In an earlier column, I shared how shortly after I graduated college, I blew a job offer at a television network affiliate. Here’s another interview experience that happened shortly after that, and one that had my friends laughing for days.
Having unintentionally terminated my budding career as a television journalist, and having no contingency plan, I decided to fall back temporarily on my college summer work as a temp and scoured the classifieds for something secretarial. After thirty years, I recall only that the ad indicated phone work. I called and set up an interview time.
When the day arrived, I carefully assembled my interview costume: ivory pumps and stockings, navy blue suit, ivory silk shirt with one of those big bows at the neck. It was a conservative, right-out-of-college, eager-to-climb-the-ladder look.
The building was an unremarkable office building in a non-descript section of Dallas. In the building’s foyer, I checked the building directory board by the elevator. My intention was to make sure I’d written the suite number down correctly, but the company wasn’t listed.
When I found the door, there was no company name on it. I opened the door, and stepped into the waiting room. It was a small area with plastic chairs, a make-shift table with magazines, and a temporary wall to the left with what seemed to be a hall beyond it that appeared to run the length of the room.
Shortly a tall, sturdy man wearing jeans, cowboy boots, and a button-down shirt, came around the corner of the temporary wall. I followed him and saw that there was a hall running the length of the room and it emptied into a room with windows. I could hear a girl’s voice speaking but couldn’t understand what she was saying. Opening off the hall were 3 or 4 more offices. Clearly it was one big room, divided only by the make shift walls. That their purpose was to be taken down quickly didn’t occur to me at the time
The man ushered me into one of the “offices” and began asking me qualifying questions. He gave me no indication about what the job was, and showing none of my current wisdom, I didn’t ask. Instead, I concentrated on giving impressive answers, even as I noted there was little to no activity, and I saw no need for a secretary.
Then he enlightened me. It was an escort service! No wonder there was phone work. The company went under three different names – each catering to a different market segment. I would be handling incoming calls and assigning the on-call girls to clients. To answer the phone for all three companies, they’d teach me how to speak with both a Spanish and a French accent.
I recall the pay was quite good. It was a nice hourly salary plus a substantial commission which was based on what the girl earned. Much better than anything I was looking at earning as a secretary. At the time the concept of working phones for an escort service was too weird for me to comprehend. I had a difficult time keeping a straight face as I declined the offer and left the office.
A year or two later when I had begun targeting public relations firms, I found myself in the same building. Amused, I noted that this time, the firm with whom I was interviewing had their name on the door. Afterward, I went by the door where the escort service had been, not surprised to find someone else there, who did have the company name on the door.
Whenever I think of the missed adventure, I rationalize by telling myself some adventures are better unexperienced. But it would have made an interesting entry on my resume.
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