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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Chapter 2 - part four

The second interview was held in a small plain room, just a desk and chairs, no windows, not even a poster on the walls. I shook hands with the two interviewers, who were as stony faced as prison warders. I sat upright with a firm smile planted on my face, my arms crossed, ready to do battle. Earlier, one of the candidates had warned us that it was going to be like a police interview, pushing our buttons and also testing our problem solving skills.

Warder 1 and Warder 2 sat down across the table from me. They wasted no time.

W1 smiled then said, ‘You were a lawyer hey? I used to be a police officer. I’m going to REALLY enjoy interviewing you…You come across confident, but - I know EXACTLY what your problem is.’ He glared at me.

I held his glare. I could take this guy.

‘Oh yes, and what’s that?’ I asked, smiling sweetly.

‘You get defensive and you don’t suffer fools gladly.’

About to use my standard smart-ass retort, I looked down at my crossed arms. I stopped my first instinct and slowly unfolded my arms.

‘Well, I guess you could be right about that!’ Game on.

‘What would you do if someone lost their passport and the coach had to leave for the next country and couldn’t wait?’ asked W2.

‘It would depend on what we were late for. Perhaps we could reschedule and gain half an hour so we could help the client sort out where to go to get a new one.’

‘Where would they go?’

I’d had a friend who lost his passport in France, so I knew that in each country there were offices that handled emergency passports. I suggested this as a solution, confirming that we would have to leave the person behind but that they could catch us up.

‘How would they find you?’

‘With the hotel list I’d already given them on the first day. And they could ring my mobile number.’

‘How would they know it?’

‘I would have given them my mobile number at the start of the tour.’ I made a mental note to get myself a mobile.

Dozens of scenarios were thrown at me. What if the coach broke down? Or a couple travelling together broke up and didn’t want to share a room anymore? Or a hotel double booked and had no beds for us?

Every answer I gave was treated with derision. I kept my cool. They lunged, I parried. In the end it was even kind of fun.

‘What if someone tried to hit on you, and came knocking on your door late at night?’

‘I’d tell them nicely that I had a boyfriend.’ I did have one at the time. Of course that was before I started working on the road, it sure didn’t last long after that.

‘What if you didn’t have a boyfriend?’

‘That would depend — is it day 40 of a 45 day tour or day one of a 15 day tour?’

The Warders exchanged a disapproving glance with each other at this response. It probably was not the best answer to have given, but what I meant was that it depended on the context. I didn’t realise at this point that an unwritten rule was no hanky-panky between road crew and clients.

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