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PUT AWAY YOUR TOYS: Sunday brought perfect weather for hot-air ballooning over the Old Mendon Highway -- but when it's over, you still have to pack up. / Photo by Nancy Williams

Today's word on journalism

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

"Paranoia means having all the facts."

--William S. Burroughs, Beat Generation writer (1914-1997)

Alaskan Postcard No. 4: A strange interview on the last frontier

Creek Street, main draf at Ketchikan. / Photo by Jared Medely

Editor's note: USU student Ginger Warburton writes of an outsider's experience in Alaska exclusively for the Hard News Cafe. This is the second in a series.

By Ginger Warburton

September 27, 2006 | I set out to find another job. My job search started and ended at the most expensive restaurant I knew of: The Heen Kahidi Dinning Room at The Cape Fox Lodge.

The search ended because after I applied there I lost motivation. After a week I hadn't heard back, so I called the manager. She said she had been trying to get ahold of me. She sounded irritated at me, as though it were my fault she hadn't been able to reach me. I immediately had a bad impression. We set up an interview for the next week.

When the day came I had to rush home from work, getting a ride home from one of my co-workers. For the interview I got ready as fast as I could and hopped on my bike. I had only been there once and didn't know how to get there, or how long it took so I wanted to have plenty of time. This plan not surprisingly did not happen. Curse my perception of time!

It of course began raining after the first block. I was wearing heels, dress pants, a blouse and a silly little hoodless jacket that was really great at trapping my body heat after I was warm, but before that was pretty cold.

I arrived at the restaurant late with fuzzy/wet hair, a glistening forehead and labored breathing. I was led into a conference room filled with a large table surrounded by huge chairs. I sat near the door facing the immense windows that overlooked the town, and historic Creek Street below. Frantically I tried to quiet my hair and wipe my forehead.

Through the large doors entered a short, strawberry blond, pink-skinned woman wearing a red polo and a long black apron. She half-smiled and sat across from me. She immediately began asking me questions about availability, my other job. I answered wondering who she was. She was very disappointed I would be unable to work days. She acted as if she didn't want to hire me at all. That was fine by me; I already had a job, and didn't know if I wanted to work with this mean little woman anyway. She said someone else would be coming in to speak with me.

I sat again looking at the view. Next a very large woman came in. I imagined the strawberry blond woman next to her and smiled, imagining the giant woman squishing the little one. She was also blond and possibly a little younger. She was more jovial, and thought it was hilarious I was from Utah. I failed to catch the joke. This time I asked who she was. she was the general manager. "OK! Looks good. Nice to meet you. Someone else will be coming in."

The next person to come in was a guy in his late 20s with bleached blond hair, small eyes with large shadows underneath. His face betrayed how tired he was although his voice and movements were very energetic. He looked at me and said, "I never have much to say at these things."

I didn't really know how to respond. "Oh," I said.

"Do you have any questions?" he said.

"Not really," I said, wanting to say more, but not knowing what. "OK, someone else might come in. I don't know." He said these last words over his shoulder as he left.

This was the strangest interview I had ever had. First the small, mean lady, the jovial blond giant who basically made fun of me for a few minutes, followed by the tired young guy. I wondered if I would have to dye my hair blond to work there.

The young guy came back in. "Tomorrow at 3."

I knew it was a question although it was said as a statement. "OK," I replied.

"Good," he said and walked out.

"Wait!" I scrambled to follow him. He half turned.

"What's tomorrow?" I thought it would be another strange interview.

"Banquet" he said and began walking again. I followed him again, asking, "Should I wear anything in particular?"

"Oh," he said. He thought for a second. "Black pants, black shoes."

Our conversation was like strange cavemen talk with only the necessary words. He began walking again, this time I let him go, feeling I had sufficient information. I watched him walk away still feeling a little bewildered.

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