Thursday, April 22, 2010

First, a story...

It's a story that kind of explains a little bit about where I'm at right now, but mostly it's just weird.

It happened about maybe six months ago now. I'd started back at uni earlier in the year and was living the typical student life, despite being at least five years older than the typical student. I was eating ramen and sleeping in and moaning about homework and feeling poor. So I decided to get me a job. I had one -- a day a week in a specialist bookstore, but that's a story unto itself and I shall save it for later methinks -- but needed another. So I applied for a seasonal job with a well-known Melbourne summer event (I won't go into specifics, but let's just say it involves the Botanical Gardens and movies).

Job interview day rolls around and I'm feeling pretty confident really. The job is "customer service" and I've been serving customers of all kinds and varieties for a good number of years now. I've also been as usher at Melbourne's illustrious Arts Centre so am well and truly down with all the artsy-black-wearing-cinema-going-I'm-awesome-even-though-I-work-in-customer-service-ness. No worries here.

The interview is in the Botanical Gardens, which makes showing up for it a rather pleasant experience. I get there early and plonk myself down on the grass to enjoy the late spring sunshine, cool breeze and views over the gardens and the city. I day dream about all the nights to come spent in this place and all the fresh air I will breathe while wiling away the hours and earning money to do nothing but watch movies. Sigh.

And the allotted interview time arrives. I hear nothing, I see nothing. I wander around for awhile and see other artsy-looking types doing the same. We look at each other hesitantly but exchange no words. We find a pavilion and gradually all make our way over and sit in it. Eventually a balding man in a brown leather jacket and big black boots rocks up. One of those older guys that wears a different black t-shirt with different white writing on it every day. It becomes apparent that he's our interviewer.

Him: 'Hi, so, you guys are all here because you didn't write "I really love movies" in the first sentence of your cover letter.'

It's off to a good start.

Him: 'There's no room for movie-lovers here, because we only show really shit movies. And the hours are shit, the customers are shit, the work is shit, the pay is shit. Anyone still interested in the job?'

We sit fixed to our benches. I'm sure I must be staring open-mouthed, and everyone around me seems to be processing this with varying levels of acceptance.

Him: 'Oh, but sometimes we get a bottle of whiskey and sit behind the screen and mock the director. I guess that's alright.'

The next 45 minutes of my life are consumed by this angry angry little man ranting about movies and people who go to see movies and how stupid they all are and how much they don't deserve to live. Couples who kiss are bad, people who bring their dogs are bad, anyone who complains is bad, actors are bad, people who talk are bad, people who enjoy themselves are bad, when it rains it's good, because everyone gets to go home.

We all start checking our watches.

Him: 'So, if you get the job someone'll give you a call in a few days. If you don't get it we'll send you out some free tickets, which is pretty much the best thing you can hope for.'

Us: '???'

And that's it. I feel a kind of uneasy camaraderie with those around me. As we make our way out through the Botanical Gardens I turn to a girl walking next to me and say, 'Well, that was one of the weirder job interview experiences of my life. What's he going to do, pull some names out of a hat then send them a letter of condolences?'

She doesn't make eye contact, and speeds up her pace a bit. Guess she's sick of all the amusing chit chat.

About three months later some free movie passes appear in my letterbox. Shit film, here I come.

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