Sunday, October 3, 2010

Chartreuse Mustard and the Prospect of Employment - Part 2

The day of my first job interview in forever got off to a bad start. I’d gone down to the basement in the middle of the night to ensure that it wasn’t flooding, and it wasn’t; apparently the sump pump I bought a few weeks ago was working. But when I got up for the day a couple of hours later and went down to the basement, I discovered that it was back to its old tricks. I told the sump pump off in no uncertain terms, got it working again, and crossed my fingers, at least metaphorically.

I got a ride down to the City with my pal Michelle, who needed to see her dentist, and was reminded in the early going how much most other people’s driving terrifies me. When I used to hitchhike up and down the central California coast, I often had to pretend I’d fallen asleep because I couldn’t bear to watch. Before we crossed the Hudson, though, I realized I was in good hands, and we arrived less than two hours after we’d left in spite of the vengeful rain and wind. After Michelle reported for her appointment, I, with nearly four hours before my own, headed for the main branch of the New York Public Library, on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. In one of their WiFi rooms, I had my first good look at the iPad I received for my birthday several months ago. What a gorgeous display! Then, having saved the price of a train ticket from Beacon, I treated myself to a magnificent salad at a little place on Madison Avenue. I was struck by how very friendly and solicitous both the guy who made the salad and the cashier were.

I still had plenty of time, so I walked down to Herald Square to see if Daffy’s, which sells Italian and other clothing at discount prices, and at which I bought much stuff when I was last employed in Manhattan, had anything of interest. Not a stitch. I headed across E. 34th Street to Conway, a huge Third World-evoking department store on Broadway where I’ve found many a bargain, but in which I can hardly stand to be for longer than five minutes because it’s so dark and cluttered and dismal inside, and because most of their stuff seems to have been made in countries of which I've never heard, and I do a lot of reading.

The wind and rain were playing havoc with my appearance. My hair is very long these days, and a little thinner on top than I’d prefer, and the wind and humidity conspired to make me look to the casual observer like Albert Einstein, though no one said anything. I found the building in which my prospective employers do business, and went up to their floor, intending, since I was very early, to quietly ask the receptionist for a key to the men’s room, in which I intended to pull my hair back, tuck my shirt in, button my sports coat, and generally make myself more presentable. But there was no receptionist. The woman who finally responded to my standing there looking like a soggy, tall Albert Einstein was actually the Chris I was scheduled to meet. She managed not to look horrified, and we beamed at each other. She directed me to the lavatory, and told me to help myself to some water or something in the kitchen.

Once having finished in the lavatory, it seemed to take me forever to stop sweating; it felt as though it were around 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the office, but maybe I was just in love. I sat at a big table in the conference room failing to become engrossed by Scott Spencer’s typically sublime A Ship Made of Paper, which I’ve been enjoying so much, until finally one of the agency’s named partners came in to speak to me. I was delighted that he was approximately my own age; there’s nothing quite as dispiriting as going for a job interview at a place where everyone looks three years out of high school. This guy had a longtime weightlifter’s gigantic arms, and a pleasant, low-key manner. He wanted to see my portfolio, but I hadn’t brought one; virtually all my stuff’s on line. We exchanged manly handshakes, and he left me to Chris, who was comparably gracious, but who gave me the impression they were seeing a great many…candidates, the majority of whom had probably had the presence of mind to bring in something tangible to show. I resolved as I left that I would spend most of the weekend working up stuff demonstrating to them that I’m capable, highly creative, and eager to work for them.

More news as it breaks, as it smashes like crystal on a concrete floor.


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