As the Arizona winter moves into spring and grass and trees surround us, I can't help but focus on the color green--mainly because I don't have any.
Money, that is.
I finally decided, after years of self-employment, that I'd better get my butt back into the mainstream before bank officials showed up at the door with howitzers in hand and a song in their hearts.
Now, I've been out of the job interview scene--that uplifting, make you glad you're a human being scene--for quite a while. Having worked the past few hundred years as a freelance writer, I had completely forgotten what it was like.
Well, let me amend that.
Not only had I forgotten what it was like, but it had changed and gotten worse while my back was turned.
By the time my first foray into this wonderland was over, I was fully prepared to fling myself into the nearest wood chipper. The advertised job was for a copywriter at a local advertising agency (read that: "equine manure pit"). With a score of years writing ad copy freelance, I was reasonably confident about my chances and strolled into the office at the appointed hour with a gentle smile plastered across my mug.
Then, I got my first clue.
The receptionist had neon pink hair, a live python draped around her shoulders, and a tattoo of either Satan or Tony Danza that spread across her entire face! She was also puffing so hard on a stogie that area Indian tribes had responded to the smoke by leaving the casinos and assembling in the agency lobby.
"Whatcha need, hon?" she inquired professionally, holding aloft a live rat, presumably for her snake, but at that point, I was unprepared to make such assumptions. A coffee break is a coffee break, I guess, and who am I to judge?
"Uh, I have a ten o'clock with Mr. Remson."
"'Kay." She punched a few numbers on her console, then leaned back and grinned at me, revealing a mouth full of dentition that had been filed down to lethal points. I considered running; but then remembered reading somewhere that if you show fear, they attack, so I stayed put.
"Ah, you must be Carson," observed a tall person type as he stepped out of the inner sanctum. "I'm Bill Remson, the Creative Director."
Oh, he was creative, all right. He had on a suit that Spike Jones would have given a cocktail or two for, facial hair that ZZ Top would have given their shades for, and a three-foot earring that I didn't give a hoot for.
"Walk this way."
Resisting the urge to perpetuate that old joke just one more time, I followed him to his office.
Boys and girls, I want to tell you that creativity has really taken a nasty turn since I was last in the old nine-to-five. This "Director's" office was festooned with the following:
A silver service for eight
A service revolver
A poster of Wally Cox
One fuzzy die
A plastic turkey
Four blonde wigs
A disconnected toilet
Six stuffed and mounted gerbils doing the Can-Can
Fifty-two copies of Erich Fromme's The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness
And a partridge in a pear tree…really.
"Wow," I remarked, surveying the premises. "You must be in the middle of some campaign!"
"No, actually we're rather slow at the moment."
I sat down in an oversize pair of red lips which I hoped and prayed was actually a chair, and unzipped my portfolio.
"A portmanteau! How very quaint," he exclaimed.
For the next twenty minutes, I displayed my award-winning work, which he flipped through quickly, looking only at the pictures therein. This is a phenomenon I can never understand and more conventional people that this Hottentot do it. They're interviewing a writer, but don't read one word the writer has written.
It was the only normal thing he did for the entire interview.
"Hmmm. Seems as though you've been unemployed for quite some time," he mused.
"No, I've been self-employed."
"Same difference," he concluded, waving a dismissive hand. "Now, let's see, you're…um…(he referred to my application)…what? 48? Hmmmm. I'm 50. Hmmmm," he said, appraising me with a gimlet eye. "Okay! You're hired!"
"But lose the business suit! I bet you'd look great in really tight jeans, underwear optional."
By now the interview had morphed into a Salvatore Dali painting.
As I ran past the Dawn of the Dead snake handler at the front desk, I decided that there were worse things than not having any money.
Interviews, for instance.
I have another one this Friday.