The Job Interview (Writing Exercise #2)

Write a fragment of a story that is made up entirely of imperative commands. Do this; do that; contemplate the rear end of the woman who is walking out of your life. This exercise will be a sort of second-person narration (the you is implied in the imperative). 500 words +/- 10%.

Get dressed. Wear a suit. Make it look great. Take the time to do it right. Include a tie. Use an uncommon knot. Use a common color. Put on a vest for added, “Wow.” Don’t forget a pocket square. Never forget the pocket square.

Lose some weight; that jacket is like a second skin.

Get your note cards. Sit down.

She will ask you for your name. Tell the truth.

Begin with the first question on the card. Why do you want to get into this field? Now lie.

Start the next question. Lie again. Repeat for the whole of the note cards. Rehearse your answers. Memorize them with every eyebrow raise, every hand gesture, every clearing of your throat. Time your answers perfectly. If the interview goes over twenty-seven minutes, you’ve messed up.

Do it again. Did you get it perfect? Do it again.

Take off your suit. You’re done for the day. Tomorrow the real test begins.

Go to bed. Fall asleep. Wake up. Fall asleep. Wake up. Fall asleep. Turn off your alarm. Fall asleep.

WAKE UP. You’ve overslept. It is not good to be late to an interview. Throw on your suit. If you speed, you can make it on time. Tie the tie perfectly. Use a conventional knot. There’s no time for a vest. You need the extra “Wow.” You have no time for it, though.

You look like a slob.

Jump in the car. You know the way. Pay no heed to the speed limits. You’ll never get the job if you do. Parallel park. Do you have spare change? Forget the meter, then. They never check those things.

Run inside. Tell the receptionist your business. “Ms. Prowski will be with you in a moment.”

Sit down. Wait. Rehearse your lies.

You forgot the pocket square.

Twiddle your thumbs. Twiddle some more. Days from now, whether you get the job or not, twiddle your thumbs.

Look to your left. There’s no one sitting there. Look to your right. One other in the waiting area. He looks much sharper than you do. He’ll get the job.

Your name was called. Follow the lady down the hall. Keep walking. Why are you twiddling your thumbs still? Stop that.

“Ah. So good to meet you.”

Shake her hand. Sit down. What is your name? Tell the truth.

Wait for the first question. Do you remember your lie? Watch her shift her papers. Wait. Anticipate. Twiddle.

She asked the first question. Recite your answer. Don’t forget the accompanying head nods and flips of the hand. You look confident. You sound smart. Days from now, you can look back to this first question and arrogantly assert your strengths.

She asked a second question.  You did not prepare for this. Stop being arrogant. You don’t have the job yet. Think on your feet. Don’t be silent. Speak!

Hold your breath.

You should not have said anything.

She asked a third question. You have no answer for this either. Your world is collapsing.

“We’ll call you if we’re interested.”

Walk slowly back to the car.

There is a ticket on your windshield. Pay it.

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