Getting some of the $700 billion bailout for America's banks looks to be a lot easier than applying for a job at a Portland coffee shop.

I didn't believe it until I saw it myself, but applying for a bank bailout in the federal Capital Purchase Program requires only two pages. And I realize that the application is only the start of a lengthy process, but the first page is mostly just asking for contact information.

At the Ladybug Organic Coffee Company in Portland, Ore., getting hired as a barista or baker requires filling out a five-page application that includes 10 essay questions. Sounds like a college admissions test.

The coffee company questions, according to a recent story in the New York Times, include: "What is the most important thing that you have ever learned, and how has it changed your life?" and "What is something that you do on a regular basis to make the world a better place?"

If only the bank applicants were asked those questions. Instead, they're asked how much money they want and what their assets are.

Since the Ladybug opened in May 2007, more than 2,000 people have downloaded the application and more than 150 have completed it, according to the Times story. Only about 25 applicants have been offered jobs.

Good character and personality are more important than knowing how to steam milk, the shop's owner, Angel O'Brien, told the newspaper. She said the best baristas are chefs, rock stars, baby sitters, comedians, bartenders and therapists all rolled into one. I don't go to coffee shops too often, but I can see her point. At a bank, you'd think they'd mostly need to know how to make loans that will be paid back on time.

And don't bother applying for the federal bank bailout. Those applications were due Nov. 14.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.talesofanunemployeddad.blogspot.com


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