Recently, I had been job hunting, in a country where the right clothes, shoes, accessories and physical features are considered the main criteria on which one is considered for a job; a country where salaries are in no way organized by the government (Minister of Labor) to suffice for the basic human needs; a country whose economy has not suffered a tad bit by the economical crisis that overtook almost the entire globe, but whose banking and financial sector blossomed because of it.
I had been searching, and going to interviews, to no avail for almost five months. And taking into consideration that the world’s capital was sent to Lebanon for investment, not finding a job was somehow illogical and unbelievable. Another illogical/unbelievable thing (among many other things in this country) is the fact that the Euro bonds issued by the Central Bank have been sold out, and the new ones – not yet in the market – have been booked by 106%… interesting, huh? And employers still blame the economy for the salary rates they pay. Whatever!
But that is not my subject matter here; what I want to highlight today is something far more illogical than I have ever dreamed of. Something that would make you – maybe – understand how this country I live in has no equations whatsoever; no rules… except those of the jungle, I guess.
One day, I received an email from my sister with an ad for an Operations Manager vacancy. For fun purposes only, I sent this company my CV. I have come to believe that ads are mostly fake, and they are there for entertainment purposes only. A few days after sending my resume, I received a call from this company, to my surprise, to set a date for an interview. I was thrilled, thinking that maybe – just maybe – my extremely realistic view of this country would be refuted. A date was set; and on that specific day, I arrived at the offices of this company (a small apartment-turned-office) – as usual – about fifteen minutes early. Upon entering, I was greeted by the ‘receptionist’, on whose desk stood a mug with the logo of a certain political party printed on it.
Personally, I am not really into politics; in my opinion, politics – and politicians – is just a big charade by which the general population is being toyed with. Because of that, I do not usually care what other people’s political affiliations are, because I, myself, am not affiliated to anyone. I must admit, though, that a certain ‘colored’ party makes more sense to my politically ignorant mind. This party talks about reform and the rights of the people; they want change and less rip-offs – something, I believe, the whole population needs. And our ‘receptionist’s’ mug happened to carry the logo of that political party. It made me smile; generally, people affiliated with this party are more tolerant and nicer by nature (pure subjective opinion, I may add).
To cut a long story short, a few minutes after I had arrived, the receptionist asked me to go inside to meet with Mr. So-And-So. I walked into this man’s office only to be greeted by a picture of the leader of this political party, standing behind his left shoulder, smiling at me. Funnily enough, I smiled back at the picture. I mean, let’s face it: we all unintentionally find ourselves smiling back at a picture of someone smiling, isn’t that so?
After about 40 minutes with Mr. So-And-So, I had come to learn that he is a high ranking member of that same political party (the one whose logo was printed on the receptionist’s mug, and whose leader’s picture was smiling at me throughout the interview); and that he also owns a company. He was interested in my profile, and had apparently inquired about me (he bluntly told me so). He had two vacancies: an Operations Manager abroad and a Personal Assistant in Lebanon. I informed him that I was more interested in the opportunity abroad, but he insisted that I checked their website (the business one, of course) and think before I gave him my final answer. In the back of my mind, I knew exactly what I wanted: the Operations Manager position OUTSIDE Lebanon. Point!
Anyhow, two days later, I received another call from the same company asking me to go down for a test – some sort of IQ test or something. This has become a trend in many companies nowadays. The test was done successfully apparently, because I was asked to go to the CEO/Political figure’s office for a second interview. During that interview, he asked me to join himself and his team in a two-day training course in Sales. I agreed, since it would be a beneficial experience for me, even if I was not hired.
Again to make a long story short, I was finally hired… as a Personal Assistant in the business sector of his work (I made it clear that I was a complete fool when it came to politics). Mr. So-And-So had informed me that the project abroad had been put on hold for a while, and that he was very interested in my resume and skills. Having been jobless for almost five months – and almost broke – I accepted. The dude has connections, and they might come in handy later on in life.
It has been almost three weeks into the job, and so far this is what I have noticed:
1. My work is mainly in politics and his political agenda; Facebook profile, Facebook group, updating discussion lists. I have to watch the news daily as part of my job (although I hate watching the news) and be logged on to that part’s news website all day for updates and events.
2. The whole office – staff included – are highly unorganized. People there mainly socialize and end up wasting more time discussing stuff other than work.
3. I have no job description whatsoever and have not been given a contract to sign.
4. No one (and I mean, not a single soul) in the office is registered with the Social Security. Some have been working there for more than one year. What does that mean? Well, first, it means that as an employee, one has no legal rights: no annual vacations, no medical coverage, no pension at the end of service and absolutely no security at the job since the employer can fire anyone at any time without prior notice. For the employer, it means that any employee can leave whenever they wish without giving a notice period (as per the Lebanese Labor Law).
This is the part I do not understand; this man is supposed to be a high ranking member of a political party that abhors what the previous government was doing to the people, and is asking for a change – a betterment of the coup d’état for the people. And here he is, being a typical Lebanese boss with an illegal status. As per the Lebanese Labor Law, every company with more than 3 or 4 employees should be registered with the Social Security and have its employees registered as well. In other words, this dude’s company status is illegal. But, can we do anything about it? Of course, we can always try to inform the proper authorities about this situation… but wait a minute! He is part of the authorities and, only naturally, he will not be fined or punished for this.
Somebody please explain to me what on earth is going on? I seriously do not understand this anymore.