White Sock Marks


 Samantha Mozart


I once worked for an advertising art director named Jay who said whenever he wanted to get some executive on the phone he’d say Bart Masterson was calling. “It’s a much stronger name,” he said, “and it always gets results.”

They say getting your foot in the door is ninety percent of the sale. The older and more experienced I get, the harder it is for me to get anything in the door for an interview, let alone get a job.

To appear younger on paper, I limit my resume to one-page, thereby severely truncating my background. I do use a smaller typeface, admittedly, knowing my young interviewers generally have not yet experienced failing eyesight, a first sign of which is having a friend hold what you’re trying to read – like someone’s resume – across the room from you. Those who do interview me, say, incredulous, “You’ve really done a lot.”

I suppose I should answer, “That just goes to show you what a good worker I am. Look how much I can accomplish.”

I think no one wants to hire an older, wiser, experienced person these days because that person would have to be paid more. I have the customer service scars to prove it from nearly every phone call I make to an organization with whom I’m trying to do business.

So, my sending out resumes has become like shooting darts into a black hole. I never get a response – or almost never.

I did go to an interview at a publishing company which had been advertising all summer for a graphic designer and a typesetter. I had sent them two resumes, through the mail and online, and gotten no response. I knew I was qualified for the jobs. I couldn’t figure out why I hadn’t gotten even a phone call. Since they continued to advertise, I decided to e-mail them a resume under the name Susan Masterson.

On the resume I listed all the jobs at which I had done typesetting, and for each job description, simply wrote “typesetting,” nothing more. For my objective and my skills I copied and pasted the wording of the ad right into my resume. It was the quickest resume I had ever written. Then I pasted the whole thing into an e-mail and clicked “send.” Within a couple of hours Susan Masterson got a phone call. It was Lisa from the publishing company. I explained that my using a name other than my own was a coding method I employed to keep straight to whom I’d sent which resume. “Oh,” said the young voice on the other end of the line. She wanted me to come in for an interview.

The next day I drove to the office at the appointed hour and asked for Lisa.

Shortly, Lisa entered the lobby. She looked about 16, a perky blonde with a good tan. She wore a short skirt and pumps, no socks. The first thing I noticed as she led me down the hall to her corner office, which turned out to be about the size of my apartment, was her distinctly pronounced sock marks. Her ankles were snow white. It’s like she had highlighted them. The white sock marks looked so neatly painted in nice clean lines. That set the tone for our interview. “Did you use a stencil?” I wanted to ask as I followed her down that long, narrow, dark hall, her ankles practically lighting the way. I think the least I would have done was apply a tanning preparation — better orange ankles than Casper ghastlies.

Then I wondered how someone that young got to have an office that big. While through the banks of windows I viewed rich green lawns invested with big shade trees with squirrels leaping towards the tops, I resisted the urge to gather information from her about her boss.

We sat on opposing steno chairs methodically set in the middle of the yawning beige office, beige carpet with little white spots, like spam, beige desk and tables of an unknown color for they were piled with what looked like the month’s mail she had yet to sort. No doubt the boss was understanding. She handed me a pile of cards and papers varying in size, unwieldy and slippery. It looked like the stuff I find in my mailbox on Thursdays – jumbles of direct mail newsletters, fliers and cards in two colors.

I thought she was handing me these to hold to get them out of the way so she could dig for the resume I had sent her.

“Soooooo … you play tennis?” I wanted to say, while trying to keep the postcards and papers in my court.

“These are samples of what we do,” she explained, pointing to the debris in my lap. “We send them to doctors for insurance coding purposes.”

“Oh,” I said. “I thought you were handing me your mail.” I shuffled through the stuff, trying to seem more than beigely impressed. I knew I wouldn’t be happy typesetting those for more than a morning.

She leafed through my portfolio, and I told her I was available for both the typesetting and graphic design positions.

“Do you prefer working with color or black and white?” she asked.

What was I supposed to say? “Oh, black and white, for sure. It’s much more so … you know …”.

She said they had more interviews to do and thanked me for coming in.

“Here is my comprehensive resume,” I said, handing her the one I’d sent her twice, as I rose from my chair.

She never let on she’d already gotten piles of these in the mail. I’d say my chances there were summarily discarded. Nevertheless, I considered sending her a postcard or a letter of thanks, or maybe both. I didn’t know whether I should put them in the same envelope or send them separately.

Oh, and P.S. – Maybe I would send them to each of the 50 employees while I was at it. I’d have to come up with another code name, though. And, socks. Maybe I should make her a special sale offer on a pair of socks.

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