2. P&G Is Calling Me
Updated: Jul 7, 2021
Frank's Nursery and Crafts, Burger Chef and summertime factory work at my father's sweat shop (Velva-Sheen) aside; today I was starting my first real job... I wanted to throw up!
Months earlier my brother-in-law, who worked at P&G, had pulled some strings and gotten me in for "testing". Yes, honest to God testing of various kinds to see if I even began to qualify to work for this company. This went way beyond todays employment qualification standards of being able to stand up and pee in a cup with a stranger.
I showed up, in my brand new three-piece suit, at the Corporate Offices in downtown Cincinnati exactly at 10:45 AM as specified and didn't see the light of day again until 4:00 PM when they dismissed me to leave.
First I was seated in a windowless room full of about twenty fidgeting people. Most appeared my age, twenty somethings, and all wearing various faces of concern. You could have heard the proverbial pin drop.
My stomach was growling loudly because I had been too nervous to eat breakfast. I figured I could grab something around noon on my way home. I nervously nibbled like a squirrel on the Certs with Retsyn I had discovered in my pants pocket.
My full name was called, "Arthur John Blum Junior", pronounced like bloom by my family but like plum by the remainder of humanity.
I rose, may have raised my hand and said, "Here!" and was then escorted through a solid looking door, down an extremely long and narrow hall and motioned to enter one of the many offices.
The bow-tied gentleman, seated behind a gray metal desk, had "shrink" written all over him. With nary a howdy doo, he bombarded me with questions while assuring me there were no right or wrong answers.
Occasionally he would interject with, "Just say the first thing that comes to mind." Or, "Is that so? Why don't you tell me a little more about that!"
Escorted on, I then met with a woman that had somehow gotten her hands on my permanent record. You know the one, you hear about it all your life. It somehow builds up with more and more information over the years. It continues to follow you from Kindergarten to grave like a bad debt.
Unceasingly she questioned me with, "Why did you matriculate at Miami University in Botany and then transfer your Major to Graphic Arts? It appears you accumulated a series of late charges on your credit report. Are your current balances caught up? Is this how you usually handle financial matters? It says here that you're married to a woman named Faye, do you plan on having children?" and so much more!
One needs to remember this all took place prior to the strict confidentiality laws and restrictions enforced today on what can or can not be asked by H.R. personnel during the interviewing process. I'm convinced that it was because of big companies and their screening procedures back then that these laws were enacted. As I sat there wondering how the Hell she could know so much, she continued questioning where I've been and where I'm going. I swear, until that day I had no idea what she meant when I was asked to divulge my five-year plan.
After that, I was moved to a tiny room about the size of a phone booth. It contained a white Formica ask top attached to the wall and a white plastic chair. Overhead was a single bright spotlight that beamed down on me like the transporter on Star Trek. The room was completely covered in royal blue carpeting that deadened and muffled all sounds. I found myself testing it by talking aloud and questioning if perhaps I had gone deaf. The entire scenario was very Orwellian.
A knock on the door brought me around as a young intern handed me a large booklet for testing and two #2 pencils. My mind wandered to grade school and how all those teachers had emphasized the importance of said pencils and keeping them sharp. The darn things come into play later on in your life! She rambled off a bunch of instructions, wound up a timer on the desk and said, "Go!" as the door was shut.
And, as they say.... when one door shuts, another one opens. It was several months later, early summer and I was a sweaty mess outside mowing the grass. My wife came out on the back deck and yelled down the two stories below,
"You have an important phone call!"
Not hearing her, I continued mowing, while she continued yelling. Once she made it down the steps, and was right in my face, I finally heard the words.
"P&G's on the phone!"
I sprinted two steps at a time up onto the deck and once I grabbed the kitchen wall phone I pulled it, and its extra long cord, into the guest bathroom and shut the door. Gasping for breath from running and wheezing from my grass allergies I force out a meager, "Hello."
"Why hello, is this Art? This is Ted Frieman with P&G. We'd like to make you a job offer."
So, that is why I'm now standing here outside their Winton Hill offices, my assigned location, and taking in a deep cleansing breath before entering. How's that saying go? Today's the first day of the rest of your life... If only I would have known what kind of a life it was going to be!