I’m on my way to a job interview, and the closer I get, the blacker the sky becomes. The wind velocity picks up, shrieking around my car and jostling it back and forth like a child looking for a Cracker Jack prize. Lightning strikes, just missing my right front fender.
Then again, I could just be projecting.
It is, in fact, a beautiful day out.
But the dark cloud follows me into . . . the job interview.
To avoid lawsuits, I will simply refer to the business as “medical.”
So, in I trudge. God, I hate job interviews—they are a nightmare come true and I always expect to see Freddy Krueger peeking out from behind a doorway, grinning and flexing his finger knives at me.
I meet the HR person. He is short, stinks of cheap cologne, and looks exactly like Alfred E. Neuman, right down to the missing front tooth. He has a piece of egg on his tie. He shakes my hand with two of his own, making laser-like eye contact, then says, “What a beautiful blouse that is,” followed by a blinding smile.
Oh, God. A Dale Carnegie graduate. This is really going to be a sleigh ride through hell. Beware the compliment—it is almost always followed by something negative, unless, as an opening gambit, it is an attempt at warmth.
I sit down, and he pulls his chair out from behind his desk to sit next to me—can’t have a desk in the way—this is negative.
“So, Carson, tell me about yourself, Carson.” They love to overuse your name, thinking that it makes them appear sincerely interested, when, in reality, they don’t give a crap.
I detest this sort of open-ended question. “What do you want to know?”
“Carson, what’s your favorite color?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“What’s your favorite color, Carson? Let’s start with that.”
“Uh, okay. Green.”
His face darkens around his eye contact. “Green, Carson?”
“Yes.” I had given my first incorrect answer, evidently.
Another blinding smile, as he remembered his training. “How interesting, Carson! All right, Carson, let’s move on. Carson, do you have any hobbies?”
That did it. I didn’t want to work there anymore. “Yes, I have many hobbies, but my favorite is collecting shrunken heads and growing carnivorous plants . . . large carnivorous plants.”
“How interesting, Carson.” That blinding smile was beginning to fray around the edges. “So you’re a gardener and are interested in other cultures, Carson. Carson, that’s just great. Oh, and I meant to tell you, Carson, those shoes are really nice.”
Compliments are given even when the negativity is internalized.
“Thank you. I made them myself from the skin of a Harp Seal that I personally clubbed to death. Did you know that carnivorous plants are just crazy about seal meat?”
Looking a little green himself, probably dizzy from all the spinning he was doing, he said, “So you’re interested in nature and the great outdoors, Carson! Fine!” Blinding, quivering smile. “Carson, what would you say your greatest strength is, Carson?”
“I can lift 50 pounds.”
“And your greatest weakness, Carson?”
“I can’t lift 51 pounds.”
“Hmmmm. Carson, I really like your skirt—nice color. I think you may, perhaps, Carson, be misinterpreting some questions, here, Carson Carson Carson. What do you think, Carson?” Eye contact.
I returned eye contact and sat in stony silence.
He became uneasy after a moment or two of that, and finally asked the big question:
“Carson, O Carson, Carson, Carson, Carson, why do you want to work here, Carson, Carson?”
I paused for a moment, then said, “You know, that’s a really nice jacket you’re wearing…”