Good morrow ladies and gentlemen. I’m at a writer’s retreat (aka my mate Steve’s):
Note the blobfish slippers. Anyway, I’ll have to keep this brief so here’s a short absurdist bizarro story of mine illustrated by my love puffin Bill Purnell. Enjoy!
Hands down this has to be the weirdest job interview I’ve ever had. I’ve tried to find the name of the company it was with but I’ve not come across them, and it was back in 2007. My memory with names is cloudy like a Scottish mountain.
I like to try all different kinds of writing; scripts, comics, stories, books, so when I saw a vague ad on gumtree for an advertising firm in a nearby town I wondered if they needed any copywriters.
I applied and was offered an interview, so along I went to a smallish office building in Colchester and saw another nervous looking girl. “What time is your interview?” I asked.
“Two,” she replied. Same as mine. Odd, I thought, they must have two different interview rooms.
But no. They didn’t. A man in his early twenties and rivers of gel in his hair opened an office door and invited us both in. I wondered if we would have to fight to the death.
“This company,” he said, “gets everyone to start at grass-roots level, so we all have experience of each different part.”
I furrowed my brow. Surely everyone didn’t work in graphics, not everybody can do that?
“I’m only 24,” he continued, “and I have my own office and blah blah blah…” I began to drift away. He just went on, and on, and on about how great it was to have loads of money. It’s not my money, what do I care?
We both had to answer a myriad of questions, pretending to be people a company would want to hire. Eventually it came to an end and we went our seperate ways, but I quickly realised I had no idea what I’d just been interviewed for. The answer to every question I’d asked had floated deep within a cloud of management-speak.
However I was still pleased when I was asked back for another interview. This time there was no second girl and the gel-money-monster came to sit next to me in the waiting room.
“Today you’ll be shadowing these two,” he pointed out a male and female, both in their early twenties.
“OK,” I said, “but I wanted to ask, what exactly do you all do?”
“Different companies trust us,” he said, voice slanting into the ‘I’m giving a pitch’ tone once again, “to make other people aware of them and to raise their profile.”
“Yes,” I said, impatiently raising my hand, “but on a day-to-day basis, what would I be doing?”
“We inform the public of the companies we reperesent and let them know the work they do.”
“Right,” I snapped, getting quite cross, “so I could just stand out there,” I pointed to the window, “and tell people in the street?”
“Well, not exactly,” he said, blushing. “But anyway, go with (I’ve forgotten their names, I will call the girl Foofy and the boy Mr Fuffykins).”
So I got into a car with them, which seems a bit mental on reflection but at the time politeness forbids us from going against instruction. On the way Foofy pointed out a car she could see and told us how much she wanted one. She then informed us how close to purchasing it with all her recently earned lovely money she was. I wondered if I’d accidentally joined a cult.
The revelation came over lunch. We were eating fried chicken when I was told we would be literally trying to sell a company, or get people to sign up to it (I still don’t really understand) by speaking to them – cold-calling – door to door.
“You can do that can’t you?” asked Foofy.
“Um, yes?” I said. I still don’t know why I said yes.
We pulled into a residential area in Dunmow and I was given a jacket to put on.”I’ll take the odd number doors and you two take the evens,” instructed Foofy.
‘Speak,’ I told myself, and my voice sat at the bottom of my throat until I forced it up. “Um, I can’t do this,” I said in a weird, squeaky way.
They both stared at me. I made myself repeat it. “I can’t go door to door.”
They began to deliberate. “There’s a bus station nearby, it’s not far to walk,” said Mr Fuffykins.
“We can’t just leave her here,” said Foofy, a touch bitterly as though she wished they could.
In the end I convinced them to drop me off in town, where I had a coke and thought about things before I made my way home. The moral of the story is, when someone talks management-speak just start crying until they explain themselves.