The nearby martial arts studio was hiring a front desk assistant part time. Nothing too strenuous; no heavy lifting, just answering the phone and basic data entry. Mom was optimistic about the job for one reason: it was within walking distance.
I walk into the studio with the wooden wind chimes hanging on the door and the scent of fruity incense wafting through the air. The co-owner, Deborah, wears an embroidered and shiny black karate outfit, white socks and black canvas Mary Jane type shoes. In the back office with some pictures of young martial artists on the plywood walls I notice two cheaply upholstered chairs near the wall and on the opposite side is a rocking chair. Somehow a martial artist sitting on a rocking chair looked for unmartialartslike. Back in California when I visited my Tibetan-born teacher he sat on the floor. And he was at least twice her age.
Her eyes rolled and popped a lot as I was to learn over the next 15 minutes of interviewdom. She leaned forward in the rocker a lot as she shifted and seemed uncomfortable being confined to a single area. Her organization skills were minimal she confessed. Certain words made impressions upon her and the fact that organized was listed as an attribute on my resume contributed to my eligibility. She eagerly described how she had seen my resume and told her costar/husband that she was changing the job’s position to that of personal assistant rather than a mere receptionist. She gave me the impending schedule. Monday and Wednesdays from 4:30 to 8:30 and then it seemed that Tuesdays would be helping out in the office with organizing. Thursdays would entail personal assisting in her home about 8 miles away. Not just personal assisting, as the jobs she cited: “cleaning the kitchen, mopping the floor, vacuuming, dusting, and doing laundry…” were those of a maid. I was eligible since I was of the female persuasion. Upon learning I was single and unburdened with offspring, her eyes rolled to the heavens and happiness overtook her horseyesque face. She had just found the perfect maid!
She then informed me about her family – obviously the husband, but also she had a preteen and a fully fledged teen – both boys. Her father-in-law, a sprightly 79-year-old, also shared the split level home. I learned that her eldest son played many musical instruments including keyboards and mandolin. She sold his talents along with the fact that he often changed his bed, [hmm, nothing mentioned of nocturnal emissions], and was a neat freak who straightened out his own closet. The youngest son was a slob, and wasn’t discussed in nearly as glowing terms. She enjoyed going on about “my” duties and how I’d clean and take charge of all manner of domestic chores that I loathed, like laundry for five people, cleaning bathrooms, and swatting her in-law out of the way if he got into it.
I politely informed her that while I had various types of office jobs in Los Angeles, including home offices, all positions involved office work—not janitorial duties. That didn’t seem to register. Nor was I frank with her and tell her that I wasn’t a maid and I was only “interested” in office work.
Deborah discussed a 2-week trial period and being paid in cash during that time. The previous employee, an older lady with diabetes, was mentioned. There had been an eye rolling episode ignited by the memory of other applicants, especially young males whom she didn’t want around her sons on those festive cleaning days. Having posted on Craig’s List and been flagged after stating that she only wanted mothers and/or grandmothers, she rolled eyes dramatically as she quoted “it’s considered sexist.”
The co-owner of the karate chop funhouse was glad to see I’d provided my email addy. She was into email as she hinted there’d be emails exchanged a lot if I got the job. Hmm, mail about how I missed a spot on that toilet upstairs? I was way too familiar with junk mail--even had a special folder for it. Her email name was discussed and the fact that martial artists enjoy comparing themselves to animals and she was dubbed a puppy as she liked to play a lot. I thought that maybe she could play at cleaning up her own house.
I was handed her business card which featured her color photo. She wanted 2 or 3 references, and as I was getting up to leave, she stated: “in this day and age, you could be a child molester…” and I didn’t show the fact that I was offended at such a crass and inaccurate statement. I said I’d email her that afternoon with my references. I was eager to depart from that place. Couldn’t get to my car fast enough and my mind was replaying the scenario and the indignity of being asked to be not only a personal assistant, but also a maid. And I threw away her card so I didn’t have her email address.