Monday, October 27, 2008

Up, Up, and Sideways

Things are looking up.

I went on some job interviews this past week. While a job interview is not the same as a job -- and while none of those interviews has yet to result in a job -- I know this is the Era of Hope and Change, and having job interviews means this week was better than last week, when I had nothing.

On Friday, I interviewed for a position, the details of which I will deny you because I live in fear that this blog will find a tenth reader and that reader will expose my sins to the world. So please, indulge the vagaries. I will note this though: it was a public interest position, and I had high hopes that it would represent the end to my corporate ennui. I arrived at the interview with maybe a minute to spare, and performed a reverse Clark Kent on the sidewalk as I jogged into the building. As I did I happened upon the bow-tied gentleman who was to interview me. His look informed me that in his view one dresses not only for the interview, but also for the trip out to the interview. Nonetheless, I put his raised eyebrow reaction out of my mind and marched straight into elevator small talk. Things proceeded pleasantly as we entered his office. He then picked up his mail, opened it, and stood silently as he became engrossed in something. I was a bit flummoxed, but stranger things have happened to me in job interviews, so I took a seat and waited to be addressed. Eventually, I was. With this question: Tell me about yourself, and start 100 years ago.

Now I like Tristram Shandy as much as the next guy, but what can you say to this? I began, haltingly, to talk of my immigrant roots, about my parents and about my grandparents, wondering the whole while if I was really meant to answer this question literally or if I had missed something. My interrogator interrupted me, opined here and there, and led me on several diversions. At one point, in response to a stimulus, I said this: Americans long for a monarchical system. This is why we returned a second Bush to the White House, almost elected another Clinton, and are obsessed with Princess Diana.

Whether or not my wild displays of intellectual plumage, all completely bullshit, all intended for a man who knew muck and mire and yearned for it, whether or not it did the trick is a moot point. About one and a half hours into my job interview, I was very suddenly asked the most straightforward question I could be: Why do you want this job?

I offered my canned answer, rather elegantly I thought, but was informed over the course of about half an hour of excoriation that I was wrong. Now I should say in the course of this job, I would be representing some very unseemly people, and according to my interrogator, I should want to serve them not because justice demands that I do so -- which I more or less said -- but because humanity is debased and nihilism is the answer. This is literally what he said to me: I am a nihilist.

Where do you go from there, but out the door and very far away?

I left the interview feeling quite strongly that I had been subjected to a very particular kind of psycological examination, and feeling also that I would never again return to the site of it. I would not be asked to of course, but even if by some miracle I were, I would decline.

The balance of Friday I was out of sorts, but that evening I went to a friend's house for poker night. Now I don't much about the game. I had to be taught, and I had to refer constantly to my cheat sheet listing the hierarchy of the hands, but my naivete, my genuine lack of a strategy, managed to confuse everyone at the table, and they nakedly tried to bluff and bully their way into my pot. I saw through them. I cleaned everybody's clock and went home with $100 in my pocket.

Things are looking up indeed.


Alex said...

Congrats . . . what a crazy interview. Glad things are looking up. And nice job with poker.

E said...

you better report that income on your tax return so obama can spread the wealth.

Anonymous said...

happy you are getting off the couch and away from the cheetos. anonymous tsipora