You would like me to do math using this piece of paper and pencil while you and your co-workers occupying this hip-open-space-office-loft watch me? No thank you.
But I am in too deep, I used the word amortize as if I knew exactly how to use it. Again a look of surprise and puzzlement must have spread across my face because Pierre kindly offers the use of the calculator function on his iphone if I need it, I could just tell him what to type in. How sweet.
Ok Pierre. Game on.
Twenty painful minutes go by while I try to recall the figures he mentioned earlier and try (to no avail) to distract him with charming questions about keychain sales and t-shirt design. I was hoping that he would see that this simply wasn't going to work out and that the only humane thing to do would be to put an end to my misery. But no, he waits patiently, cruelly. So I eventually come up with a number and hand it over.
"Here, I suppose I would take that number and multiply it by 3 to 5 years depending on when you hope to turn a profit" I say. He seems disinterested and says, "Huh. Ok.".
Very long moment of silence.
"So Pierre... do you do this kind of thing often?" I inquire.
"Do what? Buy dinosaurs? Not often, no." he replies.
I do not find this funny. "No Pierre, I mean do you often purchase items at auction? As in, is that how you acquire some of your wine? In this position would I be expected to advise you on these sorts of purchases?" I ask.
Pierre shrugs. "No." He says.
"And you do have an accountant, don't you?" I ask.
"Yeah." says Pierre.
There is a long moment of silence while I try to understand why then he put me through such a painful and embarrassing exercise.
Pierre breaks the silence and tells me he has some important questions for me and that I should answer them as quickly as possible. Fine.
"Where do you live? Are you married? Do you smoke? Do you play sports? What kind of music do you like? Do you like wine?"
I answer them even though I am scandalized by how personal and off subject the questions are. He then passes the baton over to his associate, Julie, to see if she has any questions for me.
"Are you familiar with Excel?" she inquires.
"Yes." I say.
"Would you say you are good at Excel?" she continues.
"Sure." I reply.
"Mary, can you explain to me what a v-cap is?" Julie asks.*
"No, gosh, I am not sure what that is. What is it?" I say, genuinely interested. Never having heard the word in my life and based on the v like vin as in the word for wine in french I am hoping it is finally a question about wine.
"Oh. You don't know what that is? It's a formula used in Excel. Huh, can you then please tell me what you mean by 'you are good at using Excel'? " she says.
I want to die for the third time during this interview and at this point cannot even recall what I said to them. What in retrospect I would have liked to say them is this: "I am not answering that Julie. In fact I would like you two to answer a few questions of my own. Can you please tell me how these games and questions relate to this position? And why in the ad you did not say anything like, looking for Excel expert who can give us complex financial advice? Because if that were the case, believe you me, I would have never applied for this job. And if you were looking for a candidate that would be able to answer these kinds of questions on the spot why then did you call me?! Someone who clearly states on their resumé that they have a degree in French literature and Urban Design... Experience in event planning and customer service... A love of food and wine and France... Someone who is not an economist... not an accountant.. not a business school graduate."
Julie wraps things up by saying, "Last question. Have you had a chance to look at our website? What do you think of it?".
At this point I am mad. Assuming that I do not have the job thus do not have anything to loose, I answer the question with brutal honesty. "You know Julie, I have had a chance to look at your website and while I like the fact that there is a lot of information on it, I find the overall design unattractive and the flashy color choices garish and cheap. If I were you I would go for a more subtle approach."
And with that they thank me for my time and tell me they will be in touch.
I assumed that is were the story was going to end. I bet you did too! Well no my friends, a month and a half later I receive a phone call from Pierre. "Hey Mary! How are you?! Sorry it took us so long to get back to you, we just got home from vacation. Anyway, congratulations! You're hired!!".
I told him, "Thank you, but no thank you."
*She said what sounded to me like v-cap... in reality I have no idea what she said. All it know it is started with v. So if any of you excel-o-philes would like to jump in here and say what you think it is feel free.