The recently reopened Smugglers Inn was tastelessly lit. A yellowing glow spewed out from the dimmed lights, casting enough illumination only to highlight the nicotine stained walls. Still the villagers gathered here, shorn of their belief in God, they abandoned their fear of divine retribution altogether and now muzzle together is this hopelessly undecadent pub to drink away their sorrows.
Inside the Smugglers looked like many small-town pubs do: a dartboard with more holes in it than every feature The Sun runs; a rickety pool table that was used to slavishly hold drinks stood on sticky carpeted floors. The bar itself was little more than a disinterested piece of wood; the whole place resembled a pub you might find in a post-apocalyptic dystopian world – one where humanity has been destroyed and the cockroaches are our evil over lords. The bathrooms filled you with disparaging gloom, each toilet cubicle boasting an aversion to bleach, every step making you think ‘how many bastard children have been conceived here.’ The whole place looked like it was wanted to assault you. This was the venue of my first job.
I worked as an essential component in the restaurant’s kitchen. My job role was ‘subaquatic galley appliance officer’, which is really just my pretentious way of saying I was a kitchen porter. Being a KP makes you little more than the kitchen’s bitch. It’s the job you take before you get your first job. As far as enjoyability goes its somewhere between a paper round and bathing in that weird white stuff that accumulates at the side of your mouth when you’re dehydrated. It’s a job that snatches that last glimmer of hope from your trembling hands before dropping it on the floor, pissing on it, then telling you to clean it up. It’s a job that leaves you wanting to cut the chef’s face off with a jagged spear of glass but in bid to conceal the murderous rage brewing within you speak to everyone in a really soft voice.
I was fifteen when I started that job – I was also fifteen when I left it. It was the worst job I’ve ever had – and my ex was awful at giving head. Luckily the next job I had was in a delicatessen/store and I faired a lot better in that role. After that my next notable role was for high street retailer, Topman, a role that took my already terminal patience for society and brutally smothered it to death with moderately priced clothing.
Today I had another interview for a company, who for legal reasons I can’t name and shame (because I get paid for doing this now yay) and let me tell you this: It was the worst interview I’ve ever, ever had.
It was a ridiculous interview. From the moment we sat down with guy running the interview made it perfectly apparent he was a complete ass-hat. It was also a group interview, something that I wasn’t told about. Let’s be real here, group interviews are worse than being strangled to death in a prison riot. You get to sit around with a flock of complete strangers trying not to shudder as they tell you insignificant details about their mundane lives. The whole time you silently relish the prospect of strangling at least one member of this group to death, don’t you? Don’t lie. They’re essentially the employment version of the Hunger Games, only marginally less fun.
From the moment I sat down I could tell the interviewer, who for the sake of the entry we will call Larry, didn’t vibe with me. Larry carried himself in way that made me regard him with a level of contempt normally reserved for war criminals. He had a rat tail and wore 3/4 camouflage cargo pants that looked like they hadn’t been taken off since they were polular. In 2003.
Larry started going around the group asking us individually to reveal some quirky fact about ourselves an also briefly talk about our hobbies – Hi, there. My names Topher. I’m really into writing, music, keeping fit and Britney Spears early work, like before she sold out, so mainly her finger painting and macaroni art.
As the group rattled on, sharing stories and facts about themselves, every one of us greeted the other’s tales with a nonchalant nod and faux-smile – all except the Larry. The absolute cretin. When it came to me Larry essentially rolled his eyes as I spoke about my hobbies. Now, when I saw rolled his eyes, I mean ROLLED his eyes. He looked as me as though I was bloated corpse dredged from a polluted canal. It was crystal clear: douchebag Larry had made assumptions about me and had already written me off.
As people continued to tell their wonky and dementedly boring stories I smiled and listened. I’m polite enough to give people the chance and engaged in conversation with them, trying to bring the group a collective sense of ease. Larry, the morally wounded prick, seemed to wander off in to a parallel fantasy realm, switching off every time someone started to bore him.
Just when I was starting to think that this guy is a complete asshole who deserves to have footballs pelted into his groin by Wayne Rooney whilst chewing listlessly on razorblades, his interested suddenly peaked. Larry suddenly creamed his pants the moment two other members of the group told their stories. They had his full attention.
The first kept apologising for how awful she looked (she looked fine) because she was currently getting over a dose of food poisoning curtesy of a dodgy kebab from a take away (like there’s any other type of kebab.) The second was a hideously attractive guy with flawless skin who apparently rescues mistreated birds, nurses them back to health and then finds them new homes. I thought I was going to have to hand Larry a tissue he got so excited.
After Kebab Girl and Bird Boy came Martha (not her real name), the bubbly if not somewhat crazy hair extension specialist. She sat opposite me and had been nothing but warm and friendly the entire time. I noticed right away that dick-face Larry was giving poor Martha weird looks, the same looks he had given me moments ago. Now, to be fair her make-up was a little heavy-handed but you know she seemed like a good person, very friendly and out-going. A sharp contrast to the person that came after her, a guy who didn’t even speak. He just stood there looking like some petrified and bizarrely groomed homeless statue.
After the circle-jerk of personal facts ended, Larry told us we had to play this ridiculous game where we approached random people in the street with a stick, make conversation, before then trying to trade it for something else. If you’re not from Glasgow then you could be mistaken for thinking this is a good idea, but a general rule of thumb is if someone approaches you in the street with an object in their hands, ANY object, you typically swerve to avoid them. Nevertheless I did what I was asked.
After around fifteen minutes I’d spoken to several people. I’d spent my time well, I’d barter and trade with until I was left with a ‘Jesus Saves’ pen and a Bar Burrito card with £4.79 pence on it. Have you ever approached random people in the street and tried to trade with them whilst a vibrating twig lurks suspiciously in your hands? I’m not saying I’m cut out for pirate life, but if that apocalypse ever happens you’re going to want me on your team.
A moment later good old Larry wobbles over to me, his heinous cargo pants offending everyone in sight, and told me to ‘go home.’ He said that I’m not ‘what he’s looking for.’ Well I can see that; what you’re looking for is a stylist and someone to give you lessons on leadership skills/interview techniques. Needless to say I was shocked, and like a computer game character with only one dialogue option, I was lost for words. This had never happened to me before.
Now, what I wanted to say was ‘what on Earth has that test got to do with the job role?’ Talking to people whilst wearing a charity jacket and collecting money is very different than this absurd game Larry ‘The Joy Thief’ made us play. What an absolute weapon. I was livid. LIVID. The worst part is he wasn’t even watching the other candidates, he’d clearly made up his mind about me and that was that. It felt very personal.
Messing up an interview is not a pleasant sensation, but doing well then being told to ‘go home’ simply because someone decided they didn’t like me on a personal level is horrible. Larry let his low-level grumpiness and snooty nature extend into his professional life and that’s not fair. Those kinds of snap judgments are not only unprofessional but also silent-but-deadly.
So, Larry. I’m sorry you made a dizzyingly serious error of character judgement. The moment that you came up to me and told me to leave I could feel a cold egg of dread being cracked over my skull. I’m also sorry I’m not as hot or interesting as bird boy with his Avery full of feathered friends and good deeds or as enticing as some random chick who was so surprised that a kebab from a chippy gave her food poisoning. And finally, I’m sorry to tell you that regardless of your solid fifteen years in the charity business, no amount of good karma points excuses camo print cargo pants. Limp Bizkit called, they want their style back.
The whole thing was embarrassing, degrading and totally uncalled for – especially since he left everyone else to it – and believe they weren’t doing any better than me. It’s this kind of power-tripping, jittery overreaction that causes a lot of people to approach interviews filled with terror.