The Job Interview / 31 October 2002

Had my first job interview in over two years and was surprised by how different the process was. The polygraph, the bone marrow, the flexibility tests. Still, it was nice to get out, have a conversation with someone aside from Dingo, the talking doll that Ikuyo left behind last Erastide. “Josh, my life is a whirlpool, spinning into infinity,” it says, quoting Gutwrenched. “Jo-osh, there’s something knocking inside the old abandoned refrigerator, Josh.” Its voice like a broadcast from another planet, a planet you (I) don’t really want to hear from.

Bryan, on the other hand, Bryan who conducted the interview with leashed tension, with bonebreaking segues, Bryan was a delight, Bryan was someone I did want to hear from, couldn’t wait. For the first time in months I felt like I was in control of a situation. He read a list of questions from a clipboard, the paper a vibrant goldenrod, and they might as well’ve been like: “Are you going to schedule unnecessary meetings?” “Are you fond of sexual harassment?” “Do you think you’re funny?” Their attempts at psychoanalysis-via-extended-metaphor were childish and twee.

The polite thing would’ve been to gently knock those effete lobs right back in his direction — it was just a friendly game, after all. But I’m the sort of man who gives his all, as you know. Back at Talent Camp XI when the other kids would do quick “run-throughs,” just murmuring the lines, miming the motions..? None of that for me. Every moment on that inflatable was a performance, and it was my goal to reach every person in that audience, even if it was just Horrible Girl or Unwashed Assistant or whoever they were. And that’s how it was with me and Bryan. I convinced myself that the point of the interview was to tear apart his prefab questions and construct unexpected answers from the scraps. This would demonstrate that I had passion, that I solved problems, that I was there to work.

Which is how we got to: “I’m in a motel in Lubbock, watching static spark as I roll around underneath the blanket, creating my own personal lightning storm, the bursts a kind of bluish-white, sizzling and alive — which is when I realize, yes, yes, that is what my tattoo should say,” and I unbutton my dress shirt and reveal the gothic lettering that spells out SIZZLING y ALIVE, done by yrs truly in ballpoint pen in a Donquin Donuts shop not but half an hour earlier.

Bryan was into it, and I watched as he worked through the goldenrod flowchart, skipping entire sections of questions because he knew, he and I both knew, that it was time to cut to the chase, no more fooling around, and that’s when he hit me with: “Choose one: sapling, rat, crosseyed, skeleton, litany, yeast, or significance.” I said crosseyed without hesitation and he made a quick checkmark and gave me a tightlipped smile and stood up and adjusted his pants and tucked the clipboard under his arm and extended his hand and tilted his head just a little and said, “An honor, sir. Lots more interested parties, but we’ll be in touch with your girl.”

What does it mean, diary? He beat me at my own game, there at the end, his tone utterly inscrutable, his mien a mirrorball that reflected everything off into ten million different directions, scattering against the wood paneling. I love this Bryan. I will be in touch with him whether I get the job or not.

Joshua Green Allen

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