Here’s how my interview for this job went:
Interviewer: What can you tell me about this job?
Me: Well, I understand it’s a very visible role – lots of conference planning, meeting and greeting international visitors, high-profile executives, liaising with the catering and planning departments, booking rooms etc, which all sounds pretty exciting
[even though I secretly hate this type of job]
Interviewer: Well, I’m glad you said that, because that’s not what this job is about at all.
At that moment, my brain advised me it was OK for it to shut down and for me to just be myself, just so I could get through the interview and chalk it down to some fantastically-wasted time.
I referenced Harry Potter (and as a joke), made about as much eye contact as an escaped mental patient, and silently chastised my poor choice of interview attire (ruffly polka dot shirt with a red ribbon).
Then he asked me if I had any questions.
Brain: I’ve got one!
Gut: Don’t say it.
Brain: But it’s brilliant!
Gut: Too risky…
Brain: Naaaaaah. It’s fine! Going to formulate it in the mouth now.
Gut: No! Don’t do it!!
Brain: Try and stop me!
Gut: I can make a big fart!
(This happened in the space of a few micro-seconds. Guts and brains have a whole other timeframe for conversing).
Thankfully, my gut did not make a big fart. Instead I said,
“Actually, I do have a bit of a cheeky question (yes, I said cheeky) – what do you think prevents me from being the top candidate for the job? Is there anything I could improve?”
Well, this stumped the interviewer somewhat. He kept saying I could do the job, and the second interviewer (who was the on-site manager) actually went through my entire CV and listed my skills/parts of my duties from past jobs that would apply to the job. Wasn’t that something I was supposed to do?
I saw a more presentable, more expensively-dressed, suitably less-nervous (and taller) candidate in the other interview room. He was obviously going to get the job.
A few hours later, I got the call telling me I got the job.
I asked about a start date, but was told I would have to pass a background check and drug test.
Me: What does that entail?
Agency: You have to pee in a cup.
Me: I don’t know…
Brain: You berk! She’s going to think you’re a drug addict, not a germophobe who continuously fails to predict the physics of the female urinary stream into a small container!
Me (quickly adding): …how to do that. It’s because I’m from a foreign country, haha. Ha.
Agency (laughing; understanding the perfectly normal and non-criminal implications of previous statement): Well, everyone has their own technique. You might have to hold it a different way – whatever feels comfortable.
Me (thinking that this is going to turn into an episode of Sin Cities): OK. Bye!
2 weeks later:
I finally get an email advising me I’d passed the initial background check (after having nightmares of failing it due to my “poor choice in television programs“.
I immediately make an appointment at the nearest Wee-in-a-Cup Center and hotfooted it to the bus station within an hour of waking up and getting ready.
The problem was I hadn’t eaten or drank anything, and all my morning ablutions had been done an hour ago.
My morning ablutions (it helps if you play this in the background):
- Leave without tripping over things
- Go back to turn off lights
- Trip over things and leave.
Guess what happens when you wee 1 hour before taking a drug test on a very, very, VERY hot day?
After almost getting run over thanks to the idiotic placement of this center (right next to a highway like everything else), I quickly asked directions to a building which I was already in front of, and strutted on in.
Having been warned by my landlady not to eat any poppy seed bagels, I went the extra mile to make a good impression and dressed like a smart, old Southern lady (think soft, silk-collared, pearl-embellished blouse and a long, just-over-the-knee sack skirt), so that no-one would get the impression I was some sort of ketamine-addled miscreant trying to piss like a racehorse all over the toilet seat.
The room was tiny. It was like a doctor’s waiting room but with no doctor. Just two toilets, which, to my horror, were NOT gender-assigned.
Despite the fact that I had an afternoon appointment, no-one else was there. I could wee in privacy! The nice lady took my info and told me the following:
- Take this cup (more like miniature bucket – seriously, it was like half the size of a shopping basket)
- Wee in the cup
- Don’t flush or run the water (i.e. —DO NOT WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER WEEING—)
- Come back and fill out stuff
- Go wash your hands after handling all your possessions and even a strip of paper that she gives back to you that is now CONTAMINATED WITH NEAR-URINE.
I looked very hesitant at the “no washing your hands” bit. But she probably thought I was hesitant at the “having to go for a drug test because I’m a filthy drug mule” bit.
As a child, I once stood with my hands hovering over the bathroom sink at my local cinema as my mother went to advise a staff member that they were completely out of soap (in all 6 dispensers), and that I refused to leave or touch anything until my hands were sufficiently clean.
But, regardless, I went in there. Couldn’t go. What a surprise!
I trudged out of there in defeat. There were now a few more people in the waiting room, watching me exit, knowing the procedure, and making their assumptions. The lady directed me to the water cooler, and assured me this happened a lot.
Cursing my inferior Loop of Henle, I sat to the left of the reception window so I could be out of the way (and in a corner), but this literally put even more light on me as there was a huge glaring ceiling light that was so intensely bright it was difficult not to squint. It was also freezing thanks to the air-conditioning (which seemed to affect no-one else). I also successfully dodged a tiny spider (dangling on its single string of cobweb from the ceiling light) by leaning in a few different directions, and then eventually moving seats.
"That spider is really moreish"
To onlookers, I was a shivering, pale, squinting, twitching, musical chairs fan who was unable to pee and thought that there was some sort of magical fucking spider in the air that only I was special enough to see. Aces!
Luckily they didn’t grade my test on behaviour alone. After 8 cups of freezing cold water I was finally able to dispense, wash my hands, make a joke about the needless humiliation of such an invasive practice and then leave.
Unfortunately, it was now 1 hour before the Weeing Center closed, so everyone who forgot to turn up 2 hours ago were now waiting their turn.
Suddenly, everything in the room looked different – the walls, once puce-coloured, took on a bluer hue. I couldn’t tell whether my chills were from the aggressive air conditioning or the very, very urgent need to go, and the huge painting of a 16th-Century sailboat in a stormy, foamy, sea with flooded decks and gushing waters and gale-force winds was somehow the focal point of the whole room.
After I was finally able to give mercy to my bladder, it turned out that the shopping mall was right opposite.
Well, if I got the job, I would need new clothes.
Afterword: Guess what happens when you drink 8 cups of very cold water and only pee once, thinking it’s all gone?