The Crazy Problem

I had my first real interview yesterday, and I thought it went very well. Since The Company Gobsmacked me in early August, I’ve applied for 29 different positions. I’ve been casting a wide net, and I know I’m not a good fit for a lot of them, but you never know. The position I found in 2004 under similar circumstances came from just such a wide cast, and it was one of the best I’ve had at TC.

So far, I’m 13-16 on those applications (it was 16-13, but this morning’s email reversed the score). Sixteen have come back with, “Gee, thanks, but you’re not the one.” Yesterday’s interview was for one of the 16 13 that are still pending. As I said, it’s the first actual interview, although I had two “Information Interviews” a couple of weeks ago. (An information interview is when you sit down with the person who would offer the job and find out a bit about the job—and they about you—but it’s not a real interview.  Call it a preview interview.)

Considering that there are only eight days left on my clock, the Ground Rush is getting pronounced. I’m starting to clean out email and file archives and starting to cart home some of my belongings.  If I had to guess, I would say that today’s interview is my last best hope. It’s also the position I’m most suited for, so I’m feeling hopeful.

[Any Bab5 fans in the house? I threw in two Bab5 references just for you.]

All through August my only “job” was looking for another job, so I’ve had lots of time for blogging. Starting now, I’ll have less time, and if I do get a position, the time constraints could be severe (many new things to learn). But I am hoping to keep the momentum going as much as I can. Last year, for completely different reasons, I slowed down and then basically stopped. I’d like to avoid that this year.

So I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up the daily posts; I’m sure you’re all horribly disappointed. But I’ve been having so much fun writing and interacting with all you great bloggers that I’m going to try to stick with it.

That’s the plan, Fran and Stan, but, you know, “o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley!”

Speaking of work, here’s a piece (not original) that I’ve had in my files since the days of fax machines. It’s work related (especially to the kind of work I do), but it can apply to life in general.  I hope you like it. (For fun, can you spot the “sore thumbs” that stick out revealing the story to be made up?)

The Crazy Problem

A complaint was received by the Pontiac Division of General Motors:

“This is the second time I have written you, and I don’t blame you for not answering me, because I kind of sounded crazy, but it is a fact that we have a tradition in our family of ice cream for dessert after dinner each night. But the kind of ice cream varies so, every night, after we’ve eaten, the whole family votes on which kind of ice cream we should have and I drive down to the store to get it.

It’s also a fact that I recently purchased a new Pontiac and since then my trips to the store have created a problem. You see, every time I buy vanilla ice cream, when I start back from the store my car won’t start. If I get any other kind of ice cream, the car starts just fine.

I want you to know I’m serious about this question, no matter how silly it sounds: ‘What is there about a Pontiac that makes it not start when I get vanilla ice cream, and easy to start whenever I get any other kind?'”

The Pontiac President was understandably skeptical about the letter, but sent an engineer to check it out anyway. The latter was surprised to be greeted by a successful, obviously well-educated man in a fine neighborhood. He had arranged to meet the man just after dinner time, so the two hopped into the car and drove to the ice cream store. It was vanilla ice cream that night and, sure enough, after they came back to the car, it wouldn’t start.

The engineer returned for three more nights. The first night, the man got chocolate. The car started. The second night, he got strawberry. The car started. The third night he ordered vanilla. The car failed to start.

Now the engineer, being a logical man, refused to believe that this man’s car was allergic to vanilla ice cream. He arranged, therefore, to continue his visits for as long as it took to solve the problem. And toward this end he began to take notes: he jotted down all sorts of data, time of day, type of gas used, time to drive back and forth, etc In a short time, he had a clue: the man took less time to buy vanilla than any other flavor. Why? The answer was in the layout of the store.

Vanilla, being the most popular flavor, was in a separate case at the front of the store for quick pickup. All the other flavors were kept in the back of the store at a different counter where it took considerably longer to find the flavor and get checked out. Now the question for the engineer was why the car wouldn’t start when it took less time. Once time became the problem—not the vanilla ice cream—the engineer quickly came up with the answer: vapor lock.

It was happening every night, but the extra time taken to get the other flavors allowed the engine to cool down sufficiently to start. When the man got vanilla, the engine was still too hot for the vapor lock to dissipate.

Moral of the story: even insane looking problems are sometimes real.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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