As I walked through the door, a receptionist greeted me with a cold stare. I was right on time for my job interview at an online marketing firm in the Financial District. I wanted to land a support rep position, but in this recession I would’ve settled for a job as the office chai wallah. It had been months since my last gig, and I needed to start paying off my massive debt.
Arty, the fiftysomething COO, came running up to me, grabbed my shoulder and blurted out, "Dude. Change of plans. Frank from sales is getting married next week, so we’re gonna leave for a, sort of, bachelor party. Why don’t you come along and we’ll cover all my bulletpoints at the same time?" He grinned like an 8-year-old looking for trouble and I saw—felt—the office cavalry of male employees revving up for an evening of debauchery.
Arty led the group of us downstairs and a few blocks up to a decrepit pub-slash-strip club. He cracked open the door and began my interview with my resumé in hand. "Your CV is kind of light, you know. Have you worked with marketing software before?" I tried to tell him that most of my experience was with proprietary applications but he ignored me and waved to a platinum blonde mob mistress in a worn-out bra and underwear who stood behind the bar eating a fish sandwich. She scraped a glob of mayonnaise from her thigh and waved a pickle toward purple velvet curtains in the rear of the bar. "Do you have a heavy load of support needs?" I asked, following the group to the back. A stench similar to wet dog dipped in patchouli hit me, and I thought about the medical benefits that would come with the job. We sat on a set of broken wooden chairs and Arty suddenly took on a professional demeanor. "Look," he said, "we want to make our company to online marketing what Facebook is to social networking." As I nodded with reverence, I heard Richard Marx begin to warble through a storm of static on a portable boom box.
"You went to college in New Orleans?
How was that?" he asked. "Actually…" I started, but was distracted by the bouncer who pulled the string on the stage’s lone light bulb to reveal Barbara, who had finished her fish sandwich, dancing and squatting over a crusty piece of burlap.
I told him that I was a fast learner and was willing to wear many hats for as long as it took to get situated. Then Barbara shouted over us into her cell phone as she performed.
"Huh? No. Jeannie went home. She got a rug-burn!"
I looked to my right and found Joe, the head of sales, a foot away in pools of sweat. Barbara came down from the stage, climbed on top of him and dumped a handful of glitter on his head. He leaned over and breathed a mist of bourbon and bacon on the side of my face. "Bro, it’s a great company. I should show you the Pro- Forma sheets. This fiscal year is gonna be all in the black. Got a cigarette?" Arty took over. "What I’m looking for are people, troopers really, who aren’t afraid of a little hustling. That’s our competitive advantage. Now, are you a hustler?" "Um. I am," I said. Barbara’s curiously solid breasts smacked me in the face, and I took in the aroma of cologne— Drakkar Noir?—from the other men that had come before.
Arty pointed out Frank, the bachelor, now hammered on Jagermeister. Another dancer pulled him up on stage and began to strip him. Arty spoke of how Frank came to the company with a degree in game theory and zero experience. "But I could see he was willing to break his ass for us, so I gave him a shot," he said. "Look at him now." I looked up and saw Frank, now alone on stage in his stretched out briefs, bending over to collect his jeans and belt. The boss smiled at his protégé.
Soon Arty disappeared, and I took the opportunity to visit the buffet, which offered two items: hot borscht and cold borscht. But I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, so I grabbed a paper bowl and dug in.
With my food still in hand, Barbara grabbed my arm and coerced me into the area next to the soda machine for a lap dance. After what felt like eight seconds of gripping her coarse ankle, she told me that my time was up. "Was that a whole song?" I asked. "That was two," she barked. "You owe me 40 bucks."
Nothing slays my dignity—and my libido—like when a stripper escorts me to the ATM wearing the menacing gaze of an angry bookie.
Arty approached. "Listen Allen," he said.
"Ahron, actually." "I don’t have any positions for you at the moment, but I’ll put you on the short list. I gotta run now though. I’m late for my daughter’s parent-teacher conference. Take care."