09 May, 2007

The Interview

Of course it was a typical Fuzzybear Lioness drama. I’d been staying at Carrie’s house for two nights and Carrie’s husband Will rides the commuter bus in from Virginia direct to the Pentagon, so it was arranged that Tuesday morning I would accompany him in and take the Metro from there. Unfortunately, I left my cell phone charger at the conference hotel in Arlington on Sunday and was flying out that afternoon, so I figured I'd stop by there first. Besides, where was I going to put my giant suitcase? Carry it with me down K Steet?!

So, here are Will and I at 5;15 a.m. in Virginia. He seems to be the “strong silent type,” but I was already wired at that hour. I babbled all the way to the bus stop, continuing as we sat down. He was wonderfully patient, but finally leaned across the aisle and whispered in the gentlest voice a man like him can use, “This is a Quiet Bus; if you don’t stop talking, the communters on this bus will kill you.” I thanked him for the tip and shut up.

And it was a quiet bus. I had plenty of time to look and think. I’d spent my formative years across the Bay from DC, so the terrain and vegetation are as familiar to me as my own reflection. From the freeway to the trees, to look through the bus window was to be home. I suddenly felt like a child again, and thought of what Lex wrote about coming back to Virginia for the conference.

And then we turned the corner and DC was laid out below us as dawn was spreading across the sky. Such a beautiful sight! The façade of a soup of patriotism, politics, power-madness, idealism, business, industry, history, corruption, cultures and communities of all shades… Such a place! And here I was, headed to an interview on the street that is the lion's den of some of the worst aspects of our national politics. My mind bounced from personal to national and back to personal, with side trips into the warnings I’d recently received from wise friends.

The Pentagon swung into view and it was time to say goodbye to Will. With his uniform on a hanger in one hand and his bag in the other, he reminded me of my stop, then offered his cheek to kiss. I gladly did, so grateful for his kindness and that he’d been there to wrestle my bag up the bus stairs and get me headed the right direction—really kept my stress level down.

But deprived of my Marine escort, it turned Fuzzybear-like real quick. From the bus stop to the hotel took me 45 minutes, as I got myself completely turned around and tied up in knots, giant suitcase in tow. I finally found the hotel at 7 a.m., checked for the charger (no luck), and explained to the concierge that I had been a guest two days ago and had an interview downtown before flying out. Fortunately, he accepted my luggage. I dashed to the onsite Business Center to print out the notes, letters and resume I’d left at Carrie’s, put on my makeup in the bathroom, then dashed back to the Metro. I made it to my interview with three minutes to spare.

Unfortunately, the interviewer had no idea who I was or why I was there. She nearly gave me a heart attack!

It turned out she’d had a brain cramp in not putting me on her calendar, but soon remembered the appointment. What followed was 40 wonderful minutes of her eyes lighting up as I spoke, and me becoming more and more convinced this was a job I wanted and could do well. The kicker was when she traded off with the national head of the “organization,” who had been headed up to Capitol Hill for some “meet and greet” but instead spent the next hour talking to me.

I was thoroughly impressed by the people I met, and it was probably the best interview I've done at that level. A good interview does not equal a job, but there’s no doubt the odds are leaning more towards Yes than No. It’s essentially a Legislative Assistant position (in the field of military advocacy/support), and it’s a growth opportunity. Altogether, I spent nearly two hours being interviewed. I was told, “If you want to, this is the kind of job where you can make a name for yourself.” Another said, “Talking to people like you gets me excited, gets the juices flowing” over what we can accomplish. It’s pretty obvious I’m on the short list [btw, they knew exactly what Milblogs were].

Head spinning, I called my mother and the cell phone promptly died. I procured a new charger at a local store and headed to the hotel, figuring I could charge the phone in the lobby before leaving for the airport. No sooner had I plugged it in than the fire alarm went off (still hadn’t picked up my luggage and needed to be at the airport in an hour)! I walked over to PF Chang’s and told the host I’d take any table with an outlet near it. The only place was the bar, so I sat and snacked while watching the hotel antics across the street.

It was nearly 1:00 before I got back into the hotel. Running late, and sick and tired of dragging that behemoth of a suitcase around, I splurged on a cab ride to the airport after dropping a fat tip on the concierge (I am in love with that concierge; I’d tip him a hundred if I could), and finally took a breath again.

SMASH called on the way to the airport and I just babbled. I was still soaring, and couldn’t stop talking. And I still can’t believe it all. I just might be back to stay, in a couple of weeks…

Wow. What a capper to an amazing week…

[More on the Conference itself, coming up.]