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May 15, 1997

Thinking On My Feet
Copyright 1997 - Greg Bulmash - All Rights Reserved

I like to think of myself as a cool guy. I don't get flustered. Such illusions can be shattered the moment you get past the first minute of a job interview. It's like realizing you're on a sinking ship and bailing water for dear life. Like just this week I was interviewing with an advertising firm for a position as a web designer.

"What three adjectives do you believe would best describe you," the interviewer asked.

"Strong... creative... and excellent," I said, feeling as if I had not only dodged a bullet, I had done it with incredible grace.

"Good," the interviewer said. "What do those words mean to you?"

At this point those cliche tiny beads of perspiration began to form on my forehead. I thought I just had to come up with the words. Now I had to justify them. The first thought on "strong" was to challenge him to arm wrestle, but I quickly put that out of my mind. Not that it's a bad kind of strength, but if I won, the interviewer might resent me, and if I lost, he might think I was too wussy to work for the company.

"Strong," I said. "I have strengths... um... I know what I'm good at and I know how to focus myself on that to make the most of my strengths."

My feet were wet, but the boat was afloat. He even gave me an out on "creative," saying it was a self-defining word. I wasn't about to let him get away with that. I was going to prove myself. I was going to define it with deftness and aplomb. "I am oriented on making things. Creative in the manner of enjoying and revelling in the act of creation... imaginatively."

At this point, I was neck deep and I barely realized it. I think I had actually been scooping up buckets of water and dumping them back into my boat. It must have been artic water too, the cold of it rushing up my spinal column and numbing my brain. Yet, with some reserve of strength, I was able to pick up the signal flare gun... and put it to my head.

"Excellent... well excellence is my goal, my credo, a principle by which I live. I will settle for nothing less."

"So," he said, "you're not excellent?"

"Huh?"

"You said it's your goal. So you're not excellent yet."

My knuckle grew white on the trigger. "No... I mean, yes I am excellent, but excellence isn't a permanent state, a concrete goal. I'm not just going to wake up one day 'hey, I'm excellent, what's next?' Even though I'm already excellent, I have to keep on trying to be excellent because if I stop trying I'll stop being, so it's still a goal. See?"

"No."

"Yeah, well I've seen the web sites this company's done, and the sites I've done kick your butt. You need me."

Anyhoo, to make a really long interview (or at least it seemed long) short, they said they'll call me. I'd say I'm not holding my breath, but somewhere during that interview the water got up over my head, so I am holding my breath, but I'm not holding it for them. See? I'm holding it because... ah, screw it. Anyone need a janitor?

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