I’m going to share a secret: embarrassment is a close friend of mine. Okay, it’s not really a secret; anyone who knows me is aware that I have a knack for turning even normal encounters into awkward moments that usually end with my cheeks looking like I overindulged at the Clinique makeup counter.
Digging back into my abundant “embarrassing moments” archive, my first job interview came easily to mind. I’m going to share it with you for two reasons: 1) it has some application to my writing experience; and 2) you can’t point and laugh at me because we’ll never meet.
I was just a couple months shy of my sixteenth birthday, and I wanted to get a job so I could buy my own stuff. My parents also wanted me to get a job…so I could buy my own stuff. It may have been the only thing we agreed on at that time in my life 🙂
My applications to grocery stores, drug stores and anything-but-fast food went ignored. I couldn’t even get an interview because I had no work experience. One day, I finally did it. I did something I told my parents (very indignantly) that I would never do: I submitted an application to a fast food restaurant. I expected another dead-end, so I stammered like an idiot when they called me on the phone several days later to set up an interview. It would be the next day.
I dressed to not impress in my Jordache jeans with the holey knees and zippers on back that ran from my ankle to my calf, neon pink puffy paint L.A. Gear T-shirt and my pink and white high-top tennis shoes. I can feel your disbelief. You’re thinking, “Yeah, right. How does she remember what she wore?”
It’s easy. I just described my favorite clothes that year. I wore them ALL the time, so I know that’s what I picked for the interview. Looking back, I acknowledge that it was a cringe-worthy outfit that I probably shouldn’t have worn anywhere. I shouldn’t have teased and hair-sprayed my bangs straight up either, but that’s beside the point.
I didn’t have my license yet, so my mom drove me to the interview and sat at a table across the restaurant. I pretended like we weren’t together. The manager directed me to a table against the wall. I succeeded in walking over to it without tripping, so I was pleased with myself. I set my purse on the floor beside the chair and sat down, reminding myself to breathe because my nerves were threatening to suffocate me.
I don’t remember the questions he asked, or what goofy answers I supplied. What I do remember is that I had crossed my legs and was nervously swinging my leg back and forth, causing my foot to tap against the table leg as if I kept time to some imaginary song. I don’t know how long I did this before I finally realized it, but it finally started to annoy me so I uncrossed my legs to make it stop.
Soon after, the interview ended. I thanked him for his time and bent down to get my purse. To my horror, I noticed that the table wasn’t on a pedestal like the others in the middle of the restaurant – it was bolted to the wall. I realized that the object I had been kicking was the manager’s leg, and he didn’t say a word about it.
To my surprise, I was offered the job soon after. But I was so embarrassed, the thought of seeing the manager again made me physically ill. What do you think I did?
- Turned the job down and cried.
- Never went to that restaurant again and cried.
- Accepted the job, even though I’d probably not be able to make eye contact with him – and cried.
Of course, it was 3., or I wouldn’t have a blog post, would I? Now, I bet you’re curious about what this has to do with writing (or you’re irritated because I’ve taken so long to get to the point.) Here it is:
My first job interview was a disaster (this is fact – not opinion.) I’ve had a few job interviews since then, and most of them have gone smoothly. (One didn’t – but that’s a different blog post ;)) My interviews are not unlike my writing: my first attempts at writing were a mess. My early poetry was very simple and trite. My first stories were essay-ish, overly descriptive narratives without even a line of dialogue.
I would be embarrassed if others read these works, but I am still pleased with them, because they were the beginnings of practice that allowed me to improve – just like my first interview taught me to always keep my feet on the floor…just like my writing ten years from now will be more precise than it is today. That is something to not blush about!
Would you like to share any life events that have translated to your writing? Do you have anything to add? If so, leave your comment! Have a fantastic Friday 🙂