I've been absent from Bloglandia for awhile due to some covert operations. I've been in [insert name of large southwestern city] helping with a mass hiring event.
I'm sure there are nice parts of [censored city] but this is not it. Every day we shuffle into a large, soulless building and show our IDs to a security guard. Supposedly this building contains human resource people who have the answers to many of the personnel questions we have, but we aren't allowed to go upstairs to see them. We are confined to a few rooms on the first floor. We can't use their office supplies. Only a few people among us are allowed to use the printer. They chase us out of the covered parking. They will be glad to see us go.
We aren't allowed to talk about the process to people who aren't involved. As firefighters are terrible gossips, this proves difficult, and we wonder who among the 100 or so here will crumble under the pressure and start talking. Applicants call us and ask plaintively about their status. We feel mean, but can't say.
Inside our meeting rooms, we try to lighten the mood. We giggle at unintentionally funny reference letters. One guy attaches a mini speaker to his ipod. He plays Def Leppard and Men Without Hats as we flip through pages and pages of applications, people's hopes and dreams about to be realized or dashed. We are exhausted by the end of the day.
D. asks the hotel staff about running routes. They say doubtfully that there is a trail but it is full of homeless people. I retreat to the old treadmill and rickety stairstepper in the fitness room. One night I go to a gym.
On the last day it snows. It makes the city look better, even though it's too warm to last. We have done our part here. It's time to go home.