Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Hesitant but very proud of myself, I turned down my first ever full-time job offer this morning. The company's a dot-com start-up called "ShopWiki," and since their job offer included ten-thousand stock options, I hope that's the last you ever hear of them. The guys at ShopWiki were pretty much the first interviewers I've run into who asked the sort of questions you might ask of someone who actually completed four years at an accredited college, so I have to give them props for that. With most of these interviews, some condescending jackass who's probably got a degree from a school that advertises on those windows that pop-up when you go to asks me questions like: "What does the Caps Lock button do?" "Have you cleaned the gunk out of your mouse lately?"Which I'm invariably too anxious and flustered to answer correctly.

But I guess I went on these interviews at ShopWiki and I didn't come off like the idiot I'm afraid I'll come off as. ShopWiki makes a search engine for online shopping, which is surprisingly difficult if you think about it (or even if you don't think about). Ever seen a catalog you can't make heads or tails of, such as my personal favorite, the Ikea catalog? That's because, as a human being, you naturally recognize patterns among similar things and this dyslexic abstract-art Ikea catalog doesn't fit into any mold you've ever seen. Who the hell names their products like they name their kids? Anyway, since a computer's too dumb to recognize patterns without a little help, the ShopWiki folks need someone to teach their search engine how to extract data from any conceivable online catalog design.

I don't know if I'd be good at it or not, but this artificial intelligence, regex meta-pattern mathematics grabs me the way that football and beer grabs guys who aren't planning on auditioning for "Beauty and the Geek." But I'm not gonna have to wish I paid more attention in discrete math class because, as cool as the ShopWiki guys might be, holy shit are they cheap-asses. Now, they think they're being generous because they asked me how much I was looking for, and I said forty-five thousand, and they're offering fifty. What they didn't ask was how much of my week I wanted to spend in the office for that money. They just assumed I was this computer nerd with no social life and I'd be thrilled to spend sixty or eighty or even a hundred hours a week masturbating over Java code.

Fine, I have no social life but that doesn't mean I want to spend it coding.

Okay, I spend many Friday and Saturday nights alone, coding. And masturbating. But not to the code.

I'm blessed with the unfortunate ability to do the math, and after dividing and carrying the one it turns out that they were offering somewhere between ten and seventeen dollars an hour. Meanwhile, those snooty three-piece-suit kids putting in sixteen-hour days at Goldman or Merrill or as a junior associate in a law firm are making six figures and hitting on hot women with access to exclusive anti-egalitarian, anti-American clubs. Nice try, dudes.

Oh yeah, and when I asked them about benefits — Jay need Roth IRA with qualified employer matching contributions — they looked at me like I just asked them to eat their own spleens.

So I sent the guys an e-mail turning down the job and wishing them best of luck in filling the position. But I didn't mean it. With what they're offering, I really hope they get stuck with some community college intern.