Saturday, December 08, 2012

Incisive Interviewing Technique

After ordering several more pairs of LL Bean pants like the ones I have, I discovered that they are on the verge of being too short now that they have been washed, so then I had to order the same thing but two inches longer and will have to continue running to Sunny Launderette morning and night for the time being.

Earlier this week, one of our two administrative assistants at work (such a luxury—where I was before, we had only one, and no matter what you asked her to do, she said she wouldn’t do it) took my picture to use on my card key. I received the badge today and was surprised at how large my face looked. Also, I’d taken a peek at the photo right after the admin took it and thought my hair looked quite voluminous, so was pleased but slightly baffled that on the finished product, my hair appeared reasonably tidy.

To me, my face looked just as it did when I weighed more than 200 pounds, which I couldn’t make any sense of and finally concluded that I’m completely incapable of seeing myself objectively in a mirror. Then I realized that in the photo, I’m wearing an outfit I no longer even own. It’s a photo that was taken years ago, found lingering in the system! The admin asked if I’d like to have my badge feature the new photo, and I said I would, but that I didn’t want to give her any hassles, so I’ll stick with what I’ve got. Which maybe is all to the good. I certainly look young in the old photo. Probably if I had the newer one, I’d be unhappy because I look wrinkly.

San Francisco locations of my company typically give each employee a fancy but highly unyielding chair, and populate conference rooms with a simpler, less expensive chair from the same company. I think the latter is much more comfy, so I have always just taken one from a conference room and used that instead. But in my new office we have only two conference rooms and this is a much fancier, more formal operation, and I’m pretty sure purloining a conference room chair would not be the thing to do, especially since everyone who walks by my cube can see my chair (not to mention my monitor and everything on my shelves).

The chair in my cube is neither of the above. It’s a Steelcase of some sort and at first, it seemed fine, but after a day or two, my legs started to hurt, and I started to worry about it a little. Then I was visiting our incredible admin, not the one who took the photo but the high-fiving one, and she pulled up a spare chair for me to sit in: a conference room chair! Next, without my having said a word about it, she asked “Is the chair in your cube comfortable?” and said I’m welcome to have her spare chair if I prefer! At this point, I think I’m starting to bond with the Steelcase, but the universe seems to be showering me with gifts lately.

I sent the folks at my temporary assignment a fond goodbye note and got some nice replies, including one from an SME (subject matter expert) who thanked me profusely and said if I ever need a reference, he’d be happy to help. I also thanked J. for not getting mad at me for sorting the header row into our master spreadsheet ten or so times.

Yesterday was the last official day of my short-term job. I walked to Chef Jia’s after work, passing elegant-looking people in fancy establishments along the way. David had come from Seattle to join Lisa, and we had dinner with Tom, Terry and Nancy, Pete, and another couple. I was seated next to Terry and we had a great chat, bonding over our shared dislike of the new Golden Gate Park bike lane arrangement. After the plates formerly holding pot stickers had been bare for a while, Terry announced, “It’s my understanding that if you don’t place an order, they don’t bring you any additional food,” which was funny.

After dinner, the party headed to a cafĂ© for further repartee, but just then my two weeks of crappy sleep decisively caught up with me—stuffing myself at Chef Jia’s probably didn’t help—and I took a cab home, driven by a Pakistani who interrogated me about where I live and everywhere I formerly lived: “And before that? And before that?”

He also desired to know what I was going to do when I got home, if I had ever been to the 500 Club at 17th and Guerrero and, since not, why not? I told him I’d gotten sober in AA at the age of 17 and shared a lurid anecdote or two, at which he murmured, “My goodness.”

And when someone threatened to slow our progress, he grumbled, “Come on, man,” which is precisely what I say when I’m on my bicycle in the same situation, so he was quite the kindred spirit. I also like to ask one nosy question after the other.
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