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Not An Interview

March 19th, 2010 by the_lifer

Will is at the strange ritual of Having Coffee With A Potential Employer, a Wellington phenomenon as measured as a Japanese tea ceremony.

First, there is the hosts’ disclaimer that this meeting of minds isn’t an interview. They just wanted to meet him. It is unspoken that, if he is found worthy, an actual job interview might ensue. If an actual job interview had already taken place, the coffee meeting would be the more delicate, because then his nuances of personality and teamwork are being carefully weighed.

Once Will expresses his understanding of this, with an appropriate level of relaxed breeziness, drinks are ordered.

Doing this step wrong is ordering a cold drink, or anything with whipped cream; ordering anything more than a biscotti to eat is also a faux pas.

Doing it right begins with a hot drink, whatever the weather. Coffee, of course, is best, followed by tea. Hot chocolate is risky – some places serve it as the respectable cousin to a mocchachino, in a cup with two modest marshmallows; others treat it as a liquid Knickerbocker Glory in a tall glass mug adorned with syrup and confectionery. Will plays it safe and orders a flat white.

Fresh back from London, Will knows that he has to lay it on a bit thick about Wellington being vastly superior to everywhere else on the planet. Saying the wrong thing, he knows, includes complaining about the weather, or talking too much about changing things at a theoretical place of employment

Making the entire thing much more taxing for Will is that it’s early evening and someone at the bar next door is having a costume party. He has to stay calm and focused on his hosts while hordes of whooping merrymakers in fabulous fancy dress pass by their window table. For all he knows, laughing at that group all dressed like multiple Tiger Woods may mean he’ll never work in this town again.

At the end of this relaxing, casual meeting of minds, Will is completely drained. To recover,  he goes a couple of blocks, and up a set of stairs.

There, away from prying eyes, is another café, where he orders another hot drink.

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