On June 23, 2008 (exactly two years ago), I walked into a mysterious office building with a cheery and attentive doorman and an elevator that offered me a painstakingly slow ride up to the ninth floor. I had been waiting all of my life for this moment. I had landed a job in New York City’s competitive fashion circuit within three days of moving to the city. I had New-Yorkified myself with straight, polished hair, an ivory dress, an overpriced sweater from my brand-of-the-moment (Free People), loaded bangles, and a pair of well-worn snakeskin ballets on my feet. They were the only pair of shoes I had bought with his label inscribed on the interior; and now I was here–in his office–starting my first day of work.
*The names of many people in this and future Sal Story posts have been altered to protect identities as well as to keep me from having a hernia while writing. I cannot guarantee they will be in any sort of order, but they beg to be told!
The interview session one week prior had gone something like this: I had come in to be interviewed by his wife, Lydia. I was sweating profusely in a full-on head to toe black suit with a white button-up. I was made fun of immediately. I was pitching myself for PR. After about ten minutes, a sweet lady instructed me that Sal wanted to see me. I couldn’t believe my fortune. I was actually going to meet the shoe designer himself? I was anxious as she walked me to his office. Along the way she explained that he might have some, well, interesting questions for me. Turns out he did.
The first was a math question that I couldn’t remember if I tried. Something like ‘what’s eleven percent of 1200’..or something like that. I answered him quickly and accurately (something that never happens in my real day to day life). He asked if I balanced my checkbook. ‘Good people balance their checkbooks,’ he stated. I did. He scanned my resume. He asked my age, with the disclaimer that I better not tell anyone he asked. I said I was 22. He stared hard at my resume. “4.0, huh? You must be very smart.” He made a note of the ridiculous amount of accolades listed and then stopped. “Texas Christian University….” he slowly read the words as if he was processing each one in it’s own time. “Am I going to have to worry about this?”
I got the job, with a minimum salary that was “overly generous” and instructions to show up on June 23rd, and to dress less formally. So I did.
I learned later that my interview questions were mild as others were asked if they ‘had ever sued someone.’