Fadenscheinig is a beautiful german adjective. Its immediate meaning translates to threadbare. When used figuratively it describes something that is specious–something pretending to hide its real essence that leaks through. E.g. we speak of a fadenscheinig argument, a fadenscheinig person or a fadenscheinig subterfuge. A few days ago I had an encounter with a fadenscheinig bureau.
Almost twelwe months ago I quit my wellpaid job to bring my studies to an end and went to uni fulltime. This was made possible by a generous one year private funding I received that is running out this month. I ve done good effort this year. Theres only three seminars left I have to attend next semester, the rest is a good lot of reading and writing at home.
So I’m on jobsearch again on the open market and for urgency reasons I don’t exclusively look for “qualified work” which is.. an experience. Things have changed in the past nine years. The local announcement magazine I bought first [A-Z] by the time is not job source no 1 anymore, but the internet is, that is. Fortunately I do have access at home again so I can check several online sources every morning for updates.
The other surprise was, two regional circulars [Bremer Anzeiger and Weser Report] every household receives automatically for free, which I formerly regarded as unwelcome offline spam multiplying my Altpapier, now include a large job announcement section as I explored by coincidence. The Weser Report even cooperates with the local Agency for Work in their sunday print [‘Agentur für Arbeit’ a few yrs ago has replaced the ‘Arbeitsamt’ in the official language] .
Last week I’ve been to an obscure interview. The announcement I had answered to called for “leichte Analysetätigkeit”, easy-to-do analysis in a financial advice office. No, I would not need any specialized knowledge, I was told on the phone so I made an appointment.
The bureau was newly taken in use the man on the phone had said. A long corridor, chairs in front of one of the long walls, some people obviously there for interview too, and doors to the right and doors to the left. The young man who welcomed me immediately struck me for his overdressed but nonfitting black suit and the waxed hair–can’t tell. The next curiosity was the spoiled wardrobe where I left my jacket. Obviously the bureau had been taken over with used furniture which had not been refurbished before moving in. The walls too showed extensive signs of use and had seen fresh wall paint years ago. Some carpet flatstones the floor was covered with bent their edges up and the air was interspersed with mugginess.
I was given a questionary to fill out and a shrink-wrapped information sheet that told me the interview would be divided in three parts. The first section would give me general information about the company, the second would exemplify the first and in the third part I then could ask my questions. (I managed to do the first obediently but interrupted my interviewer to ask questions on the concrete job in question in the second.) Each part of the “interview” was conducted by different persons and took place in different rooms. I met three men, all dressed in black suits. A bureau full of black suits. And the persons in these black suits and with their waxed hair, with each single gesture pretenting to be wealthy, chic and successfull in a very weird way did well fit into the shabby backdrop by specific details. The very contradiction was the contrast between that office and the high gloss booklet I was given in the end.
The first introduction was approx. 3 minutes long and told me the company’s name, how many banks, assurancy services, public fonds and-I-cant-remember “there are” and ended with “we have 9000 possibilities! 9000 possibilities!” The second exemplified the first one by presenting how someone with so-and-so-much investment could ensure their old-age pension (based on a building-loan-contract and a certain subvention from the state). The third then told me what I was applying for which would have been conducting interviews with clients going through a questionary and then feeding the data into a computer.
After an hour I was done and after they asked me to call again a few hours later I went home, highly irritated. Except of my scepticism the payment was well and taking up data for further analysis through experts did sound well in the end. However I was undecided. Back home I fired up the computer and typed in the company’s name: wikipedia entry, wikipedia explanation of company type and statements of former associates. I quickly understood the function of the interviews which was data-mining that I would be supposed to conduct and quit the application process. So this anecdote clearly is dedicated to the concept of the Information Age.
What excites me more though is the experience of having learned to read the signs.