“The Bathroom” by Jenna Collett, read by Angus Gallagher

Performed at “Crazy & Sane” on May 27, 2019.

17 minutes to the interview. Fuck.

No, this is okay: 17 minutes is no small amount of time. There was an electric chair execution that lasted 17 minutes. It took five jolts of electricity to get that convict gone. He was still breathing all the way until the fifth jolt. Why do I know this? His name was William, I think. Could have been his first or last name; that’s how William works. If it’s your first name you’re just one William. Your last name: many Williams. I remember that execution because witnesses said the room smelled overwhelmingly of burning flesh. Afterwards the Department of Corrections released a statement that read: “The execution did not go according to plan”. I’ll file that under, “things not to mention in the interview”.

17, no, 16, minutes, is plenty of time to do what I’m doing now, which is Power Poses over the squat toilet in the bathroom.

The Starfish. The Wonder Woman. The CEO.

I’m pretty sure those aren’t their correct names, but I only watched the TED Talk once. Supposedly, if you strike a pose you might see Usain Bolt do when he crosses the finish line, or a corrections officer do when refusing to apologise for taking 17 minutes to kill someone, your testosterone levels increase, and your cortisol drops. Good for business if you’re about to encounter a stressful situation, like a job interview. Or an execution.

Enough. Let’s practice that elevator pitch. They are going to ask you to tell them about yourself. They want Titles, Qualifications, Experience, Qualities i make you a good fit for the position. They like numbers: things they can hold onto. Don’t mention the void. They hate the void.

Good afternoon, or hello? Hey? Not hey. Afternoon. Perfect.

“Afternoon, I’m Benjamin”. I’m Benjamin? Or, “my name is Benjamin?”

“Afternoon, I’m Benjamin. Yes, just one Benjamin. I’ve been doing Power Poses in this bathroom for five minutes now without stepping in that questionable puddle to the left. Prior to this I was employed as a project manager for five years at a publishing company. I know that you’re looking for a detail-oriented person who can plan long-term projects independently. More than that, you need someone who won’t ask you too many questions about annual leave, or that guy who sleeps in the CPU room over the weekend. I think I’d make a good fit for your company because I have crippling self-doubt which forces me to check things obsessively. Once employed I’m very loyal, as despite having got whichever job I’m currently in, I truly don’t believe I’ll be able to get another. I’m creative, but I can also take uninspired orders. Yes, I know that’s a bit of a contradiction – but, as Walt Whitman said: ‘I contain multitudes’. No, that’s okay, I won’t mention Walt Whitman again, please let me finish.

As you can see from my resume, I have a degree in Philosophy, which is disappointing to more people than just those present. This degree honed my critical thinking skills and gave me an analytical mind, as well as an ongoing existential crisis. My previous experience as a manager developed my interpersonal skills considerably, particularly my negotiating skills. My roommate did not want to proofread this resume, and yet here we are staring at only one typo and a few misaligned margins. I think she missed those less out of malice and more because her eyes were puffy from binge-watching This is Us. The professional achievement I am most proud of is having reached 34 years of age without having to ask my family for money, despite my pathological lack of ambition.”

Nailed it. There’s some good stuff in there, I just need to polish up the language. “Lack of ambition” needs to become “adept at setting realistic goals”. And then I only need to leave the personal stuff – the stuff that makes me a person – in the bathroom.

10 minutes to the interview. Let me get out of this stall and check how I look. Balls. I still look the same. Fucking rally, Benjamin! What else will they ask you? 

“How would you describe your leadership style?”

  • Emotionally manipulative, but sincere.

“What are your weaknesses?”

  • “Comfy chairs, sad eyes, and buskers who don’t have legs”.

“Why are you leaving your current position?”

  • “I have reached the point where boredom is now outweighing my fear of failure”.

“What are you career goals?”

  • “Financially, I would like to reach a point where I can stop checking the vending machines for forgotten coins. In the short term I hope to develop some of those goals you just mentioned earlier. And in the long term I hope I can stop second guessing my every decision”.  

“Finally, do you have any questions for us?”

  • “Yes.
  • How is it possible that we are sitting in this room talking to each other while also spinning through space? If the universe is expanding, why aren’t we expanding with it? Why can’t we comprehend infinity, and yet we have a word for it? What are we doing here? How often do you think about your boss having sex?  How often do you think about the colleague sitting next to you having sex? Do you ever find yourself walking down the street and a memory comes for you like a loaded gun over a shop counter; all you can do is put your hands up and give it everything it wants, every feeling you’ve refused it before. Can you be an atheist and believe in ghosts? Are you afraid? At night, do you still check the cupboards before going to bed, too?

And lastly, does your health insurance plan include dental?” 

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