Okay. Fifteen minutes early. That’s plenty of time to sit down, do some last minute research on the business, and prep myself. I got this. This is easy.

Receptionist is giving me a badge. Okay. Maybe this place is legit. A badge. I’m like a member of the CIA. No one messes with the CIA. I’m a goddamn superhero. The Renegade Writer. Except that sounds like a villain… Alright. Mr. Editor. Simple, straightforward, rolls off the tongue. I can deal with that.

Shit. I spaced out. She’s trying to give me a clipboard. Why? Am I going on a tour? Do I need to take notes? What are these sheets?

… Is this seriously another application? After I filled out two applications online? How many applications do they need? At this point, they’re killing trees. Is Captain Planet still a thing?

It’s asking me for my social security number. How do I know if this place is legitimate? They have a website and they gave me a badge. That should be proof, right? They won’t steal my identity, right? I hope they do. I hope they inherit that debt. They deserve it.

I’m already trying to screw over this job before I’m hired. Shit. Stop it. Focus. Eyes on the prize.

Okay. Off to the conference room I go. The hiring manager seems nice. That’s a good sign. That means I can make a couple of jokes. Just gotta flash some charm, work the resume experience into my conversation, rattle off a few one-liners, and I’ll be set.

…What if I say something off-color? Shit. Okay, relax. If you don’t think of anything terrible, it won’t become an option. Focus on the clean and positive. Okay. Here’s a joke about a “writer’s salary.” She seemed to like it. Not love, but I can work with this. Slip in a  joke about “college newspaper being viable experience.” That one she seemed to love. Awesome. I’m on a roll. Now slip in a joke about Republi-


Alright, I’m good. She’s giving me a warm smile. I must be doing something right. Maybe “Mitt Romney” didn’t slip out of my mouth after all.

Heh. “Mitt Romney didn’t slip out of my mouth.”

Alright. Time to hammer the nail into this interview. Remember the questions you prepared. Remember…

What were they again? Fuck. Something to do with…”room for promotion.” Yeah, that’s it. Okay, ask that one. That should keep her busy while I think of the others. Something something something…”work environment”? That seems vague. Environment. Atmosphere. The people. THERE. Okay, ask about co-workers and dress code. Make it genuine. Make it so they BELIEVE I wanna know about polo shirt policy.

Good work, Stephen. We’ve gotten through it. Alive. Wipe your sweaty palms on your pants. Now offer to shake her hand. Her handshake is weak. I hate weak handshakes. It makes me feel like I’m about to break porcelain. Screw it, make that shake a hearty one. You’re an animal. You’re fierce. Like a tiger. El Tigre. That’s my new superhero name.

Just gotta walk ou-

GEAHHH. I tripped. I fucking tripped. Did she see? Of course she saw. She’s laughing. She’s laughing at you. You’ll never get this job. You can’t even function enough to move forward. Stupid stupid stupid. All right. If gymnasts can recover, so can you. Smile. Roll your eyes at yourself. Give it the ol’ “Whoopsiedoodles” routine. She’s buying it. I might still have a chance. Walk out the door, wish the receptionist a nice day.

I did it. I’m in the elevator. I’M IN THE ELEVATOR. WOO! Finally! It’s over. Release the gas I’ve been holding in for the past 2 hours. Go on, you deserve it. You went through the ringer. You walked out a champion.

You forgot to ask for a business card. You don’t remember the name of the interviewer.