Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Too fat for the job

I was waiting to write this because I wanted enough time after the incident not to get weepy about it, so here we go:

When I was looking for a job this summer, my resume was up on a couple of different sites, including and some local help wanted sites. Out of the blue, I got a phone call from the North America director of sales for a manufacturer of aquarium supplies. He was very excited about my resume, and after talking to me on the phone, was chomping at the bit to meet me. The job would be travelling up and down the east coast, visiting pet stores and trying to get them to carry the product--and to make current customers feel loved and wanted.

Now, this is something that I've got a lot of experience doing. When I'm working in a customer service job, I tend to develop relationships with the regular customers, usually to the point that they ask for me as soon as they walk through the door. Making customers feel loved and cared about is a skill that I've developed and honed over my life, and I impressed the hell out of the director on the phone.

I talked to my husband about the job, and he was not thrilled about me travelling and being gone so much. Brian is the most important thing to me in the world, so I called the guy and turned down the job, explaining that my husband comes first. Fine, no problem, right? Except, the guy called me back, BEGGING me to reconsider, and to at least come up to Montreal for an interview. I agreed to at least go up for the interview, and he asked if I could bring my husband along so he could try to talk him into it.

We went up for the interview (which is a story unto itself, involving one of the worst cluster headaches of my life), and it seemed to go pretty well. He seemed impressed. He took us to his favorite local store to show us how the products were being marketed. We ended everything on a positive note, and Brian and I hit up the biodome before we went back to Albany.

A day or so later, I got a phone call from the interviewer. He said that he really thought I had a lot of skills, and whatnot, but he was concerned about my physical ability to do the job. Now, I hadn't told him anything about my medical history, and I was having a good day physically, after the headache wore off (just in time for the interview). What he was concerned about, he said, was my ability to get into and out of airplanes and rental cars. Yes, that's right, his excuse was that I was too fat to handle air travel and driving cars. Do I believe that for a second? No! If that were a concern, he would have asked me if I could do those things. I have flown many, many times (and no, I don't spill into the neighboring seat). I drive just fine.

He was looking for a reason to deny me the job because he didn't think my physical appearance was good enough to sell the product. Plain and simple. There was nothing about this job that I couldn't physically handle; I was just not attractive enough. Never mind that I have excellent product knowledge, that I can talk people into buying the best stuff for their aquariums, and that I develop good relationships with customers; I have to be a hot babe to sell the product.

Now, I understand the notion that you want a physically attractive person to sell something; sex DOES sell. However, I feel that using sex to sell a product makes the product look cheap. We can't stand on our quality, so we have to get you turned on so your brain isn't working well enough to recognize the product's flaws. This is really something I don't understand, by the way: Why are you influenced by a sexy salesperson when you know damn well you aren't getting a piece of that, no matter how much product you buy?

Anyway, that's my story of being "too fat" for a job. I don't want to hear about "you should have sued them" or whatever; it's long past the time that it would be useful, and I don't have the time or money to pursue it.


Andee said...

What I find truly flabbergasting about this whole story isn't just that this bozo was too namby-pamby to come right out and say you weren't good looking enough to sell his product -- although that's weird enough, since if that was truly a consideration, why didn't he ask to see a picture of you before having you go to frigging Montreal? Then you could have known ahead of time that it was an appearance uber alles situation and that this wasn't the kind of person you wanted to work for.

What I can't wrap my mind around is that you said no. You told him you weren't interested and he still BEGGED you to interview. In another country. And then, after all that, he has the leaky nads to tell you he can't hire you because you're too fat? GAAAAH.

What a tool. He's selling aquarium supplies, not red frigging convertibles. (Even if he was selling red frigging convertibles, have you gotten a look at car salesmen? Obviously they haven't made that line of work very attractive for high-maintenance blonde model-types just yet.) And like you said, you have had success doing this before at essentially the same size you are now. He's probably just paranoid about having to pay for extra plane seats and the potential cost of your insurance, not that logic is entering the picture there either. Too bad the fish are smarter than he is.

Andee (Meowser)

vesta44 said...

what meowser said. what an asshat he was (and is, and probably always will be).

Sarah said...

That's awful. I am very sorry that you experienced that. What an ass.

KateHarding said...

Aw, Rio, I'm sorry. That sucks.

And yeah, what Meowser said.