I graduated from college with a vague sense of unease. The school was thrusting me out into the world without so much as a “thank you for paying us ten grand a year” and I felt unprepared for it. I hadn’t been taught to budget, balance a checkbook or cook anything besides Ramen Noodles. And here I was being required to get a real job, my own place and some responsibility.
I wasn’t sure I cared for that at all. I sort of wanted to go live at home and ask for an allowance. Since I had a college degree, my parents would pay me above minimum wage, surely?
I did the first part. I moved home so I could save money for my own place. My dad had a different take on how the money situation would work, however. I was to pay them $200 a month in rent, which would go up in six months if I hadn’t moved out. Disappointing… but Dad’s a businessman. He charges his friends $5 to borrow board games.
So I updated my resume and started circling job ads in the paper.
Twenty-two interviews later, I’ve concluded that I rather suck at the whole process.
This is what happens:
1. Halfway to the interview I notice that I should have either removed my nail polish or applied a fresh layer because at the moment, the glossy magenta color is in chipped little sections with gashes and grooves. While my potential employer is asking me where I see myself in five years and what others would say my greatest weakness is, my fingers are curled into fists, trying to hide my middle school fingers.
2. I always forget to buy new nylons so I end up slipping my black boots on over white socks. I don’t own any black socks. The pants are long so that they drape nicely over the sleek heels and make me look elegant and stylish. Until I sit and cross my legs and reveal sturdy, white cotton socks. Therefore I’m also required to sit, crossed at the ankles to hide another faux pas.
3. I manage to run late nearly every time. I don’t plan this. I plan to be early. I set my alarm to give myself enough time to get ready and get to an appointment. Then in the morning, I wake confused, and set the alarm ahead another 15 minutes because I’m sleepy. This 15 minutes makes all the difference. Despite how much time is left, I leave later than planned and curse myself the entire way, wondering why this always happens to me and swearing that it will not happen the next time.
4. Something is always wrong with my clothing. I notice in the middle of the interview that I have a hole in my armpit, or I realize that a piece of my suit jacket is sticking straight up in back and won’t lie down no matter how much I surreptitiously pat at it. Or, I notice that my new black interview pants are a lint magnet and have caught every single bit of white dust between stepping from the house and arriving at the interview site.
5. I decline to ask for directions because I don’t want to sound dumb, and then Mapquest fails me. Especially when it says, “Turn right on Main Street, end at 355 Main Street” and I have no idea which side or what landmarks to look for. The number of miles sometimes helps, but sometimes it’s not exactly right. So I end up calling anyway to get directions. And I’m running late.
6. I babble during the interview. I talk round and round a question, trying to seek the best answer and saying it all aloud when I should have thought first, arrived at the best answer and then stated it. I stutter when asked where I see myself in five years, because I certainly don’t see myself here, imputing data or answering phones or working in retail.
7. When they explain the job description to me, I have no idea what they’re saying because there are all these big words. It’s kind of like when I read a lengthy explanation somewhere, and the words are so ponderous I have to re-read it five times to comprehend, which happens when it has anything to do with insurance or paperwork — or sitting in a cubicle of some sort.