Sweat and The City

Let's pick up where we left off. I was asleep on the floor of my host's Manhattan apartment after a less-than-amazing journey to New York. I could have easily slept the whole day but unfortunately I had things to do, namely attend a job interview in Midtown at 3pm. I had applied for this job- actually I had applied for about a hundred jobs but I got a reply from this one so its special- a month earlier and had been told to come in for an interview once I got to New York. It was for a standard receptionist job and I applied for it because greeting people with a smile and open enthusiasm is clearly what I was born to do. The week earlier I had emailed the man and confirmed that the position was still available (it had been three weeks after all) and he had replied

"I said I wait for you."

Alright, I was just asking.

After confirming a day and time (3pm), I asked him where we would be meeting. I had seen an address in his email signature but had just confirmed an interview with someone else who conducted interviews at a different office to their own so wanted to be sure. He replied with just

"It's in the signature."

Going great so far.

Back to the apartment floor. I managed to wake up at noon so I could be out of the house by 1pm. According to google maps it would take 36 minutes to get to his office but I get really paranoid about being late to things (except school; I was late to school almost every day) and usually give myself a cushion of sixty minutes, just in case. I went into the bathroom to change into Interview Outfit. Interview Outfit had three pieces; black jeans, office shirt, and black boots. The shirt was a new purchase from heaven (Macy's) and I loved it. The boots had been taking up room in my bag for the past four months so I felt I should wear them at least a few times to justify their inconvenience. Then there was the issue of the black jeans. I don't even know if you can call them jeans. They're those mega tight black pants from Country Road (you know the ones). I had worn them earlier that week to Jersey Boys in Vegas and they had fit snug as a glove, meaning I only had to undo the top button during the show so I could breathe. I figured if they fit on Friday they'd fit on Wednesday, especially since I hadn't eaten since Monday night. What I didn't figure was that my legs would swell up a disturbing amount from being seated for almost 30 consecutive hours. Have you ever seen those compression socks they make for flying? My legs in that New York bathroom are the reason those socks exist. But I had no alternatives to the black jeans so I yanked them on, inch by inch, and critiqued my look in the mirror. On top, I was office chic, a young, successful businesswoman you'd be lucky to hire. On the bottom, I was the black Michelin Man. I didn't have time to think about how I was going to move without ripping these jeans because I had to leave or I would be late for my hour-early arrival. I pulled on my black boots and strode out of the apartment. After two minutes of walking it became clear that I was going to get blisters from the boots but that was a problem for later (later being 48 hours later when my pinky toe would become a volcano of pus). The present problem was sweat.

I am a sweaty person. I never used to be but now I am and I think it is only going to get worse. Regardless of my fitness, it takes about three minutes of moderate walking for me to work up a sweat. Going for a run means profusely sweating for at least twenty minutes after I've finished running. But it's not just exercise that makes me sweat. Whenever I am nervous, I sweat. Some people get nervous ticks, or need to pee, I sweat. And what makes me most nervous is shaking people's hands. As soon as there is even a slight possibility that I may have to shake someone's hand, my hands start washing themselves. Prizegivings are my worst nightmare. If I have ever won a prize, whoever had to present it to me definitely experienced the worst handshake of their life. The cruel irony is that I have really dry skin. So my hands either feel like a sun-dried farmer or a sponge that hasn't been wrung out properly. So there I am, walking to the subway so I can catch a train to my interview. It is 34 degrees outside and extremely humid, I am walking in uncomfortable boots, wearing skin tight black jeans and am very nervous about this interview and about getting the nervous sweats.

With that information in mind, let's all take a moment to guess what happened next.

Did your guess involve a tap, fountain, or waterfall? Well done, you're on the right track. It took nine minutes to walk to the subway and three minutes of waiting before the air-conditioned train arrived. In those twelve minutes I was soaked. Waiting for a train in an underground subway is waiting for a train in a sauna. No matter how prepared you are, those few minutes before the train arrives can make or break a sweat. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, was a clever play on words. To make a sweat and to break a sweat both mean the same thing because YOU WILL SWEAT NO MATTER WHAT. Once on the train, I gingerly sat down and leaned back against the seat. Big mistake. If you are wearing a shirt and nervous sweating, never, ever, ever, lean back on anything. I got off the train at Madison Square Garden (tourists everywhere) and emerged into the glaring sun, trying to figure out how to remedy this situation. It was 1:47 so I had plenty of time but I still had to get my act together quick. I had two options: find somewhere cold to sit and hope I could dry off in an hour or go buy a new top to wear. While I was debating this crucial decision I spotted a cathedral across the street. In my experiences, churches are always freezing so I chose the first option and let Jesus take the wheel. Well, turns out Jesus can't drive because I somehow sweated more in the church than outside of it. Now I had no choice but to find a new top. Macy's and H&M were across the street so I was spoilt for choice. I went to Macy's first (I don't know why since it is far more expensive) and spent twenty minutes trying to navigate my way out of the men's suit section. While walking past a mirror I had a sneak peek at the damage and could have cried. Actually I couldn't have because all the moisture in my body had already been expelled through my pores and onto my shirt so there was nothing left for tears. I rushed into the very fancy bathrooms and took the shirt off.

The back of it was smiling at me.

Somehow my shoulder blades had managed to sweat which formed the massive eyes and the classic lower back sweat created the smiling mouth. If I wasn't so traumatized by it I would have taken a photo because it was quite impressive. Instead I just stood there for a while and let the fresh air wash over my body. By the time I had snapped back to cruel reality it was 2:38. I did one of those sob-moans and gingerly put my shirt back on. I was now walking past classy women with the knowledge that I had the sweatiest back in all the world. I desperately looked around at all the other women wearing office shirts for just the tiniest hint of underarm sweat but no, clearly I was the only woman in Manhattan that day with functioning pores. I shuffled out to the street once more and charged into H&M, willing to buy almost anything to replace what I currently had on. I shouldered past teen girls and "cool mum"s on my way to the black section. Something caught my eye as being close enough to appropriate for an interview so I grabbed the largest size and headed for the fitting room. 2:43. Once inside I dropped everything, looked in the mirror and...I was dry. Not a sweat patch in sight. Drier than my skin after swimming in the ocean. Drier than my jokes.

It was a miracle. Forget feeding a bunch of people with not a bunch of food, my sweaty gang insignia (read: patches) had somehow completely disappeared in five minutes. What was this sorcery and how did I conjure it? Suddenly I felt all smug and too good for H&M so I left my items in the fitting room like a right bitch and waltzed on out. Despite my relief, I was still nervous about working up a sweat on the two minute walk to the office so I stopped by the church once again and sat like a puppet on a string in the pew, as if in ritual prayer. Five minutes later and my prayers had been answered, I was not a walking sweat patch. The fifty metre walk across the road to the office can only be described as “Cate Blanchett accepting her third Oscar in a floor length gown”. My posture and slow pacing on that walk could have rivaled the most veteran of runway models. I made sure to take long, deep breaths on the elevator ride up and knocked on the door of the office with a surprisingly dry hand. A man opened the door and offered his hand. I then proceeded to firmly shake hands with a limp fish.

What a waste.

End note: If you're wondering how the interview went, it lasted 90 minutes and included a typing test on the world's smallest keyboard, questions about my “dream job” followed by “what about your realistic dream job”, some unprofessional bad-mouthing of previous employees, a revelation that I was actually interviewing for a sales position (can you imagine me convincing anyone to buy anything?), the quote “I work good with good people”, and ended with a job offer that I politely declined.

After the interview was finally over, I ate my first meal in 48 hours then went back to the apartment, peeled off Interview Outfit, and once again fell asleep on the floor.