Yesterday I left the flat to go job hunting. Everybody goes about this arduous activity in different ways, but for me this involved walking down the street with my hands in my pockets, kicking a stone along, and wishing that I had a treehouse.

Every so often I would look in a shop window to see if there were any signs advertising vacancies for in-store writer wannabes, bed testers, or beer tasters – but there weren’t any.

I did a circuit of the library and the town’s two bookshops, hoping to see signs stating they needed someone to check the plots – but there weren’t of those either. My final option was the Job Centre, but that was just depressing, so I did the bookshop-library-bookshop circuit another couple of times in case a sign had gone up in the meantime.

It hadn’t.

So I ended up in the Job Centre anyway, listlessly pressing the screen of the self-help machine, wondering if anyone in the area needed a beard model, when I found a listing for a Sales Advisor in the petrol station behind my flat.

Fuck it, I said to myself. If I apply for a job in a petrol station I’ll probably write about it on my blog, and most of the people who stop by are Americans. From now on, I’m going to call it a gas station.

The doors of this gas station were only 75 meters from the back door of my flat (I know this because I later measured it on Google Earth), so I printed out the job listing with the intent of putting it in my pocket and forgetting about it, and went back home.

A couple of hours later, Miss-Matic arrived home from her own professional career-type job, with exciting news for me.

‘I saw a sign in the window of the petrol station! They’re looking for part-time staff!’ she said.

‘Do you mean the gas station?’ I asked.

‘It would be perfect for you! You could work evenings, or nights, to fit it in around your procrastination!’

‘Do you mean my writing?’ I asked.

‘You should go there tomorrow and ask about it!’

I begrudgingly got out the listing I’d found earlier, and showed Miss-Matic. Her enthusiasm only grew, and she talked at great length about how great it is to have a job to hate.

‘Okay, I’ll go tomorrow,’ I agreed.

The Earth spun on. Shadows shifted; day turned to night. Today turned into tomorrow – which is the same as yesterday turning into today, because I’m writing this today, not tomorrow. You might be reading this tomorrow, or the next day, but don’t let that confuse you.

I got up, took a shower and put on a shirt. I left the flat and went down to the back door, and walked the 75 metres to the doors of the gas station.

I paused there, frowning. I could see no sign advertising the job. I knew Miss-Matic couldn’t have been mistaken, because the Job Centre had also listed the vacancy. I convinced myself of this logic by taking the listing from my pocket and checking it was real. Then I pinched myself, just to be sure.

I shrugged and tried to go in.

But the doors were having none of it.

There was no handle. The doors looked automatic, but they weren’t responding. I looked around the frame in confusion, and stupidly pushed on the glass. Then I spotted a sign which suggested that there was a button to push to gain access. I wondered briefly whether the button was located inside, as a security measure for the staff, or outside for no apparent reason other than to confuse me.

So I looked down and noticed a button beside me, at about waist-height. It was on a small white plinth. There was a glowing red spot in the centre, looking rather like the camera eye of HAL 9000, and a message: Press for Access.

So I pressed the spot, and turned back to the doors.

Nothing happened.

I looked down and pressed it again.

Nothing happened.

I pressed it a third time, harder.

Still nothing.

I turned to the petroleum industry’s version of HAL in frustration and began stabbing the spot angrily. When I heard the doors finally open I turned to see that it wasn’t my actions that had caused them to yield, but that a member of staff had opened them from within.

‘It does work,’ she assured me sagely. ‘I use it every day.’

I followed her in, bewildered. As she went back to her spot behind the counter I saw another member of staff returning to the back room. Clearly they had both been wondering about this incompetent man who couldn’t even get through a door without help, and questioning how the hell I managed not to die of stupidity on a regular basis.

And that’s when I told her I was there about the job.

‘Oh,’ she said. ‘It went today.’


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21 Responses

  1. sporkgasm says:

    This totally reminds me of the Farside comic where a boy is pushing really hard to open the door at The School for the Gifted. The door is clearly marked, “PULL.”

  2. Kait says:

    “It went today” There is your trouble. You should have went tomorrow. Or was it yesterday?

  3. mistyslaws says:

    Dang. Because I’m sure if it was still available, the incompitant man who was unable to operate the door would be their first choice. SO CLOSE!

  4. Mark says:

    I’ve had that happen to me before. Something that was so close to me but the job was gone when I went there. It was beyond utterly evil. I guess next time you should go for it when you see it. I feel sorry for you though because you actually went in to a job centre. They are the most depressing places ever.

  5. Kianwi says:

    I’m American, so is 75 meters far or close? You must put a metric system converter on your blog if you expect us to ever know what you are talking about. Okay, I’m lying, I know it’s pretty darn close, but I’m just trying to make a point. Which is that everything centers around the Americans!

    Sorry that the job went at the petrol station! What bollocks! 🙂

  6. Rachel says:

    I googled what a meter is because I was wondering how far away it actually was. I’m still not sure. I should have used a converter or something but, ehhhh math.

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s had door issues but I have to say, I’ve never had any like that. Sorry you missed out on the job too!

  7. jaybird says:

    Guess a job at the gas station wasn’t meant to be Ash-

    If it makes you feel any better, listen to this: I went to a job interview once, (for a position I really wanted) I walked in and boldy announced myself. The secretary looked at me with confusion but still, ushered me in to meet the boss. He asked me what I thought were kind of odd questions for the job I was applying for, but I really wanted the job so I just went with it. He hired me on the spot! I was soo proud of myself. I even got to feel proud of myself for a full five minutes before I was handed paperwork to fill out by Human Resources. That’s when I saw their company logo for the first time, and I realized I just interviewed and got hired at the WRONG freaking company! Brilliant.

  8. Wily Guy says:

    Procrastination for the win!

    You did get a good post out of it. Perhaps you can just apply for a job each day, thus benefitting your writing without actually having to work? Brilliant!


  9. lily says:

    Sorry to laugh at your misfortune but like the late Frank Carson used to say, it’s the way you tell em.

    It is a pity though losing out on a job so close to home, that way you could have just rolled out of bed and straight into work.
    Like my ole mum used to say, never put off tomorrow what you could do today, because two birds in the hand are better than a bird in the bush, except for the one that gets caught by the early bird out to catch the worm…or something to that affect…

  10. It probably went while you were trying to figure out the door. Stupid door.

  11. Winopants says:

    Erf, maybe this was a sign that you really should look into beard modeling

  12. You woulda done well, though.

  13. MOV says:

    When you were an 8-year-old child, I KNOW that you did not dream of working at a gas station when you grew up someday.

    The better job is out there for you, Ash, and it is called: WRITER*.

    * does not pay well, I hear

  14. Tonja says:

    “Fit it in around your procrastination” – funny, but not a bad plan for a writer. It’s not like we can write 8 hours a day, 9-5, anyway, right? At least I can’t. I like a 1-2 hour workday.

  15. All that work just to get shot down. That sucks. I hope you find something else, preferably with a door that opens.

    Also, as an American reader I appreciate you calling it a gas station. However, immediately after doing that, you say it was only 75 meters away. I don’t understand the metric system, so how far away were you? A stone’s throw? A football field? I AM SO LOST.

  16. Yep, this sounds like every attempt I’ve ever had to get a ‘real job.’

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