Tuesday, February 9, 2010
(Originally posted on Facebook)
Six days ago, I held my breath as my boss walked up to me. How was he going to take the news? I could easily see him taking my resignation personally, asking a billion questions why I’d quit. As I scooped a bowl of brown rice, he said, “I heard you were looking for me.”
I took a deep breath. “Yes. I, uh, I have to leave.”
(‘Okay’?! He must have thought I was asking to leave the shift early!)
“The job!” I clarified. “I have to leave the job. I have to quit.”
“Okay,” he replied, still unconcerned. “By when?”
“. . . By the twelfth,” I stuttered, still bewildered.
“Of this month?”
“Okay. . . ”
My boss walked away unchanged. I’ve seen him become more emotionally vexed about my not changing the oil in the deep fryer. Did that really just happen? I continued scooping the rice in a mixed state of disbelief, doubt, and—more prominently—relief. All I had to do now was ace my interview the next day. . .
Caramel-Filled Chocolate: The Third Interview with Tree
Caramel-Filled Chocolates are sweet and satisfying, but last forever. And while these sugar-centered treats share similar qualities with my third interview, I must admit it isn’t a perfect metaphor. Caramel-filled chocolates take a long time to finish; my interview took a long time to start.
My third interview was once again forty-five minutes after I got off of work. And once again, my gracious cousins let me borrow their car so I could get to Bubba Gump in time. I was ready for this one: I not only had practice, but I also was sporting my UC Berkeley t-shirt, a sure-fire way to impress someone named Tree. Avoiding the freeway, I actually arrived ten minutes early. . . then waited nearly an hour. Following the disappointing end to my last interview, I was ready to leave after half an hour of waiting, but I stuck it out. The bartender even asked me at one point whether or not the managers knew I was waiting for them. Right before my breaking point, a manager named Rick came out, apologized for having me wait, and told me Tree was giving an orientation and that she’d be right with me. That bit of acknowledgment of my existence helped me endure the next ten minutes until Tree was ready to see me.
I’m sure she apologized for having me wait, but all I can really remember was how she didn’t seem that sorry. I have no idea why I wasn’t more annoyed than I should have been, but I wasn’t and I’m glad I wasn’t. Once the interview started, it went very well and I actually liked my interviewer. She seemed genuinely interested in me, my life story, my outlook on life. She was also impressed by my love of Forrest Gump. When I told her that the film was tied for second in my all-time favorite movies list, she quizzed me. I had the answers before she was done with the questions. Despite her disregard for interview start times, Tree (real name: Teresa) is actually a sweet person. “I think you’ll fit in perfectly here,” she informed me at the end of the interview, “so I would like you to come back tomorrow to meet with the general manager Mark.
Geneva: The Final Interview with Mark
Geneva cookies are thin, crispy cookies covered with chocolate and peanuts on one side.
My interview with the Mark was on Friday, February 5th. Since Fridays are my half days at my soon-to-be former job, I was in no rush to get to the restaurant. I had time to work out, eat a bit, and rehearse my responses. Psyche! I had three interviews worth of rehearsal! Mr. General Manager was just another person waiting to be impressed, and I was just waiting for that chance. In fact, I had done a lot of waiting during this process. I would never have guessed that my waiting days weren’t over.
Again, I was ten minutes early. Again, I waited an hour.
Luckily, I was so numb to waiting it did not bother me. I didn’t even shock me. That’s just how things go, I felt. So, I slid open my AT&T Samsung Propel, linked up to the Internet, and started reading The Iliad on Sparknotes.com. Eventually, I had the host check in on the “manager situation” once again. A minute later, Mark comes briskly walking toward me, sincerely apologizing for the wait and wondering aloud where the communication broke down.
Mark was a understanding, honest guy, if not a little nuts. He was a fast-talking straight-shooter that was surprised that I had to do as many interviews as I did. He was also an effective interviewer, asking me the same questions I’ve answered before, but in a tone that made them new and frightening. Why should I work here? What can I do for the team? What makes me stand out above the rest? Somehow, these answers to these questions seemed made up on the spot instead of, say, refined over the past few weeks. I felt I was doing alright, but the result of the interview could go either way. Finally, Mark pulled out a brand-new obstacle for me to tackle: the drink menu.
“I want you to sell me on—” he flipped through the ping-pong paddle menu, “—Lt. Dan’s Pomegranate Punch.”
“Okay,” I said as I calmly scoured the ingredients list. Pomegranate liquor. . . pineapple juice. . . souvenir glass. . . I got this. Four years of BS-ing film papers was about to pay off.
“When people think of Hawai’i, they think of tropical drinks, like the pina colada, for example. Lt. Dan’s Pomegranate Punch is somewhat like the familiar pina colada, but with a little twist. The pomegranate liquor adds a unique sweetness while still retaining the familiarity of the tropical drinks people are used to. Plus, you get to keep the glass as a souvenir to remember the drink and this place.”
“SHUT UP. YOU’RE HIRED.”
I wasn’t even done listening to myself BS the spiel before Mark gave me the job. He was pleasantly surprised I mentioned keeping the glass. “Souvenirs, whether they be a glass or a memorable experience, are what Bubba Gump is all about!” Mark exclaimed, blatantly impressed for the first time, “How did you know to bring up the glass?”
“Because last time was here, I really wanted a drink because I wanted the glass, but I was short on cash,” I honestly replied. He smiled, gave me the details of orientation, and shook my hand with a firm grip.
The interview was exactly what I was waiting for. It was an overwhelmingly satisfying experience with a gratifying end, if not a little nuts. Just like a Geneva cookie.
And that, that’s all I got to say about that.
I finally find myself walking on a new path in life. Hopefully, my path will be as pleasant as this one seems to be.