.

The garage called just before the assessment, and the co-owner kindly picked me up afterward in my own car. The final bill was a little under the estimate, and the co-owner had good things to say about the overall condition of the car. He wants to fix my window and my door handle, though. Maybe someday.

So I've done well, I assume, on this assessment for a company that is close to home and presumably in a growing industry instead of a distressed one; and I have my car back. Hooray! Now if I can just get a) my long-delayed unemployment claim paid, and b) an actual job, things will definitely be looking up!


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