job interview stage
Monday, February 28 2000
Owing to the semi-tangible bed creatures and the job interview this morning, I slept poorly through the night. Without an alarm clock or a reliable Ocean Lodge Hotel staff, I was forced to use my Psion as an alarm. As expected, it quietly started playing "Fanfare for Horns" at 7:30 am.
I'd never actually taken the time to go check out the website of the company that would be interviewing me this morning, so Kim and I found ourselves driving up and down the east-west axis of Santa Monica looking for a cybercafé.
We ended up finding a place downtown near where Broadway meets the ocean. It was a big airy place with high ceilings, clean counters and a floor with the shiny patina of millions of footsteps. I nearly mistook a large work of conceptual art on the ceiling for water damage. Within a few minutes of sliding a dollar into the sole internet kiosk, I'd determined that the company that would be interviewing me was an online community based around music and music videos.
Finding the place was another issue entirely. It was located on Pennsylvania Avenue, a one-way street entirely unknown to MapQuest, and when I parked the car and looked for it on foot, I was on the unlabeled do-not-enter end of it. Not knowing where it was, I asked around and none of the pedestrians I encountered had ever heard of it. So in despair I climbed in the Volvo and went on a drive to find it.
Finally I made the discovery that I'd been walking only a few hundred feet from where I'd needed to be. I cursed the maker of the city and went to park the car. A final Kafakesque indignity was the meter's refusal to take nickels and dimes, the only coins I had with me.
So I was a little late to my interview, but it didn't seem to matter much. Everything went surprisingly well. While I started out nervous and ill-at-ease, I ended up being chatty, calm, and vaguely bored. All sorts of different people came in to talk to me, and when I didn't know the answer to a question, I just said I didn't know and it was no big deal. Overall the people seemed a bit more hip and sophisticated and decidedly less traumatized than the average employees at my old workplace. Perhaps this was a consequence of already being a publicly-traded company, but more likely it was related to the fact that Santa Monica is not nearly the internet/cultural backwater that San Diego has proven to be.
Before I'd left, I'd arranged to do another interview at an as-yet-unspecified date and I'd even discussed salary requirements.
Back at the downtown Santa Monica cybercafé, I told Kim the news of my good job interview, and we eventually went out to celebrate at our new favorite restaurant, a pizza place called "the Wildflour," which once received the LA Times accolade of "best pizza on the West Side." Last night we'd managed to eat a meal there (with beers) for only $16. [REDACTED] Today we went into the Wildflour's quaint yellow building on Main Street and ordered a lunch that managed to cost just a little bit more, though it came with an enormous Cæsarian salad. We ate our food in the rustic log-cabin-style dining room while the cooks arpeggiatingly discussed matters in the familiar Southern California restaurant lingua franca, Mexican Spanish.
Much of the rest of the afternoon was taken up with the arduous business of driving around looking at rental places and talking to a rather unhelpful real estate agent. It's necessary work, of course, though I tried as much as possible to let Kim be responsible for such matters, just tagging along to nod my head and grunt "uh huh" at the appropriate moments. Being unemployed, I certainly didn't want to go through the humiliating proctology of talking to a loan broker, so whenever possible I tried to steer Kim away from her suddenly revived notion of perhaps buying a place.
In the afternoon, Kim went off to do [REDACTED] stuff while I took a prolonged nap in the cheap, squeaky bed of our motel room. Evidently my body had reached some sort of accommodation with the natural habitat living there, and they didn't disturb me at all.
After a little "umpitty-umpitty" and television, Kim wanted to go out to dinner, and not at the award-winning cheapo pizza place either. So we found our way next door to a dark, funky restaurant called Chez Jay. Its parking lot was a riot of valets and densely-packed BMWs, but none of that mattered to us; perhaps the best feature of the Ocean Lodge Motel is its abundant, convenient parking.
Chez Jay just happened to have a "B" health inspection rating at the time, which always heightens my interest in a restaurant. While I'm not one to crave unsanitary food, I respect a management with higher priorities than tidiness.
The interior of Chez Jay was lit entirely with red and green Christmas light draped upon odds and ends from salvaged sea vessels. There were a variety of booths, including one in the back that was nearly as private as a separate room. Most of the patrons were fashionable 30-50 somethings. I got the feeling that this might be a good place for celebrity spotting.
Kim pointed out the fact that all the employees of 40-year-old Chez Jay were male, and many of those were Mexican. This indicated to her, based on her own restaurant experience, that the manager (a tall, rather austere white man) was "hard to work with."
The menu quickly demonstrated the place to be a rather pricey steak and lobster sort of restaurant. Kim would have ordered lobster, but she had a flashback to a hapless live lobster she'd seen in a sushi restaurant and ordered steak instead. I ordered the white fish special. While my dish was decidedly ho-hum, both of us had to agree the steak was excellent, as was the bottle of Northern Californian Merlot. Kim paid for it all[REDACTED]. Who says unemployment has to suck?
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