The Interview Ninja: Adventures in Seeking Employment

14 Dec

This is going to sound a little odd at first, but I beg you, dear reader, to bear with me for a moment as I begin this little tale of my quest for Gainful Postgraduate Employment:

I am an Interview Ninja.

No, I don’t run around dressed all in black, suddenly appearing in interview rooms in a puff of smoke, only to vanish again moments later after the meeting is over. I don’t carry a katana. I’m certainly no martial arts expert – hell, I’m lucky if I can maintain my balance while walking in a straight line on a flat road.

All those things aside, however, I have certain ninja-like qualities that I make use of in everyday life when I’m squeezing job interviews in around attending classes and going to work, something I’ve been doing for the past month with considerable success.

Not success in finding a job per se, but success nonetheless.

How?

Quite simple; the art of changing my clothes in my car.

Clearly I sound insane, so let’s back up just a little.

This is my car:

well, it’s a picture of a black honda civic I found on Google, my car has a dent on the left side and isn’t nearly so shiny.

My car is tiny. It comfortably seats two and very uncomfortably seats four. My boyfriend, whenever he is unlucky enough to draw the drinking short straw (which happens often, since I have the alcohol tolerance of a naked mole rat), he is often doomed to the confines of my impossibly tiny near-clownish sized car, which he drives hunched over while bitching about the abundance of blind spots it has.

My car being tiny, it hardly seems the ideal place to engage in a speedy clothes-change in any circumstance, let alone the circumstance of being dressed in interview clothes, which for females involves such horrors as high heels and stockings, and dress pants without any pockets.

Detour to complain here: why the hell do women’s clothes seem to be tailored to make us suffer? Sure, most women carry a purse, but for someone as scatterbrained as me, a purse is just one more item to leave under a table at a restaurant, and best to be done without. Is it too much to ask for a pair of pants with real pockets in them?

I would consider that if I were you, women’s clothing manufacturers. If your clothes had pockets in them, I wouldn’t have to cart my life around in a purse that could easily be stolen, damaged or left somewhere in my absentmindedness.

But back to my story.

Campus parking is not set up well for speedy changes from casual to dress clothes. From where my car was parked the last time I went to a job interview (a week Monday), my options were thus:

a) walk to car (15 minutes). Retrieve expensive pants-suit and shoes from backseat of my clown car (5 minutes). walk back to the nearest campus restroom to change (15 minutes to walk, 5 minutes to change). walk back to car (another 15 minutes).

b) walk to car (15 minutes). Struggle into expensive pants-suit and shoes within the confines of clown car (10 minutes). Throw casual clothes into the backseat, drive to interview.

Can you guess why I went with option B every time?

I don’t think of it as laziness, I think of it as efficiency.

So cut back to a past interview, a group event for a teller position at Wells Fargo bank (which, unless something magically changes, I didn’t end up getting). Interview was at 9AM, and I had class at 11:30 am on campus, which is a twenty minute drive away if traffic is on my side. By the time the interview was over, it was 10:45 AM (yes, an interview that lasted over an hour. I wasn’t thrilled either) and I knew I wouldn’t have time to discreetly grab the bag of street clothes I had stashed behind the driver’s seat of my car to change in the bathroom of the Corporate office. Making decision on the seat of my pants, I drove back to campus hoping I’d have time to hop into one of the buildings for my clothes switcheroo.

Half an hour passes (because traffic is never on your side if you’re driving on O street) and I pull into the campus parking lot. Knowing I wouldn’t have time to change indoors without crumpling my suit into a ball of cloth that would make my mother cringe and threaten to strangle me, I resigned myself to an embarrasing display: changing in my clown car.

Those of you who have driven a Honda Civic, you know how cramped that front seat can be, even if you jack the seat all the way back to stretch your legs out. Glancing over both my shoulders across the parking lot to see if the coast was clear, I began the process of changing clothes in my car with my shoes, cursing their pinched existence and flinging them into the backseat of my car with glee.

I’m a size ten. Heels don’t fit me comfortably. Wearing them is like a penance for my sins. Or it would be if I were still actually catholic.

The shoes off, I checked my visuals again, just in case an itinerant pervert had spotted me throwing clothes around and was now on their way over to stare hungrily through my windows. I made sure the doors were locked just in case one showed up out of nowhere a-la a horror movie.

My paranoia assuaged, I began the first part of the potentially embarrassing process: the changing of the pants. I won’t go into gory details, but after brief finagling and a few choice curse-words, all interspersed with my head snapping back and forth between my front and side windows, checking for interlopers, I found success. Within minutes my pocketless dress pants were laid out neatly on my tiny excuse for a backseat and my comfy jeans were returned to my personage.

Phew, I thought to myself with relief. Hard part’s over.

No such luck trooper. No such luck.

I started undoing my dress shirt, a respectable deep red blouse that was magically devoid of frills and lace, unlike most of the options I had found in various clothing establishments. I figured I could get this done quickly and with little trouble, or at least that was my mentality until I caught sight of movement out of the corner of my eye.

I froze, deer-in-the-headlights style, one arm out of my blouse and the other still entangled in it while holding my less fancy shirt. Across the parking lot, an older woman, possibly a professor, was walking towards her car, in direct line of sight to my clothes-changing antics.

“Shit,” I muttered to myself, frantically grabbing my coat and flinging it over me, hiding my bare skin and bra so red it was practically glowing in the barren waste of the Nebraska winter. I remained perfectly still, treating the woman like a tyrannosaurus rex ready to eat me alive with her laughter and ridicule at my half-nakedness in the dead of December. If I just waited long enough, the nice lady would be on her way and I could get back to this ridiculous ordeal.

It didn’t take long. The woman passed directly in front of my car, making no obvious notice of my presence in it, and climbed into her SUV parked in the adjacent lot. I waited until she had pulled away before I released my breath.

Phew.

The next few moments were critical; I knew it wouldn’t be long before the parking lot would be flooded with students pouring out of their classes, due to end in less than five minutes. I threw caution to the wind and tossed my coat aside, tugging my shirt over my head and pulling it down rapidly to cover my near bioluminescent bra. I struggled momentarily with the trappings of the red blouse, but I at last extricated myself from it and laid it out in my backseat next to the infuriating dress pants.

I checked the clock again; I had ten minutes to get to my class, and other than shoes I was ready to roll. I pulled them onto my feet and clambered out of my tiny car, pulling on my jacket as I did so. Only stopping to curse the wind of course. Nebraska winters are treacherous.

Locking my car behind me I set off across campus, feeling tired and hungry, but accomplished. The interview hadn’t been a complete disaster, and I was going to make it to class without walking in late and making a twit of myself.

tl;dr: I am a clothes-changing ninja to rival all ninjas. My job-hunt is nothing if not an adventure.

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