Number of People with Nothing Better to Do

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

America!! F*ck Yeah!! (Part I)

Air Force One in Miami International Airport. I hope Obama raised a hell of alot of money because he created one huge pain in my ass.

View from my suite in downtown Chicago.

Every time I go to Chicago, I’m more and more convinced that it’s the greatest city in the universe! I travelled to Chicago to take the Oral Assessment, one of the final hurdles to being accepted as a Foreign Service Officer by the State Department. I planned the trip back in February so I’d have a little taste of summer time in Chicago.

Monday – I flew out of Lima at 7:30 in the morning en route to Miami. I was a little nervous about the flight because a regular seat on an airplane is like being crammed into a Peruvian tico taxi for me – especially when the ahole in front of you wants to recline his seat all the way. I got to the airport early though and flirted a bit with the girl at the ticket counter and she booked me exit rows all the way to Chicago! Now as a kid I spent many, many hours at Miami International Airport going back and forth from Venezuela to Texas. Most of those hours were spent making my mom’s life a living hell and checking payphones for change with my kid brother. I did look around for some payphones to check them for old time sake but couldn’t find any anywhere - so I called my mom to give her shit instead.

President Obama and his entourage were in Miami for a fund raiser and all flights in and out were delayed until Obama left the airport. It was very cool to see Air Force One but not cool that it delayed my flight for over two hours causing me to miss my connection in Atlanta. I wound up getting put on a different airline to Midway instead of O’Hare and of course my bags were nowhere to be found when I landed. Highlight – my good buddy Chris Albu made the perfect pick up at the airport at midnight complete with a couple of welcome cans of Old Style and we hit the White Palace for a late dinner. People speak English in America which is cool.

Tuesday – I spent most of the day trying to track down my luggage and a suit for my Oral Assessments the next day (just in case my shit didn’t show up). I called a buddy of mine Seth who is about my height and build and he lent me a very nice stockbrokery-type suit and tie. His fiancĂ©e Rosa, a sister of a good buddy of mine who lives here in Peru (an it’s small world story), was kind enough to help me pick out and try on various suits. We found one that fit perfectly except the pants were just a wee bit short. I also ran into Chris’ wife Krissa at a TJ Max downtown while I was buying socks and underwear. I should have spent the day preparing for my Oral Assessments but I couldn’t very well go in looking and smelling like I’d been wearing the same Peace Corps clothes for the last two weeks (which I had).

Wednesday – The big day - Oral Assessment for the State Department. The moment I’d been preparing for. The Oral Assessment is more than just an interview – it is an all day event. The first challenge was a group exercise where six other candidates were in a room, we each had to read a big packet of information and give a six minute presentation to the group defending our particular scenario. Bombed it because I didn’t read the directions carefully enough and I’d prepared with different types of scenarios. Challenge 2 – the structured interview. I sat with two interviewers who read from a script, wrote the whole time, didn’t make any eye contact and barely acknowledged what I was saying. Did OK there. Challenge 3 – The case management exercise. Again, they give you a big packet of information and you have to read it and write a 2 page memo. I could have said what I needed to say in one so I had to throw extra, unneeded, wordy, superfluous bullshit in there (it is the US government after all). And the results… Bombed the shit out of everything. I walked out of the building after receiving results I didn’t want to hear and it was pouring outside. At least four of the six candidates with me failed too.

I was quite upset that I’d prepared and travelled all this way to fail. That evening I should have gone to hang out with Albu and his family but I was feeling pretty devastated and antisocial so I wandered the streets of Wrigleyville aimlessly trying to get my mind around everything.

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