My first real job interview was the only thing standing between me, a fresh-faced journalism major, and an internship at a big city magazine.
That unseasonably frosty September day, I’d picked out a subdued, office-appropriate outfit. Filed and polished my nails the night before. Had my portfolio updated and ready for review.
The morning of the interview, while closing my bedroom window to dodge a sudden draft, the sash jammed momentarily and I caught the fingernails of both hands on the top of the vinyl edging, sawing off 6 nails down beyond the quick. I saw stars. In pain, and pressed for time, I quickly filed the remaining ragged edges into a presentable shape.
Post-shower, while dragging on my stockings, I poked a finger straight through the knee of one leg, a run two inches wide zipped all the way down from shin to foot. The only black pair I had to my name, I tossed them in the trash. Grabbing the only other pair I had, I realized the outfit needed more exciting shoes than black flats. Ten seconds later, I unearthed a funky, multi-colored pair of shoes that finished off my all-black ensemble.
I shrugged on a coat and ran out the door, portfolio in hand.
Walking quickly to the subway stop, I hop onto the jam-packed train. In the standing-room-only car, I was wedged between two men.
One was an investment banker doused in Polo cologne reading a folded up Financial Times.
The other sported B.O. of an intensity that 10 years later must have inspired the Seinfeld episode built around a mutant form of the stench so powerful that it attached itself to nearby hosts.
Within seconds, my eyes were watering and my vision was clouded. It wasn’t until three stops later on the unfamiliar line that I realized I had taken a train headed in the wrong direction.
At the next stop, I shot out the door and raced up the steps/down the steps to the proper track, convinced I could still smell the man’s morphing stench.
The minutes ticked by, but I was determined to make it to the appointment on time. The intern manager had sounded so haughty on the phone when I scheduled the interview that I knew being late was out of the question.
With only 5 minutes to spare, the subway doors opened and I ran the last 5 blocks to the office.
Sweaty and out of breath, I arrived. After a few deep breaths to regain my composure, and a final straightening of my sweater (and one last sniff to ensure my scent was my own), I walked into the offices.
I smiled and introduced myself to the receptionist (later, I learned she sang in a hard-core punk band), told her who I was meeting, and waited.
Twenty minutes later, the Intern Manager flounced into the reception area, apologized for being late and ushered me into a conference room.
After leafing through my portfolio, she asked me a few perfunctory questions. Shuffling through some papers, she extracted one and handed it to me. Intern Information Form, it said, and it was where I was to document my name and that of the college I attended.
"Congratulations, you start on Monday."
I sighed. Who knew that that the toughest part of the interview would be getting there?