Last night my company had an interview with a non-profit organization. We were so anxious to be awarded the work – a huge contract – that we arrived a few minutes early to make a good impression.
As we stood in the large room, we could hear an interview with another solar company going on in the large office, but we couldn’t see the people because of a partition.
An employee sat at a desk. She was middle aged, wearing a knobby tan ski cap with tassels hanging down the sides, ending just above her ample bosom, which gravity was tugging with all its might toward her waist. Her bright, multi-colored shirt looked like it had come from the seventy-percent-off rack at a discount store. She had dark brown freckles on pale ale skin, and when we approached she kept her face level with the computer screen but raised her eyes to look at us and say, “Can I help you?”
“We’re here for the interview,” the company owner whispered. “We’re a few minutes early, do you have a bathroom?”
“Sure do,” she said, and hoomphed herself up from her chair. “I’ll show you where it is.”
“I’ll go too,” I said, thinking I could check my hair and see if I had any of that black stuff you get in the corner of your eyes from mascara.
On her feet, the receptionist was stooped over like a baby pine tree in a snowstorm. She put one foot deliberately in front of the other, like a wobbly hospital patient inching down a long hallway holding an IV pole.
She rounded the corner of her desk and started heading toward the aisle where the interview voices were coming from.
“Oh crap,” I hissed. I hadn’t imagined that the bathroom was that way.
“I’m not going,” my boss whispered.
We stood there watching the receptionist plod along until she was beside where the interview was happening, muttering to us and not realizing we weren’t behind her.
“Oh my gosh, that poor woman,” I said. “I’ll go.”
I scurried toward her – the aisle was a good forty feet long and she had covered most of it. I kept my eyes straight ahead as I passed the interview table, noticing in my peripheral vision that there were at least five people who saw me whisking by, not counting the three from the company being interviewed whose backs were toward me.
The receptionist stopped and turned to speak to me and saw that I was hustling to catch up. “Lord, honey,” she said in a voice oblivious that important business was being conducted a few feet away, “I didn’t know you wasn’t behind me, I’ve been talking to myself the whole way.”
She led me through a closed door, down a stretch of hallway, around a couple of corners and through two more doors. Finally she said, “Here it is!” – proud she’d accomplished her mission.
I ducked into the bathroom and started asking myself meaningful questions in preparation for the interview, such as: “What were you thinking, you idiot? Why did you ask to go to the bathroom? Did you even need to go to the bathroom? Do you know what an idiot you looked like and now you have to walk back past that table? How are you going to escape this colossal blunder?” Then I looked at myself in the mirror and found 9,000 flaws – flat hair, faded makeup, red eyes from staring at a computer all day. “Oh my gosh, how are you going to go back out there looking like this and walk past that table?”
I decided my best option was to skip the interview altogether and stay in the bathroom. However, seeing the impracticality of this, I figured I’d wait until the other company was done.
When I thought it was safe, I crept out the door and turned to the right and encountered a network of cubicles, hallways and doors – and freaking got lost. I’d been preoccupied with being an idiot so didn’t notice the hallways and twists and turns. I wandered around for an eternity until I finally discovered the door that led to the other room.
When I got to the table, my company’s interview was already in progress. That threw me so off kilter I could barely look anyone in the eye as I slid into an open chair. The boss hurriedly introduced me. When it was my turn to give my spiel, I started saying the rehearsed words, got a frog in my throat, cleared it two or three times, stuttered, stuttered some more, and managed to get a few things out before my brain fizzled on me.
No one asked me any questions about my part of the presentation.
I spent the whole evening and sleepless night worrying that I had blown the company’s chances of getting the project. I kept saying things like, “Why didn’t you joke with them: ‘That’s some journey to your bathroom – I felt like I was on a reality show and got dropped in a maze.’ They would have laughed and loved you forever. Why? Why? Why?”
The next day, at 1:38 in the afternoon, we got a call saying we’d been awarded the contract. Yippee! Which just goes to show something, but doggone if I know what it is.