A Rough Week in May

Sunday: Devon has the baby shower at Kate’s. Kate does not like me, and has persuaded members of the Clique to act likewise, but they’re stuck. I’m invited, and the exclusion will be too obvious. There are lots of others in my situation; exclude us all and you don’t have a shower. I bring the most minimal gift(s), not diapers but pretty close, in nice wrapping. I leave the affair a little early, and D acts very sweet, tries to soothe me. She was abusive and insulting to me a couple of weeks back, and knows an apology is again in order, but she doesn’t do apologies, preferring just to act friendly, as though the cross words were never spoken by her. I wince a half-smile and go out the door.

Monday: To a skyscraper in Brooklyn, at least as much of a skyscraper as you can get in Brooklyn, for a job interview with the local department of education. Three men interview me in a tiny room. One of them thinks I have an English accent. I do not.  Outside I stroll around the downtown area, a dismaying slum that always promises to get better but never does.

Tuesday: Early in the morning, a sweet young lady downtown phones me about a web job at a local subsidiary of Macmillan. Oh I remember Nature…used to log it in at the Forestry Library. I tell her, you may certainly submit me for this position. Work among civilized people for a change, not the mutants and slobs in pharmaceutical ad agencies. What a lovely phone encounter…could it ever pay off? I think that’s asking too much of Fate. Recruiters phone me incessantly, often for the same damn jobs. They always want to talk your ears off on the telephone, ticking off facts about YOU, the victim, in a process that shouldn’t take five minutes but they prefer to stretch to twenty-five.  These are phone bullies, no doubt about it.  Us little forest creatures who are insufficiently overbearing and glib, we shall always be at their mercy. When I can, I flee to the library for peace…

Not today, though. Today I have two back-t0-back “phone screens” around noon and one. In the first, a couple of web techs from Reuters tell me about their revamped site, and don’t get around to asking me any substantive questions. They will have to ding me on account of my stammer, or just on general principle. Nice folks. Then a three-way conference call with these two Jewish girls in LA, who are quite eager to get me into one of those cutting-age interactive agencies, which here in town are invariably in the West 30s. Oboy but they are chatterboxes. Pleasant, and I am flattered that they dote over me, but the more they tell me about their client, the more I hate it. I am exhausted by the time we hang up forty-five minutes later.  It is a fiercely cold and rainy day, and I am not ready to face D again, so I skip the track races over at the stadium and do a long indoor workout at my gym downtown.

Wednesday: Battery of interviews with that interactive agency, the one the Jewish girls in LA were so eager about. It’s in Hell’s Kitchen (never a point in its favor), though the neighborhood is more salubrious than what I’ve seen at Draftfcb, which is pitched over the third-world hellhole of the Manhattan Mall, at 33rd and 6th. (At let us not forget downtown Brooklyn.) Two young senior developers interview me, and when the time comes to tech questions, I panic and go blank. Me, write a function? I can barely read three words in my condition. I do better with the next interviewer, but by then my goose is cooked and I am in a manic state of derangement. You can’t get me out of this scene fast enough.  I dread the afternoon’s interview, with some Indian in a big international banking firm. All these Indians! He better not ask me technical questions. As it happens, this is the nicest interview ever. My Indian is at sea, newly plucked out of his usual department to head up a new project. He asks my advice, what sort of software would be needed, what the usual procedure would be. I may have this job. I won’t know till the lead developer starts next week. He has to interview me too, but we’ll all be at sea, all three of us. So the only issue will be whether he likes me, or we can understand each other. Hope it’s an American, or at least a Caucasian.

Thursday: I get a rejection email from one recruiter, telling me that Thomson Reuters is taking a pass on me for the job. I assume that this is for the job I interviewed for on Tuesday. Later I realize that it’s a different job, through a different recruiter. Has Thomson Reuters rejected me tout court, or was I rejected only for this particular job, for which I recall nothing and never even made it to a phone-screen. Another recruiter contacts me in the morning about positions at WebMD. (WebMD is always looking for people. One of the reasons they’re always looking for people is that they have a very bad rep. They like to low-ball, bait-and-switch, invite the recruiters to get you interested for forty or fifty an hour, enough to get your interest, then when you’re ready to come aboard you hear from the recruiter that WebMD can’t pay that much anymore, and would you work for thirty? I’ve seen it go as low as $23.00. You can’t even get a colored girl to answer your phone for that, not through a temp agency or recruiting firm.) All the times I’ve been contacted about WebMD, and I’ve never made it to the front door. I think I had a nice phone interview once, though, almost two years ago… My recruiter and I never really connect on the phone. He’s one of those who must get you on the horn for a while before he’ll submit you for the job. I don’t get it, never will. WebMD and I will never meet face-to-face.

And the week is still young.

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