Sun, Sep 20, 2009
People do secret things in some of these buildings, including the one I had an interview in.
Compared to the world of little nonprofits that I usually inhabit, this was positively surreal. First, the nearest Metro stop is miles away. Although a shuttle comes every 40 minutes, it isn’t a very good substitute for driving.
I don’t know how, but I have passed the mid-century mark without ever being a car commuter. Now I know what everyone is complaining about. Thankfully, I was driving out of town, which is easier in the morning.
At the key intersection on the other side of a narrow bridge, I counted 171 cars waiting to make the light! Those poor, tortured souls.
When I got there, I had to be met at the security desk and issued a badge that said I required an escort at all times. The trip to the interview room was something like walking down the corridors of an extremely well-kept hotel.
Everything was spotless glass and chrome, hushed voices, super deluxe bathrooms (self-operating sinks and toilets). The interview itself was completely normal, with the usual questions, not a single one I hadn’t heard before.
It was the tour of the department I’d be part of that was truly illuminating. This place prides itself on the longevity of its employees. I heard of, but did not meet, a legendary employee who has been with the company since 1959.
That blew me away. I started to look at the badges everyone wore around their necks. The photos were barely recognizable, they were a decade or more younger than the face of the person wearing them.
My sample size was small, but I didn’t see many women in their fifties with pictures of themselves in their thirties. Perhaps they get the pictures updated since they don’t like the comparison of their contemporary face with their younger one. That would make sense.
As I walked the halls (accompanied, of course) I flashed on what this place looked like in the 1960s. All these scientists and engineers with white shirts and skinny ties, with pocket protectors and crew cuts.
Today, they dress better, but they’re the same geeks they always were. In high school, I had no use for them.
Like all the cute girls my eyes faced toward the athletes. But now in middle age, these geeky guys were hot. They had big salaries, savings and retirement, boats, big houses, vacation houses and all sorts of other toys, I imagined.
I decided that if they asked me my salary requirements, I would lowball them. Anything to get in the door, and get one of those badges and prowl around.
Somewhere in one of these offices is a nice, quiet man who doesn’t get out much and who, like most Americans, will meet his future spouse at work. The visit left my perspective momentarily transformed.
One of those geeky guys would make me his trophy wife, and I could retire into comfortable boredom, prescription drug abuse, elaborate shopping trips and vacations and torrid affairs with younger men. Is that the life I want?
By the time I got home I had sobered up. I’m not going after one of those guys.
They can come after me, like everybody else.