11th year!

I have a guest columnist this week and her column is below. It's Judy of Maine. You can put this above it if you would:

This week is my anniversary of climbing on board here with the Chief at the Community News. In honor of my eleventh year, I shall give you a real treat by handing off this space to a guest columnist. In other words, I'm too lazy to conjure an original column this week so I conned Judith M. Villeneuve of Maine into covering my tuchas, once again. Enjoy!

The Interview

Hello People of Pennsylvania! It is me again, Judith M Villeneuve of Maine. Once again, your intrepid regularly scheduled columnist has handed this column space over to me, a task which I take very seriously. Or at least as seriously as Lisa takes her job. Which I can assure you is very.

As you may remember, I have written about my visit to Conneaut Lake in a previous column, in which I outlined the fabulous hospitality I enjoyed at the hands of Jackie Houserman. A few months ago, my children and I visited the area again, and I am very happy that they also got to meet the wonderful Jackie, and even had the opportunity to visit and tour her place of employment. Yes, this woman is an inspiration to us all. She still goes to work regularly, and will not hesitate to tell you how much she loves her job.

Speaking of jobs, a topic I know a lot about due to my age and my lack of independent wealth, I recently went on a job interview for the first time in many years. I don't feel too good about myself right now. I'm thinking it might help if I get this off my chest. It's really not good to bottle up your feelings, I've been told.

I've been working all my life. Even when I didn't have a paying job, I was working at raising two children. I've worked as a secretary, an optician, a customer service rep, and a bank teller, just to name a few. There are more, but I don't want to bore you.

About five years ago, after both of my kids had left the nest to go to college and pursue their own careers, after said college had been paid for and our children were no longer eating us out of house and home, my husband and I decided that it would be a good time for me to fulfill a long-held dream of mine – to knit clothing items for babies and children and market the items on-line. So I quit my job as a bank teller and opened an Etsy store.

I was a little nervous at first. What if my knitted items weren't good enough? What if my photography skills weren't up to snuff? What if Etsy was so saturated with other fine knitters that nobody would even see my clothing? But all of my fears were unfounded. For the past few years, I have been happily indulging my creative side and getting paid for my efforts. The amount of money I make is just about enough to keep me from ever feeling guilty about purchasing yarn or new knitting needles. Certainly not enough to pay my way in the world. I am very fortunate to have a spouse who fully supports me in every way.

Recently, however, I've been thinking about getting back into the workforce. Running a business from home can be a bit isolating. Much of my social interaction lately seems to be on-line or on the phone. I was thinking perhaps I should get myself “out there” and have some actual “face time” with human beings who aren't my husband and children. I've been told other people are a healthy and wholesome thing to have in one's life, even for introverts like me.

A few weeks ago, my husband came home from work and told me “I think I found the perfect job for you!” He didn't want me to take it the wrong way, and he stressed the fact that this was not him telling me “Hey you lazy bum, why don't you get off your fat behind and get a real job?” and I love him for that.

The ad on Craig's list was for a part-time job at a large yarn store, serving customers, answering the phone, and restocking shelves. Now tell me if that doesn't sound like the perfect job for someone like me!

So I immediately sent them an e-mail including my resume, as well as a link to my Etsy store. About a week later I received an e-mail requesting me to come in for an interview! I won't lie, although I am normally a very reserved person, I did a little happy dance when I opened that e-mail.

The following weekend I shopped for new shoes and a few new clothing pieces to perk up my existing bank teller wardrobe. I got lots of encouragement from my son and daughter, who helped me role-play interview questions. (One of the questions my daughter asked while we were practicing was “How many cows are there in Canada?” According to her, this is a question potential Google employees are often asked. Also according to her, my responses of “WHAT?!?” and “How am I supposed to know?!?” would immediately slam the door on my dreams of working for Google.) My husband told me to use my listening skills during the interview, and my friends reassured me that this yarn store would be crazy not to hire someone like me.

So today was the big day. At 10:30 this morning I sat down with two lovely women from Halcyon Yarn in Bath, Maine. If you have a chance, look at their website. It is a really nice place, and they do ship to anywhere around the world, even Pennsylvania!

I felt like the interview went okay. They were impressed with my knitting skills, and we spent a lot of time talking about my customer service talents as well. First, to back up a little, I left the house with plenty of extra time to get there, and then I kept hitting traffic of various sorts. A slow old person first, then road construction, then normal summer traffic in the town of Wiscasset, any one of which would have been fine! But by the time I got to Bath I was completely frazzled. Plus my cell phone battery was almost dead, so I knew I wouldn't even be able to call and let them know I was running late. I went flying through the front doors only about 2 minutes late, and of course I apologized, and the two ladies who interviewed me were very sweet about it. That's a bad first impression though. Yikes. Then I noticed my mouth felt really dry, so I had to beg them for a cup of water just so I could speak without my cheeks sticking to my teeth and my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth. Oh my God, I think it must have been pretty obvious that I was out of practice and hadn't been on a job interview in about a decade or so.

So I thought things went well, they said the normal “don't call us we'll call you,” and I headed back out to my car. Of course I hadn't checked my make-up before going in, I was late for crying out loud! What do you want from me? So I looked in the make-up mirror and my mascara had speckled the skin underneath both of my eyes. Just a little bit. Maybe it wasn't too obvious. Maybe they both had lousy eyesight. I took off my shirt, which was one of the new shirts I had just purchased this past weekend, and saw a nice long white thread static-clinging to the back of it. Well, at least I had felt something scratching the back of my neck right before I entered the building, and so I had yanked the price tag off before anyone saw it! So that's comforting.

So what do you think? Did my awesome knitting and customer service skills outweigh the fact that I looked like a frumpy 50's housewife who had just gotten divorced and is desperately trying to get back into the workforce?

I guess we shall see!

Later – same day: I was just contacted by one of the nice ladies at Halcyon yarn. I got the job! I think there may be a few lessons that we can learn from this experience, as my mother would always say. First, you never know what kind of impression you've made on somebody. You may think you've come across as a complete nincompoop, when nothing could be further from the truth. Second, and more important I think, it really doesn't pay to obsess about things that are over and done with. What's done is done. As long as you did your best, just leave it up to fate, and whatever will be will be. I know that there's some sort of a song about that, but the reason these things are cliches is because they are true. Of course, the other side of that is, it's easy to spout good advice, but much more difficult to actually follow it.