I normally don't like to talk about work in my blog posts, but yesterday was such a strange day. I let others affect me too much. This was an odd situation, because in all the years I have helped hire people, I have never had an experience like it.
My co-worker and I were conducting interviews, and all was going just fine. We had already talked to several people who seemed like good candidates for the job available. One of the last prospective employees came in and went right up to the owner to introduce himself. He was an older gentleman, and we were all a little confused as to how he knew who the owner was and why he went past the two of us at the desk without a nod. My boss redirected him back to the desk.
Because he came unprepared and we had to print up his resume, I asked him to have a seat and wait. Our printer isn't the fastest on the planet, so it took a few minutes. Before the machine had spit out the printed material, he leaned over and, in a very snarky tone, asked if we had figured it out yet. My co-worker and I eyed each other, but I smiled one of those obviously fake smiles and said that everything was under control.
Now for the WTF part...
I was conducting the interview, so I started with what seemed a good question: What made you decide that you want to work in an art gallery? To which he replied in an arrogant tone, "Well, I haven't decided if I want to work in a gallery. How would I know if I do or not?" I started to change the question and ask why he applied to the job posting, but he got rude about it, going on (as if I were some idiot) about how there would be no way to know without trying it and blah fucking blah, so I cut him off and told him that it wouldn't work out and thanked him for coming in etc. And then he started arguing with me, asking me how I knew it wouldn't work. Um, because working with holes usually doesn't? Jeez, what the hell is wrong with people? I finally asked him to leave.
Even little shitty situations like that are upsetting to me. Most people would probably laugh about how bizarre people can be, but it was disturbing to me on some level. I don't get why people act so full of themselves.
My mom likes to share a story from her past about people with big egos. I have mentioned that my dad was a genius, one of those well-respected physicists who rubbed elbows with the big wigs of his time. Anyway, my mom and dad were at a lunch with Edward Teller and a few others, because Teller wanted my dad to work on the H bomb, which he refused to do, just as he had done when approached by Oppenheimer for the A bomb. John Wheeler was there too. He's the guy who coined the term Black Hole. My mom was talking to him while Teller was talking to my dad. They started discussing egos and intelligence. My mom mentioned that being born with a well-functioning brain is not all that different from being born with a good liver or a strong heart. Nobody brags about a well-formed liver, though. There's so much left up to chance when it comes to being born a certain way. Add work and opportunity to the genetic factor, and then you get success. Wheeler, said that he had never thought of it that way, but it seemed to be a light bulb over the head moment for him.
It seems weird to me that people get a big ego over how smart they supposedly are or how fast they run. I guess I get it in some ways. You know what impresses me? People who get up and do the 9-5 thing and are functional. What impresses me more are those who can be kind, calm and compassionate in the face of conflict. I can't do it, so anyone who can is a fucking rock star in my eyes.