Thursday, May 24, 2007

I still don't have a job for the fall, but at least the hole is gone in my backyard and my porch is coming along.

Dressed in a summer blazer, crisp dress shirt and appropriate skirt, I entered the conference room where the interview was to be conducted. I graciously smiled and greeted five adults with handshakes – only one gave me a half-assed shake. I hate those – the grasp with just the fingers – instead of a whole-hearted, palm-to-palm, strong handshake. Most were dressed extremely casually. Although I must give him credit, the superintendent had on a button-down shirt.

The questions were standard and benign. I was able to handle them fairly easily. What surprised me, however, was the laughter. They found my responses hilarious. At first there were giggles or twitters, but then the laughing began. After about twenty minutes, it started to upset my rhythm. I know I can be funny, but I usually don’t get laughs talking about college letters of recommendation.

I think this is when I began to lose control. I knew for sure when I the principal interrupted me, “Does this work for you at the elementary level? The way you talk?”

What?

“You mean my sarcasm?”

“Yes.”

“Well…” and this is where the stammering began. It felt like it lasted for hours, but I think it only went for about a minute. I blathered on about how I was “pretty good” with elementary kids and that I must be okay – I had two interviews to get my current position, including teaching a “sample” lesson in front of real second graders after all. It was pretty ugly. The principal just stared at me. The rest of them stopped laughing.

I pulled myself together and everything went on fairly well until I made a statement about counselors standing around drinking coffee. It’s not worth explaining, but let’s just say there was a lot of laughter, blushing (me) and tons of embarrassment (also me). Jokes about coffee usually don’t sit well in a professional interview that could be potentially full of Mormons. I vaguely remember dropping my head at one point, and then slowly raising it in the direction of a soothing voice. One of the interviewers was very motherly and politely re-directed me back to what I was originally saying as I was answering the last question they asked.

I left feeling a mixture of emotions, but mainly feeling that I had blown it. As I buckled up to leave, I noticed a voicemail message on my phone. Thinking it was my husband calling to see how the interview went, I quickly listened to it. Unfortunately, it was the principal from my son’s school. Of course she had bad news. The drive to his school seemed to take forever. I was literally shaking the whole way.

I laid awake, most of that night, recalling in minute detail the events of the day. I questioned everything in my life that I could. And then I questioned some more.

The next morning, as I spoke with the principal I interviewed with, she went to great length to tell me how wonderful I was, BUT that she couldn’t offer me the job. Another counselor at her school, with different duties, had interviewed for the position and they needed to let her have the job. HOWEVER, would I be interested in her position? My emotions were now out of the pit of my stomach, but like a roller coaster, things can change quickly.

“Ok then, Carol, just apply for the now-open position and we’ll get you scheduled for another interview when the job announcement closes in two weeks.”

So, here I sit. The job closes tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty confident about the next interview. They seem to like me – religious slip-ups and all. The reason the principal asked about my use of sarcasm was not to be critical. She just felt I would do better with high schoolers and was surprised I was surviving in an elementary setting.

The morals of the story. Don’t assume. Life happens. You never are in control.

8 comments:

blackbird said...

A grounding moment, that interview - yes?

I would suspect you'll be very serious at the next interview.

I have a knot in my stomach remembering those rides to school.

Sitting said...

a powerful lesson and story, Carol. I needed to hear it right now, so thanks for sharing.

Hope everything goes well with the next one!

blu said...

i concur, sit. i needed it too.

i assume you use sarcasm under pressure - as a self-defense mechanism. There are a lot of sensitive and pensive thoughts mulling around you need to protect.

(i do too.)

Lorelei said...

Thanks! I needed a story like that just now. The culture of motherhood, womanhood, personhood...it is a hard place to be live sometimes.

I know you'll get there. You are so clearly smart & committed. And you do it all with such heart. I hope the tide switches from troubled heart to joyful heart soon.

Lorelei

mamalife said...

You are right, even when we think we are in control, we are truly not. Wow. I'd never think of a slip-up of mentioning coffee (which I cannot survive without!) but then I don't live in Utah! Good luck. Job hunting and interviewing is so nerve-wracking!

Meg said...

Good luck at the next interview. When you have some down time (haha) I truly think you should write a book. This blog has been just been a starting point for you. You are so smart, articulate, calm, cool and collected under-pressure, and damn funny too; the whole world should/could learn from your perspective on life! Miss you, see you in a couple weeks!

Anonymous said...

The value of your sharing this is inestimable, both for you and for us. Thank you, and good luck!

B.E.C.K. said...

Wow! I was nervous for you as I read your post, and then it ended so positively, proving your point. Thanks for the reminder to try to be in the moment and not predict the outcome. And let us know what happens next! :-)