Saturday, October 24, 2009

if it's awards season, "best at being the worst" goes to you, laurie fendrich

The NY Times, in its infinite wisdom and unfailing stewardship, provided the world with a jewel of an article the other day (in the U.S. politics / education section, which is an issue for another day). The piece was something of a case study in the tribulations of the job search today, an inside look at how managers in the position to hire someone at the administrative assistant level in a company sift through 500 resumes to find their lucky new employee.

The job: For $13 an hour, the employee will facilitate processes at the training-school division of a truck driving company in Indiana. Tasks include data entry, paperwork management, and photocopy production.

The winner: Tiffany Block, 28, was one of the 500 or so individuals to apply for this job via a Careerbuilder posting that stayed live for three days. She also submitted an application directly to the company. She had been an accounts receivable manager in a nearby building company, but was laid off. This interview was her first in months.

The strategy: Chris Kelsey, the boss, described to the NYT his everyman approach (ripped off from the Pats) to take middling talent and build it up through the company. He liked Ms. Block's consistency and independence through the hourlong, 128-question interview. He knew she was the one when she responded affirmatively to his question about whether she would catch a fly ball at a game.

Now, what does this have to do with Laurie Fendrich being the worst?

1. Assess this picture of Tiffany Block sitting across a table from Chris Kelsey:



She looks like a nice young lady. She has blond hair, which I like, and a black shirt, which I also like. She has a necklace and a little cleavage and some eyeliner. Ok, ok. Kind of a lot of eyeliner.

2. Guess when this picture was taken.



This graphic is totally unnecessary. But I googled "question mark" and was so thoroughly tickled by this, I couldn't resist.

Besides, I don't know when this picture was taken. But I know a thing or two about the news, and I'm not convinced that a New York Times reporter was on the ground in Indiana, documenting photographically every twist and turn of this job search ("all right, merv. we got this hot piece happening over in indiana. I need you to get in there and get in there good. get some snaps of the girl for me. make em juicy"). I imagine this picture was taken after Ms. Block was hired, and the whole sordid tale was leaked to the press.

3. Ponder the relationship between Ms. Block's good looks, esp. the hint of cleavage, and all the job she got. Related? Not related? It's true that Mr. Kelsey's co-interviewer scored her one point lower than he did on Ms. Block's initial interview. Does that mean he just wanted some office eye candy?

4. Presume that the answer to (3) is yes. How does that make you feel?

(a) outraged. why aren't people more concerned about her personality? or the back of her?
(b) unsurprised. people are always hiring administrative assistant that they want to do it with.
(c) jealous. why doesn't anyone hire me for my cleavage?
(d) enlightened. why haven't I thought of using my body to achieve the goals I set for myself?

5. If you answered (d), then you share something in common with Hofstra faculty member (humanities, art history, and fine arts department) and blogger for the Chronicle of Higher Education's Brainstorm (opinion is what other people call that section). Her take on the article follows:

On how the above photograph indisputably proves that Tiffany Block was hired for her body:

Uh, anybody ever heard about how a picture tells a thousand words? Forget reading the article. Instead, click “Enlarge”* on the Times’ photograph of Ms. Block -- who is facing us -- sitting across from Mr. Kelsey, whom we see only from the back.

Does anyone need to have me point out the obvious? That’s a spicy bit of cleavage peaking up above what looks like a nice tight black Lycra top—the kind that clings to the chest the way Cling Wrap hugs a cheese ball. Note the body language (being female, I hereby assert my expertise in interpreting females). Ms. Block is leaning ever so slightly forward toward Mr. Kelsey, smiling a big, feisty, all-American smile. And why not? She got the job. Not for Mr. Kelsey any of those lumpy-looking men in the other picture (to see what I mean by this, click on “Enlarge” for the second Times picture accompanying the article).

*nice pun, Laurie. that'll make your thoughts seem more right.

On all the people Chris Kelsey did not feel like hiring because they were less hott:

Really, when all is said and done, would Mr. Kelsey prefer to work with a guy looking like one of the lumpy-looking males shown in the second picture in the Times article or with Ms. Block?* How about Mr. Kelsey and some middle-aged woman wearing a blouse with a neckline as tall as the Sears Tower, or a young man struggling with a bit of acne, or a stutter? How about a black guy, who seems a bit shy? Or an older man -- you know, a guy in his thirties -- who never took care of that crooked, slightly brown tooth?

*none of the captions indicate that this picture is of other candidates. in fact, this is probably a picture of some of the constituencies Ms. Block will serve in her work. anyone who looked at the second picture can see that it's likely to be a "Ms. Block: on the job!" photo.

On the lesson Laurie Fendrich learned:

Today, of course, the fashion for young women is to display lots of cleavage, in all sorts of places where it seems -- at least to women like me -- that the display of cleavage doesn’t belong. Cleavage shows up at the bank, or the doctor’s office. It’s all over college and university campuses -- especially come springtime. One should never get one’s knickers in a bundle. Breasts are breasts, after all, and half the species possess them. Besides, it’s no more than a matter of fashion (in Jane Austen’s day, women practically presented their breasts on platters).

One could readily dismiss everything I’m saying as the rantings of a modern prude (which I happily admit I am). But heck, who better than a prude like me to remind other prudes that they’d do well to lower their necklines if they really want employment.

Congratulations to Ms. Block on her new job.


I know. I've quoted almost the whole silly piece. But here's a link in case you want the full text of this crazy lady describing body parts as weapons in the feminine arsenal ("gotta get my lipstick and my machete, boys. tonight's gonna be tough.")

1 comment:

klooky said...

"the chronicle of higher bullshit" is clearly the best thing ever written here. well done, carrie.

also, laurie fendrich: be less ridiculous.