Have you ever had a job interview where you knew the job wasn't right, you knew you wouldn't take it if it were offered unless there were some seriously astronomical money attached to it, and still you had to sit there and gut out the interview? No? Well, lemme tell you what it's like.
It's a bad blind date without the benefit of alcohol.
Now, I've had bad blind dates. It is the nature of Internet dating that until you find a Toasty, you have to work through a lot of Milquetoasts. There was the guy who brought along a manila folder full of pictures of his cats. There was the other guy who only wanted to impress me (and not necessarily me, anybody in a girl suit would've worked) with the fact that his play was about to be published, win a Tony, resurrect the dead, whatever. One guy chewed me out for cutting tomatoes (for HIS party!) on his sacred stone kitchen countertops, though I was using a cutting board. (I think he slaughters goats there for his rituals and, to his credit, he was worried about cross-contamination.)
I KNOW from bad dates. But all of these, without exception, involved a drink. Not that I drink a lot, I really don't. Alcohol impairs judgement. Now granted, in order to do anything with these guys, I'd have to have my judgement impaired with a two-by-four, and a couple of cocktails isn't going to turn them into anything more than dry, tasteless, mystery-nugget-laden British Christmas puddings without benefit of being set on fire, but still, I prefer to keep my wits about me.
What was I talking about? Oh right, job interviews.
So I go on one. As ever, on paper, the job sounds pretty good. It has the title I'm looking for, and while it's more of a commute than I want, I'm willing to live with it for the right gig. I get the call at 3.45 on a Friday afternoon. Can I get 25 miles away in fourteen minutes? (I'm kind of a lead-foot, so that wasn't as impossible as it might sound.) I'm actually having lunch with my parents at the opposite end of the world right now, but yes, I can make it. I choke down another forkful of salad, grab the key from my dad and race to their car.
I made it by 4. The interview, which lasted until 5.20, is a bit hazy. The guy I was talking to was so desperately dull, I glazed over like a donut. I remember him rattling on and on about something, but as I sit here, I can't bring up a single topic we discussed. And the office? Plague wards have happier, livelier people in them. I wanted to grab a shovel and start banging heads before they realized they had a warm body in the office and started coming for my brains. The interviewers (there were two) showed me a sample of the "writing" they wanted me to do, and it was like a potential date showing me a photo of the baby deer he'd shot with his nine-ought and skinned himself with a letter opener. There would be no happily-ever-afters here.
I don't know about you, but I get, like, indignant when bad dates think I might want to see them again or even see them until the bottom of this beer. I'm actually insulted that they would think my taste is this bad or I'm this desperate. Now I realize this is ridiculous -- these guys don't think they're so awful that it's insulting to their date to ask to see her again -- but I do get this reaction and I have to struggle to keep it off my face.
It was the same with the interview. They gave me homework for the weekend. Homework! "Take this material and try to duplicate what it is we do; I want it on my desk Monday morning, or it's detention for you, Missy." I acted thrilled to have homework on the last sunny weekend until June. I grasped the papers in my hot little hand like someone might want to snatch them away from me, trilled some goodbyes, and ran the zombie gauntlet out of the office to the safety of my parents' car.
Had this been a Hollywood horror, the car would not have started, and in fact, it didn't. I cursed at it for awhile, sure that the door of the building would open and the walking-dead contents would spill out (slowly, but still . . .) and surround my car, smearing their hands on my window until one of them figured out how to break it, and then they'd drag me out and into the building where I would become one of the shuffling undead. What actually happened was I realized that I was driving my parents' automatic, not my stick shift, and the car was not in park. It took me almost a mile before I stopped saying, "no no no no no way huh uh no" under my breath.
Now, I exaggerate, perhaps. The job likely isn't the horror slick it appeared on the surface, and give me a few more weeks or months of trying to eke out a living as a freelancer, and I'll probably be going around there with my little begging bowl asking for another chance. But I took this leap of faith in order to find work that works for me, if that makes sense. I'm not counting on the "perfect" job, and I'm willing to accept less-than-ideal, just not that much less than ideal.
Somewhere in the ideal-ballpark would be nice.