“Hello there, Mr. Collins?”
“Hi, this is Donna Wells calling from Build Tomorrow,” a thick female voice announced. “I believe you were scheduled for a phone interview on Thursday.”
“Right, yes. Looking forward to it.”
“Well as it happens, we’ve had to move some things around. We were wondering if you might be available now.”
“Now?” I glanced at the clock. It gave me a warning glare in return. “Uh, yes,” I said. “Yeah, now would be good.”
“Terrific. Let’s begin.”
It turns out that “now” was actually a terrible time. My last call, just a few minutes ago, had been from Marci who said that she needed me. She was due to arrive at any moment, but what was I supposed to say? When you’re trying to land a job, you do all sorts of weird stuff, like writing a letter to a complete stranger about how awesome you are or pretending that using a company gas card on business trips qualifies as budget management experience.
“So it’s Brian Collins; is that right? Mind if I call you Brian?”
“Alright Brian. Why don’t you tell me a bit about yourself.”
I had already started thinking about potential interview questions, but I hadn’t actually gotten around to nailing down answers for them. With no room for overanalyzing anything, I launched into a description of my college degree and interest in charities. The doorbell rang.
Marci was at the door. Her face and eyes were red. I motioned to the phone pointedly, but she immediately latched on to me and buried her face in my chest.
“Now I’m looking at your résumé,” Wells was saying, “Are you still at Agrimode?”
“So you’ve just had the one job since graduating?”
“No, not exactly. I’ve actually moved up while I’ve been there.” While I launched into an explanation of my different jobs, working as hard as I could to drop in a few good buzz words from the job posting, Marci finally lifted her eyes to mine.
I covered the receiver and whispered, “What?”
“What is it?”
“I need you. Can we…can’t you just—”
“I’m sorry, what was that?” I said into the phone, realizing that I had no idea what question Wells had just asked.
“Something the matter?” she asked.
“No, no, nothing wrong,” I said, carefully trying to detach myself from Marci’s grip. “I think it’s just a bad connection.”
“Brian can’t you please just call them back?”
“I’m sorry, can you repeat that one more time?” I said into the phone. It was taking all of my self-control not to let my frustration with Marci seep out into my voice.
“I was asking what got you so interested in working for Build Tomorrow, especially with that nice set up you’ve got over at your current job.”
Unfortunately, my explanation didn’t come out very smoothly because Marci had started talking as well. I wasn’t paying attention to what she was saying, but just the sound of the words was distracting me. I clamped my eyes shut and focused as hard as I could on forming complete sentences, but they kept trailing off, and Marci kept getting louder. I finally covered the phone and growled, “Damn it Marci, I don’t care what’s bothering you right now. I’m trying to do something important.”
“But you told me—”
“I don’t care what I said. That was before I got this call.”
“Brian, are you there?”
“Sorry, just a sec,” I answered, then covered the receiver once again. Marci was gaping at me incredulously. “You know I need this,” I said.
“And I need you,” Marci replied.
“Don’t be such a child,” I said, more dismissively than I intended. I finally returned to the interview and addressed Donna Wells. “Sorry about that.”
“What’s going on over there?” she asked. I stammered, trying to come up with an excuse, but Marci had resumed talking, much louder and faster than before. “What’s that noise?” Wells was asking.
“TV,” I lied. “You caught me watching the news.” I glared pointedly at Marci and said, “I’m turning it off now.” I backed through a doorway and slammed it shut. As it turned out, I had just locked myself in the bathroom. Nevertheless, I took the only seat available and said, “Alright, Sorry again, Ms. Wells. Could you repeat your last question?”
“Certainly. I wanted to know what sort of strengths your past experience brings to what we do here.”
Marci was still yelling things from outside the door, but they were muffled enough to no longer be distracting. Other than worrying about how my voice echoed off the tile walls and wondering if Donna Wells could tell, I was able to stay focused on the conversation and finally managed to sound competent and collected. We even scheduled a face-to-face interview that would include a few more top staff members. Feeling triumphant and elated, I opened the door, eager to make up with Marci and share the news, but she was gone.