October 10, 2001
String Along With Secra


I turned the job down.

"I enjoyed meeting all of you," I said to the hiring manager when he called last night. "And I appreciate your time and consideration. But I'm going to have to decline your offer."

Fortunately he didn't ask me why I was turning it down. I had an answer all prepared, just in case  -- "I need to find a position that more closely matches my salary requirements," is what I would have said  --  but I was afraid that if I told him that, he might offer to match my "requirements," right there on the spot. And then I would be forced to admit the real reasons why I didn't want the job. ("I don't want to work for you because the *vibe* in your office is all wrong ... and because I don't want to type government policy contracts all day ... and because I'm still waiting to hear back from the job I REALLY want.")

He would have thought I was a kook. Or worse: he would have thought I was a tease.

"I'm very sorry to hear that," the hiring manager said finally, accepting my refusal without question. The worst part is that he really DID sound sorry to hear the news. As a matter of fact, he practically sounded like he was going to cry. I felt a little bit like Marcia Brady, breaking off her Prom date with the president of the Chess Club in hopes that the football captain is going to call. A minute or two later, after exchanging the requisite limp and insincere "best of luck to you," I hung up the phone.

I looked at David, feeling vaguely nauseous.

"You did the right thing," David said flatly. "It wouldn't have been fair to keep them hanging." 

This is something we'd discussed at length, when it became apparent that I would probably be offered this position: should I postpone making a decision for a few days? Maybe string them along for a while ... just until I find out whether or not I'm going to get the job I'm really hoping for? Or -- failing the coveted architecture office job -- keep them on the hook, in hopes that something else more appropriate and groovy and *vibe-friendly* might come along?

"You know how it feels to be strung along," David reminded me. And he's right. I do know how it feels. Three phone calls and two e-mail messages to the architecture company (Please don't accept any other offers until you've heard from us, they'd said) had gone unanswered in the past ten days.

Being strung along sucks, basically.

So in the end, of course, doing the right thing won out. Even though it was scary and momentarily unpleasant and left me feeling like I'm dangling off the edge of the Golden Gate Bridge by a frayed bungee cord ... I turned this job down. I didn't keep them hanging. I didn't promise to "think about it" or "get back to them." I left them free to consider other candidates. And while I can't say that it felt "good," necessarily, I was able to sleep with a relatively clear conscience last night.

Of course I suspect that part of me was hoping karma would reward me for all of this fabulous honesty by handing me the architecture office job on a silver platter. That certainly would have given this *FootNotes* entry a spectacularly Oprah-like finish, wouldn't it? But the truth is that when I checked my e-mail this morning, there was [finally] a message from the hiring manager at the architecture place,  advising me that they are "going with another candidate."

"I enjoyed meeting you," her e-mail reads. "And I appreciate your patience and your interest." And then she advised me to go ahead and "consider other offers."

I wanted to deck her. I wanted to reach right through my Outlook Express mailbox and pop her one, right in the nose. How dare she keep me hanging this way for the past two weeks, only to turn me down?!? I was filled with all kinds of indignant, huffy, self-righteous rage ...

... for about a minute. And then I picked up the newspaper and turned to the classifieds.

What can I tell you? Sometimes you're the stringer ... and sometimes you're the stringee.

thank you for lunch yesterday, bev!

throw a rock