Originally November 10, 2008
The drive back to Penn State wasn’t bad, but I knew what was coming. My body has a 12-hour delay on feeling really hungover. So the effects at the moment, while unpleasant, weren’t that bad. But they would surely triple by 3:00 PM.
I drove to the girl’s house whom I was supposed to pick up. I thought that this might be an OK ride. I could grab some personal info about her dad and possibly use that to build a repoire with him in the interview. I am a good conversationalist so I knew it wouldn’t be awkward at all.
Except she was hot. Really hot. Not hot in the unattainable sense, hot in the sense of “This is probably the best looking girl you’ll ever be seen with Jeff” – hot. So we threw a heaping lump of one-sided sexual tension on the fire and started cooking. I had a four hour drive ahead of me so I had to get talking and fast.
The imagined sexual tension started to fade as I realized that this girl was about as interesting as a dried out washcloth. She didn’t like Penn State Football, was obsessed with working out, and said she didn’t watch any TV at all. She didn’t listen to any music either, but she did say her parents listened to ABBA. I didn’t have any ABBA on my I-pod, but instead the “Rainbow Connection” by Kermit the Frog started playing. She didn’t recognize it. I don’t mean the song…I mean the name. She didn’t know who Kermit the Frog was!
“How is that even possible?” I asked bluntly.
“My parents always said that the Muppets had a bad attitude.”
I knew that the job interview was downhill from here. There was no way I was going to get along with someone who at least couldn’t appreciate Jim Henson’s Muppets and their positive impact on society.
We pulled into Brian’s driveway at around 4:00 in the afternoon. The effects of my hangover were climbing steadily. I was sweating, but still cold, sick to my stomach but starving, and I could feel a mighty poo a-brewin’. I felt uncomfortable all over, mostly because I was wearing a Polo shirt with khaki’s and tennis shoes (it was interview attire for someone who drove 8 hours). The daughter led me to the house and into the front door. There stood a perfect, almost Mormon-esque family (modern day Mormons, not the ones that don’t believe in buttons on their clothes). Father, Wife, young boy, older girl and the daughter that I drove greeted me wholeheartedly. Each one looked like a portrait of a character from the OC, except less whore-ish.
There were so many things oddly perfect in their house, so in place that they felt strange: a perfect vase standing atop a pedestal, a nice staircase that gently coiled up to the second floor, a polished hardwood floor covered with a throw rug on which all the tassels were flowing in the same direction. This was more a movie set than a house. But the one thing that struck me as peculiar was the fact that they had a lot of harps around their house. Yes…you read that right…harps. I’m talking about huge classical concert harps, one per corner of every room. Apparently, everyone in the family could play them proficiently. I think they may have been training to be angels. All I knew from that point on was that I wouldn’t be drinking any Kool-aid this family offered me, that was for sure.
Despite the calm setting and the pleasant greeting from the family, there was a tempest going on inside my body.
“Would you like anything to eat,” Brian asked.
“Sure,” I said, expecting a sandwich or an apple to be produced. Something normal to calm my percolating stomach.
“I’ll heat you up some of my wife’s leftover vegetable lasagna.”
Now as an avid Garfield reader, I often shunned just the mere idea of a vegetable-only lasagna. I needed red sauce, ground beef, maybe some sausage, but given the state of my blackening insides I thought a milder dish would be a safe bet. We sat down at their kitchen table; he produced the luke-warm, oily sponge of a Italian specialty from the microwave. I took the first bite and immediately regretted ever existing on this Earth. The soggy pasta barely slid down my gullet without eliciting a gag reflex. I remembered the verse in “Rapper’s Delight” wherein the main protagonist goes to a friend’s house to eat and the food just ain’t no good. But I was in a bit of a bind. I ended up forcing half of it into my stomach before by body sent a written petition to my brain stating that if I were to eat one more bite my body would revolt, using all bodily fluids as a resistance tool. So despite social conventions I pushed the half-eaten lasagna to the middle of the table, possibly offending Brian and his wife for doing do.
“Are we ready for the interview?” he asked, using the royal “we.”
“Absolutely,” I said through a hiccup-burp.
“Ok we’ll be going to my bedroom.”
“What?” I said, trying to contain a juvenile chuckle.
“My home office is in my bedroom.”
“Uh…” Thoughts raced around in my mind. This family was a little too perfect to begin with. Now I have to enter the room where they all were conceived? Who knows what went on in there??? They were exactly the type of people who could turn out to be sex-cannibals on unsolved mysteries. But again, I had no other job prospects. I would have to go along with the sex-cannibals for now.
We started the interview in a little nook of the bedroom, hardly an office, more of a corner. I sat on some type of wicker chair that I was sure this guy sat in in his underpants everyday while he put his socks on. The interview was going to be a battle royal. I had worked at the Career Service Center at Penn State, helping my peers do mock interviews, so I was ready for the challenge. However, he was the Staffing Director at a Fortune 500 company and I’m pretty sure he wanted to show off the crazy types of interview questions he couldn’t ask in his daily life. We did the typical stuff, “why did you choose your major, what attracts you to this job, etc.” I was answering the questions well, but in the back of my mind I was trying to devise engineering schematics so that I could build a crude time-machine out of the contents of my pocket. I would take myself back to last night, and say no to the 12th shot of Southern Comfort. Unfortunately, a Verizon cell phone, an I-pod shuffle and keys to a ’96 Chevy Blazer just wouldn’t warp the space-time continuum like I hoped for. My body was melting. I started getting a bit of a chill, the room was tilting, and I felt increasingly hungover.
After the first half-hour of the interview, I could hardly stand it any longer. I asked if he wouldn’t mind if I used the bathroom.
“No problem, it’s right over there.”
So now I was in this guy’s master bathroom. I splashed some cold water on my face trying to summon any remaining reserves of composure. I glanced outside and the family was by the driveway planting trees.
Planting freaking trees!
It must have been this jarringly wholesome activity that triggered my sphincter to release, because now I was going to have to dump. Let me repeat that just for emphasis:
I dropped a deuce in my prospective employer’s master bathroom, during a job interview, while his family planted trees outside.
I emerged about two minutes later, sure that he was suspicious of what I was doing in there. But we glossed over that elephant in the room like only polite white people can do and trudged on in the interview. His questions became increasingly difficult and tricky.
“I have another office downstairs. It has a desk. Do you think that desk is neat or messy?”
As Admiral Ackbar said: “It’s a trap!” I could either say his desk was messy and insult him or I could say it was neat and be transparently giving the easy answer.
“I think it’s probably nea-”
“Why? Why do you think it is neat?” Brain jumped on the answer. He was hoping for a back-track; a fumbling explanation to show that he is the dominant male in the room.
“Well the rest of your house is spotless,” I started confidently. “And seeing as how I’ve never met you before, I can only go on the information I’ve gathered during the short time in your house and apply it to your desk. So, you have a harp on your desk, right?”
He didn’t laugh at that one.
That was the breaking point. I have only one theory about personal relationships in my life: if you don’t think I’m funny at all, then I don’t and won’t like you. You may think, “That’s pretty presumptive of you,” and you are right. But even further than that, if you can’t laugh at yourself then you should be allowed to laugh at others or anything at all for that matter. This job wasn’t going to work for me (I still had no clue what I’d be doing even after the hour long interview). This boss wasn’t going to work for me (a harp playing Muppet hater with no sense of humor).
We wrapped up the interview, said our goodbyes and I was on my way back home. I had no prospects, no confidence in the business world and no idea of what just happened.
However, when you get down on yourself you need to take an inventory of your life. I had:
– A rapidly subsiding hangover
– A tank full of gas that Brian paid for
– A belly full of vegetable lasagna
– And a weird story to tell my friends.