When I got off the elevator at the 7th floor the next morning at 7:56 a.m., I knew this was a play-hard-or-go-home moment. Sink or swim. Kill or be killed. I walked toward the main door and held my breath as I walked under the flickering lights, which they still hadn’t fixed from my dream. I pulled open the door and went inside.

Betsy was all smiles. She was all, “hun” and “don’t you look sharp” and generally not trying to eat me. “Have a seat, dear, I’ll let everyone know you are here.”

“Everyone” was not what I wanted to hear. I felt my fingers go cold, and I started to wish I hadn’t had that second cup of coffee before I left. I noticed a stain on my dress pants that I couldn’t quite make out. Was that banana? I don’t remember that stain happening. At some point while all this was going on in my head, Mr. Houghton had come out to reception and was standing directly in front of me. Fuck. Had I been mumbling out loud about banana on my pants? Fuck. How long had he been standing there? Was he talking to me? Jesus. I need to get out of here.

I stood up and he grabbed my hand away from me and started shaking it. He was somewhere mid-sentence. All I could think of was the sweat leaking from my hand, now getting smushed together with his hand sweat. Does that make us sweat brothers? That would be weird. Luckily wasn’t reading my thoughts just then.

I smiled and followed him as he walked off down the hall. He was wearing light gray pants with loafers and a short sleeve, light green button-down shirt and a red patterned tie. I was wearing a full navy blue suit and a stupid look on my face.

I’m not sure about what happened next. I remember following him down the long hall with boxes lining the walls, most of which were overflowing with files and manila envelopes. We dead-ended into a conference room filled with other humans. They acknowledged my presence and I theirs. I was struggling to look calm, but it wasn’t working. I felt like the drunkest kid at the party.

OK, Dingle, man up! You have to be at the top of your game now. Smile and look interested!

I have no idea if I said this out loud. At this point, I would have preferred being stuck under a seated elephant. I must have said something funny, because all of a sudden everyone was laughing. I did a quick face and tone check and determined they weren’t laughing at me. That’s a start. I was sobering up.

“So, Mr. Dingle, it says here that you have had significant client contact while at the firm. Do you feel that is one of your strong suits?” This came from a reasonably attractive 40-ish-year-old blonde woman named Jennifer Finch. I tried desperately not to do a boob-check.

“Yeah, absolutely. I feel like I can really connect with people.” As I said this, my eyes drifted down her blouse. Twice. She caught me both times. I’m a real people person, what can I say?

“But enough about me, I want to hear about you!”

My face read like a punch line, but no one laughed. What is it about sitting in a room with a bunch of adults in an office that makes me feel like such an asshole? If we were anywhere else (preferably a bar) things would be different. They’d like me! But, no. There is no way out of this one. I could feel the cold sweat wicking away from my neck as it was absorbed by my collar. Between this and the unidentified fruit stain on my pants, I’m going to need to do a lot of dry cleaning this afternoon.

Jim Benton, who turns out to be my presumptive supervisor, chimed in as I was trying desperately to say something smart. “How long, Robert, do you think it would take to get where I am – Supervisor of Regulatory and Community Relations?”

“Well, sir, if I work hard for a couple of years, and you get eaten by zombies, it shouldn’t take too long!”

Chuckles all around.

I drifted off for a bit and tried to imagine Jim being eaten alive by zombies. He was a larger gent, so I figured it would take a while for them to get through the adipose tissue and into the treasure chest of organs. And, it would get insanely messy. Think Inuit and sperm whale kind of messy. I’ll spare you all the details. Details. “Yea, I consider myself a very detail-oriented person,” were the words that spewed from my mouth. Damn, where was I? Oh, yeah, in a job interview. I did a quick assessment and it seemed like we were in the pleasantry-exchange portion of the meeting. This was confirmed when all parties stood up and hands were shaken. Mine was still sweaty, but so were everyone else’s.

Jeff looked around the room and gave a clandestine nod. Jim, Jennifer and a few others whose names I don’t know all nodded back. “Well,” he said facing me now, “no one else showed up for their interviews, so it looks like you got the job! See you Monday.”

Holy shit! I should have felt great/relieved/happy/excited. I didn’t. Any emotion would have been fine, but nothing came. I smiled, said thanks, and walked out. I hate working. Why would I accept this – or any – job? Why do I always put myself in these situations? I could have just said “No” and that would have been it, but no, I had to accept. Why? Because it was being offered to me. I don’t like confrontation, so I say “Yes” a lot. Now I have a job to show for it. Fuckballs.

But I really should have had some emotion about it, right?

“Shit, really? Now what?” was the best my brain could come up with. Stay tuned World…

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