Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Sunday Memory Drawer - Please Have A Seat

Lost in all the discussions I've been having on-line with regard to the movie "La La Land" are the sometimes comic and sometimes sad job interviews and auditions that Emma Stone's character goes through.   I've heard similar horror stories from actor friends who have endured the most bizarre treatment while going for that next role.

But, regardless of the industry, who hasn't?   I'm betting every single one of us has gone through hell in the employment world. That includes me.

Now I've actually been in the position of being on the other side of the desk.   As the hirer, not the hiree.  I've taken all the strange interviews I've been on and loaded them into my memory bank.   As a result, I have been super-conscious of the nerves that the applicant has and I have always gone out of my way to make them feel at ease.  If you immediately create the notion of a friendly conversation as opposed to a grilling, everybody wins.

If only some of the clowns I've been interviewed by had practiced the same kindness.

Yeah, there are stories.

Like the very first time I interviewed for a job.   In high school and shooting for that first summer employment.  Egged on by my dad, of course.

"Don't be sitting around the house all summer."

Yeah, okay, got it.

Now, as luck would have it, there was a new opportunity brewing very nearby. In the winter before my neighborhood chums and I all hit the 16 digit in age, we were excited to see a huge job opportunity start to get erected within a block of our homes. A Carvel Ice Cream store was going up on the property of the local car wash. As a matter of fact, it was a business expansion for the car wash's owner, some ugly creep named Jerry Rattner (he's got to be long dead, so I have no worries using his name). Jerry had the physical appearance of Frankenstein's monster with a personality to match. He probably fancied himself as this big business tycoon. And perhaps he was if you considered that one city block to be the entire universe.

Despite the ultra scary nature of Jerry, the local kids, including my best neighborhood friend Leo and I, started to stalk him about when the store would be open. Jerry would always grunt the same reply.

"This summer. Come back then."

We chased this dude like showgirls would pursue Flo Ziegfeld. And, always the same garbled answer from the guy with bolts in his neck.

"This summer. Come back then."

Gotcha, Mr. Tall, Dark, and Gruesome.

So, came the warmer weather and each of us needed to have our up close "Interview" with Boris Karloff's nephew.  Of course, my turn was when he was trying to multi-task and wax a car.  I literally followed him from vacuum to detail, all the while trying to be as professional as a 16-year-old could look.

"So what the hell do you know about ice cream?"


"Hand me that rag."

Er, okay...

"Stand back or you're gonna get wet."

Thank you...

"You're hired."

End of interview and I sloshed home.

Once out of college, you expand your horizons trying to find that first golden opportunity.   Because, as Dad said...

"Don't be sitting around the house the rest of your life."

So you get yourself a suit and start looking for work in...gasp...Manhattan.   Back then, if you graduated college with a communications degree, the optimum goal was to get a job at one of the three TV networks.   ABC.  CBS. NBC.   And you searched far and wide for any connection that you had an inside track with.

"The cousin of your neighbor's sister-in-law works for CBS."

Based on some convoluted twelve degrees of separation, you got yourself an interview.   And I did.

The only problem was that already flimsy connection was getting even thinner as I found out from the interviewer.

"You know they're getting divorced."


"It's ugly and they haven't told the kids yet."

Well, my resume...

"I'm sorry.   Which one of them are you related to?"

Um, thank you for your time...

Okay, we now flash forward to Hollywood with a tale that rivals some of the bad audition scenarios endured by Emma Stone in "La La Land."   My writing partner and I were new to town and trying to meet as many people as possible. That famous party game called "Networking" and this time I was hoping that the cousin of our neighbor's sister-in-law wasn't getting a divorce.  I'm not going to use the real names here because you never know.

One of our first backers and friends who adopted us, a member of television royalty, was going through her address book looking for anybody to give us a break.   She set up a meeting for us with this husband-and-wife writing/producing team.   She had given them their start and, since they had a new development team with a network, they might be great for us to know.  As a matter of fact, they were staffing up a new sitcom.   I mean, this seemed to be perfect timing.  And, with an introduction like this...

It's always fun to go through the gate of a major studio and you're on the pass list for the day.

That would be the sole highlight.

We drove up to one of those bungalows that producers with development deals always score at studios.   And our big introduction turned out to be not so big.

"And you are again?"


When we explained who were were...for the second time..., we were ushered into their lair that looked like a living room.   There was a long divan on one side of the room and the female half immediately reclined on it.

"I hope you don't mind.  I missed my nap."

While she caught up on her forty winks, the husband side sat at a desk.   Okay, so he was going to focus on us?

Not so much.

He pulled out one of those medicine holders where you dole out your pills for the next week.   And he pulled out about ten bottles of capsules and, one by one, filled the holder.   All the time, he was giving us the most non-committal advice you could get.   We had totally interrupted their day.

We never watched their new show when it got on.   But, no worries, it lasted only six episodes.  And, from my look at IMDB, it was the last thing those two do.

You see, these job interview disasters do have some payback for the poor person in the hot seat.

Dinner last night:  Moo shu pork from Century Dragon.

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