Every once in a while, I come across an experience, event, or even a day that proves to me how life really is stranger than fiction. Had I read the events of my week thus far in a book, I would have put it down with a grunt of disbelief.
Since giving up on my attempts to become a librarian (and trying not to get bitter about the month I wasted pursuing that career), I brushed up my resume some more and started to send it out. The job postings I chose were in the receptionist vein, because I like being that positive first point of contact, I love filing paperwork, and I have become very skilled with handling phone calls.
I’d sent out four or five resumes and inquiries in the last month and was checking my email daily, hoping for some sort of answer. Mom was even helping by sending me postings she found in areas I had forgot to search. Tuesday morning, I resolved to get serious with this endeavor and spent a good hour combing through the job-search sites I had discovered. (Because, y’know, it was March 1st and I’m a sucker for the “new beginning” mindset.)
Before I could start, I got a phone call in regards to one of the resumes I had sent out last week. The lady wanted to conduct a brief phone interview, which I stumbled through and immediately started to over-analyze. When I was finally able to shake of the sense of dread I had (why on earth did I choose to respond like that?), I resumed my search.
Nothing came up, so I took a break. Then I had to go out and shovel the driveway for Mom, who was coming home early due to the blizzard setting in on us.
When Mom arrived, I followed her inside to discuss a game plan. And my phone rang. It was the same lady who had called earlier saying she wanted me in for an interview and did tomorrow (Wednesday) work? Uh, sure? We settled on a time. Then, as I was pulling on my gloves, the phone rang again. It was another employer calling about a different resume, and could I come in for an interview? How about tomorrow?
It was a good thing I had a long driveway to shovel by that point. Manual labor really helps me get my thoughts in order.
So with 2 interviews looming, I spent the rest of the day in something of a haze and took forever to fall asleep as I weighed the options in my head. At that point, I was favoring the second interview offer because of the industry the job was in. Then I dragged my feet all morning yesterday, though I did manage to apply eyeliner without stabbing myself. Extra resumes in hand, I set out and warned myself against premature biases.
I like to think I’m a perceptive person and pretty good at picking up on the vibes people and places put out. My interviews were in the order I had received the calls, and the first office looked nice. It was open, bright, and clean, and the atmosphere was friendly and professional. I arrived early because I had given myself time in case of bad road conditions, so I took some deep breaths and tried not to panic as snippets of the interview before mine reached my ears.
I was to be interviewed by not one but two ladies, one of whom I had spoke to on the phone and the other whose name I promptly misplaced. They approved of my polite “yes, ma’am”s when I was addressed and managed to keep the tone very conversational. To my immense surprise, I only stuttered over one question and even won a couple points by mentioning my book as an example of my creativity. Score!
We actually ran a little over the half-hour interview schedule and then they assured me they’d contact me in a couple days whatever their decision. I had about an hour to kill, so I went to visit Eli because his work is right between the two places where I was interviewing. Oh, and it was also where I held my first adult job and I had a strange desire to silently gloat.
The second office stood in stark contrast to the first. It was claustrophobic, dark, and and had an odor. I had 10 minutes to spare and was just starting to scope out my surroundings when my phone rang. It was the lady from my first interview.
Muttering an “I’ll be right back” to the girl at the desk, I ducked outside.
The lady had a couple more questions for me, including one I’d prepared for: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”* After I answered, she said they wanted to offer me the job!
Now what? I didn’t like the looks of the second office but I still had an appointment. And I didn’t want to jump into anything. The pay-per-hour was also less than I knew this second office was offering. I thanked her, said I had really liked my experience but needed a little time, and promised to call first thing Thursday (today). Then I went back inside to try and muscle through Interview #2.
Do you ever run into people who make your fight or flight instincts kick in before the person opens their mouth? That was how I felt in this interview. The owner of the business appeared and conducted me to his office. I sat on the edge of my seat and tried not to groan as he closed the door and sat across from me.
Leaning back in his chair and folding his hands, he hemmed and hawed for a moment and then brushed through the resume I had brought. Very casually he said that he didn’t even have any questions prepared and asked me to tell him about myself.
Pretty sure that’s not how interviews work, buddy. I already spent all that time selling myself on paper. Not even bothering to be enthusiastic about it, I offered a couple lines as politely as I could manage.
That interview lasted all of 8 minutes. I said, “No, no, I’ll call you first thing tomorrow.” I made my escape and locked myself in my car before I texted Mom and Dad.
I had kept them updated about my first impressions with the second office and the phone call from the first, and Dad had said to keep an open mind. When I texted to say the second interviewer had creeped me out, I got, “Ewww. Run away!” from Mom. Gladly. No contest there. Even with a lower pay grade, I knew the first office was where I wanted to work.
I swung back by Eli’s work to snatch a second hug and then went home to “think about it”. In reality, I pulled Nina into my room to watch a few episodes of a TV show she likes to fangirl about before church.
10 minutes before we were supposed to be out the door, my phone rang. Something in the back of my head zoned in on the ringtone, which was not my default one but a specially assigned one. Pulling it out, I saw it was my old boss.
Y’know, from 6 months ago. Who had already begged me back once.
Stranger than fiction.
In the next 10 minutes, he was his usual overly-informative self and essentially tried to schmooze me while he explained about this new system they were implementing and their need for a tech-savvy person who knew the business and could jump right in. The icing on the cake? A $4.00/hour increase from what I had been making when I left 6 months ago and an instant 1-week paid vacation and paid holidays.
Mom watched in bemusement as I first laughed silently, rolled my eyes, and then saw Jo tapping her foot and tried to get him off the line. I said I had to go to church but would consider his offer and call him first thing.
And for about 15 minutes, I did consider it. The hours were earlier, so I would have more time to work by myself in the morning and then be home to help Nina with Gram in the afternoon. The pay was amazing, and slightly above what I had been hoping against hope for.
But that was where the perks stopped. (Well, that and already knowing the work.) Jo wanted to know why I was even deliberating. When I quit, I had sworn off ever going back. The 1/4 mile walk to the bathroom was the least of the issues I had with the job. I hate to think of myself as mercenary, but the pay was the only reason I had any reservations at all. I want financial security as much as the next 20-something woman stepping out in the world.
And then I had to consider that I had felt peace from the moment I walked into that first office for my interview. Though the work was a little unfamiliar and I knew it would take some time to adjust, I was optimistic. And I couldn’t just walk away from an interview I had blown out of the water.
I know anyone I would have spoken to had I been able to speak would have told me to pray about it. And I had been. But my prayers tend to be very informal. I don’t sit down for an allotted 30 minutes a morning and open with, “Dear Heavenly Father, please help me.” In class, for the sake of my students, I open with, “Dear Jesus.” But when it’s just me, it’s snatches of moments where I mutter, “Please, please, please,” and “Okay, now what?” and “Yeah, I really felt confident about that. Thank you!” I’d kept up a monologue in my head all day. I was confident that my instincts and first impressions were not the only reason I felt at peace with that first job offer.
So this morning I waited with rising nerves for 9:00 to roll around do I could call up the first office. I thanked her again for making my interview such a great experience and said I was happy to accept the offer. She said they were glad as well, and after answering some of my questions she asked for me to come in tomorrow to fill out paperwork and get to know the job.
I dallied about calling the second office and my old boss. When I finally got around to it, my old boss was busy and couldn’t talk long and the other guy wasn’t even in so I got to leave a message. Thanks, God!
I am now (or nearly, barring paperwork) the proud receptionist for a non-profit, making more than I did at my last job with room for growth and already settling into a great group of people. And my nerves are wound so tight I want to make like a Disney princess and sob into my pillow.
* The answer to that question is weird, but I want to be Det. Baker from Blue Bloods. (The picture for her character’s page is of a different actress, for some reason.) Why? She’s reliable, confident, and capable. She carries herself well, is not worthless in a firefight, and is on top of things. She and Felicity Smoak are probably the only TV heroes I’ve ever dared to adopt. No, I don’t have a particular career plan for the next 5 years, but I have a goal for where I want to be personally.