Life is full of strange twists and turns. It's almost as though someone is watching over me, making things happen. Sometimes I feel like that character, I've forgotten his name now, in that Jim Carrey film the Truman Show, god I feel like that could be me sometimes. Do you ever feel like that?
Today was the day of my second interview for that job as a sales executive on a personnnel magazine. I've decided against mentioning the name of the magazine here, because you hear about people losing their jobs and stuff when they write stuff in personal blogs about work and, even though technically it's not my job yet, I don't want to get fired before I've even started.
Although, I tell you what, I think I might really have my work cut out if I want this job. Not surprisingly I am not the only candidate for the position. I had arrived at 9am on the dot and was shown into an impressive looking boardroom. Already sitting around the table were about ten or so other people all suited and booted.
'Here we go Barry, Dan's got the team in to give me a grilling,' I thought.
I scanned the room, all my Citizen Journalism experience has given me the ability to quickly weigh up situations and act, rather than react, accordingly. There were a couple of blonde girls chatting, quite tasty they were, but you could hear from their estuary accents, they were thick as two short planks. There was a fairly prim looking girl, she was well turned out, but there was something about her mannerisms that reminded me of a sparrow and then this massively overweight lady in a flowery blouse. There was a older chap with a mustard coloured buttoned-down shirt, he had a MASSIVE knot in his tie, and he was talking with youngish chap who had the look of a simpleton about him, the younger fellow was holding a glass of water which was shaking visibly, poor lad was wracked with nerves.
Then, sitting over on the other side of the room was the face of man I knew. The face of a man I had come to hate. It was Richard, my nemesis from Blockbusters.
"Hello Barry," he said smiling, "small world."
All the seats were taken, so I was forced into sitting next to him. It took all my powers of meditation not to smack his smug looking mug a slap across the chops.
"I see Blockbusters is shutdown," I said (one nil to Newsdesk) ,"I suppose you were sacked because of all that stuff with Leigh and Amber?"
"Not at all Barry. I took voluntary redundancy as it goes. I could see that things are changing in the world of home entertainment. Internet downloads and IPTV will make the high street rental outlet a thing of the past. I'd taken it as far as I could take it. I got a nice little pay out actually, before head office closed things down. It was great, I used a bit of the cash to go on a holiday. Amber and myself went to Thailand for a couple of weeks."
Before I could say anthing, the door swung open and Dan Bantam, the guy who'd interviewed me before, walked in. He was with with the tasty lass who's called him Popeye and this other bloke who I swear on my Mum's grave (and regular readers know how much I love my Mum) that he was half-pig (no offence Mr Coleman - this guy had a snout right bang in the middle of his fat, pasty, porcine face).
"Ladies. Gentleman," said Bantam, "welcome to the interview from hell."
It was all very dramatic. No one said a word. The only noise came from Bantam slurping greedily at his protein shake. He put down the container when he'd finished it off then explained that for the next two weeks we'd be competing against each other for the post of full time salaried sales executive.
"It won't be easy," he said "I'm going to split you into two teams and give you a series of challenges and at the end of every challenge, I'll bring you back into the boardroom and after I've had a full debrief from my assisstants and given you the opportunity to present your case for employment, I'll fire one of you."
Bantam then split the teams down into Boys v Girls. Colin, the bloke who looks like a pig, introduced himself as the girl's team mentor, while the tasty bird Susie said she'd be "taking care of the boys".
We were presented with the first challenge scenario: "As some of you may know, my wife Clare recently left me. As such, I've decided that I need a complete overhaul of my entire underwear collection. I want you to go out onto the streets of London and find me the most exciting, enticing pants on the market. I want you to come up with a full week's worth of unique briefs, boxers and or jockey shorts. I want to look as sharp in my smalls as I do in my Armani suit. By close of play tomorrow, you'll be putting on a fashion show here in the boardroom, selling me the concept of your underwear collection."
And with that, Bantam walked out. Susie took us all back upstairs and showed the boys team into another room, "I've got a company card," she said, "so I'll be taking care of purchasing the merchandise. You guys need to come up with a team name, and then a concept for Dan's summer season of underwear."
I wasn't going to offer myself up as the project manager, I've seen too many episodes of the Apprentice to know that the first challenge project manager always gets the boot. Thankfully, the younger gormless looking bloke, Alan, said he'd give it a go. We spent the best part of the morning coming up with a team name. We wanted something that really summed up Dan and the challenge ahead of us. In the end we settled on The Budgie Smugglers. Which I only really said as a joke, because that was the name me and Gill used in pub-quizes, but the other guys seemed to think it was hilarious.
Susie said we had a budget of £500. I thought that was ridiculous, you can get five pairs of perfectly acceptable briefs from M&S for £15. We could get ten for £30, that's enough pants to last years. Why would anyone want to spend more? I was fighting a losing battle on price. But I've seen the Apprentice more than enough to know, when the project manager spunks his entire budget on the challenge he usually gets booted off.
So then I got smart, I just encouraged Alan to start finding all the most expensive pants he could on Oxford Street. Richard saw what I was up to and started encouraging him as well. After a successful morning of buying a range of £30 Armani and £25 Hugo Boss pants we decided to get ourselves some lunch. Susie took us to this fancy pub and said that since this was a business meeting we'd "claim it on the firm" while waving the company plastic about.
To be honest, we had quite a good afternoon of planning for tomorrow's fashion show, in the end I left them all to it. I thought I'd get myself home for the England game. I almost got the result of the last one spot one, so I'll stick my neck out and say 7-0 to England tonight!