At the little coffee shop I write in at my local Barnes and Noble there is a job interview taking place at a table next to me. Since I started frequenting this spot about six years ago I have been a witness to hundreds of first meetings between people. From first dates to job interviews like the one I get to have a front row seat (due to my wolf ears that grant me the ability to listen in to other people’s private conversations and my lack of shame) at watching people step out a ledge and take a calculated leap into their futures. The first dates are always the most awkward and most of them usually end with one of the participants looking for an excuse to get the hell out of there.
For me the concept of first meetings are terrifying and I’m always amazed at how well other people do with them. I, for one, suck monkey rectum at giving first impressions. When confronted with an organized get-together with a potential employer or networking contact I am reduced to looking like a man who just came out of the wild after living there for twenty years. I’d look so uncomfortable that it would most likely appear as if I was having some sort of alien burrow it’s way through my stomach – which, if that would actually happen, would be a blessing in extraterrestrial disguise. I’d let my little alien friend handle all the questions that would come my way.
Me: Uhhhh….hold on. (stomach rips open and Al Lien sticks his head out.)
Al Lien: Hello, my name is Al Lien. I will be speaking on behalf of Mr. Roedel. First of all we would like you to know that John is an excellent communicator.
Important Person: That’s exactly what we are looking for! Can you provide me with any references for John, um – the two of you?
Al Lien: Sure. But first I must eat your brain with my razor sharp alien fangs.
One of the reasons I hide behind a keyboard is because I’m becoming increasingly aware that I don’t speak your language. I enjoy writing because I get to dictate what the topic is and how I present myself. I get to control the lies. If I’m forced to interact with somebody new I have to share the ball of dialog. I don’t like the give in take of communication – not because I’m some sort of asshole who does not value what you have to say, but rather, because I’m the sort of asshole who can’t trust himself in how I will respond to what a new person might say to me.
The well dressed woman is handling her job interview very well. She is making great eye contact and asking all the right questions. I can’t make eye contact with new people because if I did I would explode all over them. I am the King Of Hypocrite Valley because I always challenge my autistic son to try and look people in the eyes when talking to them, whereas when I’m speaking with someone I creepily stare at their shoes. It looks like I’m sizing up the persons shoe size so that when I murder them I will know if I can wear their loafers. I would rather drink a glass full of wheat grass sludge than to look at somebody in their peepers. I’m of the full belief that looking people in the eyes will give me cancer.
It’s hard to know that if my lack of self-belief is because of my introversion or if my introversion is the cause of my lack of self-belief. The woman in the interview is very confident in herself. She keeps referring to herself as “Superiorly qualified to handle any situation.” Every time she says this the other well dressed woman who is questioning her nods approvingly. Superiorly qualified to handle any situation? That is a brilliantly phrased bullshit hallow sentence. Nobody is superiorly qualified to handle any situation. The only person who can ever say that they achieve that status would be John McLane from The Die Hard movie franchise and I sure as hell can’t imagine this lady in her crazy high heels being able to handle a bunch of terrorists while being able to throw out a couple of marketable catch phrases out there.
Oh damn. They just got to the part of the interview where the interviewer asks the interviewee if they have any questions of their own – and this badass woman has some. In fact, she has a whole sheet of them. She is asking them while now leaning across the table and acting like she is now the person in charge of the whole dynamic. What about benefits? Who would I answer to? How will this workplace handle having such a positive person like me on their staff? Holy shit, she is really good at this. Her questions are all implying that she already has the position. I’m thankful that she has not yet asked “Why is that short dude at the table next to us in the Pink Floyd shirt staring at me?” At this point my eavesdropping is beyond obvious -I should just pull up a chair and join in.
The interview is over. They are shaking hands. She nailed it and I’m both happy and pissed off for her. I want to be like her but I know I will never be able to pull off her act. This woman is going places and I’m going back to the blinking cursor on my screen that doesn’t ask me follow up question. As scary as a blank page is to me, I find that blank stares from a real person to be far more horrifying a prospect to deal with.