So I started off all chipper and motivated for my new job, even managing to get to work on time. I lucked into a really hospitable atmosphere: everyone in the office was nice, young, and friendly. Even after seeing how to do the mundane data entry that would be my job for the next 3 monthis, it seemed like a great place to work.
Including my lunch break, I lasted 6 hours.
Why? The business was definitely dodgy. Although I had enthusiastically expressed my compliance with the possibility that the job may occasionally involve calling companies and pretending to be from somewhere other than a headhunting firm during my interview, this didnít sit well in actual practice. Yeah, I could make decent money tricking secretaries into divulging details of their companiesí corporate structures, but thatís not really something I want to do. I like my curries as much as the next guy, but Iíd rather live off peanut butter and jelly sandwiches than be a dirtball. Besides, to call the data entry mind numbing would be to exaggerate how interesting it was: I was on the verge of dozing off after just a few hours on the job!
Howíd I get out of my ethically questionable career? Easy: I lied. After lunch, I looked really sad and told my bosses that Iíd been calling places to cancel my applications and that a webcafe had responded by offering me a salary significantly higher than what I was making at my current position. Unfortunately, this great job offer is entirely fictional. If any webcafes in London are reading...
I donít think my bosses believed me for a minute, but they didnít try to hold me back. After I threw out a high figure for what Iíd be making at the imaginary webcafe, one responded that they simply couldnít compete with that. Keeping with the I-may-have-a-grudge-against-you-but-Iím-not-going-to-let-you-know-it spirit of business, he told me to come back if my other job didnít work out. My other boss, the one who had been more involved in hiring me, didnít say much: basically gave me a suspicious look and asked the name of the cafe. Luckily, I applied to a good 20 in London, so I just dropped a random name. Didnít think of it at the time, but I sure hope he doesnít try going there and asking for me! This mutually false conversation, in which I made up a job, the company pretended it would actually take me back, and each side suspected the other of lying, ended with a discussion of whether I should get paid for the day. I wasnít too keen on prolonging the awkwardness so I told them not to worry about it, that I didnít need to be paid for the dayís work. One noted that part of my day had been training anyways while doing a poor job at hiding his agreement with this arrangement. To wrap up one of the more stressful conversations of my life, the less talkative boss was sure to mention that he had my contact details in case I violated his rule that ďwhat is said between these 4 walls stays within these 4 walls.Ē The secretary stopped me on the way out to sign a confidentiality agreement (Note to legal eagles and my employer of earlier today: yes, I am treating ďall information provided by us throughout this process in a confidential manner.Ē Besides, suing me wouldnít be worth your retainer: Iím unemployed, remember?), and I was back to being a bum.
Although I made it out of there without too much trouble, I did miss out on an interesting conversation about their businessí shadiness. Thatís probably a good thing: they wouldnít have taken too kindly to me calling the basis of their operation ethically questionable. So, I started and stopped my job today, lying my way out of an ethical dilemma. I didnít get paid, so I kept some pens. Itís better to be poor and happy than falling asleep doing data entry. I just hope Iím extremely happy if Iím still saying that in 20 yearsÖ