Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Say WHAT?!?!?

I'm still bummed about not getting to go to Corpus, but my BFF Robbie wants to go on a road trip this weekend. Wouldn't that be fun?!? Somewhere we haven't been before. Somewhere out West, he says. I have a couple of coworkers in West Texas, people I just met in person at the conference in Beaumont, so I send a quick inquiry and get some information.

Maybe an hour later, another coworker from near the Oklahoma border calls me up to get clarification on a task I'd assigned him. I dig through my files for the information, making small talk to kill time. "So I hear you're planning a road trip out West!" he says.

And they say my agency has internal communication problems.

And speaking of not speaking, I got out of an agonizing, 3.5-hour staff meeting this afternoon only to discover a chummy email from a former acquaintance of mine, who owns a small plane and makes his living contracting out to local farmers to spray pesticide over their fields. "How are you doing?" he wrote. "I thought you would be driving to Corpus Christi last week."

Oh, he's a smart guy. Well, ish. He'll never set the world on fire (unless he has a strategically-placed lighter), but sending this message via email shows he has some sense of self-preservation, at least when it comes to his eardrums. It's a good thing computer monitors aren't made of glass anymore.

Finally, a funny story (I thought) from another coworker out West: west, in fact, of El Paso, as far west as you can go and still be in the grand old state of Texas. My coworker was attempting to hire someone, and candidates were sent over from a local employment firm.

The first candidate he interviewed, he said, was absolutely perfect. He didn't need to see anyone else. He transcribed the interview as required, filled out the paperwork, prepared to move ahead with the hiring process - no small task, you know, when you're in state government - and called the firm. "You don't need to send anyone else," he told the representative, "this one is perfect! Please go ahead and extend her the offer."

"Oh, I'm sorry!" said the rep. "I should have told you. She isn't actually available to work at this time. We just sent her out so she could get some practice interviewing."

Exhibiting superhuman patience, my coworker did not bitch-slap the rep into next week, and instead recovered himself and moved forward with the interviews. The next candidate was quite promising; she arrived early; appeared very professional, knowledgeable, and friendly; and he chatted with her while getting everything printed out and ready for the interview. With everything lined up, he asked her the first interview question, switching to English.

She appeared confused. "Oh - I don't speak English," she said (in Spanish.)

"Oh," he said, taken aback. "I'm sorry. You have to be able to speak English." So the disappointed applicant left, and once more he called the employment firm rep, of whom I have to think he was not overly fond by now. "Why did you send me someone who can't speak any English?" he asked.

"We already discussed this," she told him patiently. "You said it wasn't a problem."

"WHAT?!" he said, "of course it's a problem, this is an information position serving the traveling public, why on earth would I say they wouldn't need to be able to speak English?!"

"Well, I did ask you if this position required the candidate to be bilingual," the rep said reasonably. "You told me it didn't."

Maybe Robbie and I will get out there this weekend.

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