Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interviews at the UN

This is what happens when you get an interview at the UN:

There were many stages of the interviewing. First, it was held in a southern city in the US. My brother and my dad came with me to wait in the long line, because it was nighttime and they had us wait on the pavement in the middle of the city under the stars. And it was cold! I didn't realize it was a serious thing; I thought we were just dropping paperwork off. So I was dressed in khakis and a red shirt. When I arrived, however, I realized this was a mistake. We went into a big room, where we had to wait practically overnight, given all the people who had shown up. The applicants would go into booths and do their interviews. The waiting room had many, many rows, so it was a very long time before we got anywhere near the booths, and when we did, we saw that they were actually bathrooms. Having waited so long, the officials realized that it wasn't working out, and called the event off. 

Instead, we were all sent to interview in New York. Since I'd had a chance to go home first, I could change into something nicer-looking. But that doesn't mean everyone else was dressed nicely. An old comrade from school was there, and she was dressed in a super-tight blue t-shirt and curduroy pants. And one of the three officials on the interviewing panel had not brushed his hair, and was dressed in a camouflage jacket. The man to his right was also pretty sloppily dressed, but at least the the last place on the panel was taken by a UN lady dressed nicely in a suit. 

We all were again waiting in a long line. At the front of the line, you'd be interviewed by the three panelists, but you'd be interviewed three at a time, and the applicants could even contradict each other. As I watched, one of the three job-hopefuls had said something; then the applicant next to him gave a long speech which in essence was: "I would like to kindly disagree with you, and make you feel stupid." In the meantime, the third job-hopeful, a small little teenaged kid called Peter or something, had put his head down on the table and fallen asleep. Peter was wearing jeans and a clean but wrinkled blue t-shirt. At least it had a collar. The female UN worker dressed in the suit finally paid attention to his gentle breathing, and woke him up. Everyone look at him with sympathy. Then she started stroking his hair, saying, "oh, you didn't get enough sleep, did you?" and the kid just kind of strained his eyes and tried to wake up. Meanwhile, there was a Pakistani UN worker who was keeping watch over of all of us standing in line. He kept giving us updates over the situation. He said: oh, she is stroking his hair so that she can try to flick some of the dandruff out from it! All of us in line laughed. 

The lady kept brushing off Peter's hair, so the Pakistani turned back to us and said: now she is flicking all his dandruff onto the table! Gross! Everyone laughed again. But some of us thought he was being very rude, and one of my fellow applicants snarled out in a murmur: yes, just like yesterday when you called out a female applicant because her dress was too short! You are always saying incorrect things. The Pakistani man got a genuinely puzzled look on his face when he heard this. 

The three panelists decided that they would take Peter into the back, and called a bathroom break for everyone. My old school friend and two guys went to the bathroom. When they returned, the panelists were still gone, so they all three started playing that they already worked at the UN, and started fighting to sit in the chairs on the interviewer's side of the table. Of course, there were 3 chairs for them to distribute themselves over, but each wanted the first chair. I was secretly glad they were fighting, even if it was only rough-housing, good-humored fighting, because I figured the UN official panelists would see it, disqualify them, and that would give the rest of us better chances. The three kept fighting, and now my school friend was lying down in the seat, and each of the other applicants, who were male, were sitting one each on the tight blue short sleeves covering her shoulders. Now, my friend is a very big, muscular girl, so she was pretty equally-sized versus her opponents, but I guess it was two against one. Finally, one of the panelists reemerged. It was the one with the sloppy appearance. He glanced over at the three of them fighting, pulled up a fourth chair, and urged them to break it up. But they didn't listen. He kept urging in more and more impatient tones. Finally, they got annoyed and called the entire interview off. 

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