Whose Chair Is It Anyway?

Robert's HouseSam and I walked to Lyndhurst and back this morning.  The return journey was via Mill Lane where we had a brief chat with Robert whose yellow tractor was perched alongside the Mill Pond, some of which was draining into one of the streams under the rough track.

I needed to visit the bank in Lyndhurst to order some euros to take to France at the end of next week.  We did this and for three hours put the world to rights.  Sam’s contract with the London Olympics Committee having come to an end we spoke of interviews and their processes.  This reminded me of two jobs I had not landed.  The second was my last interview before going freelance, because I realised I had gone as far as I could in Social Services.  This was in 1985.  I had applied to be head of fieldwork in a London Borough.  There were only two of us in the waiting room.  The other candidate was an internal employee who was to retire in two years.  He told me he hoped I would get the job.  Why was there no-one else?  I wondered.

It was some way into the interview before I found the answer.  I was asked what would be my reaction should they reorganise the department in two years time and effectively demote me.  Rather naively thinking this might be something to test my mettle, I replied that I would consider that they didn’t want someone of my calibre and get a job somewhere else.  This appeared to be the wrong answer.  The other man was appointed.

Something similar happened during my first team leader interview with a different London Borough.  This time, in 1972, I was faced with a distant semicircle of interviewers in a vast council chamber.  Each of eleven members of the inquisition had a sheet of paper on which the questions were presumably written.  One person read out a question I had just answered.  I apprised him of that fact.  Without a shred of embarrassment he then read out his own allotted question.  In this vast arc of people all seated on a much higher level than me I could not see them all at once.  Two elderly women to my left continued fairly loud conversations whilst I was trying to answer their colleagues’ questions.  They were out of eyesight, even if well within earshot. Eventually I turned to these people and asked them to keep quiet as I couldn’t concentrate.  They seemed to have taken offence at that.  I was unsuccessful. However, the next day the Director of Social Services telephoned me, explained that I had blown it, made it clear that she wanted me, and told me to reapply when it was readvertised, and be more careful.

I took the advice and reapplied.  This time the interviewers were on a stage in front of me.  I was the solitary spectator in the stalls.  I was asked a question which was going to flummox me.  At that point the tea lady came on from stage right.  A break was taken.  The question was forgotten.  I got the job.

After lunch today Mat and Tess joined us.  We had enjoyable afternoon together until Jackie and I took Sam to Hamble where he was to participate in a sail training course.  Our son and daughter-in-law shared Jackie’s sausage casserole followed by rice pudding with us.  Red and white wine was imbibed.

Oddie on my chairBefore dinner I engaged in an interesting competition with their Jack Russell terrier, known as Oddie.  Most dogs who sit at your feet staring longingly are after your food.  Not Oddie when gazing up at me.  He is willing me to leave my chair so he can dive into it.  I, on the other hand, am determined to stay in it long enough to keep him out.  This went on until Jackie moved into the kitchen to prepare our evening meal.  The kitchen being down the hall, Oddie had a problem.  How could he keep an eye on both the chair and any possible perks that may be available in the kitchen?  He couldn’t of course.  That meant constant anxious to and froing between the two rooms.

3 responses to “Whose Chair Is It Anyway?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this post. I say, you dodged some red flags. I love your honest answer to the demotion questions. It is important for each of us to know our worth. I will never understand why potential employers give possible future employees questions, and then consider reading them out loud to you as one is illiterate. I will say, I was shocked that you reapplied for the second job, because based on what you shared, they tend to thrive on interrupting, but no surprise you got the position. I do love the story of the Jack Terrier. In the end it’s an analogy for the professional world…

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