Thursday, August 20, 2009

Second time lucky?

A week or so after having been fired from Corcoran’s I applied for a job with a company called ‘A La Carte Paris’ which rents luxury apartments to tourists coming to the city. I had worked in a similar field before and, so, was offered an interview. The company was very small with only about ten employees and was operating from an apartment just a five minute walk from my studio. It was a large, open plan space with one wall made up almost entirely of windows looking out on to a courtyard. The opposite wall had shelving units housing all manner of books, ornaments, photos and plants. This level had several desks, a lounge area and a kitchen towards the far end. In the middle of the floor was a steel spiral staircase going up to a mezzanine level where Alex, the owner, had his office.

It transpired that Alex was one of these guys who appears to have it all. A relatively successful business, an attractive girlfriend and several luxury apartments dotted around the most affluent areas of Paris. He was a tall man with blonde hair and very strikingly pale blue eyes making him look rather cruel. He had a sly smile and came across as rather affected. He also had a strange habit of doing a little condescending neck movement each time I responded to one of his questions. Nevertheless, the interview went well and I was set a test to see how I would respond to a potential enquiry from a holidaymaker. The following Tuesday I was offered the job and started on the Wednesday.

I spent most of my time with Richard who had been doing my role before me but would now be moving on to a more logistical position within the company. Richard was friendly and helpful and we got on very well. I sat at the computer to the side of him and, since mine was the only one to be connected to a speaker, I was in control of the music – we had music playing into the office throughout the day.

Any contact that either myself or Richard had with a client had to be approved by Alex first which meant that when responding to enquiries I had to write my response and then open a new tab before going on to the next one. All these tabs had to be kept open until such a time as Alex decided to come and read through my responses. Not only did this make things painfully slow but on several occasions my computer crashed completely and I lost 10-12 responses each time. It was hugely frustrating.

The following Monday Alex called me up to his office just before lunchtime and went through various things that he was pleased with and that I was doing well. Then he mentioned a few areas that he would like to see improved. He reminded me that I was on a trial period (of four months) and that he was continuing to accept CVs. I though this slightly odd but went downstairs to have my lunch and then made a mental note of the things he wanted improved and tried to work on them that afternoon. At the end of the day Alex asked me to go up to his office again and explained that he had been scheduled to go on holiday the week before but had stayed an extra week as there was so much work to do and he had wanted to train me. He went on to say that although I hadn’t done anything wrong and he’d been pleased with my work, he had interviewed someone that afternoon (whilst I was in the office, the bastard) who had more sales experience than me and who would be replacing me as of Tuesday (because he was keen to get away now). Then he asked me if I understood. Resisting the urge to thump him in his smug, smarmy face I said yes I did understand and became rather more business like. All week I had been making an effort, as any new employee does, to be extra friendly and as likeable as possible. This ended here and, although I was still polite, I was no longer trying to please him so I asked him if he would act as a reference, to which he agreed, wished him a pleasant holiday, and left. Back to square one and I am, once again, job hunting.

1 comment: