28 June 2006

The Big Interview

Today I went for my big interview with E.ON to become a meter reader. In the morning I did a little research on the internet into the company. I then decided what to wear (trousers rather than skirt) and worked out the times of the bus I needed to catch to get there. The interview was near Nottingham East Midlands Airport (NEMA), which meant I had to get the Skylink bus to get there.

The interview was in the Thistle Hotel. It was a strange place, teaming with bland corporate affairs, of which the E.ON interviews were just one. I was greeted by a middle age man who took me into a hotel room for what he said was a 'colour blind and tool test'. There were around twelve pieces of coloured wire on the table. He asked me to go through and to call out the colours one-by-one.

Then the tool test. There was a piece of really thick wire on the table and five pairs of wire cutters varying in size and strength. I decided to choose the largest of the five pairs of cutters and managed to cut off a section of the wire as he had requested. Then I was asked to disassemble and reassemble an electricity meter. There were around ten different screwdrivers on the table to choose from for this task. I have no idea whether I did any of this right as the man remained silent throughout.

I was then taken through into another hotel room down the corridor where I was met by another two middle age men. The first thing they told me was that they were interviewing me for a different job from the one I had applied for. It was full-time instead of part-time and was meter installation and repair rather than meter reading. It was a skilled role requiring five weeks training. This was not what I had expected and was by no means ideal in terms of the 'Part-time' project, but I decided to proceed with the interview never-the-less.

The more they described the job, the more I got into the idea of doing it. I'd go on a training programme and then when qualified I'd be able to start work. All I needed to provide, they told me, was my underwear. Everything else: the uniform, the vehicle, the phone, the PDA equipment would all be provided by E.ON.

I left the interview wondering what on earth I would say if the did offer me the work. I began to fantasise: this could be the start of a new life for me, an opportunity to forget about being an artist, to start a new career, to learn a new skill and to have routine, regularity and security in my life. God I liked the idea of being a meter installation and repair person! Just think, with my new van I could go to the supermarket or even to the seaside.

In the evening I began to feel disheartened, it might be a good job, but it still didn't solve any of my current problems with regards to 'Part-time'. For a start, if I was selected I wouldn't start training until Monday 10 July at the earliest and my first week would be spent entirely in 'the classroom'. I needed a plan B fast. I decided that on Thursday morning I would go and register with Labour Ready, in preparation for starting work the following week.

In the evening I began working in Illustrator, experimenting with how the Timelines would be visualised. I quickly realised that this was a very labour intensive way of producing them. It required me to calculate the duration of each activity separately using a calculator and then work out the width of each bar. It took me nearly four hours to complete the first day's Timeline.

I needed a better system, a way of automatically generating the Timelines. The only way I could think this might be possible, was using Excel, which meant that before I could attempt it, the reams of data first had to be inputted into a vast spreadsheet.