Chinstraps and CEOS: Adventures in Interviews

I was worried that I was somehow underdressed.

My suit pants were a little tight from the last time I had to put them on, a result no doubt of the fact that I hadn’t worn them in well over a year and well, I’m a growing boy. The decision was made to swap it out for a pair of khaki slacks. I looked something like a car salesman, but I was comfortable, so I ultimately didn’t think it was an issue.

It’s a good thing that it wasn’t.

I get to the place, and it’s a medium sized building. Apparently they share the lease with a memorabilia collection and sales business. I don’t know what exactly you would call it. The point is, I walk through the door and I’m looking at a signed photograph of Adam West as Batman in the vestibule. Adam West is looking off into the distance, but facing the door, smiling gleefully as I walk in. At the desk are two men, and you know, men is a strong word.

The first guy wore a black dress shirt, untucked, with his sleeves rolled up. I never got the concept of wearing a black dress shirt. I know it sounds catty, but to me it’s what a dude wears when he thinks he wants to be stylish, but really has no idea what he’s doing. The other guy is wearing a white polo, topped the thinnest, douchiest chinstrap beard you could ever imagine.

Chinstrap addressed me first.

“Oh, look – this one has a tie!”

What kind of way was that to address a person you don’t know? I mutter something under my breath, kind of laughing and agreeing. Yeah, I feel kind of dumb with the tie now because this boy band dropout thinks I’m overdressed for this interview. What kind of place is this? Chinny hands me a personality worksheet, the kind that you would get from your high school counselor that would somehow determine if you could go to college or not. Kind of a curveball for a job interview, but what do I know? I start to fill it out when I get ushered to a back room to finish. I step in to find about ten other people in what feels like a small classroom.

Chinster and Blackshirt start their presentation – a tag teamed effort with a lot of checkered transitions. These guys did their homework. If I understood it correctly, I’d start this job as a manager trainee. What that means is that, I’d work for the company, and one day I could be the manager. So following that logic, the guy at McDonald’s microwaving your Fish McBites could someday become CEO, and the future is filled with fun possibilities.

I’d be starting at the ground level, literally walking on the ground, to people’s houses where I’d ask them if they wanted to remodel their kitchens. That’s kind of a crazy thing to ask a stranger to think about, let alone actually do. If I got good at the home invasions, they could move me to the mall, where I’d be the guy that stands and accosts you about your kitchen design outside of Gymboree, because why not. Pay my dues there, I get moved to my local Home Depot. I don’t have a joke for the Home Depot – it’s late. If I work hard in the cabinet aisle, I could eventually become a manager. Anything is possible!

Blackshirt the Pirate is talking about the super lucrative pay structure, wherein the 8 dollars hourly would be supplemented by a small bonus every time I booked an appointment. He describes the fact that the ‘manager trainees’ only work 30 hours per week, but would have opportunities to make more depending on our success. Direct quote, “If you’re doing well, it would be retarded for this company not to give you more hours”. So I’m assuming he was reading from the handbook here.

The Power Point ends, and closes, basically saying that if we want an interview, now would be the time. He ends with, “…if anyone doesn’t want to take part in this success, you are welcome to leave if you don’t think this is for you”. So now, I’m apparently an instrument in my own failure.

This is going great.

I walk out, avoiding gaze with Chinchan while making my way from the door.  I drive the hour back to Lancaster in silence. Did I learn anything? Maybe, but more than likely, no. If nothing else, I wasn’t underdressed.

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