My last formal job interview for a position I really, really wanted - a glass of ice cold Diet Coke in the middle of the desert kind of want - was for a director's position overseeing alternative programming for UPN. The interview happened well over two years ago yet its memory is so vivid, I can recall it at a moment's notice should I need some last minute shame.
I'd like to think it was the forty-five minute wait in a lobby better suited for a sensory deprivation tank than a waiting lounge. When Sascia (pronounced Sah-see-ah) finally came to usher me into Danielle Green's office, I was struck first by this woman ten years my junior in blonde dreadlocks. The hair choice would be jarring enough on a young, style-enslaved Jewish girl but on a thirty three year old executive, it was just plain disturbing. I recovered long enough to notice myself standing in a fifties-styled soda fountain complete with patent leather bar stools at the counter and a jukebox. I suppose a poodle skirt and dreadlocks just didn't mix for Danielle because she was dressed head to toe in camoflage. Sometimes the id can be a real devil.
We saddled atop two of the stools and mine swiveled. In fact I couldn't stop swiveling and it took every ounce of self-containment not to go all the way around.
"So how much do you know about the job?" she asked as she was scrawling her stylus against her palm pilot.
"I know UPN wants to become competitive in the reality environment," and there it was. My word of the day. Environment. She would be hearing it again.
"Yes we do and I am quite proud of what I've put together so far," she said with earnestness usually only found on the good ship Lollipop.
The only thing Danielle accomplished during her time at UPN was developing Chains Of Love, an abomination to the good name of reality television.
"The current market environment allows for an endless range of programming that would lend itself to the reality environment," there was no turning back for me now. I was sweating, I was in a soda joint and apparently the only word I knew was environment.
"The position calls for a strong feel for alternative approaches," she began.
"I love alternative," I interrupted because what better way to express how edgy I could be than to repeat the word "alternative"? I felt as stupid as if I had just run into Trent Reznor and said, "Boy, Mr. Nails, I really like your alternative music!"
I looked at her during a half-swivel and saw she was starting to sulk. I decided to add, "I've spent a lot of time in the alternative environment."
She looked at her watch, I put my foot on the floor to stop a swivel and the meeting was over. I sped home and wrote her a two page emailed apology. I never heard from Danielle again.
I just got back to LA from my DC interviews this morning. I am tired and have an early flight tomorrow for Montreal. I'm going to bed and crawling under the covers. I'll write about the DC experience when I return on Sunday.