Sunday, 2 November 2008

'Would you mind explaining for us the gaps in your CV?' Part Two

It’s not that I’m not still loving New Job, but the workload is overwhelming. And at seven o’clock on a Sunday night I’m still worried about arriving at the office tomorrow looking horizontal with exhaustion...

Prior to my interview for New Job, I was having the usual what-will-I-say-if-they-ask-me-to-elaborate-more-specifically-upon-the-gaps-in-my-CV panic. In the event, they didn’t ask, which is of course why I got the job. So I’ve told New Job as much as they’re legally entitled to know and New Job has asked me no more than they’re legally permitted to ask. Perfect. But that’s only in relation to the management.

Colleagues, however, are being all friendly and interested. And one would never want one’s colleagues not to initiate friendship and take interest in one another. And it’s not that I have a principled objection to them knowing all about how all my youthful education and career plans were shot to pieces by the years in a loony bin. It’s just that many people either;

a) will lack the maturity to understand such things and will therefore be forever terrified to come near me in case I interfere with their kiddies behind the bike shed

and/or

b) will feel such pity for and a need to help me as to preclude any real friendship developing between me and anyone there anyway

with both a) and b) risking

c) all sorts of conflated, irrational, totally unnecessary and possibly even malicious rumours, panic and allegations

This is why I struggle, then, to know how to respond to genial yet inquisitive questions. Maybe I should worry less. But maybe I should also take heed of the way in which a) and/or b) led to c) no less than three times in the last five years.

My initial tactic was to be as vague as possible. This worked until a few of them found me on Facebook and realised me to be significantly older than they’d assumed me to be. (Flattering, that, nevertheless...) Since then, it seems, a sense of intrigue and mystique has begun to coalesce around me. One or two people are enjoying being increasingly assertive in asking me to detail everything I’ve been doing for the last ten years of my life. And then, last week, I heard that someone had told someone that the reason Grace talks a bit posh like that is because I was born in Botswana (don’t they believe my Lambeth-issued birth certificate I provided to verify my identity?) and is here in Britain because she escaped Mugabe (who was doing what to drive people out of Botswana??). So, it seems that Precious Rambotswe may have a franchise agreement with the Rumour Department at New Job.

Whatever, however, I may have fled to get here, I’m very glad it wasn’t Robert Mugabe. From Botswana, Lambeth, Zimbabwe or anywhere else ...

5 comments:

Kate Morningstar said...

Maybe you were just ill in that employment hiatus?

Steve Lancaster said...

Stupid idea, but, really, most people like to talk about themselves. And often people ask you the questions they would like you to ask them.

Also I reckon one of the gifts God gives us is to be genuinely (passionately) interested in what other people have to say.

So next time the questioning gets uncomfortable for you, you could try turning the tables and gently giving the questioner the opportunity to talk about their past...

grace said...

Both interesting, kind thoughts... thanks. And I'm dying to gently interrogate them as to where this whole Botswana saga comes from...!

Mrs Whibley said...

I mentioned this to a colleague today. She had a friend who lost a few years doing 'this and that' - eventually she entered the sort of high-pressured career where you just can't have breaks and under pressure from coworkers made up some story about having a child who had died. It stopped the questioning dead.
Now, I'm sure you don't want to tell such a huge lie, but, yes, you were 'ill' or 'travelling' or doing 'this and that' or 'couldn't settle on one thing' - most people over 30 can lose a year or 4 from their CVs in such ways. Do these guys know your exact age, anyway?
Steve's idea is good, too! Just turn the questions back on them.

grace said...

Thanks for your thoughts... and I hope I'd never want to go to such drastic measures! Yes, though, despite the new age-equality legislation allowing me not to tell them, I've still got my date of bitrh on Facebook. D'oh, as they say...