I pause at the door as I try to make myself appear goal-oriented but also fun loving. Fast learning and relaxed. Great personality. Awesome at cash register-ing. Good vocabularly.
Deep breath. Ok.
I walk in. It can be any place, probably retail but maybe my dream job, maybe the Gap or Starbucks or the headquarters of an awesome NGO or the White House. Anywhere. I smile.
“I was wondering if you guys are hiring?” (This part always bugs me. I’m not a grammar person, but something about the passive voice or past tense or just plain stupid, and I already sound like a moron.)
The reply is usually positive. Like, Oh, yeah! Perfect! We were just sitting here in this store/coffee shop/office building/White House just waiting for someone like you, to come in and be so fun/relaxed/educated/etc and wow us with your job hunting skills. You, they seem to say, are perfect.
Days later, I curse their names over coffee with my friends. They lied to me. They never called me. For all I know they stepped into the back room just seconds after I left, loving myself and my chances in life, and smiled their evil smiles and laughed their evil laughs and threw my application out right there on the spot, without even looking at it. Or, worse, they all gathered around, even the cute guy on the register I was talking to (who, if this was a Sarah Dessen book, would have pulled for me in that meeting and we would have had a whirlwind summer romance), they all gathered around and looked through my entire application and then laughed their evil laughs and smiled their evil smiles and threw it in the trash.
I’m crushed. I check my phone and answer excitedly even when it’s the creepy unkowns asking about putting a sign in my yard or selling me a house. Oh, I sigh sadly to the recording on the other end of the line, you don’t want to hire me, you just want to creep me out. I drag my feet and push out my bottom lip. Also, how did you get my number and go away.
Sometimes they do call. Sometimes they tell me to come in for an interview and I put on a nice shirt and some please-hire-me lipstick and try to find the dignity I had at the beginning of this whole process. Then they ask weird questions like- describe yourself using only the letter n. If you were a potato, what kind of potato would you be? Say you had the opportunity to travel to Sweden. Would you go? If so, why?
This is when I start to freak out. French fry? Waffle fry? Mashed? Why are all the metaphors I’m thinking of super lame? Are all metaphors super lame? Did I forget to put on deodorant? Is noble a good quality for a salesperson? And then, all the sudden, I relax. Who do these people think they are? Do I even want this job anyway? (The true answer is yes, but in the moment it is a very defiant no).
I stumble through my answers (Pancake, noteworthy, yes love Sweden) and get out. And get ready to start the whole thing over again.
Eventually they will call again. They’ll say they love potato pancakes and noteworthy people and also need someone who can operate a cash register. Until then, I’ll just start again.
Deep breath, look relaxed, and go.