The First Interview.

As soon as I got back to my boyfriend Josh’s house after job hunting with Chelsea, I had an email in my inbox from the St. Helena Chamber of Commerce, asking me to come in for an interview on Thursday.

I was ecstatic, to say the least. Of all the jobs that I had applied for that day or even thought about the possibility of, this one seemed like the best jumping off point for my career. I quickly typed an email in response, telling her that Thursday was perfect. I only had to drive home, get some clothes, and drive back up on Thursday.

Thursday morning arrived. I got up early before it got hot, considering I’d be driving for two hours in my car with nonexistent air conditioning. While I was on the road, the office manager called me and moved my interview to an hour later.

“No problem,” I told her, glad I had a little bit more time to prepare, if only mentally.

By the time I arrived to Josh’s house, got ready for the interview, and back on the road again, I was feeling a little calmer. I drove all the back roads to get to the Chamber of Commerce, and pulled into the side driveway to Tra Vigne. This is when I realized I had no idea where I should be parking to go to the Chamber of Commerce. They don’t have a parking lot, and every time I’d gone to hang posters I’d just parked in the pizzeria’s, thinking I’d only be a minute. Now, I wasn’t sure how long I’d be there.

I chose a parking spot as far away from the pizzeria as I could, opting for some shade, and walked to the little house at the end of the sidewalk.

I opened the door and was immediately greeted by the office manager and one of the volunteers in the front office. I sat down next to the desk, and the office manager assured me that the CEO would be there as soon as she could. I nodded and smiled, trying to look and sound more confident and relaxed than I actually was. They joked and laughed and asked me questions, and moved around the office to make room for the computer repairman, who was switching out CPUs and monitors at a dizzying pace. After waiting for about fifteen minutes, the office manager smiled at me and invited me to come upstairs where the interview would take place. “I’m sure she should be just a few more minutes,” she said warmly. “The CEO was in a meeting before this, which is why we had to push back your interview by an hour.”

We walked upstairs to a small office with low ceilings and a meeting table in the corner, with a single old-fashioned multi-pane window. I sat down and fiddled with my purse and made sure my phone was on silent. The office manager smiled, and asked me what kind of job I was looking for. I told her that I was looking for full-time, or part-time and I would find another part-time job. I told her that I would have to relocate, but that I’d gone to school in the area and knew it pretty well. She told me about a few other places in the area that were hiring, then exclaimed, “I’m not trying to get rid of you, I promise! I loved your resume,” and I inwardly thanked my professor that had taught my InDesign class. She filled me in on the job, which consisted of a lot of events and event-planning, going to restaurants and wineries in the area to be able to recommend them to tourists, and when I mentioned that I do photography, she was ecstatic and said they didn’t have anyone that was a dedicated photographer right now. She asked what my favorite restaurant and winery was.

My favorite restaurant was easy. Just a couple of days before, our yearbook staff had gone out to dinner at Farmstead Restaurant, which has the most delectable food that I have ever tasted. It’s expensive, but I wasn’t paying for it, so it didn’t matter too much. The winery question was a little harder.

“See,” I explained, “going to school at PUC means that you have to be really careful about where you go and what you do, especially when it comes to alcohol,” I said. “I haven’t been to any wineries to taste at all, and mostly have only gone to the Castello di Amarosa to take photos. But I’m planning on it now that I don’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.”

She nodded, and we continued talking about something else. I was hoping that wouldn’t kill the opportunity for me.

She mentioned that concierges would get coupons to go to these wineries and restaurants since it was part of their job. She even offered to give me some before I left.

Finally, the CEO arrived, and the atmosphere changed. I could just tell she wanted to get down to business. She told me that another part of my duties would include managing a volunteer program, updating and maintaining their webpage, and working with Cheers! St. Helena. All things I’ve never done before, but figured I could learn to do quickly. I was a little smug in my head, thinking that before Cheers! was taken over by the city, I had been sort of hired and then let go in the same day from them, which had along with other factors ended with my friend who had been in charge quitting. To end up working on it anyway seemed like an interesting twist. I also knew that Josh is a computer geek, and even if I couldn’t figure out updating a webpage on my own, he’d be able to help me learn to do it.

After the interview, I shook hands with both of them, and the office manager led me down the stairs. She thanked me for coming in and told me if I had any questions just to give her a call or drop her an email. I thanked her and left.

It wasn’t until I had driven away that I realized I’d forgotten the coupons.

I drove to Harvest Inn, where Chelsea had an interview that day. When she was done, we drove to Dean and Deluca for an “after-interview” treat. As we waited for our peach smoothie and espresso shake, we sampled chocolates from the chocolate counter. I jokingly asked her if she would want to work here at the chocolate counter.

Chelsea laughed and said yes. We both agreed we’d be taking way too many samples.

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