“Would it be fine if we offer you a position different from what you’re applying for?” asked the man who picked me up at the reception as he pressed an elevator button I was too nervous to take note of. “Yes, of course, that’d be fine,” I replied without thinking. Normally (meaning, during casual debates with friends), I at once heat up and spoil conversations with my antagonistic take on things; my cynicism runs high even in otherwise genial talk. In a professional setting, however, I become an altogether different person — a very accommodating or, sometimes, even servile one — and very rarely during such formal conversations do I give no for an answer. I’ll suffer for this sooner or later, I know.
So, I went ahead without even bothering to ask which position they were considering me for in lieu of the post I was hoping to secure. The man who fetched me turned out to be an administrative assistant at Vibal Foundation, the organization I was looking to get myself a job in. He introduced himself as Donald and, by the way he inflected his speech, I could discern his being Ilocano. For some not-too-weird reason (me being of the same ethnolinguistic stock as my usher), the place suddenly felt a bit homey. As we entered the offices, I was told to wait because the interviewer was attending to some important matters.
Like most job interviewees, I imagine, I surveyed with curious eyes the place I was hoping to come to every workday. The silence was such that it seemed there was no room for any other disposition than a serious one. “In the event that I get accepted,” I thought, “there’s a lot about myself I’ll need to work on.”
I was summoned to my interviewer’s office after thirty minutes or so of alternately observing the office and playing a musical variation of Tetris on my cell phone. After I got in, the interviewer handed me her business card as she offered me a seat. I read the card which bore her name and position: Kristine E. Mandigma, Program Director. I swallowed air but tried to downplay my nervousness by casually saying “Hi”. Almost immediately after I took a seat, Ms. Mandigma said, “We’re considering you for an editorial assistant post.” Just as soon as she was finished with her sentence, questions came popping into my head: “What does that mean?”, “What does an editorial assistant do?”and “Am I not fit for the job I intended to apply for?”
She provided me with a lowdown on the job I was being offered, along with the requisite introduction of the organization, which I had not known until then is a foundation, and its operations. I listened a bit apprehensively as she expounded, but when it got to the part about the Foundation’s dedication to preserving and revitalizing Philippine arts and culture, I felt like a child being promised a bike for Christmas, never mind that I didn’t fully understand what an editorial assistant really does. For good measure, I was told how my educational background was fit for the post, or at least what the job entails, like liaising with artists, writers and whatnot.
Thinking of it now, the relation goes well beyond the connection between my degree in Art Studies and the job I was about to take. I certainly do not pretend to be deeply versed in the intricacies of art and culture, and I most definitely will never be able to fathom the cryptic configurations of humanity, but taking a job that has to do with my interests is just… priceless.
After a month of working here, the fact that I am working as an editorial assistant has yet to sink in. I’d like to make sense of this by invoking what Ms. Mandigma herself told me during my interview: it’s not a job for everyone. And indeed it’s not. Organizing and keeping track of a lot of data, information and files while maintaining one’s sanity are skills some of us can only dream of having. I try to be good at it, though. I try.
For now, while I’m far from the realization of my dream to hold the kind of position I originally applied for here (okay, I applied to be a writer), and while I couldn’t do anything about my aspiration to become a full-fledged rock star (well, to become a musician, to be politically correct) but shelve it in recognition of the dim chances, I’m staying put. For the love of the arts, maybe?