Coffeehouse observation No. 274

You don’t see this very often – a guy just walked into the coffeehouse wearing a derby. Yep, derby hat, T-shirt, shorts, gloves and running shoes. If you hadn’t heard, Stockton is the fashion capital of, well, nowhere.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 273

Yesterday, I spotted a guy walking down my street playing a banjo. Today, a guy with a faux buffalo head hat – complete with antlers horns – just walked by the coffeehouse. There really is something in the Stockton water. It might be booze.

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Crossing fingers after phone interview marred by no bars, technical problem

I had a fairly good telephone job interview this morning, despite equipment problems on both ends.

And despite me stumbling over some of the questions.

Some of the problems started this morning when I tumbled out of bed and checked my cellular phone to make sure that it had charged overnight. I was immediately troubled to see no bars, not one.

“OK, don’t panic,” I said to myself, of course, leaving out here the expletives. “I’ll just whip up some congee, grab a shower, and check the bars again. Perhaps a T-Mobile tower is down or something and it will take a bit of time to get it up again. If all else fails, I’ll make a run to Starbucks, troll for a cell signal, and pirate some Wifi. And just sit in my CRV for the interview.”

Yes, I do sometimes have extended conversations with myself.

Congee, check.

Shower and shave, check.

Car keys, check.

Laptop and cell phone, check and check.

Cell phone bars, not so check. Still no bars.

So, off I went for the Starbucks. As I drove closer, I checked the bars and the signal seem to be coming in strong. Great!

I circled the Starbucks in the Miracle Mile in Stockton and head back to my apartment to go over notes before I planned to return to the Starbucks in time for my interview call.

Funny thing, though, as I drove back to the apartment – I started getting more bars. Eureka! A strong signal. Perhaps, just, perhaps, T-Mobile fixed the glitch and I’ll be able to receive the interview in a non-stressful environment sitting at my writing desk in the living room of my apartment.

There I sat for more than an hour going over “20 Most Asked Questions In A Job Interview” – of which, the interviewers would later ask only one of the “20 Most Asked Questions In A Job Interview” – and tried to relax just a bit before my 9:45 a.m. call.

Everything was going well enough when I took another look at my cell phone at 9:30 a.m. and – PANIC! No bars, again! Ugh!

I scooped up my laptop, a notepad, a couple of pens, and my cell phone and headed downstairs to the garage. There I jumped into my CRV, cranked up the engine, and headed – at only slightly excessive speed – to the nearest Starbucks where earlier I had found a strong signal and where I could pirate WiFi. (I say “pirate,” but Starbucks provides free WiFi. Using “pirate” is an attempt at making me more edgy. Did it work?)

I parked in the same spot I had earlier, but the cell signal was at only two bars. I didn’t want an every-other-word experience during the interview. I drove around the block trolling for a stronger signal and found one – very nearly in the same spot I had been before going around the block. Time: 9:44 a.m.

OK, quick drink of water. Pull out the computer for the notes on the “20 Most Asked Questions In A Job Interview.” Pull out the pad of paper to write down the names of the people on the search committee conducting the interview. Go online for a quick check of email.

It was then that the phone rang. I let it ring again, popped open the cell phone, paused – “Hello. … Hello. … Hello!”

Nothing. Great! Well what else can go wrong?

I tried dialing back a couple of times, but all I got was the ear-piercing tone of a fax machine. Great!

OK, don’t panic, don’t panic, don’t panic … DON’T PANIC!

Oh, wait, the phone’s ringing again.

“Hello. … Hello. … Hello!”

Oh, crap, not again.

One more attempt to call them. More piercing sounds. OK, OK, OK, I’ll shoot an email to the person who arranged the interview. Under the circumstances, maybe – just maybe – we can reschedule the telephone interview.

The email was very nearly set to send when the phone rang one more time. By this time it was five or 10 minutes after the scheduled appointment

OK, don’t panic. Let it ring again.

“Hello”

“Hello, Keith. Sorry for that bit of technical problem …,” said the woman on the other end.

Sheesh, that was close. I’ve been out of work for 20 months now and I cannot afford to miss an interview for any reason.

The half-hour interview went well enough, I think, especially since it took place over the phone as I sat in my CRV with a laptop balanced on my knees.

I stumbled on a few questions. It’s a marketing job and my experience is in straight-up journalism, but several of the interviewers have newspaper experience, so they may have cut me some slack. They gave me verbal feedback and laughed where they should have, so it wasn’t all bad at all.

The job would be with a leader in its field and I think skills I honed as a columnist, opinion page editor, editorialist, and essayist could come in handy. The problem would be in having time to write about all the positive aspects. That’s a bit of a change considering all my work experience is in newspaper where much of the news is not good.

Well, I’m crossing my fingers. It appears it will be about 30 days before I find out if I was selected, so I’ll be patient and continue my search in the meantime.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 207

I’m not sure how this is all going to work out, but I’ve decided to go without coffee today. For those now concerned with their safety, I am currently at Troke Branch Library (Stockton) and will attempt to update my movements so that you all can take the appropriate precautions to avoid contact with a caffeine-free me.

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This just in from Exotic Java

Exotic Java is back full steam ahead for the Labor Day weekend. From Facebook:

Exotic Java Whew, everything is back to normal. We have a beautiful new paved parking lot. Exotic Java Cafe and the drive thru are open and rockin and rollin! Come check out the new parking lot and grab a drink to get you started on this wonderful 3 day holiday weekend!!!!”

Published in: on September 3, 2010 at 9:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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Coffeehouse observation No. 179

Could really use some hot coffee right now. I’m sitting in the Troke Branch Library in Stockton – within view of Exotic Java, no less – and the air conditioning is turned up so high that I’m considering breaking up the furniture to start a bonfire.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 159

A slight bit of weirdness in the coffeehouse the past two days. Yesterday, on my semi-regular fitness walk, I tripped slightly on a cracked sidewalk and a fellow walking out of the park shared a laugh about it and said something such as “Well, I’m not the only one who is not perfect.”

He then proceeded to tell me – for at least five minutes – about the recent surge in crime in the neighborhood surrounding American Legion Park in central Stockton, Calif.

I had never seen the guy before, but I saw him again later at the coffeehouse, which is a pretty healthy walk from American Legion Park.

And then today I went to the bank to deposit a check and spotted a guy in line. I envied him for the nice green tropical shirt he was wearing.

Later in the morning he happened to come into espresso for a beverage.

Just weird that sort of thing happened two days running. I wonder who I might see for the first – and second – time tomorrow.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 133

There’s a guy sitting on the empresso patio and he’s rockin’ out. Big time. Except, there is no music. None. He’s either hyped way, way up on something or … yeah, he’s hyped up on somethin’. … Oh, Stockton, you never fail to entertain.

Go to Coffeehouse Observer for more coffeehouse observations.

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Coffeehouse observation No. 89

I believe it is official: I am a loon magnet. Yet another wingnut stranger just came up to me in the coffeehouse and attempted to engage me in a conversation that was neither short enough nor pleasant enough. This is the third time in about a week or so. … I need to develop a repellant for Stockton’s crazies!

Coffeehouse observation No. 70

I’m back in more familiar territory today – empresso on Pacific Avenue in Stockton, CA, USA. It was quiet earlier, then bustling, now quiet again, but it may be building to bustling again. The coffee is good and strong, and beautiful women of all ages frequent the establishment. I’m guessing that has something to do with the draw of the businesses on the Miracle Mile, the adult school down the street, and the proximity to the University of the Pacific and San Joaquin Delta College. Whatever the reason, I don’t mind. In rainy weather lately, I’ve been patronizing Exotic Java because it is next door to the Margaret Troke Branch Library on West Benjamin Holt Drive. (I typically walk to empresso in order to avoid a parking ticket and I don’t like walking in the rain that much. There is free parking at this particular library branch.) Nice baristas at Exotic Java and coffee that hits the spot, but it is a bit less active than empresso, probably because it is a block or two from Pacific Avenue. Oh, but it has a drive-through window, which makes it convenient for motorists. I can recommend both establishments.

Coffeehouse observation No. 27

I just saw a guy in a burgundy Zoot suit outside the coffeehouse smoking loose tobacco from what appeared to be a straight marijuana pipe. Ah, Stockton, you never fail to disappoint in your vast collection of characters.