SBS 301 Cultural Diversity         Fall 2001        Personal Memory Ethnographies

Annette Scroggins
A Double Whammy

Eagerly anticipating the opportunity to make a career change, I was informed by my best friend that she had the perfect job opportunity for me. Her boyfriend Michael told her about a job opening as a youth counselor at the local community center were he was employed as a supervisor. I was so excited, this seemed to be a chance of a lifetime for me to make a positive contribution in the lives of youths in the community. Finally, that magical day arrived and it was time for me to go to the interview. Although, the community center was less than 15 minutes away, I wish I could have arrive there in an instant. During the drive to the community center I began to think about the questions that I had prepared the night before to ask in the interview. The closer I got to the purple one-story building I began to feel butterflies in my stomach. Job interviews always make me nervous.

 I began to wonder what kind of questions would they ask? Will I be interviewing with the director only, or will this be a panel interview. Once I arrived in the parking lot, I began to rehearse my questions that I had prepared the night before. I began to talk myself into relaxing, that this interview would not be such a big deal. As I walked in the building I could smell the scent of maple wood, and fresh paint, which reminded me of my old high school gymnasium. I could feel the cold air blowing on my face from the air-conditioning unit. As I was standing at the receptionist desk, I observed black teens along with their Latino peers interacting with one another in a game of pool, and basketball. I could hear the loud sounds of hip-hop music blaring on the stereo. It felt very good to see the diversity at the center and the youth interacting among the youths without any confrontations. I became more motivated by my observations.

 I felt very comfortable in the atmosphere of the center, and I realized that I could enjoy working in this environment. The receptionist escorted me to a room located in the back of the youth center that was away from the noise and activity that was going on in front.  As I entered the room I immediately recognized Michael. I was introduced to the Director of the center whose name was Walter. He was a very attractive man about 6’3 to 6’4 inches tall and professionally dressed. I sat down in front of a long table with two other chairs on each side of me. The interviewers sat on the opposite side of the table. I was very impressed by the formality of this interview. I was very relieved that I had dressed very professionally; this gave me the reassurance that I had a good chance to get the job.

Walter asked the first question “So tell me about yourself?”  I began to speak in my very articulate interview voice. I elaborated about my previous work experience and education. And with no hesitation I mentioned that I grew up in a nearby community to the Youth center. Michael fired the next question at me  “ What are your future goals, and how would they benefit the community center?” I responded by saying “ I am a psychology major in school, after I graduate I plan to pursue a career in counseling.”

Finally, my opportunity came to ask any questions that I needed and to make my final impression to seize this great opportunity and to fire my own questions back at them. I asked Walter, “What type of experience is required for the job position?” He replied, “We are looking for someone who would be comfortable working with adolescents. We need someone who would be comfortable working in a diverse environment and who will not be afraid to interact with the youths.” He replied, “Some experience is helpful, but we do not require you to have previous experience working with adolescents because this is an entry level position and we will be happy to train you.”

I asked him, “ What is the hourly pay for this position?”  Walter replied,” the hourly pay is $ 9.75 per hour you will get a performance review after 90 days and an annual review after 1 year, with full benefits paid through the City of Phoenix You will receive a benefits package once you are hired on. The benefits package covers your health insurance, dental, vision, 401K plan, and retirement pension.”

 I looked directly at Michael and asked, “ What are the hours for the position?” He replied, what hours are you available to work? I replied, ‘on my application the hours that I listed were from 1:00p.m. To closing.”  Michael replied,” that should work out. Our hours of operation are from 9:00 a.m. until10:00p.m. Monday through Friday. We do not open the doors of the center until 12:00 noon. The kids start coming in between the hours of 2:30pm and 3:00pm after school is over. The days we will need you to work would be Monday through Friday will that be a problem?”  I replied,” no not at all.” I asked him, “ Who will I be training with, and what will the training consists of?”  Michael replied,” you will be working with myself and other youth counselors here in the center. Basically, the training will be on rules and guidelines for the center that you as a counselor would have to follow. There are rules for the center that the you are expected to follow, there would be training for you as a counselor on the do’s and don’ts on how to handle confrontations among the youths, safety issues, how to work the front counter where we keep the center activities. You will also receive mentor and leadership training.”  I was very satisfied with his response, so I ended the interview with a big smile and ask both gentlemen if they had any other questions for me? Both of them replied, “ No we do not.” I asked Walter,” When will you be making a decision for the position?”  “He replied, by the end of this week. I will be sure to call you. I shook both of their hands and thanked them for interviewing me.

As I was driving home from the interview I was so excited. I felt that the interview went excellently and I had aced this job. Well, a week went by and I had not received a phone call from Walter about when I would be able to start work. I had made several attempts to reach him by telephone but was unsuccessful. Every time I called the receptionist said that he was in a meeting or out of the office and she would be glad to take a message for him. I still had not received a return phone call after three attempts. I began to worry.

Acting out of desperation I called my girlfriend Angela and ask her if she had talked to Michael. She replied, ” yes I had, why?’  I replied, “ I have not received a phone call back from Michael or Walter about the interview. I have left several messages and no one has returned my calls.”  She replied, “ Annette I am going to tell you something but you have to promise me that you will not get upset.”  I replied, “ Oh Lord what is it?” She replied, Michael told me that they hired someone else for the job. I replied, “who!  Why didn’t they call me and let me know?” She replied, “Some brother that they felt would be a good mentor for the Black boys there.”  I replied, ” well that is pretty low down, and unprofessional that they did not call me.” She replied, ” You have to promise me that you will not say anything.” I replied, “why not!” She replied, “Because I was not supposed to tell you.”

My analysis of this scenario would be that the supervisor wanted to make a good impression on my girlfriend by helping me to get a job. I believe that I was not told the truth by the supervisor that their real intent was to hire a man because of his fear of confrontation with me the applicant. Today, I do not believe there was any intent to discriminate against me, because the director of the center had intentions on meeting the needs of the youths by hiring a black man to be a role model for the young black males that attended the center.

 In my initial ethnography my intent was to express my point of view about how I felt about rejection, and to get a different point of view from the reader(s) of my story. My initial viewpoint was that the act of gender discriminatory practices was the reason for my not getting the job. I also felt that the supervisor should have been upfront with me regarding their intentions instead of wasting my time. I realize how naïve I was at the time of this incident. It was a wake up call for me to be discriminated against by someone who is of my own race, but of the opposite sex. Whether it was intentional or not this was  “a double whammy.”  Six months after the incident, I often wondered if the man that they hired was still employed there.

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