My Best Face

Entry by: Daisy

9th June 2015
My Best Face

As I left my job interview with Mrs Dale and Mrs Owen, I felt my whole body begin to unclench and, all the sweat I'd managed to will to stay in during the interview felt like it was now flooding through my shirt. Even my legs felt wet, as I uncomfortably teetered out of the big telecommunications building on my interview heels.

I made my way to the bus-stop, reliving the interview questions. it wasn't like I particularly wanted the job, I just needed the job. I think it went OK, but then again, most of my job interviews go OK, but I still don't get hired. Although, this time, a part of me secretly hoped that they didn't want to hire me; I know answering a phone all day is likely to make me go insane after two weeks, but, I should try and think positively. If I'm lucky another, better job might come along and, if I'm really lucky - I won't have to keep taking the damn bus.

It wasn't a long bus ride, but I could barely wait to return home, so that I could finish artistically distressing my new project - a coffee table, which I'd pilfered from a skip two weeks ago. I could hardly wait to wriggle out of my sweaty suit and get it into the wash; finally put on my jogging bottoms - a secret pleasure when no one was looking, and get a cup of tea to begin doing what I actually liked. If only any of the jobs I'd ever had could have felt as exciting as this.

As soon as I entered my flat, the heels were discarded before I'd even shit the front-door. I flapped around with a make-up wipe in one hand and used the other to undress myself; time was of the essence. It wouldn't be long before the uniform went on again and, I would spend another day lying through my teeth about my achievements and interests in such and such. The problem with interviews, is that you didn't get paid for pretending to be someone else.

I thought about the women who'd interviewed me earlier. How did they get to a position whereby they interviewed people? It had become clear after the first ten minutes that the interviewers were hostile to graduates. In fact, Mrs Dale, had almost seemed pissed off when she read out my MA in English literature qualification, and appeared further affronted when she noticed I had a diploma in art.

But that was the problem really, having qualifications in the arts wasn't of much use in this economy. Being able to spell, read, and understand grammar, were skills of an apparently dying trade. I needn't have bothered wasting my money at university it seemed, and art - well, I may as well have gone to interviews and said I skinned puppies for canvas to paint on - given the reactions I'd received.

Probably it was difficult for them to associate creativity with usefulness, but, creativity showed that I was a free-thinker. It was baffling, all these jobs - receptionist, till work, phone worker - they all needed people to be independently strong to give the illusion that a large and happy team were working, but, independent strength wasn't something they overly encouraged at application. Why? Probably because it meant that you might question the capitalist interpretation of team.

I'd learned the truth about what 'team' actually meant in my last job as a hotel receptionist - 'team work' actually referred to the phenomena of operating most of the time without a team. (Why call it a team when you never actually work together?) However, the 'team', would always be remembered when it came to collecting tips: being forced to work over-time for the fifth week in a row because other members of the 'team' had holiday; or of course, the team was remembered when angry customers sought another team member to continue screaming at if things weren't going well. Of course the team never seemed to be around when I had an angry customer shouting at me; or I needed a break, or to go home on time.

I actually believed in the power of a team, just not in the way these middle-line managers conceived of it. You would think having the ability to think for myself would mean I would do well, but it was a fine-line these days. 'Team' was fast becoming the cover-word thrown around to give a nice impression to the public, it was not an actual thing. But you weren't supposed to admit that, or even know that.

I bit my lip as I gave the coffee table another once-over with some sand-paper, while I thought bitterly about the lie that was 'team'.

I was in an awkward position. I wanted to be a librarian, or work within the art industry being a journalist, but there was never any openings that I could apply for. Of course I'd tried multiple times, but they never considered I had enough experience to join their team of 'hope'. No, without 'experience' I couldn't even enter the teams I wanted; I wasn't accomplished enough. But on the other hand, lower-entry level jobs thought I was too accomplished to be hired. I often just wanted to scream, I mean, I still have to eat.

I began holding colour-swatches up to the table and considered how to make the coffee table fit into Mrs Holden's flat. The poor woman downstairs had just suffered a stroke and, was now unable to move well around her home, so she often sat in the lounge with her books most of the day. I thought the coffee table was big enough with all its under-storage to keep everything she might need right next to her. i just wanted to make her comfortable.

I began to forget my disappointment over the world outside and, began to think about ways I could help Mrs Holden in her period of discomfort. the drawer runners seemed a bit stiff, I'd have to do something about that or she'd struggle.

The next morning I climbed out of bed and stepped over a drawer full of clothes on the floor. I'd taken the screws out of the unit to use in the coffee table because I didn't have the money to go and buy more, but I wanted the table to be perfect for Mrs Holden, and it wouldn't bother me too much to put the drawer to the side.

I made a cup of tea and glanced lovingly at the coffee table. next to it was the brochure for the company I would be interviewed at today. I skimmed it half-heartedly. It didn't seem complicated. I just needed to talk about up-selling opportunities.

URGH! I hate talking about up-selling.

'Yes of course I have experience up-selling. It requires determining the customer's needs and offering them a further choice for purchase, rather than what they initially believed they needed'.

As I practice the lines in my head I begin mentally answering myself.

'Of course, I'm quite adept at the psychology of reading people and determining if I can sell the vulnerable more than they actually need or want. In fact, I'm very good at working solo and making elderly people think they need to purchase more for whatever reason. Will my soul go to hell with the team, or is it a one-man show when accountability is considered?'

My plain face stares backed at me from the mirror, while I begin to cover up my stress acne with concealer. It's a shame I don't get to ask the questions.

I take one final moment to check that my mascara is not clumped while I think about who I'm supposed to be today. Being alive is like acting, but no one ever wants to see the show when people wear their real faces.

I brush down the legs of my suit to dislodge any creases and straighten back up again - to look at the face of capitalism staring back at me.

I look prettier, but I'm not sure that it's my best face.