I had a bizarre job interview yesterday.
I was scratching my head when they called to schedule the interview last week. I had never heard of this company and certainly didn’t remember applying for a job with them. I even asked the lady on the phone what position this was regarding. She just told me to show up and we’ll toss around some ideas.
Mmm. Okay. So… ideas. I have lots of those.
My first thought was that this was some sort of pyramid scheme sales job where you vacuum someone’s living room and then try to sell them really sharp knives. But after doing a little research on the tubes, I saw that they were a legitimate local business with some high-profile clients. Their website, however, was also a little vague, not really stating what services they offer. Just a flash coverflow portfolio of 5 or 6 sample websites that (I’m guessing) they created. The “About Us” page basically said that they’ve been in business for 20 years. Doing what? I don’t know.
I asked around. No one has heard of this business. One person said, “I think I’ve seen their office. It looks like some rich girl wanted her own agency so her daddy bought an old building and slapped a sign on the door.” But no one had any experience or prior dealings with them.
What do I have to lose, right? I need a job and I’m going to show up for any interview I’m lucky enough to get. Who knows? It could be a great opportunity!
So I packed up my bag with writing samples and some pieces of my design work. I got all suited-up and drove to the downtown office. Didn’t look sketchy. Didn’t look shady. I felt at ease when I walked in and saw a lady sitting at the front desk. I walked over to her and told her my name.
Was that a smirk? Yeah, she smirked at me. Later, I realized it was an “I’m sorry for what you’re about to go through” smirk. She told me to have a seat (in a very low chair) at a large antique table (my head was barely above the table top) and disappeared up the stairs for about 5 minutes.
When she came back, she told me, “He’ll be right down,” then sat in her chair and stared at me. For a good 2 minutes. 2 minutes of staring at me. I couldn’t think of any small talk, so I looked around the room at the posters on the wall (which I realized weren’t posters at all but magazine advertisements from the late 80′s) and waited for the mystery man to be ‘right down’.
Just when I was about to compliment Sally McStaresALot on her artsy glasses, I heard a rumbling from upstairs. Remember – this is a converted row house and it is just as creeky and echoey as a hipster’s apartment. I watched as a grown man in a shirt and tie stomped down the stairs like a gorilla on roller skates, stomping loudly, but carefully, on every step. When he got to the bottom, he froze. Looked at me. Pointed. Shouted, “GRAY TIE! IS THAT A GRAY TIE? LET’S COMPARE TIES!”
Before I could answer – or even look down to see that I was, indeed, wearing a gray-ish striped tie, he ran down the hall out of view. I sat, peering over the antique table, mouth agape. Holding my tie. The secretary was smirking at me again.
He ran back into the room and went behind the secretary’s desk and started fidgeting with her radio. He turned it up. Loud. Really loud. Then he looked over at me and screamed, “HEY MAN! TURN IT DOWN! TURN IT DOWN, MAN! WE’RE TRYING TO WORK OVER HERE!” Then he turned it down. Slightly.
“LET ME JUST GRAB YOUR RESUME AND I’LL BE RIGHT OVER, MAN!”
He grabs two pieces of blank paper from the secretary’s printer and sits down next to me. Looking over the blank paper. It’s clearly blank. I’m looking right at it. It’s blank. White. Paper. Nothing on it. Blank.
“EVER ROB A BANK?”
“DO YOU WANT TO? DO YOU WANT TO ROB A BANK?”
Uh… Great. What do I say here? I think he wants me to say yes. But I don’t know… I mean, this is a total trick question. There is only one correct answer. Judging by the way this guy is all energized, I figure he wants me to be an adrenaline junkie who lives for exhilaration and thrills.
“Well, I prefer to get my excitement other ways, like …”
“HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN OUTTA SCHOOL?”
“Almost 10 years. I graduated in 2000 from…”
“YOUNG GENES! YOUNG GENES! YOU GOT YOUNG GENES, MAN!”
“I WOULDA GUESSED YOU WERE RIGHT OUT OF SCHOOL!”
“No, I’ve lived in Virginia since college and worked at…”
“MAN! YOU LOOK YOUNG! I NEED SOME OF THOSE GENES!”
[Now he's whispering] “The sandbox. You know? That’s what we need around here, man. Sandbox mentality.”
“We need to get back to that innocence, man. THE SANDBOX, MAN! THE SANDBOX! EVER PLAY IN A SANDBOX WHEN YOU WERE A KID?”
“THAT’S WHAT WE NEED AROUND HERE, MAN! CREATIVE SANDBOX THINKERS! THAT’S WHAT WE NEED!”
“I consider myself to be a creative and …”
[Whispering again] “It’s all about electronic calendars, man.”
“THAT’S WHAT WE NEED, MAN! IT’S THE NEW MILLENNIUM!”
“Now, are you talking about creating electronic calendars? Selling them? To existing clients? New clients?”
“WELL, SELLING. AND CREATING. AND NOT SO MUCH TO EXISTING CLIENTS. BUT NOT REALLY TO NEW CLIENTS, MAN. IT’S JUST SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT.”
We’re staring at each other.
I’m really frustrated. I don’t have any clue what this guy wants from me, so I ask, point blank, “Look, I don’t remember applying for this job. Can you give me a little background on what this position will entail?”
He then goes into a rambling speech about sandboxes, lunch boxes, electronic calendars, supermarkets and the maintenance worker he keeps locked up in the closet. He’s talking fast. I can’t follow, nor understand, what he is saying. I start to think I’m going insane and can no longer process the English language. At one point during his incoherent speech, I thought I was going to pass out. But I didn’t. Thank God.
“MULL IT OVER, MAN! THINK ABOUT IT FOR A FEW DAYS AND LET US KNOW WHAT YOU THINK.”
“Here, let me give you a copy of my résumé.” I hand it to him and watch him as he looks it over, dripping sweat from his brow all over it.
“SKILLS?!?” He takes out his pen and starts scratching and scribbling over the ‘Skills’ section of my résumé. “IT’S ALL ABOUT THE SANDBOX MAN. I KNOW YOU’VE GOT SKILLS! YOU GOT THEM YOUNG GENES!”
“Okay. Nice meeting you. I’ll. Just. Go. Now…?”
“MULL IT OVER, MAN. MULL IT. MULLET. MULLET OVER. LIKE THE HAIRSTYLE. MULLETS.”
“SEE YA, LATER!”
I get up to leave, shake his hand and wave to the secretary, who is now looking at me with a look of ‘take me with you’ written all over her face. As soon as I exit the building, I exhale. I can feel my heart pounding out of frustration and disappointment. I’m trying to process what just happened. I get to my car and sit in it for a minute before driving home. I need a stiff drink.
I still can’t make sense out of it. I have no clue what job I interviewed for. I never got the man’s name. Very funny, guys! Now where are the hidden cameras? I’m so discouraged and disheartened. As funny and crazy as this story is, I’m actually quite pissed off about the whole thing. What a waste of time. I’m a guy with experience, creativity and talent. I’ve been out of work for 120 days. The only interviews I can get are with lunatics who want me to rob a bank. This job search is killing me slowly.
This is Day 120, folks. I need a job. I need one now. I’m thinking about robbing a bank then playing in the sandbox with my electronic calendar.