One of the reasons my old boyfriend gave, at the time that he was becoming my ex-boyfriend, for breaking up with me was: ‘You know who you are and I’m still trying to figure it out.’
I mean, I was a bit wrong-footed: does anyone know who they are… ever? But anyway, I suppose part of his self discovering was to off-load me. He’s had a lot of awesome experiences since then, me too. Doors closing, windows opening, blasts of fresh air blowing in, sun rising in the east setting in the west and riding high in an arc over your life in between the compass points of its cycle of birth and death.
So one of the things I did while continuing to attempt to know who I am was find out about a job, obsess about said job, apply for it and then go for an interview. The obsessing was pretty comprehensive. I got ideas in the shower for this job and almost scrubbed my hair right off my head with the ferocity of my thinking. I really didn’t think I’d get an interview. I didn’t have perfect experience for it. Perhaps the obsessing transferred some nervous energy into the application form that travelled up into the brain of the short-listers through their ocular nerves as they read my feverish words.
I had an interview! The interview was in London, I lived in Birmingham. We scheduled a late slot and I sorted out my train journey down. I don’t clearly remember all of the consequent events. Maybe I planned out my route from Kings X/ Euston to East London. Maybe I just assumed (time for question mark, exclamation mark, question mark) that, in my first solo visit to London, it really would only take ten minutes or so to learn how to navigate the underground, get a ticket, get across London, find the place where the interview was. Etc.
About halfway from Birmingham to London, and about three years or more before I got a smartphone, I realise that my timings are Whack. Panic ‘phone calls to my Maman: help help go on the internet HELP!
Slip, slide, fall
Flying out of Aldgate East tube stop. It’s begun to rain. I can’t see this place, where I’m supposed to be. I have 5 minutes to my interview time. I prefer to be early to these things than just being on time. If I can’t find it, this place where I have to be in 5 minutes, then all of my obsessing will’ve been for nothing. Well: for an expensive train ticket, a rain-drenching and the resultant frizzy hair. I’m running along the street, scanning both sides of the road with increasing levels of adrenaline and anger. It’s pretty rainy. It’s slippy. I see the place I need to get to and make a quick direction change, spinning on my heel. I fall, sliding on the wet pavement; the pavement is slick with more than rain. I get covered in what my brain rationalises at the time as bird poop but later it is more or less obvious it is dog poop. Luckily – LUCKILY – I am wearing a coat over my suit and have pockets full of tissues. I don’t have time for this. I take my coat off an hide the poop in the way I fold it. I stagger into the interview place. I have two minutes to sit, and seethe, before I’m called in.
I – am – buzzing – on adrenaline. I talk faster than light travels through space. Thousands of years from now scientists use the fading resonance of the soundwaves my words made then to chart the encroachment of history into the present. It’s known as ‘red-drift‘. So I’m jabbering away. I can see the interviewers glance nervous eyes at the clock over my head, and then shaky-eye back to me. I’m sitting sideways onto them to hide the poop traces on my shirt sleeve. I’m sitting sideways onto them and gibbering and gesticulating passionately with my free hand. I have to give a presentation. I try to load the slides from my memory stick. It doesn’t work. I try to load them from my back up CD. It doesn’t work. Actually I can’t remember if they were slides, I think it was images and sound files. I have to describe to the terrified interviewers what they would have been seeing/ hearing. Finally we’re done. We all slump: me inwardly, them outwardly. Me with resignation, them I guess with relief. At some points I was halfway crawled across the desk, such was the power of the points I was trying to make.
I get a ‘phone call. The job is mine.
When I move on from the job, at my leaving drinks, one of the men who interviewed me is now my outgoing boss, I tell him the story of the poop. He said it all made sense: the smell of me had been so bad they had to open the window after I’d left.
I have a job interview on Monday. I really want the job.