I want this job I want this job
But alas no mantra works.
As I walk up the stairs and through the swing doors I instantly forget
my well-rehearsed verbal CV and it is happily replaced with the more
fitting lines of Dylan Thomas. I must put my pyjamas in the drawer
marked pyjamas, I must take my cold bath which is good for me, I must
dress behind the curtain and put on my apron, I must blow my nose in
a tissue paper which I afterwards burn
The room is high-ceilinged, white-washed and impersonal. The squat man
in the corner watches me over the rims of his spectacles. He looks like
a referee at a boxing match. The blue suited woman beside him flexes
her fingers. They crack audibly like the whip of seniority. I put my
folder carefully onto the desk beside me so as not to fiddle with it.
I fold my hands carefully across my knee, quietly concealing any broken
or chewed nails. I lean my head forward slightly so that no-one should
remain in doubt of my intelligence, interest or intuition. The three
rs are nothing beside the three Interview is.
My mouth is stretched into an aching smile (I slept with a coathanger
in my mouth!) And the interview kick-starts with the assault on my CV.
They are not shy. They do not hold back their comments for kindness
sake. I groan inwardly, for outwardly I remain charmingly calm. I try
to regret my years out travelling. I think of the colour and vigour
of Singapore Saturdays, the Borneo jungles, wild nights in Jakarta,
sailing up water in Sumatera, wild bears and bonfires in Transylvania.
I look back at my assailants. They wouldnt last a minute climbing
Krakatau volcano! Shed melt and he wouldnt manage the boatride
out! The thought makes me feel better but doesnt much help.
I hold forth about the strengths these travels have equipped me with.
I dont mention the blisters and beauty, the drink or the death
risks I enjoyed. I do David Livingstone proud. The intrepid explorer
making a purely cultural study. Do I sound penitent? Am I forgiven these
free-spirited years stolen from employment? Should I add
Missionary to the list of attributes this soul-searching uncovered?
Would that help bridge the void to experience?
I doubt it. These models in front of me have never had a day off in
their lives. Hes afraid of being caught napping but nap he does,
while she runs scared up the ladder, the higher she gets the greater
the fall but how she loves calling down to the ones on the ground holding
it steady! Next my qualifications are examined. It is clear that I took
the adage: Your schooldays are the best days of your life
too seriously! But hey, I like learning, I liked being a student. I
wore my baggy trousers and loose jackets with pride. I perfected the
roll-up smoke years before Oasis made it trendy. I was a great peasant.
For me, Tescos 9p beans were the bees knees. I lived the
blue and white stripe life with pride because I knew it wasnt
infinite. With my brains and bits of paper something great was waiting
round the corner. It still might be but getting there is proving to
be a bore. Not just a slight pisser but a real full-blown demoralising,
dis-heartening up-hill climb. And its grim!
A fundamental Christian once criticised my appetite for school, telling
me paper burns in hell I laughed then, but now Im
beginning to think a wipe out might be a good move. Hide the MA, shelve
the PG Dip, dont tell a soul about the A grades and
for goodness sake keep quiet about any prizes. That way you are in with
a chance. Because nobody likes a junior with more brains than the boss.
It doesnt matter what she lacks in experience, its just
not cricket and she could be after your job! Now it is my turn to do
the asking. No problem, I have a mile of well researched, exceptionally
well-crafted thought-pieces. I pepper this repertoire with the obligatory
questions concerning day-to-day tasks. I thrill at the making
tea bits. I try to hold my jaw steady when they mention the salary,
blinking back the tears as I realise the blue-stripe menu is here to
stay. I enthuse about the company. I disarm them with my awareness of
current affairs, trends in the market.
They shuffle their papers. I look humble. I shut the **** up quickly.
Was I a bit OTT? Well I couldnt have been as strident as the BBC
trained woman waiting her turn outside. And I passed the test. Hell
I was shortlisted from 600 to twenty to get here. I shouldnt be
so hard on myself. I shouldnt be so keen. I should be keener.
I want this job
Right says the boring,
ugly beast in his corner. And his face breaks into a sweaty grin and
I know what he is about to ask and I shudder. I physically shake because
the net is cast. I know everything is over because I cant tell
How would your friends describe you? he beams.
I gag. I grin inanely. Modest, gurgling murmurs spring from my mouth
like unwelcome visitors. My head moves inadvertently. I am smiling like
a bimbo. There is nothing demure or composed left. I look at the blue-suited
ice maiden and yearn for her spiky confidence. She is sharp and crystal.
She looks at my slimy writhing. I am a worm to her stiletto. The pause
is stretching wide as the hangmans noose. I know damn well what
my friends say about me: I am gauche and impatient. I laugh at all the
wrong moments. Red wine was invented for me. Im always sick before
I fall over. I cant say no very loudly. I take risks with no thought
for the consequences. In short I live but how to make that positive
or even slightly understandable to the frigid pension paying, highly
insured couple here is an alarming challenge.
Ive been here before. I know the buzz words. Definitely, Charismatic,
Motivated, Leader, Determined, Success, Individual, Teamplayer blah
blah. I manage one crumbly sentence. We all wait. We all wish for pictures
in this cold square room. Nothing else presents itself to me. They look
at each other. The squat man grins through his chins. Hes not
worried now. The blue-suit stares with a flicker of pity at me. We all
shrug. I can hear her shouting about the shortlist before I get through
the hall. I didnt want the job anyway.
for the next week I wait with escalating anticipation for
the letter. As each day passes the certainty of failure departs. I begin
to mentally spend my new salary. Okay, so Ill still be poor but
I wont be this poor. Ill be a worker. Ill be someone.
Ill get promoted quickly. Im a fast-learner. Im easy
to get on with. People like me. It is self evident that I am capable
for this job. I was made for it. Theyll have given me the benefit
of the doubt. I give myself the benefit of the doubt. The postman laughs
at my impatience. The letter duly arrives. I dont have to open
it. The second class frank says it all. I drink my coffee. I file the
letter with the other 70 rejections. I have been collecting them for
two months now.
'All that study wasnt for nothing,
Youll get lucky,
Give it time
My friends all mean well. But Im as bored by their comments as
they are by my mounting negativity, but never as bored by the feedback
I keep getting: too many qualifications and not enough experience.
Chicken and egg? I need a break soon because there is no h
in wine the way I like to drink it or drown in it!!!