Bad Job Interviews

Ahhh. Back in the States. Enjoying little things you don't realize you miss when you're in foreign lands for months and months: Taco Bell, decent sunflower seeds, clean bathrooms at rest areas and gas stations (everything is relative), orderly traffic, etc. Also missing little things about foreign lands you don't realize you'll miss until you're gone: disorderly traffic, people in public not understanding you when you talk smack about them in English, the occasional exploding light bulb to liven up an evening, etc. Also, writing sentences without subjects. Bliss.

I flew into Portland, Oregon to visit my parents for a few days before reuniting with my spouse and munchkins in Idaho. My dad and I took a ride one warm evening and found ourselves puttering down MLK Blvd, Portland, Oregon.

I was always taught that you would be instantly mugged if you ventured onto MLK. The only reason to ever go there was to visit the Nike outlet store, and even then it was good to take a rolling pin to use to fight your way from your car to the store and back with your purchase. Maybe my parents taught me that because I had "I'm a naive suburbanite -- please, please hit me on the head and take my glasses to sell for drug money" written across my vacant, pimpled adolescent visage.

Either way, MLK Blvd looked great this time around: leafy tree branches casually overhanging the street, rustling gently in the breeze while vehicles wait lazily at red lights, drivers' arms hanging nonchalantly from rolled-down windows, fingers lightly tapping beats on the outside of car doors, a little 2Pac here, some Hollies there, maybe some Billy Joel a few cars back. It was like Utopia on MLK Blvd. Even the graffiti gave off good vibes. I especially liked the painting of Michael Jackson grabbing himself. Hey -- thanks for the memories.

Cruising MLK also brought back memories of a "job interview" I had one summer, which was located on MLK, which should've given me a clue not to interview for them. My experience at this "job interview" was so outlandish that they bear repeating for the enjoyment of all three of you (you count for two, Mom).

We were living at my parents' house for the summer of 2004, saving money and swiping all their Klondike bars from the garage freezer. Realizing we couldn't just wake up at noon and eat my mom's pizza pockets all summer, we decided I ought to start looking for summer employment to make a little money while Shannon doted on little Savannah. I had pretty much amazing qualifications: able to stand for long periods of time, walk 100-200 feet without tripping, count to 50 by ones or twos, and touch my nose with my tongue.

The guy at The Gap looked disdainfully at my homemade cut-off Docker's shorts, Birkenstocks, and poorly-stitched baby blue stretchy shirt I'd bought in Syria for 50cents and declared they were fully staffed for the summer. The lady I phoned about a job picking up litter with juvenile delinquents along the side of I-5 never called back. It seemed no one wanted to hire a guy with no college degree who only wanted to work for about six weeks (had to go back to school... and I get bored of jobs quick).

Finally I saw this advertisement online wanting someone to canvass neighborhoods spreading information about some upcoming ballot measure that had to do with requiring businesses to be environmentally responsible or something like that. I wasn't necessarily politically on-board with the cause, but I was on-board with having an income. I called and set up an interview.

Having been taught that you always dress up for interviews, I donned a nice dress shirt and tucked it into my carefully pressed khaki pants. Because I was in Portland, Oregon, a city stereotypically known as being quite liberal, progressive, unwashed, and unshaven, I decided to at least not wear a tie. When I showed up for what turned out to be a group interview, I was humiliated.

The chairs were arrayed in a half moon shape around the "interviewer." A guy on one end was dressed head to toe in spandex. He had just parked his Schwinn out front, and when he walked in his shoes that latch into the bike pedals clicked on the hard floor. The guy next to him had to remind him to take off his helmet for the interview. I'm not joking about this.

Another interviewee had magenta hair sculpted into long spikes. She scowled as she adjusted the blue bra straps peeking out from beneath her skimpy tank top, slouched in her seat, and surveyed my middle-class, corporate sell-out attire. I was seated in an interview with the very definition of a motley crew.

The college-aged, hemp-smoking "interviewer" never actually "interviewed" any of us. Rather, he did all the talking, ranting for about fifteen minutes about the evils of big business and how it controls the orbits of the galaxies and conducts mind control on the enslaved masses through chemicals cooked into Kentucky Fried Chicken legs, Whoppers, and Gorditas. Well, he didn't say all those things, but he really was ranting, and I started to wonder if he'd taken his meds. I waited for a lull in his foaming. Then I left. And I bought some stocks in Exxon on the way home to make sure all the loonies in that "interview" stayed oppressed.

The moral of the story: sit close to the door during job interviews.