Selling Your Ugly Self: Interviews and Rejection
By Andrew Laker
Unemployed Photojournalist
Oklahoma City

(Disclaimer: Andrew Laker is unemployed and has been so for nearly nine months. Therefore, his opinions should not be taken seriously until he finds a job, wins a major award or dies.)

At the first Woodstock in 1969, it seemed there was some poorly manufactured acid circulating the crowd causing a number of hippies to freak out after consuming tabs of it. That brown acid was so bad, in fact, most that took it thought they had been poisoned. Hugh Romney, a.k.a Wavy Gravy, had an interesting idea and quickly set up a hospital of sorts in that disaster area to help the LSD-experimenting flower people recover. A short time after being released, the patients themselves were turned into doctors to care for people that were tripping like they were when they came in. Groovy.

Unemployment, for the sake of an analogy, is kind of like that brown acid circulating around. It's a bum trip in the middle of a disaster area, but it's not poison. The patients will recover. And, seeing as how there is a shortage of unemployment doctors out there, perhaps those recovered patients should turn themselves into doctors to care for people that are tripping like they were when they came in. Groovy.

I could certainly use an umeployment doctor myself having developed a rather nasty case of the laid-off sweat-shakes, what with the poverty and eating things I find behind the refrigerator and whatnot. But, really, I guess it could be worse: I could have been forced to sit through an excruciating Joan Baez set all this time.

Things have been looking up for me, however, and I think I'm getting close to mastering the job interview. (Note I have not mastered the actual job-getting portion of the process, but this sort of thing happens in baby steps.) Why, not too long ago, I was called in for an interview with the managing editor of a nearby newspaper. Having read a number of books on interviewing (Curious George Meets the CEO), I knew I really needed to make a good first impression. I needed a look that said, "I am a risk-taker, yet responsible enough to manage the a.m. shift at Orange Julius."

Perhaps he didn't like the color of my Mohawk or was concerned about the tattoo of Indiana on the side of my head, but I left that interview, whatever the case, without a job offer. Then again, maybe it was something I had said. To be truthful, I can think of a number of things I said that most likely contributed to my downfall, and I have added them here to a list of no-no's experienced first-hand by yours truly:

"Unemployment is like bad acid." "Where should I put this beer can?" "I eat things found behind my refrigerator." "My mind is so open, my brain escaped." "They called it harassment, but..." " Do you like Joan Baez?" "Does this pitchfork make me look fat?" "Can I live in your basement?" "What are Eth-ix?" "I can eat fifty eggs." "Your competition is soooooo awesome!" "Did you just fart? Groovy!"

And yes, there are so many other silly rules to the Game of Interviewing. What to say and what not to say; which tube-top goes with which Chuck Taylors, etc. I guess we can only blame society and Curious George for that. Interviewers, who are always more prepared than you, will also ask you some tough questions like, "So, tell me about yourself."

Answer: "Well, I grew up on the fifth moon of the planet Zorchak and, after murdering my entire family, I went to college at Hyphen-Hyphen-Hyphen where I majored in Dot...Dot...Dot, and after graduating I went to work as a news photographer for the Zorchak Daily Republican-Democrat-Independent."


When the nightmare interview is finally over, it's time to admit a temporary defeat and lurch back to square one -sending out more applications. And, inevitably, a whopping three percent of your applications will be met with a confirmation that they were actually received -confirmation in the form of rejection letters.

I've amassed an incredible file folder full of these things. I don't know why, but I've saved almost every single rejection letter since my college days. Wait. I do know why: One day when I'm rich and/or famous, I plan to cram them all up people's asses.

"I plan to cram rejection letters up people's asses."

Okay, maybe that's not the reason I keep them. In a strange way, I find them relaxing. They remind me of playing the slots in Vegas -If you engage a machine long enough, it's bound to pay off. All the lemons and plums between the payoffs just aren't the right combinations for you. But you keep feeding it quarters and pulling that arm and yelling, "Baby needs a new pair of shoes!" That's all.

Of course, you are free to do whatever you like with your rejection letters. But, if you simply can't stand them or you don't have a file folder to put them in, I'll leave you with a little trick that's sure to make you feel better:

If you receive an undated rejection letter addressing you as "Dear Applicant," fold it back up, put it in an envelope, and send it off to someone else. That way you can quickly forget about your rejection and, at the same time, confuse the holy hell out of a total stranger!

Or, if that doesn't float your boat, you can always cram them up people's asses. Groovy!

Andrew Laker





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