“So, I noticed a few spelling mistakes on your application.” The interviewer is a pudgy man, softened by decades of desk-sitting. People like that really make me want to become an Olympic sprinter instead of a writer. “With respect, I highly doubt that. I’m a spelling nazi, to be quite honest with you,” I cringe at the “n” word and search for traces of Germanic heritage in my judge’s face.
I’d already made that mistake once before in front of my future German mother-in-law. “It’s ‘extremist’ in this family,” my former fiancé whispered in my ear as I sunk into the wall with shame.
“Would you be able to show me where this mistake is?” The man pores over my resume, scanning for any sign of orthographic sin. “Sorry, must have been someone else.” I try to empty my face of emotion, but a smugness too strong to hide shows through. Briefly, he notices and then goes on to explain the job in more detail. Although I intermittently nod and hum interest, his voice fuzzes out and I look across the room at the bespectacled office assistant. She is typing up some copy. Furiously so. I try to discern what exactly it is that she is trying to sell. Mining machinery of some sort. Her typing pattern seems to be sending me a secret code understood only between scholarly women. Get out of here while you can. Come to think of it, even the way she meekly greeted me with a squeak and a nod could be interpreted as a pre-emptive warning.
“…and this is what you would be in charge of doing: doing short write ups on various pump systems,” I realise I have lost concentration so I widen my eyes with fake enthusiasm. “Wow, that just sounds so great. See, I have always had a strong interest in the arts but I’ve always felt like I should know more about machinery, you know?” I have fallen to journalistic prostitution. His dagger eyes plunge right into my glibness. I know he is starting to smell my desperation. A few good years of borderline poverty and frequent workplace molestation by Italian-Australian restaurateurs with gangland associations have left me fawning like an kicked dog.
I could lift off like a balloon with the amount of hot air that’s coming out of my mouth and the more he notices it, the more my desperation is starting to look like despondency. The old familiar beast of anxiety creeps up under the nape of my neck. Get out now. And the room closes in. I finish my sentence about my prowess with “that really good bulk emailing system that I forget the name of” with “so, yeah” and I shudder.
“Well let’s leave it there. There’s a few more people I’m interviewing today but if I don’t get back to you in a couple of weeks, you won’t be hearing back from me.” I peer out from under my fringe with give-me-a-break-before-my-eyes-roll-permanently-into-the-back-of-my-head look. “Right, well okay. Nice to meet you,” we both stick out our right hands and I clutch his firmly. It is like touching an old limp fish that was cast aside on a pier days before. I recoil so violently that I run out of the office, slip out of my ill-suited high heel and tumble down the narrow staircase. I land at the bottom with my skirt upturned and my white winter ass aimed directly at my interviewer. Standing at the door frame, he takes a look at me, stony-faced, and shuts the wooden door between us.
“Bye!” I yell out as I gather up my pathetic little bag and rebalance myself on my Target stilettos, then dashing back to my car to get to my next interview on time.