When I was in high school, I developed an obsession with a television show called “Alias.” The protagonist, Sydney Bristow, is a spy who works for the CIA, going on super cool missions each week where she beats up bad guys and does really sweet fight moves. She was my idol. As my high school friends can attest, I thought I was much smoother than I actually was. At lunch time, I would walk over to them, cause a mini-distraction (as subtle as ‘Look, is that Matt over there?’), and swipe a phone or a pen–whichever was in grabbing distance. I did this not because I was a kleptomaniac, but because I wanted my friends to appreciate how sleek my moves were. Items were always returned, usually after the friend noticed it was missing.
Anna: Kate. Give me back my phone.
Kate: (giggling) I don’t have your phone!
Anna: I know you have my phone. I can see it in your sleeve.
Kate: (pausing) But when did I take it?!
As I have gotten older, my moves have become a bit rustier. You might say I have the agility of a toddler learning to walk on rollerskates, or a drunk playing Dance Dance Revolution. Nevertheless, here are a few more recent stories about my skills. Please note that I will not write about instances in which I trip over nothing, causing a clever stranger to say something like, “Missed a step there!” or “Look out for the sidewalk!” because I’m not kidding when I say that happens at least once a day.
Unfortunate incident at the UPS
A few days ago, my roommate Hanna needed to send a package via UPS. Their store is within walking distance of our house, so we decided to hoof it. This particular store was unbelievably small–the entire room took up about as much space as an oversized closet. Directly across from the door stood the front desk manned by two employees. In between the desk and the door was a small table which provided a large surface where people could grab and fill out envelopes or write whatever they needed. There were two employees working and two clear pathways, but people decided to form the queue on the right side of the table. By the time Hanna and I arrived, there were two people in front of her and two people being helped.
Not wanting to be in the way or confuse people by making them think I was in line, I made the rational decision to stand on the left side of the table. There were, at most, two feet of space between the table oddly placed in the middle of the floor and a large pile of poorly stacked packages to my left. While I thought that moving to the side of the store opposite of that with the line was a good idea, I quickly discovered it was not. Not only did people who were finished with their UPS needs try to maneuver their way past me (which ended up looking like we were engaged in some sort of unfortunate tap dance), but new people entering the store would see me standing and grow confused, as if they thought I had grown tired of standing in the mainstream line and decided to branch off and form my own. I had to keep explaining that I was not in line, forcing them to huff back to the longer one.
While I was waiting in line pretending to decide between which envelope I would send my imaginary letter in, a frail old woman came up behind me.
“Excuse me, dear,” she said while barging her way forward. Not wanting to harm Aunt Bea in any way, I tried to swiftly move towards the wall to let her pass. Unfortunately, I forgot that if I quickly jumped backwards, I would not hit a wall–I would hit a pile of packages. The moment my foot stepped on the package behind me, I went down hard. I went down ass-first (so you understand how much momentum I must have had) on the package directly under my feet.
A large flat screen LCD TV.
I jumped up as swiftly as I had fallen down and managed to land in the arms of an incredibly buff and single UPS employee who happened to walk in.
“You really crack me up!” he said in a raspy voice and then I kissed him right on the face.
Actually, the frail old woman announced in a voice more powerful than her tiny body, “Are you okay? Be careful! That was a nasty spill. Are you going to be all right, honey?”
Naturally, all ten people in this store the size of a Denny’s bathroom had witnessed my fall. Instead of checking on the TV to make sure it wasn’t cracked, the employees were preoccupied with laughing at my expense.
I stood back up, assuring Estelle Getty that I was okay, then proceeded to get directly in the way of three more customers and a UPS employee trying to load packages into his truck.
In lieu of mailing packages, I have decided to send things through carrier pigeons from now on.
Career Fair Conundrum
As of right now, I am in desperate need of a job. Because of this, I have been looking down every avenue, including several sketchy Craigslist posts and almost paying $50 to attend a Red Sox Career Fair. Having had a positive experience at a career fair I attended back in Nashville, I was excited at the idea of attending one, but not one that I had to blow my grocery fund for, which is why I was overjoyed to learn that Northeastern would be holding a free career fair during the first week of October.
The night before I attended, I went ahead and only printed out twenty resumes. With my snazzy new heels and can-do attitude, I pranced to the career fair genuinely believing I would leave with several employers fighting for my hand in employment.
Typically, in a career fair held by a university, they provide a list beforehand with the employers that will be present and majors they are recruiting. I could not find such a list for Northeastern so I flew blind, hoping my perceptive skills and charming smile would directly guide me to booths that would happily take my resume.
As I walked in, I was immediately overwhelmed by the number of people, length of lines at the booths, and smell that had developed and only grown more pungent as time went on. I attempted to shove my way past the horde of people in order to read which companies were present, but the only thing I succeeded at was accidentally reaching second base with several unsuspecting underclassmen.
I walked around, mainly sticking to the outer rims of the auditorium, trying to find a booth–any booth–that looked promising. I decided to stop at a booth with the most visually attractive display: Anheuser-Busch, with a life-sized cardboard cutout of a Budweiser. The line for this one was only four people long and the person working the booth was interviewing candidates as they approached, so it seemed like a great choice at the time. After ten minutes passed, I finally made my way to the front of the line.
“Hi, I’m Jennifer!” the overly-excited beer woman said.
“Hello, my name is Kate. Nice to meet you,” I replied, never quite 100% sure what to say to potential employers.
“Do you have a resume I can have?” she asked immediately, moving much faster than I anticipated. Trying to pump the brakes a bit, I replied in kind.
“What positions are you hiring for?” I asked, expecting her to hand me a form or list several fields.
“Engineering. Is that you?” she gaily asked.
“No,” I laughed, trying to catch my breath. “It really isn’t.” I turned around and walked away, slightly defeated. The more booths I visited the more I realized that the majority of the employers in attendance were recruiting engineers, software developers, and information technology majors. Having a much less practical degree (an English major with a marketing minor), my options were severely limited. As the fair progressed, I managed to visit a couple tables and hand out a whopping four resumes (one much against the employer’s will–he even told me they weren’t hiring until December, but I made him take my resume anyway). Thinking the fair to be a bust, I started to leave, discouraged.
But that’s when I saw it: Pong.
Pong was a company that one of my best friends worked at this summer. My knowledge of Pong was limited. I knew it involved engineering and/or construction and that his father worked there, but that was about it. Similarly, I believed the company to be small enough that my friend Tim would easily be able to identify the man working the booth. Seeing an opportunity to show off my perceptive spy skills, I walked by the table several times to memorize his face so I could later report it. A couple of times I made eye contact with the man at the booth, but each time I would look off at the ceiling, as if I had heard something suspicious and was concerned that someone should go check it out. After about the sixth time I passed his table, I figured it might be better to just take a picture.
In a manner I thought to be very sneaky, I ducked behind a curtain and readied my phone to take the picture. By the time I had angled the phone to where you could clearly see the man’s face, he turned and caught eye contact with me, looking both puzzled and a little concerned. Channeling Sydney Bristow, instead of taking the picture, I lowered my phone and backed into a crowd of twenty-somethings in business attire, deciding I had enough intel to just describe this man over the phone.
I ran out of the career fair, more impressed with how quickly my self-taught spy skills returned than with how I performed at the fair. Twenty minutes passed and Tim was unable to identify the man from my impeccable descriptions, such as “a middle-aged guy, but kind of older,” “not fat but not skinny,” and “definitely not your dad.” I made the bold decision to return to the trenches and attempt to take the picture again.
This time, I had disguised my appearance so he would never be able to recognize me. Instead of wearing my hair down, I put it in a ponytail. My plan was flawless.
Thinking myself to be brilliant, I loaded my phone’s camera and walked by his booth with my phone to my hip, clicking the picture button along the way. Looking back, it may have seemed suspicious that I power-walked down the aisle while not even glancing at the passing booths, but I was more concerned with the picture. As I reached the end of the row, I opened my phone to see how beautifully my plan was executed. Here are the pictures I took:
Unsatisfied, I did another run of the aisle, more determined than before. Again, as I passed, I took more impressively stealthy pictures. This time, however, I got a good one.
I believe the look on his face says it all.
Had this company been a governmental agency and not a construction one, I have no doubt they would have hired me on the spot. But as it turns out, Pong employs more than ten employees and even with the picture, Tim had no idea who it was.