Last night I woke up thinking about some of the funny, awful, or bizarre things I’ve had candidates do or say on job interviews. I own a staffing firm in Washington, D.C. and have been in the staffing business for over 25 years. I can’t imagine a career that would be any more entertaining — matching people with jobs, and trying to help them through the hurdles of interviewing for those jobs.

I found out early that I’d better say the things that you might think would go without saying. Don’t chew gum. Sit up straight. Look people in the eye. Wipe your hand before you shake hands. Don’t tell them personal stuff. But once the obvious was covered, candidates (and employers as well) came up with new and more inventive ways to lose those jobs.

A woman interviewing for a receptionist position sat down with the human resources director and took out her knitting. She really did. How could I have anticipated that? How could I have headed it off? Why did she do it? It made her calmer, she explained. It did not make the director calmer.

Another young woman went into the interview, slapped her hand on the interviewer’s desk and claimed the job, “in the name of Jesus.” Okay. That one worked. Last I heard she was still there.

I used to wonder what possessed these people to do the dumb things they did. Then it occurred to me — the interview is a lot like a first date. That put it in perspective. I was really bad at dating.

It’s likely I was the worst date any high school or college boy in south Alabama ever had. I have enough stories about my dating failures to fill a short, sad book. But even the worst dater has one very worst date. I remember mine in vivid color. He was handsome. He was popular. We were sitting in his car and he was looking into my eyes. I was pretty sure he wanted to kiss me. Then I did the inexplicable. I started quoting poetry. Remembering poems is a talent of mine. I can quote dozens of them by heart. But what made me think this was the right moment to quote them? I don’t know.

The handsome boy’s expression went from amorous and slightly lecherous to wide-eyed incredulity when I launched into an e e cummings poem – and not one of his romantic ones. But it’s still one of my favorites, so I’ll quote it for you, even though you’re not actually a first date, or a date at all. I’m not sure what you’d call a first blogging relationship.

what time is it?it is by every star

a different time,and each most falsely true;

or so subhuman superminds declare

-nor all their times encompass me and you:

when are we never,but forever now

(hosts of eternity;not guests of seem)

believe me,dear,clocks have enough to do

Time cannot children,poets,lovers tell-

measure imagine,mystery,a kiss

-not though mankind would rather know how than feel;

mistrusting utterly that timelessness

whose absence would make your whole life and my

(and infinite our)merely to undie

He didn’t kiss me.

I suppose it was fortunate I didn’t quote Death Of The Hired Man by Robert Frost, or that I had not yet discovered the man who’s still my favorite poet, Lawrence Ferlinghetti. I might have decided the boy would want to hear I Am Waiting. And it’s four pages long – but a terrific poem! I recommend it.

Misery loves company, and so do I. Post your worst and most embarrassing first date stories – the clean ones. Confession is good for …. and might make me feel better about myself.


  1. Margaret says:

    Thanks Ruthi. We plan on opening Monday 22nd we will be on there all next week practicing. Anyone can come by and we try it out on them I love it blog

  2. Carolyn Fore says:

    My most embarassing date was when I was in my early teens. As a young teen I was tall, slim and…breastless.
    To impress my date with my sexiness, I wore a pair of falsies in my bathing suit . When a group of us went swimming at Chickasabogue Creek, someone had the bright idea of diving off the Chickasabogue bridge. When it came my turn to dive, I did my impressive “Ester Williams” dive. When I hit the water guess what came up before I did! I was so embarassed that I never went with him again for fear that he would ask me what those things were that popped up before I did!
    Your Cuz,

  3. Laurie Head says:

    Ruthi! Looking forward to reading more of your blogs. You tell some great stories. Keep it up! – Laurie Head Atkinson, former Ruthi recruit and now co-owner of AIS Network (http;//www.aisn.net).

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