It’s ringing.

“Metropolitan Police Department Recruiting, Job Announcement Number please,” said the voice.

“Whah?”

“Job Announcement Number please,” repeated the slightly annoyed female voice.

“I’m sorry, are you serious?”

“Well I can’t direct your call without the J-A-N, do you have it?”

Brain: Ok, just play along, you are on the Howard Stern show, in a minute they’ll be making fun of you on national airwaves. Figure out a way to game this situation.

Mouth: “Um, yeah, it’s OPM-MPD-0045-C.”

“Hold.” says the voice. Now I knew it was coming, just play it cool, I thought.

[Beep – Beep – Beep – Click]

“Personnel, JAN, please.”

“Uh, OPM-MPD-0045-C, though I have to admit I don’t have much experience sketching zombies, I do need work though, I have a lot of corporate experience.” That seemed like a lie, but my mouth was doing the work here, and that was something I was definitely good at.

“Ah, you’re too late, the sketching position was filled this morning, though feel free to fax a cover letter, resume and a recent performance evaluation to 202-727-8436. It’s not MPD, but the Department of Undead Management is looking for qualified applicants.” The voice was cheery, but not “Surprise, you’re on Candid Camera!” cheery. More like she was a nice lady.

“The Department of Undead Management? Are you serious?”

“Oh yes, they are one of the only DC agencies hiring right now. I’ve heard it is a really great work atmosphere, great benefits.”

“Well, I don’t have a recent performance eval, but I’ll definitely fax my resume over. What exactly does the department do?”

“It’s an administrative office under the mayor. They handle all investigations concerning the Undead and serve as a liaison between MPD, the Mayor’s Office and the public. Just check out their website at www.dum.dc.gov; they’ll have all the information you need. Best of luck!”

OK, so that was not at all how I expected that to go. It was 2:38 and I was waiting for the punch line. There wasn’t any. This isn’t funny at all.

Practical jokes are supposed to be funny, not practical.

I can’t get a job to save my life and some hippie art school dropout is now a full-fledged government employee drawing pictures of zombies!???!?!?! I fucking hate this place. I may as well just apply for unemployment and get a subscription to The Economist. That should keep me occupied long enough until I can find a real job. I went to the fridge and grabbed a can of Trader Joe’s Simple Times lager.

Beer-thirty, the best time of day.

I spent the next six hours re-watching season three of Lost on Netflix instant queue – time well spent to be sure. After peeling myself off the leather couch and throwing away the empties that had accumulated by my toes, I shuffled over to my MacBook and checked my Gmail for, like, the 14th time today. I perused the Internet for a while and got bored. Lingering curiosity made it’s way through the alcohol and blurred vision and led my sheepish fingers to start typing ‘dum.dc.gov‘ into the address bar.

Return.

Loading.

Woah.

It actually exists. I rubbed my thumbs into my eyeballs, but I wasn’t that loose, and the screen looked the same when my eyes refocused. “Welcome to the District Department of Undead Management, keeping our residents safe from dangers unintelligible.” There were press releases (“Street Vendors File Suit Citing Lack of Sufficient Police Presence”), links (“Report an Un-Death”), and most pressing, a tab for “Employment Opportunities.” I clicked on that, and to my surprise (I’m not sure why I’m still surprised by all this), there were about seven different positions posted – even a General Counsel’s Office opening! And there was the same fax number for the application packages again, 202-727-8436.

Without any premeditation, I pulled up a cover letter I’d written a few weeks past and changed all the names and addresses and departments, etc. It was now my professional goal to “serve the community and help rid the District of the Undead.” (Before the editing, that said something like, “bullshit, bullshit, corporate mergers, bullshit, transactional work, bullshit, bullshit;” I guess I didn’t really change it that much.) The letter was done, but I didn’t want to fax it over; I wanted them to put a face with the name. So I had four more beers and went to sleep. Tomorrow will be better.

The next morning I plopped out of bed and did the workingman’s routine: Advil, shower, shave, and a Clif Bar. I put on my third best suit and headed out for the Red Line. I locked my door with my right hand and grabbed the application with my left as I hooked the door shut behind me with my Oxfords. Five blocks later, I went underground and then I stood still (top ten least favorite activity) for 7 minutes before hopping on the Glenmont train. I never touch a damn thing on Metro, and I felt sorry for the left-rear shoulder area of my suit, which was touching the railing. Sorry, suit. In fact, I hadn’t touched a damn thing since I left my apartment 14 minutes ago. It’s a simple idea, and one that I hold very firmly: Everything inside my apartment is clean and sanitary; everything outside my apartment is filthy and festering. It may not be true, but don’t think of suggesting that to me. It’ll fall on deaf ears.

I got off at Judiciary Square and followed some guy into 441 4th St., thereby not having to touch the front door. If I get this job, this could be a daily issue, but I’ll worry about that later. I took the elevator to the 7th floor and walked around until I found Suite 430 North. The door was open, and there were boxes scattered everywhere in a recognizable pattern. It was like Christmas morning, if all you asked Santa for was a laserjet printer, 500 packages of 30 percent recycled paper, and blue ink and black ink pens. Workmen were still installing fluorescent lighting above and there were several scraps of blue-gray carpet in the corner waiting to be taken to the dumpster. I felt completely out of place, I imagine kind of like Fran Drescher at Cannes.

I approached the first friendly face I found – Betsy, at what I’m assuming was the reception desk – and introduced myself and told her why I was there.

“You know you could have faxed that in right?”

Jesus, really? How do you respond to that? If you say no, you look like an idiot. If you say yes, you have to show your cards and admit that you were being “that guy” and hoping to somehow bump into someone important and make a good impression. So I lied. “Yeah, but I was in the area, so I figured I’d just drop it off in person.”

“Uh huh,” responded Betsy.

So much for the friendly face theory. I stood there for 3 seconds waiting for her to say something helpful. “Put it in the bin, they’ll pick it up this afternoon.”

Great. “Thanks so much, take care.”

“Uh huh.”

I should have just faxed the damn thing. Who ever said that 90% of success is simply showing up? That guy is a friggin idiot.

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