Cecile Meier: 'Straight into the ditch'

Luck is a strange thing. Sometimes it knocks on your door unexpectedly. Other times, you run out of it when you need it most. Take the day I had an interview for a job at The Press for example.

I'd planned to drive confidently into town in my new business-like outfit, rehearsing business-like answers to interview questions in my head, with my hair coiffed in a business-like bun. I was supposed to arrive with plenty of time to re-read the day's paper. But things don't always go as planned.

I got in the car, started it up, and vroooom... straight into the ditch.

Damn. Reverse. Ruhruhruhruh . Still in the ditch.

I rang Nick. He called me stupid, but came to the rescue - once he'd stopped laughing.

The car out of the ditch, it was time for take two.

I assured Nick I knew the way, and  vroom I went again, with him following on his motorbike back to work.

Of course I didn't actually know the way, but the GPS on my phone did. Except at the traffic lights halfway there, the GPS died. Second stroke of bad luck.

I looked in the rear mirror and sighed with relief when I saw Nick was stopped just behind me. I waved frantically.

''Hi!'' he waved back.

I waved like a maniac until he pulled up to the window, rolled his eyes and agreed to escort me to The Press. How business-like.

Overall, a rough start though, and my final preparation time lost. At least I was on time. I took a deep breath and went inside as though none of this had just happened.

The interview started well, until they asked: ''Describe yourself in five adjectives''.

All I could think of was ''cheap and keen'' - the motto my journalism lecturer had told us students to adapt all year. She had also said I was determined.

''I'm keen, and deter-mind,'' I said. The interviewer frowned.

''I mean deter-meened.''

He frowned again.

''I'm not sure anymore if it is pronounced deter-meened or deter-mind, haha,'' I said, trying to laugh it off.

The interviewer did not laugh.

''Okay, any other adjectives?''

I blanked.

''I'm sorry I can't think of any other adjectives.''

After what was surely three hours of excruciating silence, one of them finally said:

''We'll come back to this later.''

Argh! My dream job was drifting out of reach. But I kept smiling and answering questions the best I could.

Driving home I thought of hundreds of adjectives. Stupid! Pathetic! Ludicrous!

I followed up the next day anyway, and kept sending my articles for consideration, and hoped something in my application would make up for my adjective ineptitude.

Three weeks later, my cellphone rang.

''Hi, it is Marta Steeman, business editor at The Press...''

Through a crackly connection, I heard: ''I am calling to let you know you didn't get the job.''

''Okay,'' I said, disappointed.

''So we will need you to send us a copy of your passport and your driver's licence,'' she continued.

That seemed a weird requirement for rejected applicants.

''Huh?'' I said.

''That is, if you still want the job?''

"OF COURSE I WANT THE JOB!" I said, maybe a little too loud.

From the moment I drove into the ditch I felt the odds were not in my favour. And every new little thing going wrong seemed to be taking me farther from the job.

Maybe this is why I blanked at the five-adjective question and why I misheard the announcement on the phone. But even if you start in the ditch and get lost on the way, you can still end up where you set out to go - you just need to keep going.

The Press