It murmurs when it’s weak, hisses when it’s ignored. I wake it each morning. It’s near me every night. I cradle it as I move from room to room. It connects and imprisons me. It saves time. It wastes time. It brings delight, sadness, frustration and relief; My laptop.
I place it on my desk. I plug it in. I open Skype. I check the wall for anything that could cause distraction. Of course the wall is bare – it’s not the type of room where one puts up pictures; it’s the spare room, the laundry room, the just throw it in there room. A lot of rented houses have one and it’s a bit of a mess but it has a table and my housemates aren’t likely to breeze through so it’s fit for purpose. I tidy the minimum I can get away with. I move the table to the centre. I check the screen, check the wall, fiddle with my tie.
The screen plops and blops. I take a deep breath and accept the call. A man in shirt and tie appears on my screen. He is bald, thin, straight backed and straight faced. He introduces himself and explains the format of the interview. I smile and nod like he’s listing the itinerary of a dream holiday. I see myself in the corner of the screen and force myself to stop nodding.
‘So tell me a little about yourself.’
A straight forward question. A little warmer upper. I start and stop and stutter and start and sweat. I’m distracted because I feel my face isn’t screen centre enough. I want to grab the screen and pull it down a little but decide against it as it’s probably a major Skype interview faux pas, akin to grabbing his head and pulling it towards me in person. I prattle on until I can’t think of anything else to say and then I stop. He is still.
This is how I wrap up every answer. He asks more questions. My throat feels dry. As I answer he doesn’t nod, smile or take notes. It feels like I’m constantly missing the target. As the questions get more difficult I can barely get the arrows out of the quiver.
Fuck it. He’s not even listening. The job must be sewn up.
‘So, tell me, why do you want to work in this particular school?’
‘ Why this particular school? Well, when I happened upon your ad on the website, I thought to myself why not send my CV to that school? I mean it seems no different to the other schools I have applied to in Sevilla, Malaga, Barcelona, Madrid, Galicia and Bilboa. Well, actually, what sets your school apart is that the website sounds a little more up its own arse. But I didn’t let that put me off. I need a job, so I applied. That’s the why.’
That arrow jolted him out of his stone faced indifference.
For a second I thought it could be like in the films.
‘God dammit kid! In all my years as principal nobody has ever spoken to me like that. I gotta tell ya – ya got moxie, ya sonofabitch! I never liked that website neither. I could do with an honest voice ’round here. Ya got the job!’
But this ain’t no Goddamn movie and I don’t get the job in that particular school.
But, after a few more interviews, two offers trickle their way to me; Galica and Bilbao. Another decision has to be made. The pendulum swings back and forth; Tick- go here. Tock- go there. When I boil it down to the facts the deciding factor isn’t money; it’s a fear of being lonely. I have a connection ( a girl from my hometown ) in Bilbao so I decide to accept their offer.
Late one night, with sweaty palms and beating heart I type up an email and press the send button, officially closing the door on Galicia. I then send a message to Bilbao, opening up that door. I sigh and hope its the right decision. Within minutes a message arrives from my connection in Bilbao.
‘… you’ve a ready- made bunch of friends here.’
It’s precisely what I need to hear. I switch off the laptop and tuck it into its bag. We’ve been seeing a little too much of each other lately and need a break.