Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Monkey Suit

Eventually, I would find the trend -- in which Sandra Bullock does the bills Sunday night and then does not speak to me until Wednesday -- unnerving. And eventually, though I'd rather not, I would begin looking for ... a (gasp) job.

I've said before that one of my least favorite things is when people act as if my underemployed state is part of a massive con job I'm pulling, wink-wink. Trust me; it's not by design. But I also say that, were money no object, I'd probably be fine writing my little magazine articles, covering high school sports for the San Francisco Examiner, and pretending that a really important novel and or screenplay was lurking just beneath the surface.

Given that money is not just an object, but, for the sadly overextended residents of San Francisco, the only object, the above option does not exist. I would like my wife to speak to me more than 4 days per week. And so, I have been looking for a job.

The possibility of a job dropped down onto me from thin air a few weeks ago, when my friend the Drama Queen, who is battling illness, took a leave of absence from her job, which involves "technical editing." She told her boss who I was, I called her boss, and so it is that I find myself trotting down Montgomery Street, completely overdressed and sweating, at 3:06 this afternoon.

Is it appropriate to wear a tie to an interview in the post-dotcom age? Sandra Bullock claims so. I don't think so. Given our relative career arcs, I go with the tie. Which is now flapping in the wind.

Bullock tells me to go with my best -- the green pants, light blue shirt and subtly plaid jacket I bought for Uncle Sam's wedding. Uncle Sam now has a 2-year-old. I have the same dress-up outfit. On a positive note, the pants still fit.

But that doesn't make me feel any less like a fraud as I lope down Diamond Street on the way to BART. For all anyone knows, I am a regular 42-year-old guy on his way back to work after ... lunch? The iPod I have on could be playing REO Speedwagon or some other 1980s hits. The bag I carry could contain important documents, not three copies of my resume, and the Timbuk2 bag itself could have been bought at a store, or given to me as a gift, not tossed my way by an electrician who'd gotten a load of them after doing some work at the bag factory.

I pass my reflection in a window: bald guy, sport coat, slacks, black shoes. iPod. Squinting, because my cheap sunglasses broke over the weekend.

I'm not listening to REO Speedwagon. I'm listening to Wilco, which relaxes me completely, so much that as I saunter up Montgomery Street, to the address I got from the company's web site, I feel as though I'm the protagonist of a music video, dressed like everyone else but really so very special, possessor of truths and emotions of great depth.

In some ways, I realize, I miss the walk from BART through downtown to some sort of job. It, along with Friday happy hours and the frozen yogurt place in the alleyway, was my favorite part of having a job, back when I did things like have a job.

Imagine my delight when I emerged from the fog and realized that my potential new place of business was on the 26th floor of the Transamerica Tower. How iconic!

Here's where the running and sweating begins.

The URS Corporation has three San Francisco offices. 600 Montgomery is the Global Headquarters. Technical Editing does not take place at the global HQ. 2:58. I don't even know where 221 Main Street is.

Have you ever run down a crowded city street, holding your arm out as if to hail a taxi that you cannot afford? Have you done it in 4-year-old dress-up clothes, sweating, an aged tie flapping from around your neck? Have you done it panicked, convinced that you have blown an interview for a job that seemed a slam-dunk? And you think, "Man, I've screwed up again. How many days of silence will follow this one?"

I have.

But the business world is so strange. Thanks to my cool new phone, I found out where 221 Main Street was, and arrived there at 3:16, drenched in sweat. I figured I was far from the first interviewee to make this mistake, but still would have preferred to show up on time, unsweaty. I'd prepared, after all, to approach this interveiw as if I were a very experienced, very busy writer/editor who'd deigned to look into this job only because my friend the Drama Queen needed someone to fill in. Well. That's out the window when you're disheveled and late. And missing your tie, which you ripped off and stuffed into your jacket pocket in a fit of anger two blocks away.

Now the truth is, I really need this job. I want my wife to speak to me. But I would have liked to at least pretend like I can pick and choose.

Of course, I showed up and the guy interviewing me had no idea I was late. And he wasn't listening when I mentioned that I'd gone to the wrong building. All he knew was that I'd shown up totally disheveled and sweaty, which didn't seem all that unsettling to him anyway.

I swear, the logic of the business world completely eludes me, almost as much as the aptitude for using power tools.

The interview itself went well, I think. It was pretty brief and pretty light, and he said I was "obviously very qualified," which I won't take as a comment on his fitness as a manager. He had a cool English accent and a ton of pictures of his kids on his office walls, and when the HR lady asked how I knew the Drama Queen, he commented, "They have the same parole officer." Very droll, which I like.

So cross your fingers. I need some income, now.

Then I limped home. The dress shoes I was wearing gave me blisters. Everyone who saw me on BART could assume that I was coming home from a long, rewarding day at work all they wanted. I just wanted to get into some shorts and a t-shirt, which I did effectively enough that my neighbor the Poet With the 40-inch Vertical commented, "You're looking kind of punky today," when I passed him on the way down to the grocery store.

This afternoon I mentioned to the Jawa that S. Bullock would be coming home early because I had a job interview. "A job interview?" he said. "Allright!" I guess the heart-warming father-son bonding period is drawing to a close.

Lets hope that I soon have a job. Some kind of job. Not one that hurts my square peg self so badly that I have to write cryptic messages on people's white boards or perform strange dances in the stairwells when no one's looking.

Don't laugh. It's happened before.

But I guess no matter how much time I spend reading the blogs of 25-year-old would-be filmmakers and their cool, counterculture friends, it won't change the basic fact that I am a 42-year-old father and husband with a butt-kickingly huge mortgage, who enjoys being a part of the mainstream enough to buy a Volvo the first chance he got. I spent my bohemian days playing volleyball, waiting tables and looking like a writer. The option to hang out with people who were actually sacrificing so they could take their shot at creating something cool was always there, but I chose to spend my time sitting on the fence, trying to sound convincing, instead.

Give me a job, any job, is a just reward for the decisions I've made.


Blogger Dave K said...

At least they weren't brown shoes.

We will think good thoughts.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Marky said...

Best of luck!!

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