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Location: Minneapolis, MN

Dempsey is a Golden Retriever puppy who is in training to become a Helping Paws service dog for an individual with a physical disability. He lives with his parents Doreen and Paul, and Bailey the cat. None has ever trained a puppy before. These are their adventures. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the blog author. The contents of this blog have not been reviewed or approved by Helping Paws, Inc.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A fashion emergency in Cleveland

I got back last week from an interview in Cleveland -- probably the worst interview I've ever had in my life. I literally wet myself. I've spent the last week at home recovering, drinking beer and deadheading petunias while humming "Kumbaya."

The problem was that I was way too nervous. I've been trying to get this interview for almost a year now, and when I finally got it, I wanted it to be perfect. I spent too much time sweating the small stuff: Will the buttons on my shirt be broken? Did I get a decent haircut at the salon? Ecru or white?

I also got, for the first time in my life, a manicure. Despite assurances that it's relaxing, I found it intimidating. I know a lot of guys fantasize about being the center of attention in a room full of girls, but trust me, it ain't all that. It's more like walking into a weird alien society, where everybody seems to speak your language (except the manicurists), but where you still have no idea what they're talking about or why everybody is laughing and giggling -- sort of like a bad British "comedy" show.

For you guys who haven't had the pleasure of ever going into a nail salon, let me describe it. The room is full of noxious, possibly flammable, fumes. The manicurists are dressed in lab coats, like dental hygenists. The implements they use to scrape and hack at your cuticles look like a dentist's tools. In the corner is an autoclave used to sterilize tools, just like a dentist's office.

I hate visiting the dentist. The only way the nail salon could be creepier is if, like my "kid friendly" dentist did once on Halloween, my manicurist were dressed as a clown. I still remember that dentist visit: the good doctor with a pink Afro and painted tears on his face, snapping on a latex glove and holding up a sharp, knife-shaped tool. "So, have you been a good boy and flossing regularly?" (I'm not afraid of clowns anymore, though I think you have to admit that someone who wears a red rubber nose for fun is a little deviant.)

But I digress. On interview day, I walked in feeling nervous. The first interviewer offered me a glass of water, which I declined, since I tend to spill things. After a few minutes, my voice started cracking, and the interviewer had trouble hearing what I was saying. "Hang on a minute, let me get you a glass of water." Oh no! He could see I was nervous, which, of course, made me more nervous.

At the end of the first interview, I started walking out, when to my horror, I spilled some water on my crotch and down my leg. Fashion emergency! Think quick! Unfortunately, the first (and only) thing that came to mind was Mr. Bean. Needless to say, this is not the image of peak performance that coaches tell you to visualize.

We were running a little late, so I was loathe to ask for a minute to run to the bathroom. (And What Would Bean Do in the bathroom anyway?) Instead, I walked to the second interview, padfolio in one hand, half empty cup of water in another, staring at my stained, wet crotch.

The second interviewer saw me and got up to shake my hand. I tried deftly shifting the half empty cup of water from my right hand to my left hand while tucking my padfolio under my arm. Alas, I am not deft. I spilled some more water on my shoe before I could give the second interviewer a wet handshake. (Note to self: eye contact would've been good at this point, instead of a second glance at my wet crotch. At least I didn't point to my crotch and ask "Can you see this?")

So there I am, sitting in wet pants with drips of water on my shoe, thinking of Mr. Bean. I start fidgeting with my fingers. My voice starts cracking again. I take another sip of water, finishing my glass. It does not help. I fidget some more. I try taking a sip from my empty glass. Ugh. My confidence goes into a death spiral. I mumble something and take another look at my crotch.

I knew when I walked out of there that I didn't get the offer. I asked the HR person for some feedback, and she was actually very helpful. (They usually aren't.) She said they were impressed with my skills, but had concerns about my "presence." They didn't want me present for the third-round interview.

C'est la vie. At least I learned some lessons (leave the water behind, don't stare at your crotch so much) which will help me on my next interview. I'm trying now to stop visualizing Mr. Bean, and instead visualize Stuart Smalley: "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

That should do it, don't you think?