Like hundreds of others, I went to Chicago State University on July 30 for their CTA job fair. I had carefully read over the ad and felt I could qualify for the $19.27-an-hour job. Just prior to going into the fair, I went to the Secretary of State and got my “court purpose” driving history. I was ready!
I wasn’t early for the job fair. In truth, I got there around 12:40 p.m. just before it ended at 1. That turned out to be a smart decision because another friend had arrived at 8 a.m. and waited in line until after 11 a.m. to get inside and be seen.
There were two sections at the fair. The longer side was the one for people who didn’t have a CDL (commercial driver’s license). Those, like myself, who have a CDL with “passenger” endorsement and airbrakes proceeded to a much shorter line. I gave my driver’s license to the recruiter as well as my driving history paperwork. He reviewed everything carefully, noting that I have a restriction for corrective lenses. “Looks good,” he said and gave me a yellow card that was my admission to take the CTA employment test.
I studied the test date and it was over six weeks away from the date of the fair. But when you’re an applicant, you’re at the mercy of the employer. The date came for the employment test, and I made sure I was there on time and wearing “dress casual” clothing. Again I had to show my driver’s license to the tester, and three hours later I was told that I had passed the test. The next step in the interview process would be just that – an interview.
Fortunately, I already knew what my days off would be from my current job, so I scheduled my interview on one of those dates. Again I arrived early, dressed appropriately, and for the third time I had to give my driver’s license and a currently dated record of my driving history. I had to fill out a very long application and then wait for the interviewer to speak with me. The interviewer had questions for me that evaluated my customer service mindset. She then had me go into another room where I had my fingerprints imprinted. Then I had to give a urine sample so I could be drug tested. Finally I had to take a vision test.
When I entered the vision testing room, the testers asked if I was wearing contacts. I responded in the affirmative, and they told me I could only take the vision test if I were wearing glasses. Huh? I had talked with three separate CTA “professionals” who reviewed my driver’s license while staring me in the face and now all of a sudden I need glasses to take a vision test? My contacts give me much better vision than glasses.
I asked if they were sure you need “eyeglasses” and not just corrected lenses (which includes contact lenses). I don’t even own a pair of glasses. In order to get a pair of glasses, I would need a 24-hour time period to not wear my contact lenses. That’s not an easy thing to do. Plus, I would need someone to drive me to the optometrist since I wouldn’t be able to see to drive myself. When I asked why no one had mentioned that rule to me even though three CTA professionals had reviewed my driver’s license, the response was not even an apology. Rather I was given 14 days to get glasses.
I am opting not to go back. My contact lenses give me peripheral vision that glasses don’t. And if the requirement is that one can only wear eyeglasses and not contact lenses, then that stipulation should have been a “pre-requisite” at the beginning and not a middle-of-the-process impediment.
A sidenote: Be on the lookout for a crew of Hispanics who are stealing wrought iron fencing from around buildings and houses. If the property isn’t occupied and they show up removing the fences, call the police and get the license plate number of their vehicles. Even better, pull out your cellphone camera and take pictures. A friend lost over 100 feet of fence from around his property because of this kind of theft.