Monday, November 22, 2004

Underneath People's Houses

I interviewed for a supervisor position at the cable company where I work. I applied for the position because I wanted more money and greater responsibility. Also, as a cable technician, I think I’m becoming way too obsessed with crawling under people’s houses. Sometimes, I find myself daydreaming about building the perfect crawlspace.

Clearly, it’s time to get out of the “field”.

First, though, I needed to ace the interview. In preparation, I rehearsed my “inscrutable” look. I use this look whenever an interviewer asks me a question I don’t immediately know the answer to. When used correctly, the “inscrutable” look makes me look mysterious, pensive and wise. In other words, it buys me time to do something career experts call “pulling something out of my butt”.

The interview began as most corporate interviews do; I took a seat on one side of a table and my three interviewers took their seats across from me. In the past, less sophisticated Human Resources departments might have used just one interviewer to vet a candidate. Modern HR departments know that you ideally need at least two interviewers if you want to really intimidate a candidate – and at least three questioners if you want to completely surround a candidate and cut off all routes of escape.

Things went well enough until one of the interviewers asked this question:

“Give us one specific incident where you had to discipline someone in your department. How did you do it and what were the results?”

I froze up. It’s been so long since I’ve actually been in charge of someone that absolutely no anecdotes sprang to mind. While I searched my memories, I put my patented “inscrutable” look on my face. I assumed the look was working like a champ until one of the interviewers said:

“Are you okay?”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“You looked like you had a little…indigestion.”

My face went red. “I was actually trying to project an air of inscrutability.”

Another of the interviewers gave a tired sigh.

“Oh,” he said. “For a second, we thought you were trying to pull an answer out of your butt.”

So, I’ve gone back to planning the perfect crawlspace. It’s eight feet high, so a cable technician doesn’t have to crawl. It’s well lit and open. Most of all, there’s no spiders. Why? Because sometimes a customer can chart my progress under their house just by listening for my girlish screams every time I hit a spider web….


rod said...

last summer, the wife and I were preparing to sell our house. The termite inspector required me to replace the back door sill that had rotted and was laminated to hide it before we bought the house ourselves. So I spent a couple days under the house with a sawzall, pry bar, jack, and 10,000 spiders while I pried, lifted, squirmed, on my side and occasional crushed my skull on floor joists.
When we bought a new house later in the summer, we decided on this house with your dream crawlspace. At the very back, I need a step ladder to reach the floor joists, and in the very front, I just barely have to duck my 6'2" head.
ahh. The cable guy whistled while he worked.
I love your blog.

Grim Richard said...

Thanks for the feedback. I almost cried when I read the description of your crawlspace...