Archives for category: Employment

Terrorized By The Righteous Rage

Haresh Shah

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I am impressed by the opulent looks of the agency. They show me around beaming with  pride at the facilities they offered. I, as a senior executive would have my own office, they tell me. Each office is named after the wonders and the major landmarks of  the world. Whenever possible, I would be assigned the Taj Mahal, they promise. I would have my own direct phone line and my personal voice mail.  I would have access to the support staff.

Hanging on almost every wall are expensively framed inspirational quotations by Dale Carnegie, Orison Swett Marden, James Allan, Malcolm Forbes, Lee Iacocca,  Albert Einstein  and such. The tone of the quotations assumes that you are down and out and are in dire need of pick me ups. Unlike clients in other businesses, we are the fired lame duck executives.

I still am not clear about what exactly I am supposed to be doing sitting in one of those little larger than cubicle offices, and more importantly, what it is that they would do for me. So I sit down with the president of Benson and Associates, Bob Benson and his partner Herb Lester, face to face for an initial interview. The interview itself lasts for more than an hour, during which they ask me whether my “separation” from Playboy was voluntary, as if there were such a thing!

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Haresh Shah

All I Want To Do Is To Take A Beak

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As I roll off the QE II in my Buick from the port of  New York city, my plan is to drive cross-country with the destination of Santa Barbara, California. Or more precisely, Mark and Ann’s (Stevens) farm house in Goleta, some twelve miles north of downtown Santa Barbara and a stone’s throw away from the carefree Isla Vista off UCSB campus. Awaiting me is the culture and the people so unlike the America I have known so far. Three years earlier, just before Playboy offered me the job, I had planned a long vacation to explore the California Coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. Instead, on the very day I was to fly west, I end up making a sharp hairpin turn to fly east over the Atlantic. I owe it to California to make up for my sudden turn.  But I am not in a hurry. And I am open to any other possibilities that may exist or arise.

Chicago awaits for me with its arms wide open. Lee (Hall) throws a staff lunch for me and am treated like a homecoming war hero. He has even arranged for me to meet with the Photography Director Gary Cole. Lee thinks very highly of me and feels I would make a good photo editor for Gary. Gary is congenial, but not so sure. He has probably agreed to speak with me more out of courtesy than to consider me for a position he didn’t have in the first place. As devastated as Lee is at having to let me go, this is his way of demonstrating that it wasn’t his decision or within his power to keep me.

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Taking My Turn At Collecting Unemployment Or How To Drive Bureaucrats Batty

Haresh Shah

 

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I am sitting in the front of the IDES (Illinois Department of Employment Security) officer Mr. David M. at their downtown Evanston branch. I have him  absolutely and positively flustered. He is almost on the verge of pulling his hair off his head – that is what is left of it. The few locks of  curls hanging around his neck from his otherwise bald as a water melon crown. He is a gaunt looking skinny man in his middle age. His eyes squinting behind his dense Coke bottle glasses. The shriveled frown on his face fits perfectly that of an accountant – overworked, underpaid and underappreciated, all of which he probably is. The more I answer his questions to clarify, the more confused and frustrated he looks. At some point he just smacks my paperwork down on his desk, kicks his chair back, jumps up like a Jack in the Box from a suddenly unlatched top and begins to walk to the back.

‘You’re driving me crazy!’

Nothing is amiss with my application. My paperwork is well organized and is in order. I am entitled to receive the unemployment benefits that I am applying for. Though I read a question mark on his face as to why it took me more than a whole year to get around to it. But that doesn’t disqualify me. No particular reason. I guess I wasn’t exactly hurting for the money and also because I had landed a week a month assignment in Florida. Procrastination? A bit of a discomfort and the false pride? I don’t think so. This after all is my second bout at collecting unemployment. But finally  my girlfriend Susan (Serpe) nudges me into it. You have paid into the system all your life. You’re entitled to it. Would you not claim what’s due you from an insurance company? Right! So a couple of days later I pick up the application forms, gather all the back-up paperwork and present myself in front of David M.

He looks at my application and studies it meticulously and checks off an item after another. Gives closer look to my work and the salary history. I can see him raising his eyebrows as he checks off my six figure salary, and lets out an exclamatory soft grunt followed by an intermittent comment.

‘Whenever possible, we try to help people find jobs in addition to what we post on the bulletin board. But in your case, I’m afraid, you’re on your own.’

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Haresh Shah

How Does One Get A Job At Playboy?

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The question I’ve been asked time and again is: How does one get a job at Playboy?  Or more precisely: How did you get to work for them?

My answer always is: Like any other job. You apply for it. You have an interview and then you get hired. If that sounds too simplistic, how about this? You happen to be at the right place at the right time with right set of skills and qualifications. And the pure dumb luck doesn’t hurt either!

Not good enough still? Okay. Here’s how it happened. But me telling this story requires me to take you back in time. Back to the London College of Printing. Shashi (Patravali), my roommate and also the fellow alumni of LCP, are sitting in the college canteen. We’re at the end of our two year long diploma curriculum and would soon have to face the reality called life. Shashi is clear about his future. Soon as we’re done, he wants to spend a couple of months traveling the European Continent. Return back to India and manage a printing plant somewhere in the South.

‘How about you?’ He asks.

‘I want to go to America. Spend a year getting practical training at the GATF (Graphic Arts Technical Foundation) in Pittsburgh. And then work for Time & Life and for Playboy.

Shashi doesn’t say anything to that, but in his characteristic manner smirks at me, probably  thinking, “yeah right!”

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