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The Interview

By Larry Gross · April 13th, 2011 · Living Out Loud

This happened last summer in June on one of those hot, sticky days. The first thing I remember doing that morning was turning on my coffeemaker. It was a Tuesday and I needed to be in downtown Cincinnati by 10 a.m. I got up in plenty of time to get ready for a job interview.

It was a freelance position for a marketing firm on Fourth Street. This would be a steady gig doing proofreading, copy editing and a little writing. I was excited about it, even laid out my clothes for the interview the night before. Maybe men no longer wear ties to interviews, but I was going to. I also laid out my white shirt, blue dress pants and a blue sports jacket. I was ready.

I had my normal two cups of coffee that morning. Last summer, I was on an instant oatmeal kick and I had a new variety to sample: oatmeal with raisin, apple and walnut. It tasted pretty good.

After showering and dressing, I did a little Web surfing which turned out to be a mistake. I lost track of time and when I looked at my watch, I only had five or six minutes to get to my bus stop. I grabbed my bag, which contained my resume, and ran out the door.

I made it just in time. Despite it being only 9 o’clock in the morning, it was already hot. I started regretting having worn the sports jacket.

As I settled into my seat on the bus, it occurred to me I didn’t remember turning off my coffeemaker. Surely I had, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t remember doing it. Also, in my haste to get to the bus stop, I couldn’t remember locking the door to my apartment. I silently cursed myself out for doing that damn Web surfing and wasting time.

My stomach started to rumble, kind of sounding like thunder. I’ve had this feeling before and it involves something that happens after I’ve eaten food that doesn’t agree with me. That something is diarrhea.

I silently cursed myself again, this time for eating that damn instant oatmeal with raisin, apple and walnut.

Trying to get my mind off my bowel issue, I tried to focus on other subjects. The only things that came into my head were my coffeemaker that might still be on and the possibility that my apartment door was unlocked.

The only items I have of value in my apartment are perhaps my stereo system and my computer. If a thief took those items, and if he or she were thoughtful, perhaps he or she would notice my coffeemaker still being on and would turn it off. Or perhaps steal that, too.

The pains in my stomach continued to worsen. The bus was getting crowded. It seemed like the driver was stopping at every stop. I was never going to get downtown. I was starting to sweat. That sports jacket was really getting uncomfortable.

Finally reaching downtown, I got off the bus on Fifth Street and as quickly as I could went to a hotel and used their restroom. This took a few minutes as I was fully paying the price for eating that oatmeal. Before leaving the restroom, I grabbed a hunk of toilet paper to wipe off my sweating face. I looked at my watch. I had 10 minutes to get to the interview.

Making my way to Fourth Street, my stomach started rumbling again. There was going to be a “Part Two” to my diarrhea situation. I tried to put this out of my head and stayed focused on just getting to the office building where the interview was going to be. I was sweating like a pig.

I found the building, got on the elevator and pressed the button for floor five. I had four minutes to spare.

When I reached floor five, I searched for a hall restroom, found one and did “Part Two.” Again, I wiped my face with toilet paper.

Entering the door to the company where I was being interviewed, the receptionist gave me a funny look. There was a mirror to my left. Looking at myself, I noticed there was some toilet paper stuck to my right cheek. I brushed it off with my left hand.

I looked down to straighten my tie. My white shirt was soaked with perspiration. My fly was also open.

The guy doing the interview looked at my resume a few times and asked a few questions but seemed more interested in staring at my sweaty clothes and face. He shook my hand and said he’d be in touch. I knew damn well he wouldn’t be.

With the interview now blown, I headed back to the bus stop to go home. I noticed that the thunder in my stomach was now gone.

On the bus, I was tense. I was thinking that when I reached my apartment building, fire trucks would be there and my building would be up in flames because of leaving my coffeemaker on or that all my possessions would be stolen because of my unlocked apartment door.

I felt depressed. What was supposed to have been a well-planned, thought-out morning had turned into a disaster.

But this story has a happy ending. My apartment building wasn’t on fire and none of my possessions were stolen. I had locked my apartment door after all, and my coffeemaker was turned off.

As for that oatmeal with raisin, apple and walnut — I took the box and threw it out the window.

CONTACT LARRY GROSS: lgross@citybeat.com


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