Saturday, February 20, 2010

What's the Difference?

I like the way this conversation is going; you'll definitely be hearing from me, my future boss said to me at the end of our initial interview, four months ago. Our meeting was ending after an hour, a very good sign. That meeting had been preceded with a one-hour meeting with my future colleagues, which had also gone very well.

I was on the phone to my friend Chuck, as soon as I walked out of the building. I told him that I knew I had aced the interview. That's great he responded. It's just like dating, I continued, when they're interested, they let you know.

Let's face it, an interview is like a first date. Most times, both are awkward, unnatural and uncomfortable situations. Say the wrong thing or make the wrong gesture and you're toast. When the interview is over and you ask the "what are the next steps in this process" question, if the response is "we're interviewing a lot of candidates and we'll get back you" keep looking. During a panel interview, where there were five people interviewing me, (universities are notorious for this insane process) I was so nervous I mentioned Elvis Presley in my answer to the first question. Don't ask. I don't know why I bothered to write thank you notes, it was downhill from there. To paraphrase the quote, they just weren't that into me.

After months of sending resumes, phone screenings, etc., I saw what I believed to be my job. It had everything I was looking for. I knew the moment I walked in and met with my future colleagues and boss, we were made for each other. I was giving the right answers, offering solutions to problems, laughing. No Elvis answers. Everything clicked, just like those special times when you go out with someone and it's easy, you don't have to work at it. There will be a second date.

So when Georgia, future new boss said the magic words "you'll be hearing from me" I felt like Sally Field when she won her second Oscar, proclaimed, you like me, you really like me! No more bad dates, I mean interviews. I would finally be able to leave my current crummy job for a new, and hopefully, better one. It won't be perfect, no work situation ever is. That's the beauty of being of middle-aged. You finally learn not to take seriously the BS that inevitably will raise it's ugly head when the honeymoon wears off.

After you leave the old bad job, you can't help but be a little excited about the promise of a new opportunity. Don't we all like a new beginning? It starts off well. You look forward to going to work again. Your colleagues and new boss are as great as you thought they would be. She tells you over and over how thrilled she is to have you on board. You are so happy to be away from your previous place of employment; hadn't realized how much the job had gotten to you until after you've had some distance. It's like looking back on that bad boyfriend and realizing you should have dumped him sooner. You kept him around because the sex was still okay or maybe he might say something amusing and you remember why you liked him in the first place. But really it's because no one better had come along and you didn't want to be alone.

But when you are in the new relationship, you realize the new guy is so much better than the old one. He makes you feel good about yourself. He's easy and fun to be around and most of all he likes you, he really likes you! Maybe he doesn't have much money, but he's working on it and you accept it, because he's like a breath of fresh air.

That breath of fresh air feels great until you discover that groovy new boyfriend has been living off of his parents for years and they have decided to cut him off. He doesn't want you know how serious it is, but after you do a little investigating, you slowly realize that you better not leave your toothbrush at his place. Which is a good thing because he's about to ask you if he can move in with you, just until he weathers this mild financial storm. Unfortunately what looks like a storm to him is really a Category 5 hurricane and tsunami all rolled into one.

And you think to yourself, damn, I've to get back out there. This isn't what I planned to do, not this soon. But maybe you weren't supposed to settle down with this one. Perhaps this was the rebound to get you out of your bad situation, giving you a little time to dust yourself off and while preparing for that really good opportunity that's still out there. In the meantime, you can hold onto the pauper boyfriend for a little while. He's not going anywhere, yet.


  1. I like the parallels between work and dating: staying with what you've got, taking the leap, having the experience to know it's not going to be perfect. This piece flows easily. Thanks, Lucky P!

  2. Really great post!!! I love all the analogies. And the optimism ("...that really good opportunity that's still out there") - Charlotte would be (is) proud!

  3. Thinking of this as a rebound is a good analogy--something brighter lies ahead for sure, but this provided a necessary catalyst.

    Like your blog, I shall be back!

    Hungry Dog