Pollo Tropical

Even though it’s out of my experience and comfort zone I have applied to various restaurants and fast food businesses for jobs such as cashier, kitchen prep and such.  While I appreciate the difficulty of my getting such a job, I was not prepared for Pollo Tropical.

I received an e-mail telling me that there was a “job fair” at their new location which was quite a drive since I was taking care of a friend’s house for that month.  I got dressed up and made sure I was there early.  Unfortunately, there was no job fair.  In fact there wasn’t a restaurant.  Just a billboard on the highway and the shell of a building.  In a mailbox around the back was a mailbox with applications and a lockbox in which to put them.

I started calling numbers listed on the billboard and eventually got someone at corporate who informed me that there couldn’t be a job fair at that site – “The restaurant isn’t even built yet!”  Really?  And I was about to go into the half built shell for lunch.  I filled out an application and left.

When Were You Born?

This question comes up a lot, although I thought it was illegal in many contexts.  The reason I’m including it here is the incredible range of dates they include.  Sometimes you get to type them in, but more often you have to choose from a drop down list.  Months are easy – there are only the twelve.  Days of the month only go up to 31, so no biggie there.  Years are more of a problem.

Just today I followed a link to a on-line survey, where the birth years started at 1900!  I’m glad they are accepting people from such a wide demographic but are there really a lot of 111 year old people taking on-line surveys?

The Onion AV Club

I love to post comments on movies and TV shows on this site.  They’ve put in a new system and maybe I’ll comment on that later, but now the thing that annoys me every time I go there.  Remember, the Web is everything today.  If you can’t program for the Web, you’re nothing.  So consider this:

When you want to log into the AV club you have to enter your ID and then your password.  After  you enter the ID, it’s the most natural thing in the world to hit the tab key to go to the next field, but when you do, you are transfered to the URL at the top of the page.  You have to type in your ID, then use the mouse to select the password box.

Great programming, AV Club (otherwise keep up the good work)

Drugs In The Workplace

Okay, we’ll skip over the fact that the mega-trillion dollar behemoth known as Microsoft was created by Bill Gates and Steve Balmer while they were smoking grass in a hot tub.  I understand why most businesses, especially those that use forklifts, worry that their employees are high on the job. 

Still, this question confuses me : Smoking a marijuana cigarette is the same as smoking a cigarette.

I’ve seen this question several times. Sometimes you are supposed to answer yes or no, and other times with a range from strongly agree to strongly disagree.  Let’s stick to yes and no. 

Does “yes” =  “They are both innocuous ways to pass your private time” OR “They are both equally bad and tobacco smokers should be sent to prison with marijuana smokers”


Does “no” = “Tobacco is a harmless product produced by an industry that employs 27,000 God fearing American patriots” OR “Marijuana is a harmless weed that produces a gentle high and has not corrupted the US Congress and the governments of third world countries where Big Tobacco is marketing cigarettes to toddlers.”

I’m never comfortable no matter how I answer that one.

Brilliance In Programming

I can’t find in my notes which company this was, but I’ll update if I find it.  It’s just too good not to include.

Many sites make you go through a series of questions with yes/no radio buttons.  This one was a classic:

1.  Are you over 18 years of age?

              o   Yes

              o   No

2.  Are you legally able to work in the United States?

               o  Yes

               o  No

3.  How many miles would you be willing to drive for this job?

               o  Yes

               o  No

Think of the lifecycle of programming.  Some user asked for this information, someone designed the website, coded it, tested it, ran it past someone and then put it on line.  And this was the result.


So It’s Come To This

This one hurts.  I have just started using WordPress and already I have stepping in a programming land mine. 

I began experimenting with the layout of my front page by dragging the “calendar” widget to the sidebar.  However, the next time I tried to log in I found that the “Log In” link was GONE!  I could not find a way to log into my dashboard.  I had to go to support forums and ask for help.  As it turns out when you have no widgets, you have the default – which includes “Log In”, but when you start adding widgets you LOSE the default – including “Log In”.

Come on!  Under what circumstances would someone want them to automatically delete the default Log In link?  At least ask.

True Story

What is programming?  Is it the language, the platform?  No, it is producing a tool to get the job done.  To program well you have to know your data.  Let me repeat that – to program well you have to know your data.

Case in point.  For the second time I encountered this situation – I was filling in an application on line and was at the point where I was filling in my name and discovered that the “Middle Name” field was required.  That’s right, I could not proceed without filling in a middle name.  Funny story – I don’t HAVE a middle name.  I have no idea why.  We weren’t rich but certainly it didn’t cost anymore to give me a middle name.  I’m Jewish, but that’s not a problem.  Lots of Jews have a middle name (ask Jon Stewart and Ron Jeremy about that).  In any case I could not proceed without putting something in there.  “X” seemed a bit, uh, Catholic.  “J” works if you are a cartoon character.  But I knew that at the end I would have to sign that everything was correct, and I wasn’t about to lie on the form.

The first time I encountered this many years ago, I put in what seemed right and I had seen on official forms. This led to an interview where the person across the desk from me actually asked “What kind of a name is ‘NMI’?”  I was forced to explain.  NMI – N M I – No Middle Initial.  Who was stupider, the programmer or the interviewer I don’t know.

I recently encounted the same thing – with the nice twist that the middle name field was over 100 characters long.  So, even though it certainly diminished my chance of getting the job from slim to none, I entered “Like many people I do not HAVE a middle name, so why is this a required field?”  I was pretty pissed.

I also encountered a form one time where the Last Name field had a minimum length of 5 characters.  Tough luck Vietnamese applicants named Ng!

I’ll say it again – To program well, you have to know your data!

How The Mighty Have Fallen

I worked for AT&T for 24 years and I’m still proud of the work that I did there.  It was clean, it was efficient and it made people’s lives easier.  I’m no longer there but I learned recently the kind of programmers that have taken my place.

I’ve been looking for jobs on a site called SnagAJob and found a list of jobs
from AT&T.  I followed the link to the AT&T careers website.  Then you can search for jobs.  I chose “Search by location”, which gives you a single list,
in alphabetical order, of all the TOWNS where they have jobs.  Not divided
by state, or searchable by state, not even identified by state name, (just
the town name) in every town where they have jobs.

Since I worked in Bedminster from 1977 to about 1988 I know exactly where it is – New Jersey.  How a person looking at an alphabetized list is supposed to know where “Bedminster jobs” are located is beyond me.  That goes for all the other jobs that were listed.  Since I am living near a town called Grayson in Georgia, I clicked on “Grayson jobs” only to find they are in Grayson, Kentucky.  That was time I’ll never get back.

If I produced work like that during my time at AT&T, I’d be more than embarrassed – I’d be ashamed!

More Great Programming

In an attempt to make some money I have signed up for a dozen companies that run focus groups and taste tests.  Sounds great and I’ve already been in one mock jury and I am scheduled for a taste test.

Unfortunately even this idea can be ruined by the new, hip, young programmers they prefer to me.  This is the entire e-mail I got inviting me to try out for a focus group from Focus Pointe Global:

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And where, exactly, is “here”?

The March of Technology

I recently applied for a job at Advance Auto Parts and they asked me the  same questions every other company has asked, but they added a twist.

You see, all companies like to ask  you what you would do if you worked for their company.  Of course, you’ve never worked for their company so you can’t possibly know their policy.  For example:

Question #82:

A customer wants to return a $20.00 item but it is three days past the return date.  Do you:

a.  Issue an immediate refund

b. Explain that it is too late to issue a refund, but you can give store credit.

c. Ask a supervisor

d.  Tell them to go to hell

Now there are basically two types of companies.  One wants customer goodwill so badly that they will issue a refund, even if it is past the due date.   The other has the policy “We have your twenty bucks and we’re keeping your twenty bucks.  We don’t care if you are mad.  We don’t care if you never come back.  We don’t care if you go out into the parking lot and commit ritual suicide like in Sepuccu!  We’ve got your twenty bucks and we’re keeping your twenty bucks.”

So how is an applicant supposed to know which is the right answer.  I know!  Hire me, tell me the rules and that’s what we’ll do.  Apparently, as I’ve said before, you’re supposed to be a mind reader.

Advance Auto Parts asked the same questions, but they added a new twist.  Instead of simply reading a description of the situation (which you have to do anyway) you have to watch a crude animation (think Tiger Woods being assaulted by his wife) of the exact same situation they just described with dull lifeless voices dubbed in.  Then you answer the question.

So now, in addition to programmers, they are paying animators and voice artists to create their on-line tests.  No wonder they can’t afford to hire anyone.