Tim Roxborogh's travel bugs: Holiday job interviews gone wrong
A weekly ode to the joys of moaning about holiday, by Tim Roxborogh.
“Two left feet” was a harsh judgement levelled at me during my ill-starred social soccer career of the early 2000s.
Harsh, but remarkably accurate. That said, it was never literal. Imagine the embarrassment of turning up to your mate’s old primary school for a kick around on a Sunday afternoon only to realise you had two left shoes?
So yes, that would’ve been bad and no, it didn’t ever happen. What did happen though of the “two left feet” variety from this era was much, much worse: a job interview on the OE. All I can say is thank goodness it wasn’t my OE and my interview, but that of a friend. And not a “friend” in inverted commas — I’m more than happy to reveal my embarrassments, but this time, I promise, it wasn’t me.
Indeed it was a friend from Scotland who fulfilled a lifelong desire to travel around New Zealand and the Pacific Islands and fund it all by getting a work visa and securing a job as a teacher. His interview was literally the day he and his girlfriend touched down in Auckland for the first time. They checked into a hotel and got ready.
Having travelled relatively light and believe it or not, with no footwear other than the jandals he’d worn all the way from the UK, my friend needed some decent dress shoes to go with his suit. Bleary-eyed as he battled through the jet-lag, he dashed off to a shoe shop, returning to the hotel to quickly iron his suit, call a cab and make it to the interview. With the clock ticking, panic struck: he’d accidentally been sold two left shoes.
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And thus one of the great modern-day dilemmas presented itself: with no time to swap the shoes, my friend had four potential, all high-risk, scenarios to choose from. He could (A) call up the school, tell them he’d caught a bug on the plane and ask to reschedule. Option (B): go to the job interview at this high-decile school in a suit with jandals, saying, “Hey, isn’t this the Kiwi way?”
Option (C) was to go to the job interview in the two left dress shoes and address the elephant in the room with the interviewer with something like, “A funny thing happened to me on the way to this job interview…” And option (D) was to wear the two left shoes, try to walk as normally as possible, don’t mention them and keep fingers crossed the interviewer doesn’t notice. Because let’s be honest, if you walk out of a job interview and it’s apparent you’re in a suit with two left shoes, you’d better hope you’ve got some kind of Bill Clinton-level charisma carrying you through. I’m not sure even Clinton could’ve survived Two-Left-Shoegate.
With every option seemingly as bad as the others, my Scottish friend took a gamble and went for option (D): wear the shoes and say nothing.
Well, fast-forward to the present day and let’s just say this lovely couple from the other side of the world ended up fulfilling those dreams of exploring New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Indeed, they ultimately saw far more of this part of the world than pretty much anyone I know so, yes — he got the job. But as to how the interview went, all he knows is that the conversation went well, there were handshakes and positive noises and no mention of footwear was made. To this day, my friend does not know if the school’s principal noticed the two left shoes.
Put yourself in the principal’s shoes (so to speak). Do you give the job to the less-interesting candidate who can dress themselves, or to the more eloquent, impressive chap who happens to be limping because lo and behold, he’s wearing two left shoes?
Tim Roxborogh hosts Newstalk ZB’s Weekend Collective and blogs at RoxboroghReport.com.