Thursday, April 13, 2017

I Climbed a Fence, I Lost a Job

“The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot forever fence it out.” -J.R.R. Tolkien

Rocky win boxing training victory GIF  

This is the story of how I went from being the Planters Peanut of the interview world (or whatever you might associate with success) to literally running away from an interviewer. Or rather, this is another instalment of how things are going at the moment. 

As most people my age, I've had about seven hundred interviews in my life, and I have nailed them every single time. From jobs I didn't feel like doing, to jobs I wasn't qualified for, to jobs where I was sure the interviewer could see a French baguette edging out of my Marc Jacobs 'briefcase', I've gotten the job in every single situation. Typically, what I lack in experience I make up for in very comfortable, sharp, and of course, absolutely hilarious banter.  "Microsoft Access? Never heard of it but I'll access it tonight, and be a pro on it by Monday, Linda. Ehhhh!") Plus, I always wear shoulder pads, so no one ever doubts me anyway.  Here's how I usually look, and how I looked on the day my interviewee life unravelled:

A few weeks ago (and yes, it has taken that long for me to recover long enough to talk about it), I was invited to an interview for a charitable organization which shall remain nameless. The interview happened to fall on the exact same day I was getting an ultrasound done to determine whether I have a raging stomach ulcer. I was really excited to find out, and totally bummed out that the interview was just an hour after my appointment, and could not be moved. Anyway, fine. I had my appointment, and as I was leaving for my interview, I realized it had gone on far longer than expected and my power walk would need to be a run for me to make it. Fine, again. I started running, coat in hand, stomach sweating awkwardly (OR WAS IT SWEAT?!?). I got to the location at the address mentioned to me, and here is what I saw:

Oh my God. I was going to work inside a dumpster. Or, I needed to keep running, which I did, and finally found the interview place, just a few minutes prior to my start time. Phew, I thought, dusting off my Peanut monocle and cane, It's showtime. 

I walked up to the front doors of the building and realized they were locked. The receptionist stared at me as if I were a flasher, then casually walked over, and pressed a code on the door to let me in. I smiled him an "I'll be your boss soon" smile and walked super fucking confidently towards the office. This is precisely when everything went downhill.

You know when someone hates you the minute they see you? When the combination of every last detail of your being amounts to the word Idiot illuminating like a buzzing neon sign above your stupid head and no matter what comes out of your stupid mouth it just sounds, to them, like a fart sound? No? You don't know that? Then I invite you to read on, because that's what happened. My interviewer could not hold back from looking me up and down continuously with an expression of horrified judgment. She shook my hand while looking at the room we were going to walk into. We sat at a table so small that our knees were nearly rubbing, and the white sky coming through the window facing me was blinding. I went through my typical repertoire of light office humour a la "There I was, carrying six laptops while wearing six inch heels! What was I thinking? OFFICELOL" and she wouldn't flinch. My answers were met with nothingness. No feedback, no nodding, and no subsequent progression. And by that, I mean dead silence followed each of my replies as if it was never enough for her. Finally, I added "...and that's how I'd like to answer that!" At one point, I told her I don't like the sound of humans. At another point, I said we are all pieces of the puzzle of life. My spirit had floated out of my body and watched on in horror as I attempted to claw my way out of the pile of pure stupid I had melted into by the simple virtue of her assumptions about me. I was dying inside, and could feel what I now realized was ultrasound gel running down my shirt.

As the interview ended, she said, with great disappointment, "The bathrooms are down the hall" and I wasn't sure why she felt compelled to point that out, but I thanked her and walked off. I took my time in the stall, texting everyone I knew that my life was officially over and I would never live this embarrassment down. I spent about 12 minutes in the bathroom just trying to calm down. When I walked out, she happened to be standing by the door. She definitely saw me.  I walked into the elevator and mouthed the word fuck repeatedly at myself in the mirror all the way down to the ground floor. She saw me stay in the bathroom for 12 minutes. My face was a deep red and I was no longer human but a syrupy reduction of shame and the pieces of the puzzle of life. I pushed the front doors but they of course wouldn't budge until the receptionist came over and pressed more buttons and I walked out robotically and walked ahead to what I thought was a shortcut through the community garden proudly growing in front of the building. I thought it weird that I had to squeeze in between two metal bars to get into the garden, but my thoughts were clouded by the pounding in my face.

A few steps in, I looked around and realized there was no exit, and I was surrounded by a tall fence. The 'bars' I had squeezed between were actually some sort of evil one-way locking contraption. I had locked myself in. I looked around and looked up to see my interviewer looking down at me through her office window. The next few minutes were a blur, as I walked over to the fence, threw my purse over, and began hiking my leg over it in an attempt to climb it. Were my life normal, I would've climbed over it in one go, but my life is my life, and I didn't quite make it with the second leg, so I fell back. I looked up again, and a few more people had gathered to watch. I climbed again, this time falling over to the other side of the fence, and then, I started running. I ran until I was out of breath, trying very hard not to think of the impression I left - bombed the interview, sweat chunks of gel, took massive dump in toilet, locked herself in the garden, climbed a fence, and ran away.

The next day, my placement agent delicately told me that they went with "a stronger candidate" and while I was amazingly un-surprised, my mom made a really great point: how many other candidates would've gotten out of that garden on their own? Probably zero because nobody else would've walked into it to begin with. Regardless, despite my now tarnished interviewee record, I'm taking the most important stuff out of this one: when life hands you a fence, climb over. 


  1. Oh Alisa! That interviewer sounds like a right bitch. Fuck her. As per usual while reading your posts, I'm dying laughing. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

    I'm the same. I normally ace interviews. There was one terrible one that stands out though.

    When I dropped mercifully out of university for a year, I worked retail full time. I worked at Jacob - which had to be the worse job of my life. Desperate to escape, I interviewed across the hall from Jacob at Art + Home. The manager who interviewed me did the same thing: looked at me like I was a piece of shit when I walked in, looked at me judgmentally each time I answered a question, and made a very snide comment when my cellphone went off mid-interview. FUCK.

    The only thing that made me feel better was the chunk of cream cheese with a big black poppyseed lodged between her gappy two front teeth. I couldn't help staring at it throughout that interview.

    See? There is a God!

    1. It sounds like everyone has that *one* damn interview that keeps them grounded hahah I actually feel better reading your story, thank you! Also, who eats the mother of all faux pas foods (poppyseeds) before holding an interview? Fail-a-tron. Also, I worked at Jacob too! I was miserable! Remember those bra selling goals they had? And those super fascist star stickers they'd put next to your name if you sold lots that week? And everyone else was just an asshole on the verge of getting fired? Haaaaated Jacob :P Anyway, thank you for reading xoxoxoxo

  2. You're welcome! When I worked at Jacob during the Jurassic era, they didn't have that fascist measure of selling. Danier did though and it was constant reminder of what selling failures we all were.