I am the world’s worst ‘never have I ever’. Not in the sense that I am bad at it – how could one be – but that I am boring to play with. This has to do with a disconnect of experiences. I’ve done a lot of things, some of them even very interesting, but few of them are very common. I was once proud of this, but at some point I learned that being iconoclastic is perhaps one of the worst characteristics you can have. People relate to you by common experience.
Yeah, “never have I ever’ is a great visualization tool that this may be going on in your life. You figure it out pretty quickly when you are still staring at your untouched first shot and the people with you are now drunk enough to ask ‘what in the hell is actually wrong with you?’
What? It’s not my fault no one has suggested ‘never have I ever crossed the pacific ocean on a container ship’ yet. Play me for money and you’ll also get ‘never have I ever smuggled refugees across a border’.
(Segway – At the bar where I was a regular in Hangzhou, me and some friends were frequently given free shots. It wasn’t even offered. They were put in front of us and we took them. One night the bar tender opened a new bottle of rum and poured the three of us a shot. It wasn’t rum. What it was would not have made it passed FDA regulations. Whatever it was would have triggered a factory recall if this wasn’t a bootleg bottle that never came from the real factory. We informed the bartender and he seemed skeptical, and so to prove the point we all, including the bartender, took another round of it at our insistance, after which we all insisted that ‘yup, this shit is wiper fluid.’
Never have I ever been served a poison and requested seconds)
But that’s just not what this game is for.
I’ve come to rely on metaphor to understand other people’s experience. Fiction had helped too. But mostly, when someone relays something to me I frequently find myself searching for something in my own experience that will help bridge the gap.
I was recently in a long and intense job application process. From the outset, I tried not to get myself too invested in it. I applies on a fluke, and I thought it was equally a fluke when they called me. I thought a fluke when they called me back after the first interview. Idem the second. But when they asked to do a third, in person interview I realized I would have to put the work in. I would need to do some research, but in some work, and really turn up. For the third interview I even went to their location, met some people and shook some hands. Despite my best efforts, I found myself wanting the job before I even had it.
And after that in-person interview they let me know that there were still two other candidates were being interviewed, and that they would let me know in two weeks.
Sure, that tracks.
I felt every grain of the two week hourglass slip by, understanding that with each passing moment the likelihood that I would get the job was reduced.
Never have I ever had to be told that ‘they aren’t all that in to you.’
With four hours left to go, I am mostly sat around waiting for the rejection. Plenty of other jobs have ghosted me this far into the process, so…
I did the dumb thing that a person with more worldly experience would have avoided and found them on LinkedIn, and saw that three weeks ago they posted for the same job I had applied for. It was posted the about the week before I had had that in person interview.
Never have I ever social media stalked someone to my own emotional determent.
The ‘we will get back to you by-‘ deadline came and went. I had to sit around and wonder if I had somehow gotten to the point of not even meriting a boiler-plate ‘dear candidate’ letter. Getting ghosted by jobs is now a norm, so I had had plenty of experience with that. But the whole process, from application to missed deadline, was about 55 days, time enough for me to get invested.
A week after the deadline, I get an apology email for the delay, and another deadline. A week after that deadline, I get another deadline.
Never have I ever been strung along.
Ultimately, a phone call did come along to tell me that I hadn’t gotten the job. Total time elapsed, application to rejection, was 82 days. I would be lying if I didn’t say that I was gutted by what happened. As always with these things, there was no real feedback as to why I didn’t get the job. Sour luck is all.
Never have I ever just not been good enough.