Monday, September 1, 2003

The Second Round

So, I finally got called back in for a second round of interviews after a month of waiting plus almost a week of trying to schedule. In the interim I’d heard so many bad things about the company and was so disappointed with the wait and lack of responsiveness on their part I was almost ready to not be upset if I didn’t get the job. But the desire to stay here on Las Piedras Island, not to mention the desire to get out and be a breadwinner (male ego, sense of self worth and all that), and the desire for some sense of security all combined to make me feel like crap when I walked out of that office feeling like I’d tanked. I got along fine with the people I’d be working with (whom I also met on my first visit), it was the guy who would be my boss’s boss that gave me an unpeaceful uneasy feeling.
I’d like to just say he was a prick and be done with it. I’ve met lots of pricks in my life and have worked for a few, and while (as one interviewer for a different job put it) “life is too short to work for an asshole,” one could counter that life is too long to not work at all. So, prick or not I found myself evaluating every word of every question, every answer and every nuance of his responses to my answers. I wish I had the luxury to write it off and say the smug bastard was arrogant, rude, and so pumped up pleased with his own damn self that he would have been a nightmare to work with and I’m better off if I never hear from them. However, seeing as how I will most likely have to go through this fucking process again and possibly again and again until I get one of these fucking jobs I had better be able to put a finger on what went wrong and figure out what I can do to improve or I might be writing this alone in an apartment in Des Moines.
Was I too arrogant? I have a tendency to pick up on the tendencies of others, and, if I sensed a certain cocksure-ity from this guy maybe I overcompensated with a bit of bluster on my side. Did I relax too much? We went to the cafeteria for the interview, and that might have put me at a false sense of ease. He was tired, yawning and saying the day had been a long one (it was 3:15 by the time we started talking), they’d just launched a new product, etc. Yet, when it came time to drill down and ask hard questions he certainly looked wide awake. He looked like the last prick of a boss I had, to tell the truth. Do I respond poorly to authority figures? Do I fail to hide my disdain, is my face too expressive, as Soo says. And, do I share too much? Did I need to go into the personal reasons we left the Bay Area?
All these and dozens of others questions buzzed through my brain as I walked back to the ferry. I checked my phone/watch and noted that I had no new messages and about 25 minutes to catch the next boat to Las Piedras. I had been careful not to eat too much before the interview, I always get logy when I have too much in my stomach. Of course, I had had a bunch of caffeine. My morning pot of coffee and a soda before, and a soda during the interview. So, I needed to pee and I wanted a bit of alcohol to wind down. Stimulants in the morning, depressants in the evening, I always say. I found a bar on the waterfront and used their facilities. I ordered a Guinness (I was hungry, and Guinness is the closest thing to a meal you can drink), but it was a slow pour and I was in a bit of a hurry so I asked the bartender to make it a Bass. He gave me a dirty look because he’d already started the Guinness. “Do you want this?” he asked me in a pointed way that made me feel guilty, so I just said, oh yeah, I want that, too. I’m weak.
I powered through my beers, knowing I needed to get to the ferry. They helped me shake off a bit of the regret, and who knew, maybe I was being too hard on myself. Maybe I will get the job and be able to work for another asshole. Maybe I am an asshole! That’s the question no one seems to ask themselves. Am I being an asshole? Is something I’m doing causing someone else problems or pain? Maybe we’re all just a bunch of assholes shitting our way through life only concerned about moving our own little sphincters and to hell with everyone else. It makes you rethink the term Cover Your Ass. What bugs me is when people play the wife and kids card. I’ve got a wife and kids, I’m just doing my job. As if they’d be a decent human being if they were single. If I might paraphrase Gertrude Stein, “Assholes are assholes are assholes are assholes.” And I’m aspiring to be such. If I’d been more of one perhaps I wouldn’t be here in the first place. What is it about work that makes people suck? I’d like to be able to say it’s only because of the bad economy, that times are tight and people are stressed and it brings out the worst. But, I saw much worse during the boom times. The only conclusion I can come to is people suck. It would be very easy to just write that off as the rantings of a bitter unemployed househusband loser, if they’re just wasn’t so much evidence to back it up. People have been shitty to each other from time immemorial. And this grotesque display of shittiness continues day after day with the new spin of shit broadcast to all of us through the air, over cables and via satellite so we can look at it and say, “Wow, I sure am glad that’s not me.” But it is you, it is me, it’s all of us, a bunch of shitty humans being shitty to each other and our planet. Whatever, you say (I say), just give me my job, and my house, a decent education for my kids, and a retirement where I can watch my kids grow up to avoid as much shittiness as possible and I’ll be happy. Just avoid the shit. Ironically, it appears that people need to become assholes to avoid the shit. When you don’t have a job, when you don’t have money, when you don’t have health benefits, you are always on the verge of losing it.
I don’t want to give the impression that this is some holier than thou schpiel, don’t get me wrong, I want to be an asshole. If someone came to me and said I want you to do this shitty thing and you and your family will be taken care of for the rest of your life, then you know what, give me the shit. Of course it depends on the circumstance. I wouldn’t fly a plane into a skyscraper, for instance. But if you told me I had to make some lousy bastard and/or his company look good in the press for a year or four or ten so his company could make money regardless of the damage that company did to the environment or other people, I would do that in a heartbeat. If I didn’t do it somebody else would.
So, I’m thinking all this as I drink my beers and then while walking briskly to the ferry weaving between all the tourists wearing their sweatsuits and Dockers and Mariners crap, getting more and more angry at the world. I make the ferry, get a beer from our friends at Sodexho and call Soo to tell her when I’ll be home. I spend some time just drinking and watching people, the ferry is crowded with folks returning from the Mariners game. Sodexho (the catering service that runs concessions on the ferries) is having a special on game day beers. I’m a sucker for a bargain, so I get up to get another. Did I see Agent Perry lurking by the video games or was I just imagining that? “Whatever,” I say to myself, “it either is or it isn’t, it doesn’t matter.” I ignore the compulsion to go check and find a table where I can open my attaché case. I drink my second second round after my second round and start scribbling in my notebook:
“People suck,” who did I say that to?
It will take too long to remember
Caught in the people and the fog of brew
Pick a month, a day, suck my member.
I’m loaded after an interview and I don’t care
Approaching port, mostly full, must drink
Quickly. Not much time to spare.
Stupid words I’ve said, synch and sink
What did he think, and does it matter
Meaningful speech or mindless patter
Arrogant prick
Makes me sick
Another degree,
And that would be me…

I got home without incident.

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