Wednesday, November 29, 2006

I am 'The Rude'

Thanksgiving is the busiest travel time of the year, so you know if anyone's going to have an airplane story, it's going to be me. In fact, I've got a story about a fight.

My flight is entirely full, but because I had the foresight to check in online, I've got a window seat. Yay! I'm planning to sleep because I always sleep on planes, but I read my book while waiting for the plane to take off. Although they've made several announcements about how full the flight is, the middle seat of my row remains empty.
The flight attendant approaches my aisle and says, "There's a single mother traveling with 2 children--I'm trying to find a row for her. Can I move you?" He's looking at the woman with the aisle seat, and although it's phrased as a question, it doesn't sound like one.
"No, absolutely not. I can't move. I'm claustrophobic and need an aisle seat."
The flight attendant huffed off, then returned a few minutes later to move her to a different aisle seat. Uh-oh. That means that either a mother with two little kids would be next to me or, worse yet, "I'm going to move you too." The flight attendant announced, peering down at me.
Don't I have a choice in this? I want my window seat, dammit!
I gather my things and head to my new seat. The only empty seat on the plane. A middle seat. Harumph. Settling in, I open my book when the man in the window seat hands a magazine to the woman in the aisle seat. And says something to her. In Russian.
What? Are these people together? They have to be, right? But if they're together, why aren't they sitting next to each other?
Turning to the man, I say politely, "Would you like to sit next to each other?"
"Oh no, no thank you. We're fine."
We're fine? Well I'm not fine. Shit, I should have takend a lesson from that flight attendant and not phrased this as a question.
The two continue to talk over me in Russian as I sit and fume. Finally, I decide I need to get up and start over. I go to the bathroom, and return, standing in the aisle.
"Don't you want to sit next to each other?" I ask again.
"No, no thank you." The man answers.
"It won't be easier for you? Better for you?"
"No, we're fine."
The two just sit there, waiting for me to return to my seat between them. What the fuck is wrong with these people?
Unable to sleep, I'm getting more and more annoyed, so when the place finally lands, I decide to say something.
"You know," I say to the man, "I think it's very strange that the two of you are traveling together but aren't sitting together?"
"It's so strange that you're sitting on either side of me, talking over me. I've never heard of anything so ridiculous!"
"You--you are the one who is asking all the questions. Why are you asking so many questions? That is strange."
"What? You're being incredible rude. The two of you are the rudest people I've ever sat with on a plane!"
I grab my purse as the woman shoots daggers at me from her eyes.
"You are the rude!" She spits at me while I walk past.

I am the rude? For once, I have to disagree.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Everyone Knows Me (and Kansas).

So here's what happened on the day of many interviews.

I arrived at the first place a few minutes before ten. The receptionist took my coat and offered me a seat since Liz, the woman I would be meeting with, wasn't available yet. I sat down and checked out the office, specifically the 6 or 8 open desks in front of me. Desks with computers, phones, and all the trappings of normal office gear. So normal, in fact, that it took me a good 2 or 3 minutes before I realized that no one was using the desks. Nay, no one had ever used the desks. There were no pens, no papers, no purses, no personal indicators of any kind. How odd.
Right when I was wondering if the receptionist and I were the only people in the office, a man in his 40s came out to greet me.
"Hi," he said, "have we met before?"
"I don't think so," I said, shaking his outstretched hand.
"Huh, you look really familiar," he pressed.
There was no way I had every met this guy before. None. So I just smiled politely and said, "I've got a few dopplegangers running around."
"Must be it!" He said leading me to the conference room. The conference room which was also empty. What kind of fake office was this? It's one thing to have a small satellite office, but why have all trappings of a real office when it only emphasized the fact that it was a ghost town?

Liz arrived after a few minutes. She was a woman in her 40s wearing tights? tight black pants? I wasn't sure which, but due to her gold chains and high bangs, I had a feeling her fashion choice was due less to the current trend than to a wardrobe that had never been updated.
After asking me all of the standard questions, we started talking about the PR industry and people we knew. After we realized we had a client in common, she proceeded to talk about what an asshole he was. True, he is an asshole, but I thought it was strange that she wanted to tell me, a stanger at a job interview, about his assholeness. Then we talked about Kansas.
"You went to school in Kansas? Why?"
"I was born there. I grew up there."
"Oh wow--I'm from Jersey." She said. I would have never known.
"I've actually been to Kansas," she continued. "I had an account promoting tourism in the plains states."
I never know how to respond to comments like this. Like I'm supposed to be impressed that people braved the flat landscapes and lack of decent restaurants and somehow lived to tell about it.
"That's great," I managed.

After interview 1 was over, I had some time to kill before interview 2, so I grabbed a table at a Starbucks to fill out the application for interview 3. I was there about 10 minutes before I noticed a man staring at me. In his late 40s or early 50s with a little belly and and a comb-over, he looked a little weird. Not serial-killer-weird, but maybe lives-in-his-parents'-basement-weird. As he approached me, I packed up my stuff.
"Are you leaving?" He asked.
"Yup, the table's yours." I said, trying to move out of his way.
"You know, you look like someone I used to date."
"I had to look closer to make sure it wasn't her. Her name was Cheryl. Well, I guess it still is..."
I smiled and made my escape to interview 2.

Interview 2:
Is "institutional grey" an actual color? What would the pantone number be? If it is a real color, why would a company decide to use it to paint its walls that color? At least there were more people at the office, but I had no idea how they could stand walking into such a depressing atmosphere every day.
My interviewer joined me in the conference room. After the routine questions he had for me, it turned out that he too knew a little something about Kansas.
"KU? I love the Jayhawks--are you a Jayhawks fan?"
We talked about Lawrence (the home of my college, the University of Kansas), and his affinity for college towns.
The other 2 people I met with raised their eyebrows at my hometown, but hadn't been there, and soon it was time for interview 3.

Interview 3:
Interview 3 was at a much larger company--so large that they actually had an HR department. Although the first two places mentioned they would have liked me to have more experience, the last place thought I was actually more qualified than the position I had applied for.

This is why I hate job interviews--I'm either underqualified, overqualified, walking into a fake office, walking into a jail cell, and have to make retarded small talk about Kansas with peoole I don't really want to work for.

Monday, November 13, 2006

I'm a sitcom waiting to happen

Tomorrow I have 3 job interviews which is great because I only need to wear my "job interview" outfit (my one nice banana republic button-down shirt and slim black skirt) once this week. The timing SHOULD be fine since one's at 10am, one's at noon, and one's at 3pm, but if my life were a tv show (which I often think it should be), I'd be so screwed. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll avoid late interviewers, traffic snarls, lunch staining my shirt, getting splattered by a passing car, pouring rain, snapping the heel off my shoe, missing my kid's playoff game/play/piano recital and all the other sitcom cliches of overscheduling.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

An open letter to my pants

Dear Pants,

Recently, it's come to my attention that you're concerned about your longevity in my wardrobe. Day by day, you've noticed the influx of leggings and tights on the street--not just leggings and tights under skirts, but IN LEIU of skirts, and (shockingly), in leiu of pants. Pants! Never fear--I will not forsake you for these new half-assed, ass-showing, ass-jiggling styles. You've treated me so well over the years: protecting my legs from the cold, covering my ass from prying stares, and making me appear dressed. I have no interest in looking like I just left the gym, was tossed out of the house, or the innocent victim in a terrible fabric-eating accident.

Pants, we have a long history together; I promise you that no matter what new-fangled trends come into fashion, I will remain committed to wearing you.

Yours forever,

Monday, November 06, 2006

Congratulations, You're Unemployed!

So after shit day job after shit day job, I'm finally taking a break to try to sell my book and think about this whole career (or non-career) thing. The funny thing about it is that when my friends found out that Friday was my last day of work, they kept saying the same thing--congratulations! Like, yay, you're unemployed! Yay, you're nearly 30, have no career, no marketable skills, no idea what you're doing, and now are umemployed!

It reminds me of the terrible car accident I had while I was in college. While driving back to school one weekend, I drove off the highway, smashing both my car and my face. Several men pulled over in order to wait with me for the ambulance. They all kept saying, "You're doing such a good job" or "You're doing great!" And all I could think was I'm not doing a good job, I'm not doing great--I just drove my car off the goddamn highway.