I was in Williams- Sonoma, browsing over-priced meat tenderizers when my phone began to ring. It was a 212 number, so it had to be one of two things- either a job opportunity or a reminder for a doctor’s appointment that I had made months ago. I was hoping that it was the first one as I answered my phone.
The bubbly girl on the other end quickly introduced herself as Jennifer from a local PR firm. I had recently sent my resume to the agency and Jennifer asked if I could come in the next day for an interview. I was thrilled and agreed to the 5:30 PM time slot. It was after she mentioned for the fourth time that their offices were located in the “Penthouse Suite” that I made my best Charlotte York face and cheerfully said that I would see her the next evening.
I spent the night before the interview researching the firm with the best tool I know- Google. I quickly found the website, but thought it was odd that it hadn’t been updated since 2005. Their clients included Mariah Carey, Foxy Brown and Kim Cattrall so I thought, “How bad could this place be?”
I arrived at the office 10 minutes early to find the once enthusiastic Jennifer to be anything but. With her shirt buttoned lop-sided and confetti-like paper in her hair, it looked as if she was spending her nights nestled in shredder scraps while spooning toner in the supply closet.
After signing in, I had a seat next to a young man who appeared to be the missing band mate of Fall Out Boy. Not looking up from his Blackberry, I quickly began to scan the amethyst-themed office. Designer candles lit each corner of the space filling the room with a floral scent, as four plasma screen TVs blared CNN. An embroidered pillow sat on an overstuffed chair that read,
I was born free. Now I am expensive.
From behind a closed door, I heard an interview in progress. A voice sounding like Wanda Sykes on helium began to loudly discuss the recent Alli commercials featuring Wynonna Judd. “Well, it’s clearly not working, because that girl is still fat,” the woman boldly stated. I looked over at Pete Wentz’s stunt double with a crooked smile, but got no reaction.
Close to an hour after my scheduled time, Jennifer escorted me into “Wanda’s” lair. Perched behind a large glass desk, the owner sat cross-armed with a headset that looked to be sewn in as a part of her weave. I wanted to remind her that she wasn’t at Wendy’s, nor was she working the drive thru, but instead I outstretched my hand and introduced myself.
Not looking up from my resume, she began to ask a question but quickly became distracted by her computer. Typing with two fingers, she told me to “hold on” and proceeded to write nothing short of a novella. After what seemed to be an hour, she looked up and said, “So, you didn’t answer my question.” “You didn’t ask me a question,” I said in my sweetest voice. Annoyed, she pulled out a list of questions and stated that perhaps it would take more prying to get an answer from me.
“Do you have a spirit to serve?” she questioned. I had no idea how to answer this and politely asked her what she meant. “I mean, if you see a napkin on the floor- you pick it up!” She shouted at me. Before I could respond, the owner pushed back her chair, got up and screamed, “Jesus served, why can’t you?” A part of me wanted to ask, who is this Jesus that you speak of? Oh, is he the new pitcher for the Mets? But, instead I sat back and listened to her sermon.
At this point, I had mentally “checked out” of the interview. I answered a few more questions as quickly as possible wanting nothing more than to be on my way home. Then she announced, “My last and most important question is- regardless of who you voted for in this election, give me one word that best describes Obama’s campaign.” “Determination,” I quickly stated. “That’s it?” she snorted. I reminded her that she asked for one word, and one word is what I gave her. Getting up from her seat, she thanked me for my time and had Jennifer lead me to the front door.
Shocked from what had just transpired, I walked to the subway in a trance. I began to think about the immaculate office space and the sprite that dominated it. My thoughts immediately went to the embroidered pillow.
Sometimes, no matter how expensive you are- your talk is still cheap.