Not tote-ally unexpected.

Life I received a not totally unexpected letter today. It was about a job, working at the Grand National and it very politely told me that they would not be employing me for the three days of the event, at least not with their company. Usually when you receive such letters (this one wasn't even specially written, a photocopy) you're deeply disappointed but I couldn't help laughing. Let me explain.

Whilst I was signing on the Thursday before last I glanced through the 'just in' jobs which are listed on a sheet at the table. At the top, ringed by a zig-zaggy line was something about work at the Grand National, coming to Aintree soon. I asked the man behind the counter wondering if, even though it said that I'd missed the recruitment, if there would be a chance. He explained that the recruitment was every week and I should go along.

On Wednesday morning then, I was sitting in a waiting area filling in an application form waiting for my turn to enter a room for an ad-hoc interview. As I was trying to remember my GCSE grades I was half listening to the comments of the people who were leaving and they were saying that they were being asked about previous experience and being told if they'd got the job there and then.

Problem. I was under the impression that the recruitment was for all kinds of jobs connected with the National. On the bus there I'd thought that perhaps I might get something on their ticket and information line what with all my call centre experience. I was strangely quite excited by the prospect. This was just me being a fantasist - the man at the job centre had mentioned that they'd be looking to fill a range of jobs including litter picker.

But as I sat filling in my references, it slowly dawned on me that everyone was talking about their bar and restaurant experience. One girl mentioned that she'd talked about working in Ibiza and how it was that it which got her the job. Someone else mentioned that she usually gets good tips - over £200 worth - which is good because the insurance premium for her car was payable soon. Exactly what work was I actually being interviewed for here? I inked in the boxes of the accompanying p46 awaited my turn.

As I stepped into the glass-walled interview room, there sat a friendly looking woman behind an office desk covered in forms and biros. We smiled at each other, shook hands and I sat down. I passed over my application form and a copy of my CV and she began to fill in the covering sheet. She took my name and other particulars, and I thought it was time to ask.

'Erm.. I had a problem with the application form.'
'Oh yes?'
'There's a section which asks what work I'm interested in. Well, erm, the problem is … I'm not sure what the job is I'm actually applying for.'
'Oh.' She paused. 'Right.'
'Because when I went to the job centre…' I told her about the job centre.
'I see. Well, we're a catering firm.'
'Oh.' I said.
'We provide the food and drink services to the Grand National.'
'Right. Well that's a problem too.' I was dejected.
'It is? Why?'
'I don't actually have any experience. I've never worked in a pub or restaurant. Nothing like it. The closest I've had is eighteen months working at Liverpool Museum's shop. That's my retail experience.'
'Right. I see.'

She began to fill in the rest of the cover sheet. It said: 'Previous experience:' Next to which she wrote. 'None.'
I laughed. She laughed.
Next. 'Position most interested in:'
She said: 'Anything.'
I said: 'Anything you think I'm qualified for. I haven't a chance have I?'
'Well, we do have fifteen hundred slots to fill. I should be able to find you something. There are training days too which you might find interesting.'
'So that's positive.'
She told me about the uniform and whatnot and the hours of work. We talked some more about this and that and I managed to discover that the firm covered everything from Wimbledon the Cheltenham Festival and that they'll be catering the Summer Pops.
'And if you're enjoying the work, if you let your manager know you should be able to get work there too.'
We left on good terms I thought. And I was filled with the thoughts of picking up wine glasses discarded by people in posh suits and frocks, the sound on horses pounding around a race track, the smell of muddy grass and stale beer, being able to make a bet at the actual tote myself.

Then that letter came this morning. 'As the Grand National is such a prestigious event we have far more applications than vacancies, for this reason we are unable to offer you a position. Your application will be kept on file for any future vacancies we may have.' There was then some gratefully received luck wishing that I'll really need for any future job applications.

Such a shame, but as I said not totally unexpected. After all, only I could turn up for a job interview not knowing what I was actually applying for and lacking any relevant qualifications whatsoever.

No comments: