Lijit Ad Wijit

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A job interview journey from hell/D.C.

I had such a horrific experience traveling to a job interview last week that I couldn't help but share it with you all. This is purely for the purposes of your entertainment and my future recollection. I've ****ed out the name of any important people and locations, but I think you'll enjoy the story nonetheless. Feel free to comment, and more importantly, let me know if you found a job for me. Happy Tuesday.


When the recruiter told me on the phone that my interview would be taking place at 9:30 a.m. at a restaurant on the corner of 3rd & Penn in Washington, D.C., I knew I was in for a real treat.

Not only was I going to have the grand opportunity of experiencing the district traffic in its finest hour known as the rush, but I would also be ending up somewhere along Pennsylvania Avenue on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. Surely they were testing me.

To read the sequence of events that led me to be 40 minutes late for my interview despite sitting at a light near 3rd & Penn at 9:10 a.m. is one thing, but to experience the tumultuous journey through our nation's capital that so ruined my punctual reputation with this potential employer was a complete other.

I planned to leave my apartment at 7:15 a.m. giving me two hours and 15 minutes to make my way through the hellish formula of morning rush hour + holiday weekend traffic. By setting my alarm for 6 a.m. I figured that 75 minutes would be plenty of time for me to have a bowl of cereal, cook my world famous egg sandwich, chug some water to stay hydrated (but not too much because I didn't want to have to make any pit stops, let alone harbor an awkward where's-the-nearest-bathroom face for the duration of the interview) and get dressed in my shirt and tie before I was out the door.

On the surface that all sounds like a great plan. The only problem was that somehow I slept through my trusty alarm and found myself rolling over in bed and staring at the clock, which read 7:12 a.m. Fortunately for me I set that bad boy six minutes fast, so I had nine minutes to brush my teeth and get dressed if I were to remain on schedule. This meant that I would have to blow some money on a McDonald's breakfast - a last resort if I ever had one.

I didn't check the time on my way out of the apartment but I left somewhere between 7:15 a.m. and "Oh, s***, I think I forgot something but I definitely don't have time to go back now." What I did not forget, however, was my flash drive that contained my resume and references. The plan was to run by the beautiful college campus in Emmitsburg known as Mount St. Mary's University, stop in a computer lab and print the two documents. I parked my car - gasp! - on a campus street with no flashers as I ran toward the computer lab in Lower McGowan. As my luck would have it, my MountCard no longer granted me access to this luxurious little room full of watered-down computers. I sprinted out of the depths of McGowan's lower area across the street (without looking either way!) and into the academic center (or AC, as we fondly refer to it.)

Mind you I was doing nothing wrong (except for the parking tidbit) because I'm still a student at the Mount and have access to these things. Or am supposed to. And that is why my frustration grew when I joyfully found a computer lab on the first floor unlocked, only to receive matching error messages on multiple computers saying the printer could not be reached. I was able to reach the printer just fine, thank you, simply by walking across the room. Unfortunately the computer didn't have that ability and somewhere between the 1998-looking Dell desktop and the mammoth-dwarfing printer in the corner of the room, my document got caught up.

No resume - no problem! At least that's what I tried to convince myself for the next 30 minutes down the road. By the time I hit U.S. 270 South I was already refocused on what I anticipated to be a gauntlet of poor drivers all making their way south for the final day of the work week. I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which I made my way past the southern part of Frederick and into Montgomery County.

Before I knew it (literally, I had no idea) I was on the outskirts of Barack's neighborhood and sniffing 3rd & Penn. Karen, my properly-named GPS navigation device, told me I would get to my destination by 9:09 a.m. at that pace. Pleased by our progress I asked her for directions to the nearest Kinko's and she dutifully complied. For only $0.25 of parking and $0.44 more for the deed to be done, I was handed my resume - printed on paper that came from the most prestigious of the oak tree genealogy - and my references - on a slightly less distinguished form of tree paper. I was back in the car in a wink and Karen said we were still due to arrive around 9:14 a.m. as I was less than two miles away.

And just about the time that I thought everything was going my way despite my oversleeping, Karma rolled out of bed from her Thursday night slumber and made my morning a living hell. As I made my way down some random road in the downtown district I noticed two "flex lanes" in the middle of this six-lane road. Fortunately for me they were being utilized in the direction I was traveling, making it a four-land road on my side as opposed to two or three. That would have been spectacular if it were not for the lack of notice when the road changed back to three lanes per side.

I must have missed the memo at one of the lights while the person headed right for me in the same lane clearly did not. Assuming that I was at fault, as a gentleman always should in these situations, I cut off a cab driver about two feet to my right and six inches behind my rear bumper. He was none too pleased, especially as the next light we approached turned red. I am sure, though, that the person whose day/life I was about to hit head on (literally) was quite appreciative of my heady decision.

Speaking of red lights, I did not remember their exact purpose for a split second in my hectic travels and realized it before it was far too late, AKA as I was sitting in the middle of the intersection pretending to interview myself. As I was too far up to back behind the line now, I gunned the accelerator and narrowly escaped the wrath of a puke-Peach colored Grand Marquis looking P.O.S. model that came as close to my back bumper as the aforementioned cab driver. Relieved by this avoidance, I nearly flattened an unwitting pedestrian in my path. That would have been triply unfortunate if you consider that he was wearing a nice suit, and that I likely would have been charged with vehicular manslaughter of some sort.

With the blood rushing fresh out of my heart, because it had to shrink after all if it was to remain in my throat, Karen and I made our last turn onto Pennsylvania Avenue. I called my prospective interviewer with the news that I was almost there (at 9:26 a.m.) and she told me that it was no problem, just find a place to park and she'll help me walk to the restaurant where we were supposed to meet.

I went around the block and turned back onto 4th street unable to find any parking. Returning to the light at which I called the interviewer - via speakerphone, didn't want to break the district phone law - and faced the Capitol building, I made a left onto 3rd Street. As I was trailed closely by another driver I had little time to slow down and check to see if the two ramps I was about to pass were parking garages. Indeed they were, but I missed them both. Calm as ever under pressure I confidently turned onto the third ramp knowing I would find a place to park only to read a sign that said "395 South".

As I'm pretty sure they were fresh out of parking on the highway I sped a mile down to the next exit and began making my way back to the intersection that I so doggedly pursued just minutes before. It was now approaching 9:45 a.m. and I called the interviewer again to tell her that I was essentially screwed and would get there as soon as possible. She didn't sound pleased.

The only thing I had going for me was the confidence that I could turn back into one of the first two parking garages I missed and be on my way to the interview. By the time I got back to that part of the city and smooth-gunned it down the ramp, I found three cops waiting for me, one of them with a detection contraption that tells them if I'm hiding a bomb or something under my car (I wasn't). I soon realized this was no regular parking garage, and so much was confirmed when the polite lady officer (all I could think of now was Lil' Wayne) asked me if I was there to visit someone since this was so obviously exclusive parking for government employees.

I told her unless Obama is trying to play some golf at Burning Tree I need to find a public parking garage and get to my job interview. She ever so kindly helped me back out into the road and sent me on my way to a public garage two streets up. I was thrilled to find upon entering that I would have to cough up $12 of my hard-earned money from Village Liquors to enter the garage. Not only that, but when I finally found a space they required me to leave my keys on the front seat of my unlocked car. Awesome parking system they had going there. Charge someone $12 for the opportunity to have their car stolen, although it wouldn't really be stealing because everyone there is stupid enough to pay a bunch of non-college graduates $12 to hold onto their keys in their unlocked car in a public parking garage downtown in a major city. Awesome system.

To add insult to injury - of myself and very nearly a few others - the interviewer called me as I was on the bottom floor of the garage where I had no signal. The only thing she probably heard from me was a string of expletives directed at my phone, which she probably had a hard time distinguishing, much like Becca in Superbad when Evan calls her before making his way to the party.

As I waited in the garage elevator hitting the send button like I was on a turret shooting at terrorists, a polite man gave me directions to the restaurant for which I was searching. I followed his instructions, so I thought, and literally sprinted through the city heading back to 3rd & Penn via the advice my good friend in the elevator offered. Three minutes, two sweaty sleeves and a messed-up hairdo later, I asked another lady cop where the hell I was going. She wasn't too sure herself - of the question or the answer, I'm sure - so she directed me to a taxi haven across the block. I ran through some fancy-looking courtyard that I owe some new flowers and branch repair on a bush.

I almost put my iPod in and cued some theme music to add to the drama as it was now after 10 a.m. - but I was doubly disappointed when I realized that not only did I not have my iPod on me, but it was also sitting on the front seat of my unlocked car in the bottom floor of a public garage ran by a bunch of thirty-something former juvenile delinquents who were not the most fluent speakers of the English language I had met in the last hour. So I scrapped the background music.

I was hoping to jump through the window of one of these cabs while shouting out directions as if my bleeding, dying, pregnant wife was with me, but I'm not even married so I just opened the back door and, with little in the way of the ability to breathe, said something along the lines of "Job interview. Late. Third and Penn. Extra tip."

"Third northwest or third southeast," my friend Amir asked me.

"Huh?" I responded.

"There's a third northwest and a third southeast - which one do you need?"

"Well @#$^! !#$^#^ m@#$^#%#$ f(%$# a@^## s*&^(^&*!!!! I guess whichever one the ********* restaurant is at."

"I never hear of ******* restaurant."

"Well holy $%#@, Amir. All I know is someone said something about Union Station."

"We go."

I told him I had already successfully ran a red light - albeit accidentally - and that he was permitted to do the same. He didn't give much of a response to that comment but I took some pride in the fact that he destroyed multiple yellow lights - and nearly someone else's rear bumper - with exquisite use of the pedal on the right.

About seven minutes and 41 seconds later we arrived at the intersection 3rd Street Southeast & Pennsylvania Avenue. I'll give you one guess as to which end of 3rd Street I spent a good portion of my district visit circling.

"There it is," Amir said.

Sure enough, there was the sign that read ********** restaurant. My tab came to $5.25. Seeing as he took my advice on the lights and that I was feeling a little generous, I threw the odd couple of Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Washington on his front seat and told him to keep the change.

"Careful! Be slow!" he warned me as I leaped from the car like a frog on FGH and sprinted across the street - again without looking, probably not as prudent of a decision in the district as it is on campus at the Mount - and bolted through the front door with the expectation that everyone inside was awaiting my arrival. In some ways I feel as if they were since the lady who greeted me pointed upstairs when I got there. I didn't have time to ask how she knew who I was or why I was there - I've come to expect this precognitive knowledge from complete strangers.

As I made my way to the back of the second floor of the restaurant like I had an appointment with destiny or John Gotti, I ever-so-subtly patted my hear down and said a prayer that my nose was clean all the while feeling the moistness of fresh sweat on my arms from my Washington, D.C., triathlon. I introduced myself to the infinitely patient yet visibly perturbed interviewer.

"Hi, I'm Brad Gerick."

"I'm ****** - what happened?!"

Well now you know.


Richard said...

BG, I absolutely loved reading your story. I am very experienced in the horrors of traveling around DC. Do not worry, you are not the only one who has had this type of experience. I believe anyone who has a necessity to venture into DC for something of that importance, end up having a similar experience at least a few times, if not every time. I really do not see how people can commute down to there every day. I mean, heck, you work to have a life right? Well it defeats the purpose to work down in DC and live outside its environs. You have to get up like 4 hours early to get there and then you get home 4 hours later or more. Then do it all over again. It is senseless to me. It is a very good thing for all of us readers and yourself that you did not go to AU or GWU and went to MSM- what do you think, lol. Thank you so much for a good read, you do have some literary prowess I must say :)

Anonymous said...

....and you wonder why you don't have a job?

Take it from an employer, someone I want to hire would have slept over the night before just to be sure she was at the interview on time (and in sweat free clothing?)