Monday, December 19, 2011

Reflections on my first interview

Linda and I picked a table in a small side room of the restaurant; there were two long tables for eight and two tables for two.  We sat at one of the large tables; I spread out my notebook and folders to prevent anyone from interrupting us.  I placed three napkins under my tape recorder to muffle any sounds of our plates and utensils.  I was ready to go. 
My first interview. 
Right off the bat I violated one of the rules of interviewing: no restaurants or public places.  Lunch time was the only time our schedules allowed and I was anxious to get my new blog project started, so I settled for a noisy locale.  The napkins didn’t muffle the lunch sounds very well; later when I played the recording back the waitress could be clearly heard several times asking if we needed more tea or how did we like the salsa.  Each of our phones rang a few times.  We took two calls each and ignored the others after a quick look at the caller ID.  I hit the pause button during these brief interruptions. 
But I persevered and continued with my questions and let Linda ramble on.  Linda’s verbal wanderings provided answers to multiple questions with only one prompt.  I let her move the conversation in any direction she desired; my questions required more than a yes or no.  Linda revealed inner thoughts that filled my interview notes with material that screamed to say, “I’m interesting.”
We laughed and lamented about the pleasures and pains of senior citizens living in the new retirement, called work.  Both of us have different reasons for working, but have accepted our fate.  Rather than mere acceptance, we relish our current situations.  Linda says today is the best day of life.  Tomorrow is the best day for me.
I learned several valuable lessons about recording techniques from my first interview with Linda.  Napkins don’t muffle sounds, use something more substantial to reduce table sounds, and you can’t turn on the table recorder soon enough or turn it off too late.  The best comments are sometimes left unrecorded. 
Of course my mind wandered on occasion.  The smell of eggs and sausage on the grill created delicious distractions; wonderful aromas drifted from the kitchen.  Never go to your favorite Mexican restaurant for an interview. 
Go there for huevos rancheros.

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