Side effects include…

Have you ever been at a job interview, prepared for anything they throw at you, when all of a sudden a question comes up that simply leaves you stumped?  That happened to me once about a year ago.  To this day that question still haunts me.  You may find me at happy hours or dinners or just hanging with friends watching TV when that question starts to rear its ugly head again.  All of a sudden I ask it of myself again…

Among all of these amazing applicants for this position, what do you bring to the table that is different than everyone else?

When you really sit down to contemplate this question, it’s not an easy one to answer.  First, you have to think what would all of those other applicants mention.  Background? Education?  Experience?  Second, you want a unique answer that makes you stand out but not sound completely ridiculous or too full of yourself.  It’s a tough combination to bring together.

If I were asked that question today, my answer would be simple.  For some reason, people want to tell me their life stories.

And how did that make you feel?

Awhile-back SB and I were walking closer to City Hall early on a Sunday morning together trying to escape our normal route.  I saw a man standing next to the bus stop strangely watching SB.  When we got closer the man said, “Hi, what kind of dog is that?  It’s so ugly it’s almost cute.”  “French bulldog,” I responded, “but he already knows he’s cute and uses it to his advantage as often as possible.”

The man laughed and started to reach into his pocket.  I took a quick step back to give a little space just in case, but then he pulled out his flip phone.

“I’m waiting on the bus to go see my girl out in Riverside.  I go and see her every weekend.  I’m in love with her.  She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and she’s has this really funny dog.  I think it’s a Chihuahua?  Here, here let me show you.”

The man fumbled with his phone for a bit and finally found the pictures.  We scrolled through them together.  He showed me his girlfriend Sarah and her little Chihuahua mixed dog.  Really the only pictures he had in his phone were of his girl and that somewhat strangely shaped dog.  It was pretty cute.

“Riverside is far.  You go every weekend?”  I asked.

“Yeah, you know, she’s not ready to move in with me but I hold out hope that one day soon she will.  I won’t ever stop trying.”  He said.

“How long have you been making this commute?”  I asked.

“Oh, about a year now.  But…It’s not so bad.  You get use to it.”  He responded as though making an excuse for why he’s been making the trip for so long.

I smiled and said “you do what you think is best when you love someone.  I hope she knows how much you care.  Have a safe trip and a great Sunday, sir.”

He smiled back and said thank you and waved good-bye to SB.  When I glanced back he was still looking at those pictures on his phone.

I used to joke that people tell me things because I’m too nice to walk away, but really I think people are just looking for someone who is willing to listen and who is genuinely interested in what they have to say.


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