Subconscious to conscious…come in, conscious…

Yesterday’s interview with the headhunter — er, recruiting firm — went well.

I generally present well at this sort of thing, and having a well-fitting suit and looking comfortable in it always helps. I don’t think I’ve ever worn a suit to a job interview since my University days — I used to work at places where showing up for the interview in a suit would probably work against you. However, the job position for which I’d been contacted was for a senior programming position at a old and moneyed firm, so I decided to err on the side of conservatism: dark grey suit, white shirt with a few skinny navy stripes and a less-raffish-than-my-usual tie. On the way to the interview, I ran into my friend Char, who said I looked hot. After the interview, I went to Zooko’s and Amber’s for dinner, and she said I looked nice in a suit.

Interview clothing:a quick guide

Photo: Paul and me at the whiteboard in Zooko's attic office, hours after my interview.

Appropriate interview clothing. Well, the guy on the right — me, that is — is wearing approriate clothing. That is, if I were to do up the tie and put on the jacket. But doesn’t that outfit and smile say “professional” to you? (Photo taken last night at Zooko’s after dinner.)

Photo: Some fool dressed up as Team Rocket's 'James' from 'Pokemon', scowling and holding a Pikachu doll in a leash.

Inappropriate interview clothing. Besides, the guy’s wearing the wrong colour wig. “James'” hair is purple. I’ve obscured this poor sap’s face out of kindness.

It looks as though writing the War and Peace of resumes — a ten-page chef d’oeuvre providing a detailed run-down of just about every significant software project I’ve ever worked on since 1995 — paid off. The headhunter — I mean recruitment consultant — said “Thanks for putting your back into it on such short notice. It shows you’ve got initiative.”

He’s half right — it’s partly inititiative, partly a morbid fear of being reduced to giving sexual favours at the bus station in exchange for cheese.

“A strong Microsoft background,” he said, looking at my credentials, “we like that.” In some geek circles, this is the equivalent of Darth Vader saying “The Force is strong in youngnSkywalker. He could be a powerful ally if he were turned to the Dark Side.”

They seemed to like the fact that I’ve actually been to Redmond to meet with some of their kahunas. The only way I could’ve looked more Microsoft-y would’ve been to have MCSD certification (Microsoft’s certification for software developers, the primary value of which is to be able to demand a larger salary than those who don’t have one. Well, that and the lapel pin that Microsoft sends you.)

The company looking for a programmer is in Toronto’s sleepy Oakville (terribly suburban), which for me would be a 45-minute commute by highway during rush hour; possibly longer if the weather’s bad. I suspect that it’s in an office park. Shades of Office Space, cubicles (although I’m hoping that a senior programmer would rate his own office) and battles over red Swingline staplers. And it’s in an industry notorious for being boring (I leave you to guess what it is). Still, if I didn’t think that the work matched what I can do and that it is possible to have interesting work in the IT department of a boring industry, I wouldn’t have shown up for the interview. I also like getting paid more than I dislike commuting.

On the good side, the inside poop is that the structure within the place is solid enough so that it’s not a mass pandemononium, but not so rigid as to be stifling, and that they’re surprisingly office politics-free.

I think that’s all I can say without treading onto dangerous breach-of-confidentiality territory. Now I just have to play the waiting game.

That night, I had the closest thing I’ve had to a nightmare in some time. I boarded the Queen Street streetcar bound for home. Somehow, after boarding it, the streetcar had become a non-stop express bus bound for Barrie, a town not quite an hour’s drive away, from where a good number of Toronto’s commuters come.

I tried to negotiate with the driver to drop me off anywhere so I could find my way back south to civilization, but an old lady beside me begged me not to — she was running late and would miss a connecting train if the bus took even the shortest of stops. The conductor (Conductor? On a bus?) looked at some kind of fancy PDA with large screen and an antenna (hey, when I dream, I dream high-tech, baby!) and confirmed what she said: “Son, if we stop for you, the old lady will miss her train.”

He then gave me a very solemn look and said “And there will never, ever be another train again.”

Damn, I couldn’t do that to a little old lady. So on the bus to nowhere I stayed.

That’s when I woke up with a bit of a start, sort of like that cliched way in which people wake up after a nightmare in TV shows and movies.

“Only a dream,” I said to myself. I staggered out of my Victorian four-poster bed and walked down the marbled chandeliered hallway leading to the bathroom that I shared with my housemates.

Dobry den,” (that’s “Good day” in Czech) said my housemate, whose name I still didn’t know. I said “Yo, dogg.” back, and made a mental note to learn his name. It’s bad to live with someone whose name you don’t know.

I went into the bathroom, a palatial commode so fancy that Queen Elizabeth herself would’ve been honoured to take a dump there. Ornate hand-blown glass fixtures, a claw-footed tub, and a tiled wall mural depicting a battle scene with men carrying muskets and bayonets. A large door-size window provided a spectacular view of the Vltava River, the Karlova Most and the Old Town. I opened the window, letting the cool breeze blowing over the river wake me up a little more.

Wait a minute, I thought, what the hell am I doing in Prague?

And that’s when I really woke up.

Photo: Building in Prague on the right bank of the Vltava River. Taken from the left bank, January 2000.

My cool pad in Prague. Just a little bit south of the Old Town, not far from Karlova Most — the Charles Bridge — and…wait a minute, I don’t live in Prague. It’s just a dream.

I have my own theories as to what this dream means, but if you’d like to give me your interpretation, feel free to use the comments for this entry.

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