It was time to play a game that I wasn’t particularly fond of but was told by reliable sources that I should be. It was earlier than I’d gotten up in a while. Out of current routine, I put on a suit and combed my recently cut hair.
I was exploring options this morning. Moving upward in hopes of the chance to get the chance to hopefully work my way into middle class comfort in twenty years’ time. A brand new day.
The air is different in the morning when you haven’t been out in a while. The colors crisper and the pace manic and irritable. The car started without issue and I eased it into the thick flow of traffic working its way southwest, the cradle of employment on this side of the hill.
A pleasant surprise manifested itself in a relatively painless commute followed by an equally painless parking experience. My destination was a standard courtyard-centric commercial brick job. People moved about like worker ants, each with a singular task in hand. I navigated through them and found suite number whatever-the-hell, and after a deep breath went in.
Looking around in the lobby I was only one of several in their late twenties and I was the only one wearing a suit. My transition from picture frame salesman to something more fulfilling hadn’t been going as smoothly as I’d hoped so here I found myself at ten a.m. on a Wednesday morning waiting to be interviewed.
I should have known something wasn’t right in that lobby. I represented a different facet of society that what was going on here. I was somehow a symbol of what was wrong in the world to these people and I felt it in their stares. I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t have worn a suit.
After what seemed an eternity of staring at my resume and hearing the scratching of pencils on clipboards from all the other applicants that came streaming in a hundred at a time, my name was called.
As I stood up the pointed stares got worse. Who was this guy? Is he here to AUDIT the operation? To SHUT IT DOWN and RUIN our chances of WORK? Is that what’s going on? They hated me and I understood. I hated me too at that moment.
I walked into what looked like a back room at some underfunded elementary school. Short-pile orange carpet worn down to the linoleum. Wood-grained cheap siding on the walls. A “hang in there” poster and various other examples of desperation and misery.
The dumpy Mexican teenage girl that led me in stopped behind the flimsy desk and bade me have a seat. Then she sat down. Evidently she was going to be conducting the interview.
She produced some silly looking reading glasses and looked down at my resume.
“How old are you Mr. –”
“Twenty nine. I’m not sure you can ask me that.”
I probably should have just walked out at that moment, but I had already committed hours of my life in that lobby and I needed to see this through.
“Of course, it’s for informational purposes only. So, what do you know about marketing?”
“I know that anything I don’t know I can learn.”
“Huh. You studied political science –”
“– what’s that?”
“Literature? Oh, well, they’re both nothing really. I guess I should have thought about that when I was seventeen, but here we are. ”
“I’ve pulled weeds, worked as a sales associate, gas station attendant, line cook, waiter, janitor, apprentice mechanic, groundskeeper, book keeper, file clerk, receptionist; I’ve worked light construction. I can pour concrete and wire a lamp. I’ve taught myself some computer programming, and I can type. I tried to launch several small businesses and failed, from night clubs to t-shirts. I speak Spanish and am learning Italian. I know who Christopher Marlowe was.”
“So no marketing?”
“I see. Well, what we do here is take on highly trainable individuals and GIVE THEM THE TOOLS TO SUCCEED in the highly competitive world of marketing. Let me ask you, do you game?”
“My buddy wanted to name his kid ‘Wolf the Quarrelsome,’ but his wife nixed it.”
“Is that a World of Warcraft character?”
“Don’t think so…”
“Look, mister –”
“Rhymes with ‘wiener.’”
“– Why did you come here? I mean, what brought you to our company?”
“Well, I guess food and bills. Expanding my skill set. You know, it’s tough times out there.”
“Oh, I know it, I’m still paying student loans. Studied MARKETING at Cal State Dominguez Hills.”
She looked at me for a moment, and the stupid dance was over. She pulled her big ass out of the chair and extended her hand. I shook it. It was small and boney and damp.
“Thank you for coming in. We’ll keep your resume on file and will be sure to contact you if we feel that you might be a good fit in one of our branches. As a quickly growing multinational marketing company, new opportunities come up almost every day.”
“That’s very kind, thank you.”
“Leticia will validate you.”
“I’ll bet she will.”
I took my briefcase and my suit and my haircut and I walked over to Leticia at the receptionist desk and she validated me and I was on my way.
Driving home I was happy that it was still early and traffic wouldn’t be that bad heading west at this time. I found Pico and knew I was just a few turns and about half an hour away from getting out of this monkey suit and seeing what was playing on TCM.