I'm not sure that there's anything more awkward than the first day at a new job. It's like being ten years old again and the new kid at a school three states over from your last one. I mean, where are you supposed to sit during break, who are you supposed to talk to? What if you wind up befriending the wrong person and get labelled as a loser for the rest of eternity?
There's one thing I already know about this job, though. I hate my new boss.
* * * * *
"Girl, it's so nice to meet you. Come on in."
I look up from Cosmo, where I've been trying to figure out exactly what kind of impossible angle I'd need to get my head at to actually manage the sex position they're describing. The speaker, my interviewer, is a white woman somewhere in her forties, and I know from the secretary that she runs the call center.
I stand up. "Nice to meet you, too."
I'm awful at job interviews - seriously, I don't know I ever get hired - but I know this ritual. When you introduce yourself, there's always a handshake involved. I wish my palms weren't quite so sweaty. I try not to squeeze her hand too tightly or not tightly enough and I'm pretty sure it just comes across as noncommittal.
She leads me into a small conference room and gestures for me to take a seat. While her back is turned, I run my hands down the front of my shirt, trying to smooth out any wrinkles. I forgot to iron it last night, so I did what everyone tells you and brought it into the bathroom with me when I had my shower to let the steam do the work. I’m not actually sure that it does anything but make it a little bit more damp.
The interview goes pretty much like I thought it would. There are a lot of expected questions ("What do you know about our company?"), some questions I never know how to answer ("How would you describe yourself in five words.") and others I'd rather forget ("Aside from your amazing hair, what do you bring to the table?")
And then she brings up the topic I was hoping to avoid.
"I notice there's a gap on your resume. What have you been doing the last eight months?"
There's a good reason I've been out of work for eight months. Unfortunately, saying at a job interview that you were fired from your last job for not meeting the impossible sales quota it required, with a micro-managing asshole boss breathing down your neck, is really hard to do without sounding bitchy and unprofessional.
I start trying to explain, because the woman is just sitting there, staring at me. "Well, see, what happened was that -"
She reaches out and puts her hand on mine. I think it's meant to be comforting, but it's actually more like creepy.
"It's okay, J, I'm not here to judge you. Just think of me as your sister from another mister."
Oh god. Shoot me now.
* * * * *
The things I'm going to put up with for rent money.
I'm standing in front of the office doors, trying not to imagine how everything can go horribly wrong today. I can imagine a thousand scenarios, each one different from the last, but finally I think, you’re okay. You've got this, J.
Under my breath, I mutter a few lines of the rap I wrote last night (my new boss is a bitch / she’s got a fucking death wish / we sellin pukin in a pill / but i gots to pay the bills) , breathe deep, and push open the doors to my new workplace.
Really, how bad can it be?