Friday, April 15, 2011

Rockin' il colloquio
As you may have gathered by now, I (F) still struggle pretty substantially with Italian. I am still smarting a bit from the ricevimento last November that I did solo where I basically said, "Art good, important. You, we like. Glad you teach daughter. She like art. I like art. Thank you." So today's colloquio/job interview with an ad agency was a little intimidating.

It started out with my arrival at the address which was in a suburban looking house just outside the walls of the city. As I walked in the driveway, suddenly three men raced down the stairs, hopped into their cars, and started madly backing up out of the driveway. The middle car stopped for traffic, but the last one didn't and there was a substantial crunch followed by an inspection and volley of curses from the driver (even though it was his fault).

Once we made introductions, I apologized for not speaking Italian well and they said something like, "Oh well, too bad we don't speak any English." Then we just plunged in and I am sure I made about a thousand mistakes, but in general seemed to be getting my point across. Then we got to the pop quiz part of the interview. First a critique of one of their works in progress. I was kind, but made some suggestions. Then came the peppermill section -- last summer when we arrived, I was surprised that so many people here in Lucca worked at a "peppermill" factory. Later it turned out that these are not actually peppermills, but papermills...

But anyway, this was the challenging moment for me as my interviewer (I do wish I knew what his name is) described a product made of paper that was a tube with stripes and the width was 7 meters or 7 centimeters and the height was 200 meters or 200 centimeters and it was recycled and there was something about a different company that might have been a competitor who took this thing and made rolls of toilet paper or maybe they made the roll that goes inside the toilet paper and so what would I write as a slogan for this company?

To buy myself some time as I tried to sort out what the heck was going on, I made a big show out of searching my pockets for a pen and explained that as a writer, I needed to write things down on paper. I asked a few "casual" questions, "Questa carta รจ cento percento riciclata?" Then I had a little three word gem tumble out of my pen. They looked surprised. I felt surprised, but I tried my best to look smug instead. Then they tried to shake me up by asking for an encore, but by then I was on a roll and hit the wowza button and positively burned with the fires of creativity.

At that point it was a cruise to the finish.  All the other interview questions were of the sort prohibited in the US like, "How old are you? What kind of music do you like? Who's your favorite author?" I cheated a bit and said Paul Auster even though I haven't read one of his books for over a decade, but figured he would have European hipster cred. Then we smiled and shook hands and said ciao about a hundred times and I walked home in the rain.
When I got home from the colloquio, K asked me, "When you say it went well, you don't mean it went well like the ricevimento with the art teacher went well, you mean it really meant well, right?" 
Chi lo sa, amici, chi lo sa. . . Who knows, friends, who really knows.

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