So as we all know, I love to relive my embarrassing moments and awful situations for the amusement of all. This one is particularly fantastic.
When I was an undergrad, before my 1st or 2nd summer, I actually thought my degree would give me a job in the environmental field. Clearly, I was still a bit green (hardy har har). As we all know, university for me turned out to be a waste of time, money and sanity…but I digress. My young enthusiasm knew no bounds.
I sat in the computer lab one day between classes, turning to my government to give me a head start in the job market. I found a fantastic site that allowed university students to enter in info about themselves, classes they’d taken and their fields of study blah blah blah, so that different Ministries could search the database for a student who they’d be willing to take on for the summer.
Imagine my delight when I received a phone call from someone who had found me in the database. I think it was the Ministry of Natural Resources, but honestly the whole thing went so badly that I’ve blocked it from my memory and can’t be certain. The woman who called me was quite lovely, and told me that it was a summer job, rural, throughout Saskatchewan, where they’d be looking at the habitats of birds, bird this, bird that, blah blah blah, yay birds.
Looking back, I should have pulled out the ol’ bird book and beefed up a bit.
I don’t give a shit about birds and frankly they scare me, but I set up a phone interview for the next week.
At the agreed time, my phone rang. I took a few deep breaths, picked up the phone and spoke confidently to the folks on the other end, while they were none the wiser that I was sitting around in lounge pants and hadn’t left the house that day. Ah, the life of a student. We passed along the common courtesies and they let me know that they’d be asking me a few questions to determine my background knowledge and that they understood it wasn’t my field entirely, but that it seemed like it might work based on what they’d seen on me from that site.
Okay, all good.
Them: “So, Talea, you’re from Saskatchewan and would be willing to move back here for the summer, correct? We would be travelling to remote locations, and you’d have to be sleeping in tents, you’d have no internet or cell phone access, are you okay with that?”
Me: “Of course! It’d be great to travel around the province and see different parts of it, better than an office job, I’m a kiss ass!!”
Them: “Great. Can you please name for us three endangered shorebirds that nest on the ground in the southern half of Saskatchewan, between 8 and 30 metres from the water’s edge?”
Me: (Inside my head, thinking…’is this a fucking joke? does ANYBODY know that shit??’) “Um…..no. No, I can’t.”
Them: “Okay. That’s fine. Would you be able to name three birds who live in the northern half of the province and who nest inside dead trees and are being threatened by the path of caribou through Siberia?”
Me: (Inside my head….’oh for fuck’s sake, this has to be a joke) “Um……well, just let me think here…..ha, these are hard questions! Um, yeah, I’m sorry, I’m coming up with a blank. Sorry.”
Them: “Alright. Have you ever banded wild birds before? Do you know the procedures for this?”
Me: “No. I haven’t.”
Them: “Okay. Can you name for us three birds who live within 1.63489 kilometres of fox dens within the grasslands of Saskatchewan located at such and such a latitude and longitude?”
Me: “Yes. I can. Flamingos, penguins and ostriches.” (Seriously, I said it, I mean………what the hell did I have to lose??)
*The sound of fake coughing is heard on both ends of the phone, breaking the awkard silence brought on by my smartassedness*
Them: “Okay, now onto the other side of the position……are you able to drive a standard transmission?”
Me:”Yes! Yes I am! My car is a standard! I love standard!” (Inside my head: Hahahaha! Suckers, I’ve got you now!)
Them: “Great. Have you ever driven with a trailer on the back of the truck? Approximately the size of a horse trailer? Would you feel comfortable doing this?”
Me: “No, but I’m pretty confident that I could do that, no problem.”
Them: “Yeah. Okay. Well, uh, that pretty much gives us what we need to know. So, are you available at this number if we have any more questions? We can also contact you by email, correct?”
Me: “Yeah. But honestly, I won’t hold my breath. It’s okay. There must be someone out there just a wee bit more qualified than myself for this job.”
Them: “Right. Thank you for your time, Talea.”
And that was that. My shot at a sweet gig with the government. I mean, other than knowing nothing and being a bit of an asshole about it, I’m not sure why I didn’t get a call back. They hung up before I could tell them that I once had a birdfeeder as a child, that I’m proficient in flipping the bird and that once a bird pooped on me. Jerks.
But let’s go back to the beginning. I filled out a little survey thing. Presumably, they reviewed what I checked off and wrote about myself. Nowhere on there, even in my made-up interests, did it say anything about ornothology. Who the hell knows that crap? I would have loved to meet the winning candidate for that position. He probably clinched the job by demonstrating his fantastic bird-mating call impersonations.
Anyways, I didn’t need them. That summer, I worked at a wastewater treatment plant and shovelled shit all day long. I sure showed them!