This was originally posted on May 11, 2007, on Multiply. It's also been blogged on www.comingout101.com most recently. I was deeply involved in a job search in New York City after relocating from San Francisco at the time. I didn’t get the job, but the experience was priceless. Submitted for kicks and in anticipation of what’s most assuredly over the horizon … again.
Today I went back to New York City for a second round of interviews at the accounting firm I’ve applied with. This firm shall remain nameless, of course. I’ve been there once, and met with a recruiter and one director. They asked me back to meet with another Director, an Area Director, and once again with the lady I’d report to. The interviews went well. This is a true manager level position. Not *doing* the work of a manager and getting no recognition. Been there, done that. It’s actually a manager’s position with the title and the pay. How cool is that? Maybe this is the kind of place that actually provides career advancement!
I was up at 5:15 a.m. and into full face and work hair by 7:00 a.m.. Everyone got up and ready for the day, and all three of us, my partner of 23 years, Leslie, and our daughter and I, were out the door by 7:10 a.m. so I could catch a train at 7:29 a.m. We experienced only one small glitch when Leslie couldn’t find her glasses. She had just taken them off for a second to do her hair, and they disappeared! Turns out they were in her pocket. Crises averted, and off we go.
To get to the train, I walked through two, long, metallic tunnels, and up one flight of stairs. They were like the stairs at BART in San Francisco. Remember those? Bay Area Rapid Transit. The train didn’t have many people on it at origin, but by the time we got to Stamford, it was packed, standing room only. The little cocoon I’d created for myself in my quad of seats was invaded by a business man with no place else to sit, then a guy sitting next to me, and one last woman across from me. I arrived at Grand Central Station at about 9:11 a.m., and made my way through the terminal to get on the subway bound for Lexington and 51st. Have you ever been on a New York City subway? Right about this time of year it turns into hell. I don’t mean hell as in a bad scene, I mean actual HELL, Dante’s Hell. My grandmother was right. There is no heaven and hell. She says it’s right here on earth. There’s a little bit of heaven and a whole lot of hell, Thelma says. Well, I found the hell part, and it’s in the Manhattan subway system. Not the trains, but the actual stations. It’s hot, unbearably hot, full of nothing but long winding staircases, and it smells like an elephant pen at the zoo. To get through the subway, I climbed three separate flights of stairs. It was like bench pressing my own weight, which as of late, is no small sack of potatoes, about 250 times straight. There was one escalator there, but it was being serviced. I have it on good counsel that the system is handicapped accessible, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t an elevator in sight. Besides, only a weenie would take the elevator, right? By the time I got to the office where I was interviewing, my face was red, I was sweating, and was beginning to worry that my curls would fall out. My first stop was the rest room, where I could adjust my spanx and make sure my face was intact, if not my hair (it was okay). Up until this point, I was worried about making time for the treadmill should I get this job. I’m not worried any more.
My interviews were at 10:00 a.m., and after making my way to the 37th floor, the Recruiter was kind enough to give me a bit of inside skinny. I accepted it gracefully. In my first interview, back two weeks ago, the manager was so worried about my commute that I ended up telling her that my daughter had two moms, and her other mom kept the home fries burning. She took it quite well, I thought. No sense in cloak and dagger, certainly not at this point in my life. And besides, it was important. The woman was really stressing, and it was tweaking my interview experience. The recruiter whispered to me that the Director I’d see first today was very conservative, which is code for “Don’t tell her you’re queer.” I gave her the OK sign. Promptly at 10:00 a.m. I met with one director. Do you remember the movie, “Mrs. Doubtfire”? This woman looked like the social worker who appeared at Robin Williams’ apartment. I don’t remember the character’s name, but whenever I think of this director, that actress pops into my head. She was actually very nice, had been with the firm for 27 years, and was heavy into construction, open plan, and restacks. She also managed the administrative assistants in the office. There are almost 200. We could relate. The second woman I met with was younger, funkier. She was very nice, but sort of 35,000 feet above the day to day operations in the office. She was about instilling accountability in staff, which I could totally relate to. I couldn’t help but brag about the staff I had in San Francisco. Accountability and working independently, something we mastered in San Francisco ages ago, is apparently a new concept in this high pressured, conservative, chairman’s office environment. That surprised me. She and I shared a wonderful conversation about this topic, as well as cultures gaps, generation gaps, and change implementation. I think she was pleasantly surprised that I had a grasp of the concept.
Each of these interviews lasted a half hour. To their credit, they stayed right on schedule, the next interviewer knocking discretely on the door when time was up. Just before the last director came in the interview room, the one I’d met with before, I felt a little dizzy, like I’d been on an episode of Jeopardy. The sensation wasn’t entirely unpleasant. The questions were challenging and fun to answer. The pressure was on, but I enjoyed myself. When we were done, she told me I’d hear from them in a few days. A good sign.
At promptly 11:17 a.m., I headed back to Grand Central Station. I climbed two full flights of stairs down into the subway, took a walk the length of a football field to cross the tracks and get the right train. After the train, I climbed another four flights of stairs to get from the station into Grand Central. I was starving, and had to suffer one last flight, in my already stressed high heels, and my already aching feet, to grab a grilled Panini in the concourse. I was sweating rivulets, but at least I didn’t have to worry about my face any more. The train I got on, a 12:07 on track 27, was surprisingly full, but an hour into the trip, most everyone got off at Stamford. I could relax. My legs felt like jello, and my thighs were chaffed from sweating in nylons, but I was happy.
The first interview went well.
The second was a doozy.