It’s been four months since I stopped over-dosing on New York, and thanks to my own on-the-spot, making-it-up-as-I-go-along 12 (ish) step program, I have lived to tell the tale.
After the initial wound-licking, moping, excessive drinking and eating that comes with all disappointments in life, must come the part where you “get back on the horse” per se. For me, that meant getting back to work. I had been working every single day in New York, and switching from that to days that were spent primarily in bed only further added to the feeling that I was physically ill.
Frustrated, I would get cranky and have to be walked on the beach like a dog. My mother would force me to dress and would march me up and down the promenade until I stopped sulking and growling like a feral animal.
By the time it started nearing late January and there was still no progress on my visa, I knew I would have to find something else to fill my days, and refill my bank account. Seeing as this situation was only “temporary” as everyone kept consoling me, I decided that the best option was to take up “temp” work.
I was pretty sure that “temping” was only something that quirky characters in Hollywood rom-coms did so they could meet the man of their dreams or spill a coffee somewhere inappropriate, but it turns out you can do it anywhere – even Ireland! So I began to interview with every agency in Dublin.
I bought a blazer from an old-lady store and I wore court-shoes and tied my disgracefully messy hair into a bun – no more downtown Brooklyn chic. I was moving into the corporate world and was absolutely certain that I would be like Joan from Mad Men, swanning around a smoky office filled with powerful yet pathetic men and astonishing them all with my stellar administrative skills.
What I was met with was somewhat different. The agencies were all incredibly helpful. They fixed my resume (or CV) and honed my job interviewing skills from, “Hey, I’m Irish and I have a degree!” – which always seemed to work in America – to a more polished, formulaic system of politely answering questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Turns out you can’t be cute and just say, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and sit back feeling like you nailed it. They really want to know. Even though it’s a temp job and the question makes absolutely no sense in the context of what you are interviewing for.
Interviewing in Ireland is drastically different to interviewing in New York. I worked as a restaurant manager in SoHo for a few months, and that interview was like a chat with a fun uncle at a wedding.
I went for a boozy brunch beforehand because I figured five or six mimosas would calm my nerves, then just strolled in and had a long and loud conversation about how amazing tapas are and how Ireland is basically like a European Jamaica – next thing I knew, I was hired! Pretty sure if I arrived to an interview in Dublin half-cut at 2:30 p.m. I would be arrested/suspected of homelessness.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
“I want to be working in a big company, at a job that really brings out my skills and in an environment that supports creativity and initiative, while rewarding hard work and dedication.” GOLD. STAR.
I must have interviewed for about 15 jobs before I finally got something. The first gig was just a Monday covering reception where a kind old caretaker brought me several cups of tea.
The second was for the remaining four days of the week at an incredibly fancy firm where all the men chatted to me regularly and all the women had loud conversations about how they couldn’t possibly eat white bread while I stuffed my face with large deli sandwiches. Me-ow.
I kept tripping up on the most basic interview questions. I had become so confident in my American conversational skills with New Yorkers that I forgot how to talk to a normal middle-aged Irish person. They expected a very particular level of manners and respect that cool, trendy New Yorkers would have laughed at before telling me to lighten up and get that stick out of my backside before pouring me a whiskey and taking me on a quick tour around the block.
There was one particular interview with two guys around 45-ish who were just insufferable. They clearly got off on talking about their favorite car dealerships and what golf handicap they were on last weekend before commenting on Margaret from HR and her chubby ankles and then getting drunk at a sad bar while their wives stayed at home fantasizing about their lost youths – I would assume.
They repeatedly referred to the fact that I didn’t have a master’s degree and instead had spent so much time writing plays which was a very silly activity and yes, my wife is into “culture” – but what a waste of bloody time! They kept me in there for a grueling 45 minutes, and if I was still my eight-year-old self who thought she was a witch, I would have worked up some pretty intense voodoo for the rest of that afternoon.
My last interview was for the temp job that I am still at – a two month contract that has been extended to three because I have somehow proven quite useful! Everyone is good, and kind, and supportive.
Everyone promises glowing recommendations and politely ignores how incredibly socially awkward I am around fully grown adults. It pays well, the hours are reasonable, and while the work isn’t exactly riveting, there is the endless comfort of the fact that yes, this is temporary.
While my visa situation turned out to be more permanent than I had hoped, temporary work does exactly what it says on the tin. Even if you hate it, you don’t have to do it forever. For creative or “freelance” folk like me, it’s ideal for getting some money in the bank and building up your CV while figuring out what to do next.
While everyone else is stressing about their career choices and life as a whole, I’m living the easy breezy dream. I have every intention of keeping this lifestyle up for at least a year, just smoothly floating from one job to the next while my brain recalibrates and I can calmly decide the next adventure will be.
Temp work is the perfect segue from The Big Apple to The Big Smoke, and is easing me back into this slower pace of life very efficiently. And the consolation that it’s “only temporary” is actually real.