Sunday, 3 June 2012

So the third world is starving and the only man to save them has the same name as a dog biscuit?

Recently I was put up for a job that I really couldn't see myself enjoying and one I really didn't want to go for. However, the recruiter I am with was very persistent in their selling it to me, even after I had refused to attend an interview. She knew all the right things to say to flatter my ego and to plant just the tiniest amount of doubt in my mind that maybe, just maybe I would be perfect for this role.
Persistence goes a long way with me. I'm all for people who won't accept no for an answer and unless it's someone I really don't want a second date with or telesales people, I will normally cave in and accept another drink, another ride on the roller coaster or another roll of the dice.
Persistence should either be awarded with a kiss or a punch - and this time I decided to kiss.

The reason I couldn't imagine wanting or even doing the job is because it was for a charity that I have no belief in and it would mean my working for a man (not directly) whom I have no respect or admiration for. However, the money and the package they were offering was attractive and like a hooker in a room full of millionaires - I decided I had nothing to lose (and I wouldn't even need to remove my underwear).

I have mixed feelings towards charities anyway. I come from a working class family were charity always began at home. I find it very odd when I have friends who donate to charities but who won't help out a friend in need or others who donate their time and money to faceless organisations but will not crack a smile or take the time to talk to a pensioner who lives down their street. Giving to a charity can sometimes alleviate the guilt we feel in our own lives for not behaving in a kind manner to people who really deserve it or to family and friends we really should be there for.
Every time I see another celebrity with their fake hair, fake faces and fake emotions pleading for my money through a haze of puppy dog eye (liner), soft lighting and even softer focus it makes me furious. I know for sure I am not alone in my annoyance at every Chugger (charity mugger for anyone who reads this and doesn't live in England) who block my path on every corner of the West End.
My feelings towards charities are much the same as if I was on a plane that was falling from the sky - I need to help myself and apply my own oxygen mask before I can help the person sitting next to me; but I was intrigued to go to the interview, to see what the office was like, what kind of people worked there and to meet the chairman.
My best friend gave me the biggest initiative to attend when he said "you should go, you'll be able to write about it when you don't get the job".
There's nothing quite as life affirming as a supportive friend.
So I went to the interview. . . .
And then I got called back for a second one.

By now I was beginning to feel like I was on a downward spiral where I was about to sell my own beliefs and personality for the sake of an upwardly mobile salary, a gym membership, a bicycle or a monthly travel allowance and a free eye test.  This wasn't a game show prize -  it was an incentive to work for an organisation that is funded by donations. No wonder this charity has a reputation for not spending its funds correctly - it offers its staff more benefits than you could shake a (starving) fist at. The offices are smart, contemporary and in an area of London where a weekly rent could probably fund a small village in the poorest parts of Africa and yet it is precisely the starving they are purporting to help? I began to feel very uneasy in my interviewee's chair.
The chairman was pleasant, in a kind of 70's rich hippy kid way - he even asked me to "hang loose" (while he got his assistant to grab him a coffee, from the percolator, he doesn't drink instant) and I found myself becoming fixated with his open necked denim shirt and his mix of gold and ethnic jewellery. He must have many friends because the amount of friendship bracelets he wore would make an undernourished arm break.
Every time he dropped another star spangled name or spoke about how he has middle of the night conversations with a man with the same name as a dog biscuit I began to feel my heart sink and my eyes narrow. I took to sitting on my hands just in case my middle finger silently and inexplicably rose from under the table and I decided to chew my tongue for fear it would inadvertently poke itself out at him. I was now caught between letting my true feelings show or doing my best in the interview?
So I decided to do neither and instead talk like every single celebrity I have ever seen on television talking about their "favourite" charity.
I began to spout words of oneness and global love.
I wanted to quote song lyrics and say "we are the world and we can make it a better place". I wanted to stand up out of my chair and "reach out and touch someone".
I wanted to buy a whole rainbow coloured family, scoop them up in my arms and save them from a life of poverty and malnutrition and I wanted to buy the hair from a thousand Indian women's heads and make a gigantic weave with it . . . . and it was at that point I realised I'd made a mistake.

His vision of one love and mine were on a different course and the interview was called to an end.

I left the office feeling a little headed and against my better judgement called the agency:
"How did the interview go"
"Umm, really well, I'd really like the job and I can start in two weeks but I won't accept anything less than (and upped their salary offer by £5,000)".

I didn't get the job.
What I did get was an insight into how charities (not all) are run and the behaviour of the people who run them.
I still believe that charity should begin at home and I also believe I don't have to justify my own behaviour be it good, bad, greedy or ambivalent by donating to something I do not believe in.
It also affirmed that the charity I do donate to every month and the one I ran a half marathon for do an excellent job and if anything - I should go and work for them.

But best of all?

I got this blog post out of it.

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