job hunting

Welcome new residents

Welcome, new resident(s). My name is Jonathan (yes, contrary to public belief, I am a man), and I’m the writer of this blog, and de facto mayor of the Uncanny Valley (mostly because no else wanted the job).

I don’t generally write this blog with the intention of other people reading it, but I’m glad you’re here because it means I’m not alone in this journey (though it often feels like it). I often post sad stories here, but I’m proud to say that don’t participate in the “outrage of the day” thing like other pages do (seriously, whenever an Autistic child\teen is beaten, raped or murdered, it’ll appear at least a dozen times on my FB “News Feed” so it’s not a huge loss on that front).

Speaking of FB, some of you found this blog through its corresponding FB page where I post funny, sarcastic and sometimes depressing memes there, but I’ve been making a conscious effort to post more positive images lately. I also post any photos of places\events that I don’t have enough “good” shots to create a full “gallery” around.

I’m not sorry for what I post here, and I stand by what I write. However, I hope you enjoy my entries about “Adulting” with Autism or as I like to call it: “Life in the Uncanny Valley.”

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, announcements, Autism, job hunting, news, photography | 1 Comment

New Year’s resolution

I don’t generally make “resolutions” because I hate disappointing myself with promises I have no intention of keeping. However, I have decided to make a change to this blog starting today that will probably kill what’s left of my page views: No Disney, Universal or SeaWorld through at least the end of August if not later. This will force me to find NEW places to see and explore like Winter Park, Lake Mary, Downtown, Kissimmee. I might even spend an afternoon at Fun Spot or Magical Midway.

I have other plans that are still in the planning stages and I’m hesitant to reveal them now as I had to cancel LAST summer’s plans (a 3-week summer job and a 5-day volunteer job) due to a still unexplained stomach ailment that wreaked havoc on my body for 6 full months – and I didn’t even lose a single pound! That last part really frosts me as I was really looking forward to fitting into my old jeans again.

I am also looking into more volunteer and summer jobs – the former are for the immediate Orlando area which is difficult for since most of the opportunities are downtown – and I’m in Williamsburg\LBV area. As much as I’d love to spend six months helping the OSC (though working two or three 1-day events over same period would look better on my resume), I have no car, no friends with cars and I have found local cabbies to be unreliable at best. The latter is anywhere BUT Florida, however, I have extremely poor luck in this over the past few years, but I have hope that this year will be different.

Yes, THIS year will be different – and that regardless of what happens, is a resolution I plan to keep.

 

snoopy-goodyear

* HAPPY NEW YEAR *

Categories: Advocacy\volunteer, announcements, florida, holidays, job hunting, Orlando, photography | Leave a comment

Autism: Phoning it in

I’ve fallen a bit behind here on blogging this month with about 30 memes to post and at least a dozen half-finished blog posts about symptoms I identify with and another dozen that I don’t.

Today, I found out that avoidance of the phone is relatively common in the Autism World. I thought I was the only one to act like that. I tell people “do not call me: text or email me only” and then two minutes later my phone rings.

Yep, then they get mad at me because they can’t understand a word I’m saying (I’m CONVINCED there is a special place in Hell for whoever invented the concept of “mandatory phone interviews”) and there’s nothing quite like spending 45 minutes on the phone with some random stranger to complete a “simple 10-minute survey” just to have the woman snap “you don’t even qualify for this survey – why didn’t you tell me that at the BEGINNING of this call? Thank you for wasting MY time, bitch” (don’t worry, it was only MY dinner that was charred and inedible when I finally got it out of the oven).

If I’m forced to call someone and they do not answer I will NOT “leave a message.” I get nervous enough on the phone as it is, but hey now I have to have a cogent script already prepared just so I don’t sound like an idiot. Even if I do leave a message, chances are 100% that I will not hear from them again.

For instance, one time I called a woman about a comment for a story I was writing (and yes, I know people are already leery of talking to journalists) and left a message speaking in a slow, clear and concise manner telling her to get back to me at the newsroom. I called her back a day or so later and she said “oh, so YOU’RE the ‘crazy mumble lady,’ I couldn’t understand a word you said so I just deleted it. Well, anyway, we don’t deal with crazy people here. Have a nice day, and DO NOT call here ever again.”

Fortunately, since I moved to Orlando I haven’t gotten as many calls anymore. Maybe it’s because I stopped answering the phone if I don’t’ recognize the number. Interestingly enough, if I DO answer a call like that (there’s a slight chance it could be about a job interview), most of the time they simply hang up on me so it’s a win-win.

Speaking of wins, I hope to get more quality – and more relevant – posts up in May…or not. I’m flexible like that.

Categories: Autism, editorials, job hunting | Leave a comment

Pre-debate chatter

I was halfway through a rambling post about how childish Trump is for backing out of the FNC debate and how unfair it was for Chris Matthews to dismiss the event as a debate between “a couple of Cubans” (particularly since the REAL winners of this debacle are Jeb Bush and John Kasich) … but then I realized that isn’t why you’re following this blog.

I’m not really sure what you do want, but I figured abandoning a post I was clearly out of my depths on was probably the right course of action. Yes, my Disney posts get the most views (even got an e-mail from them about my last post… but I’m kind of afraid to open it), but since my dad is in “critical condition” (Stage 3 lung cancer), I may not be posting about Disney for a while.

Maybe instead of constantly complaining about people mistreating me, I could find a way to advocate for better treatment of people in my situation (that was one of the reasons I signed up for the “Lung FORCE” event back in November). I started Park\Mosher Media in 2011 because I came to the rather sad conclusion that if I didn’t “hire” me literally no-one else would.

I know I’m probably somewhat biased here, but I am a fantastic (albeit “unskilled”) worker with an excellent work ethic, but was fired from my only “real” (non-college) job at McDonalds presumably for not knowing what I was doing because they – both management and fellow employees alike – felt that showing me how to do “obvious stuff” (like work an industrial grill I’d never seen before) was somehow “beneath” them.

And thus reinforcing the recurring theme in my life (and probably others as well) that if I don’t know how to do something that no-one’s ever taught to do then that only “proves” that I’m “too stupid” to learn it in the first place.

The most obvious way to work around that is to find something that already interests me and thus know quite a bit about. If I knew what that was, I’d already be doing it. Yes, I even bought some stupid workbook on that very topic with a lot of vague suggestions but nothing concrete for me to work with – heck I once had a career counselor tell me that “no-one is stupid enough to hire you. Just sign up for Welfare like the other retards.”

I know attitudes towards Autism (and in my case Sensory Processing Disorder as well) in the workplace have changed in the fifteen years since my three-week stint at McD’s – heck, Vince Vaugn even had a movie last year about working with someone (presumably) on the spectrum – but when I look up adult services for the disorder I’m always disheartened to see the emphasis on helping clients apply for SSD.

Yes, I could continue pratting on uselessly about Donald, Marco and Jeb, but I think there has to be something concrete, something tangible and, yes, preferably something photographable (or otherwise “verifiable”) that I can do to help people in my situation. I just have no idea what that is…

Categories: Autism, job hunting, politics, ramblings, sensory processing disorder | Leave a comment

An EXPO-ditious adventure

As you can see from this blog, I don’t generally do “event photography,” but when I saw the listing for “Volunteer Photographers” for the American Lung Association’s LUNG Force Expo at SeaWorld, I jumped at the chance. Sometimes opportunity really does come to you.

I checked-in just after 7:30 and started snapping photos… until my camera battery died an hour after arriving (which somehow only happens when I have an event to cover).

Fortunately, I live only two blocks from SeaWorld so I was able to go back and charge my battery and phone for 20 minutes or so until the actual program started (at 10am – which is when the “other” photographers were supposed to arrive). It also gave me a chance to change clothes and get some of the pictures I’d already taken off my SD card (all 15 of them).

The irony is, the brightly lit “Docks” (21-23 plus the entire 2nd pavilion) was “too dark” for the flash on my camera, but my Motorola took fantastic pictures of the mostly empty meeting rooms without a flash… until it too died about 2½ hours after returning (despite having the same 20 minute recharge as the camera, you know, just to be safe). That left me with exactly one option – I had to leave early even though the volunteer coordinator told me that two of the other photographers’ shifts had ended.

I arrive back at the apartment at 1:30pm, changed clothes (again) and plugged in my phone while taking the other photos off my camera. I wasted the next hour or so trying to salvage something vaguely useful from my pictures.

Finally, I went back into the living room to begin the arduous task of sending the pictures on my camera to my computer. My phone does not let me send multiple photos per message so I was forced to send all 46 of them individually. Now you know why I keep taking my dinosaur camera (a graduation gift from my mom) on assignments…

Categories: florida, job hunting, Orlando, photography, SeaWorld Orlando | Leave a comment

Memories of an unpaid janitor

Consumerist is reporting that Applebee’s in Rhode Island “forgot” to pay an Autistic line cook for a full year despite he and his parents filing the proper paperwork numerous times. Don’t get me wrong, I applaud them for hiring him, but not paying him is inexcusable!

Yes, I know people with Autism are supposed to be cold, unfeeling and incapable of empathy, but I’ve seen this shit first hand too many damned times – and I’m not talking about just freelance writing gigs (which are already notorious for not paying up – heck, The Baltimore Guardian fired me just for asking).

I was just finishing my last semester at Crafton Hills Community College and finishing the last of my requirements for Benchmark Young Adult School (now called “Benchmark Transitions”) while working about 10 hours a week for Redlands McDonalds. Unfortunately, the day before I was set to begin “real employment” for them (rather than the supposedly standard “30 day trial period” that only I was offered) I was called to the break room at the end of my shift and summarily fired for being “stupid, incompetent and the WORST damned employee EVER in [the] history of this company” (but no concrete, specific REASON for my dismissal).

Unfortunately, it took me over six months of daily searching just to get that job and it was the ONLY reason BYAS was letting me graduate. Okay, I did anyway (on Aug 9, 2001), but it was more of a “good riddance” than a “good-bye” graduation. It was also the last time I had anything remotely resembling a “friend.” No wonder I’m so damned lonely all the time.

Anyway, in order to keep my hastily arranged graduation “on-schedule,” then “Director of Student Services” Joelle Walters (also my “Primary Counselor” for most of my time there) called me into her expansive corner office to tell me she was starting me on the school’s semi-official Non-Federal Work Study type program which consisted of “assisting” in their woodshop.

It wasn’t much: 3½ hours per day, two days per week at an even $5 per hour (slightly below minimum wage at the time) but it was easy work and kept my cookie cut-I mean “custom individualized program” going as scheduled…or so I thought.

I can’t say if this is still true or not, but when I attended BYAS Tuesday was a “special” day: the day students could – barring any outstanding fines – get their weekly “money requests” from Toni (Director of Student Accounts). Most students used said money to buy cigarettes, but a fair number of us would pull our money together to buy a large pie from the small pizzeria in the plaza on the opposite site of the Redlands Blvd there in Loma Linda (the receipt going back to Toni in the office – the last time I ever NEEDED a receipt for something).

Anyway, after several weeks of working there, I went to see in the Student Accounts office as scheduled and she just looked at me blankly.

“Sorry, hon,” she said with her smooth Southern accent. “You don’t have any money for me to give you.”

“I should, I’ve been working over at Building Trades for the past several weeks.”

“I don’t know nothing about that. You’ll need to talk with Deborah about that, and then you can come back to see me.”

The whole point of both BYAS (and likely “Benchmark Transitions” as well) and its NF-WSP is to teach young adults about RESPONSIBILITY so, of course, then “Dean of Student Affairs” Deborah Kennedy would set an example for her students by resolving this unfortunate situation in a mature, professional manner befitting her position.

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Ms. Kennedy said in her strong Southern accent. “We don’t pay our ‘workers,’ and I know for a fact that Joelle isn’t STUPID enough to say we do!”

That was a total LIE as “work hours” was the backbone of the schools work-education and one of the chief tenants of their financial-education programs at the time.

She then goes on to chastise me for coming to her without any “documentation” of my work contract then thus surmising that said agreement was “pure hearsay.”

“That means,” she said with a giant “fuck you” grin. “It’s YOUR ‘word’ versus mine and as the Dean of this school, I know whose word I’m taking in this manner.

“Now,” she continued her tone suddenly serious. “We are NOT discussing this matter again, and if you say another word, I WILL fine you and I know you will NOT like it! Now GO!”

The line cook above is now getting the money he’s owed…or at least half of it. Meanwhile, my five months of sweeping floors for free remains as uncredited “volunteer work” and probably always will be…

Categories: Autism, BYAS (Benchmark Transitions), California, editorials, job hunting, news, Redlands\Yucaipa | Leave a comment

Saturday interview

I leave the apartment at 10am, and head down the stairs to the “Business Center” next to the Leasing office. It is four Macs, one Dell and a HP printer on a single counter that stretches around the small room. There are five basic office chairs and no mousepads.

I open my e-mail, find my resume and hit “print.” A few seconds later a grossly off-centered copy of my resume pops out of the machine with the entire right side cut off. I try again, and the same thing happens. Finally after wasting half a ream worth of paper, I decide to download it to their computer and print it from Microsoft Word.

The result was one perfectly printed resume so I decided to print off four more just to be safe… but when I went to delete the file, it was already gone. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to worry about this. I headed over to the trolley stop across the street to get my interview, hoping I didn’t need a cover letter too.

I arrived at Orlando Eye at 11:03am. There were approximately fifty seats set up outside the main building occupied by exactly six people filling out applications. That’s right, six people other than myself showed up, I was expecting a LOT more people than that for a Saturday (when I asked one of the seven people milling around outside the entrance, they told me the large open plaza was “standing room only” yesterday).

I finished my application and took it up to one of the four men with clipboards standing in front of the building. He hands me a “sign-in” sheet and leads me inside the building where workers were still painting the entrance to the SeaLife portion of the attraction. The empty kiosks for the future food court were constructed (reminded me of Harborplace, but with more people).

The man leads me to a desk where he hands my application to a smiling human woman named Mary who leads me off to a narrow hallway in what was clearly going to be Madame Tussauds (as we walked past a smiling wax figure of a blonde woman in a bright red dress that I didn’t immediately recognize). She stops in front of a small desk surrounded by thin black curtains.

Okay, first question – this is it, the moment that will make or break my future at this company. In other words: no pressure, just stay calm, relax and force myself look her in the eyes even if it kills me.

You will hire me; you want to hire me. Oh god, how can movie villains stand doing that?

“What are some attributes that you feel would be a good fit for our company?”

Fair enough, standard ice breaker question, and the perfect time for my mind to go completely 100% blank. That’s right, I couldn’t say anything remotely intelligent for several whole seconds, and I knew darned well how that looks on her end as the same thing happened to me at Disney (…and we all know how well that went).

I look up at and see that she’s only half paying attention as she shuffles through the papers on the clipboard copying down everything from my application onto a separate “interviewer” form. I suggest she might try copying said information directly from the resume in her left hand as it was probably easier to read (a point she didn’t argue with).

She seems happier now, maybe I can salvage this interview after all. She moves onto quizzing me about how my previous experience relates to aquariums and amusement parks. I mentioned how I managed to be the only student in my school to NOT work at Knoebels (which she’d “never heard of” despite claiming to be from Pa) and how I failed to secure a job three different times at the National Aquarium and once at Disney.

It’s kind of sad how my “experience” boils down to a series of awesome and/or impressive jobs I “almost” had. Fortunately, I’m pretty sure she was still only half paying attention. If I keep this up, I might say enough vaguely “right” things to make a good impression on that little form of hers…unless they find this post, than I’m definitely out of the running.

I walked out of the interview at 11:39am, satisfied that I hadn’t completely embarrassed myself. I may be hearing from their real PR department in the coming weeks or the interviewer was just being friendly. As you’ve probably figured out from this blog, I am nothing if not an optimist. To paraphrase Jim Carey’s character in Dumb & Dumber: A one in a million chance is still a chance!

Update: I have just received an e-mail from “Orlando Cluster” thanking me for my interview. There was no text other than a contact name, the address of the building I went to on Saturday as well as a lengthy legal disclaimer about this being just an e-mail and not a contract of any kind.

There was no information about whether a second interview had been scheduled… or if this was merely a polite way of saying I failed to make the final cut. (3/18/15)

Categories: florida, job hunting, Orlando | Leave a comment

Moving sale

Three days ago, I put an ad on classified website Craigslist looking to unload some of my unwanted furniture. I’m well aware that I’m probably going to have to dump most of it (already contacted some hauling companies), but I have gotten at least two responses from this ad so far. Nothing has been sold yet, but it’s already more promising than my apartment listing on the same site (especially since I’m writing this post from said apartment).

In other news, I have an apartment waiting for me in Orlando. I just have to turn in my keys and fine a way to get everything down there. Do I job down there? No, but one of the major stumbling blocks I faced (illustrated by the Disney debacle from a few months ago) was that I wasn’t currently living down there. If I can get rid of ONE excuse, the others shouldn’t be that hard to overcome either – especially since this is the hardest (both physically and mentally) as well as most time consuming to tackle.

If there is ONE place on the planet where EVERYONE has an opportunity to succeed – it’s Orlando. In the coming months, I will find out if I have what it takes to seize said opportunities… or if I’ll have another Baltimore situation on my hands.

Wish me luck. Servus.

 

Update: I spent an hour or so staging photos of all my furniture last night (during the second half of the UM-FSU game) and posted them this morning while waiting for one of the potential buyers to show up. Hopefully, this generates a little bit more interest in them.

Categories: announcements, florida, job hunting, news, Orlando | Leave a comment

The place where dreams are dashed

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I wasn’t in Orlando solely to go apartment hunting. No, I was going to Disney World…Casting. That’s right; they contacted ME about an “online interview” and then asked me to come in for an inperson meeting.

It was special moment realizing that maybe someone would pay me to do something, and if you’ve read the headline than you probably already guessed how well this little meet-n-greet went.

First off, the appointment was at 1:30 which I figured would give me plenty of time to walk to Downtown Disney, get lunch and get to my interview on time. Unfortunately, there is no direct walking route from my hotel to DD and when the leasing agent on Monday said it was a “30 minute walk” he wasn’t kidding as that was how long it took just from the hotel. I probably could have taken a cab, but if you’re reading this than you’re already familiar with my track record on cabs.

I arrived at DD, and remembered that the restaurant area is closed for renovation. Basically, if I wanted food I could eat at Rainforest, T-Rex or Earl of Sandwich – that’s it unless I wanted to go all the way over to House of Blues on the Westside. The choice was simple, and the line wasn’t as long as I’ve seen it before – in fact, the cast members I dealt with were actually friendly this time around (including the bubbly young lady passing out maps outside Goofy’s Candy Company).

I order my sandwich and when I ask when I get to tell them what I want on it, they tell me “at the register when they call your number” (at which point it’s already made so why bother) meaning once I found a table in the far back corner I could begin deconstructing my wrap and taking out everything I didn’t want on it (on the plus side, they were very generous with their toppings).

I finish my lunch and go outside. It’s cloudy, but otherwise comfortable. I wait in line at Wetzel’s Pretzels and as I do I can feel drops of water slowly falling on my head. Naturally, there are no covered outdoor eating areas in DD except Ghirardelli and Earl of Sandwich (food and beverage are not allowed in World of Disney).

I take my umbrella out of my bag and finish wandering around until I finished my smoothie. Then at 1pm, I left DD and made my way to the colorful but otherwise unremarkable rectangle known simply as “Disney Casting.” I checked in on the second level, found a seat in the nearly full waiting room and assured myself that this was going to work out and that I had absolutely nothing to fear…which meant that by the time they called me back to the HR office (fifteen minutes with no apology) I was an absolute wreck.

The first thing my “recruiter” Karen asked for was an ID. I knew that was coming, what I didn’t expect was for her to look at it, look up at me incredulously, look at it again tap furiously at her keyboard and pass it back to me with a sneer (so much for starting on a positive note).

“This is NOT a driver’s license – this is a Maryland ‘STATE ID.’ Which means not only are you out of state, but you can’t drive either. Did you even THINK about how you would get to work? We don’t have housing on property and we DON’T offer bus service to outside venues. How are you going to get to work for your shift if you can’t drive? Hmm, you have to present us with a valid plan on how to overcome your obvious ‘transportational issues’ before we can even consider hiring you.”

Aaaand it went downhill from there (including insulting this blog and diminishing my work at Park\Mosher Media). I knew full well that “not driving” wasn’t the primary issue as honestly it’s not HER issue or her boss’ issue – it’s MINE and at 35 years old I can detect BS when I hear it.

Okay, I’m willing to concede that maybe it wasn’t Autism that did me in (though I tried my damnest to maintain eye contact with her the entire time) or the Auditory Processing Disorder that makes talking to people in an efficient manner more difficult (particularly when trying to sound intelligent and confident while on a time delay with an obvious speech impediment).

Maybe it was the fact that I handed her the wrong resume, or maybe I’m just the victim of some arbitrary “quota.” Most damning of all, maybe I just fucked up: My one and probably only chance (as she typed everything into her system so I’ll be “flagged” if I ever apply again).

No wait, Karen did have some sage advice to give me before leaving her office: “You know what I think you should do? Go back to Baltimore and GET A JOB there and come back in six months with some EXPERIENCE.”

Okay, let’s unravel this a little. I’m not hired because I’m “out of state,” but staying in said state for another six months will increase my chances of being hired? I wasn’t hired because I had “transportational issues,” but “getting a job” (said in the most condescending tone possible) in Baltimore will alleviate them? Keeping this hypothetical “job” for six months is considered “experience” and demonstrates how “reliable and dependable” I am by quitting a job after only half a year (ask Sarah Palin how that worked out for her)? Is this how the Walt Disney Company really operates: no detail is overlooked, but logic is…?

“Well,” she said dropping me back in the crowded waiting room. “I hope you have a chance to visit our parks. Have a magical day.”

Well, I didn’t get the job, but, at least, the rain had stopped…

Categories: disney world, florida, job hunting, Orlando, retail | 1 Comment

One month out

It has been one month since my ouster from The Baltimore Guardian.

I never went to Florida or South Carolina (train tickets cost money), but I might cover Occupy Our Home’s “Have a Heart: Eviction Defense March” in Hunt Valley on Tuesday (I could use the news writing experience…even if I was just at HVTC last Tuesday).

Beyond that, I don’t know. I sort of miss having a separate place I can post reviews to, but The Guardian was such a pain to post – make that attempt to post to. The problem is, I’m not sure where else to send them as local art\theatre stories have a very limited geographically salable range. Sure, I could still write about TV and\or movies, but I’ve found that covering beats gets old – fast.

As I stated in my previous post, maybe it’s time for a “change of venue:” after all, DC, NYC, and Philadelphia all have active arts scenes. Maybe I can cover courts or stocks… or maybe I should just go out and get a real job.

Categories: Baltimore Guardian, entertainment, job hunting, news, ramblings, writing | 1 Comment

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