The elevator was humid and dim and it seemed to be taking forever to go down. I was on my way to a job interview at a company called Martin Publishing House. It was located on the fifth floor below ground level in a skyscraper. Ever since I had graduated from college six months before, I had been pretty lazy about looking for a job. A friend had recommended I apply for a job in publishing. So here I was, trying to move up into the world.
When I got off the elevator I had to close my eyes for a second because the lights in the hallway were blindingly bright. When my eyes recovered from the shock I began looking for the door marked -531. I opened the door to the office and walked up to the receptionists' window. A couple of women were seated on the other side of the waiting room reading magazines.
At the receptionists' window I tried clearing my throat and coughing to get the attention of the receptionist but then I realized that she couldn't hear me because there was a glass window between us.
I tapped on the glass and she opened the glass door and said, "Hello."
"Hi, my name is Bob Dorff. I am here to see Mr. Martin."
"Okay, let me look here."
I waited patiently while she typed away on her computer and flipping through files. I tried to look out of the corner of my eye to see if the two women were looking at me or if they were reading their magazines. I had stretched my face as far as I could without directly looking at them, and then the receptionist said something.
"I'm sorry, what did you say?" I asked.
And she said, "Is your name Bob Dorff?"
"Yes," I said.
She then proceeded to begin looking through a file cabinet again. I watched the hands on the clock behind her desk as they moved. I waited for four minutes and twenty-two seconds.
"Okay, Mr. Martin will see you now. Follow me."
She motioned to a door next to a window. I opened it and followed her down a hallway. She knocked on a door and then opened it.
"Mr. Martin, Bob Dorff is here for his interview," she said.
I heard a muffled, indecipherable voice, and then she turned to and smiled and held out her arm for me to go in. Once again I had to readjust my eyes, because there was only a desk lamp on in his office. The secretary closed the door and left.
I looked over the desk at Mr. Martin. He had gray hair and a moustache. He had on a pair of round, wired glasses that made his stare seem even more intense.
"Have a seat," he said.
I sat down.
"So you are looking for a job in publishing, correct," he said.
"What kind of work would you hope to do should I hire you?" he asked.
"I mean, I could read manuscripts and edit them, and that kind of stuff."
"I see," he said.
He began looking over my application. I sat there staring at him and then I began looking around the room. There was a plaque saying he graduated from Dartmouth University. Along one wall there was lots of photos. In one of the photos he was sitting on a beach chair next to a woman. I noticed that he was naked and his flaccid penis was hanging out. I opened my mouth in mock horror (or was it real horror) and then glanced at him to make sure he hadn't seen my make that facial expression.
He continued looking at my application. I could hardly stare at him anymore, for fear of immediately envisioning him on a beach chair with no clothes and a flaccid penis. At the same time, I could hardly look at the walls for fear that I might find another such picture. I decided to look down at my lap.
"Well, it looks like you could do a good job here, Bob, but it will just be a matter of figuring out exactly where to put you. We'll give you a call, okay?"
I said "okay" and "thank you" and then I asked where the nearest bathroom was and went and washed my hands. Then I left the office and walked as fast I could to the elevator. When I got to the ground floor and left the building, I was blinded by the sun, because it was so bright.
Rather than taking the subway, I decided to just walk the whole way home. It took me 80 minutes to get back to my apartment. I sat on the stoop and smoked a cigarette and then I went inside. On the way to my apartment I heard loud noises coming from the apartment across the hall from me. It sounded like a dog yelling in pain. I opened the door to my apartment and went in and shut it behind me and bolted the door.
I went to my bedroom and sat down at my desk and laid my head down on the desk. I tried to fall asleep but I couldn’t, so I turned on my computer and checked my email repeatedly every five minutes over the course of two and a half hours while I browsed websites on the Internet.
I leaned back in my chair and looked at the living room and kitchen of my apartment. I didn’t really need them anymore, because I had moved most of my furniture and the microwave and the fridge into my room. Since I was always in my room, there was no need for the television, because I would prefer to just stare at my computer screen. Since the microwave and the fridge were in my room and that was what I used when I cooked food in the house, there really wasn’t any need for the oven. My proudest possession in the room was a hibiscus plant which I watered everyday. I kept it on table by the window because I was afraid that if I put it on the windowsill it would fall twelve stories and smash into oblivion on the sidewalk.
I called my friend Mark and he told me to go over to his apartment. I took the subway over to his apartment. We talked about how much we hated everything and how we didn’t want to get real jobs and how we were above all that and then he asked me how my job interview went.
“Oh, um, pretty good,” I said.
“Where was that again?” he asked.
“Martin Publishing House,” I said.
“Oh yeah, I remember now,” he said. “Come to think of it, I’ve actually been thinking of taking this job offer from an advertising agency downtown.”
“Oh yeah,” I said.
He began talking about this job that he had been offered and one sentence began to bleed into the next. He began to sound like the teacher sounds in the show Charlie Brown. I thought about feeling sentimental about the fact that we were growing up and then I realized that I didn’t really care even though it did was kind of overwhelming.